The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Season 1 Episode 5
After the failure of his last mission, John Walker is on the run. When he finally takes the time to stop and think about what he did and who he’s become, you almost begin to feel for the guy. That feeling goes away when Sam and Bucky appear and Sam tries to talk him down. When Sam mentions taking the shield, Walker immediately falls back into his feelings of jealousy and inadequacy and the brawl is on. It’s a great looking sequence that allows Bucky to cut loose a little and for Sam to fight back. Getting to see how easily Sam incorporates the wings into his combat style is definitely a highlight.
The aftermath is filled with a lot of great symbolism regarding the shield and what they’re really fighting for and about. What makes the sequence even more powerful is the aftermath and seeing Sam wiping the blood off of the shield. Keeping in line with some of the themes of the series, Walker is returned to the states where he is reprimanded in a fashion that is both frustrating, but not at all surprising. Wyatt Russell does some of his best work in the series in this scene and you can almost feel for Walker as he lays indictments at the feet of the men who are responsible for making him Captain America in the first place.
We definitely get a supervillain origin scene following that and with every subsequent thing Walker does in the episode. He deftly shifts responsibility away from himself from his acts and the surprise cameo from Julia Louis Dreyfuss definitely pushes him in the villain direction.
In the aftermath of the hearing and Latvia, Sam returns to the states while Bucky deals with Zemo. Both scenes are powerful in and of themselves as Bucky puts himself in the position of either giving into the Winter Soldier or becoming the man he wants to be. Sam’s struggle is more profound when he revisits Isaiah Bradley and gets he full story of what happened to the man. A story that is a direct mirror to the events of Captain America: The First Avenger but with a vastly different outcome for Bradley. Their interaction is tense and necessary for Sam to re-focus on who he is and who he wants to become.
Things get a little lighter when Sam returns to stay with his sister, shield in hand, and decides to focus on something he can fix. It’s a great set of scenes that highlight community and five context to the audience about who Sam is and where he came from. Even Bucky’s arrival adds a little levity to the heavy subject matter of the episode and their interactions lead to a moment that was necessary for not only the characters, but the audience. It’s a well done scene that leads to an awesome training montage for Sam where he starts to come into his own with the legacy of the shield.
Unfortunately, the threat of the Flag Smashers remains and a more radicalized Karli brings in some help with a score to settle with Sam.
The episode ends beautifully with an awesome tease of what is to come in the finale. All of the elements of this episode work and nothing feels wasted or unnecessary. The story has a great ebb and flow to it that draws you in as a viewer and I can’t wait to see how it all resolves.