Coming on the heels of WANDAVISION, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also picks up in the aftermath of AVENGERS: ENDGAME. The first dialogue we hear? Steve Rogers telling Sam Wilson to try on the Shield. This plays a big role in episode 1, as Sam has decided in the weeks post-Endgame that he is not yet worthy.
Sam, clearly uneasy with the idea of becoming Captain America, does show his hero days are far from over and goes on a rescue mission for the Air Force.
Here, we meet again Batroc the Leaper (the jumpy guy Steve Rogers fights early on in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER), as he’s taken a military operative hostage. This turns into a feature film-worthy segment, where Sam dons his Falcon wings and flies into a plane where Batroc has taken hostages and nearly subdues the terrorists, only to have to chase Batroc and his team through the air and ultimately save the military operative before leaving friendly air space.
At a remembrance ceremony for Captain America, Sam gives a speech talking about Steve being the hero we needed then, but in a post-blip world, we need more heroes. He notes that the shield was Cap’s symbol and should remain that way. The shield is stored and we get a quick cameo from Don Cheedle’s James “War Machine” Rhodes, trying to talk Sam one more time into taking the mantle of Captain America. Rhodey has a nice line here that I’m sure will resonate to Sam later in the series: “The world’s broken and everybody’s looking for someone to fix it.”
We segue to James “Bucky” Barnes, having a flashback to one of his Winter Soldier missions. The flashback ends with him killing an innocent civilian as we cut to him waking up in the present day. Bucky, we find out, has been pardoned. As part of the pardon, he has to go to therapy and has 3 general rules:
- Can’t do anything illegal
- Can’t hurt anyone
- Make amends to those he did hurt
Here we get a cool look at him “making amends” to a corrupt Hydra-affiliated senator. Taking control of her car remotely, driving it fast around a garage, and punching out her bodyguard before telling her “I’m James Barnes, I am no longer the Winter Soldier.”
Back in therapy, we get a picture of a lonely Bucky, dodging Sam’s texts, few people on his contacts list and the therapist herself really the only one Bucky talks to as guilt still overwhelms him. Bucky’s story continues as we find out he’s friended the father of the innocent civilian he killed in the flashback sequence. Bucky’s trying to work up the courage to try to make it right, but realizes there’s no way to do it, so he’s in a stand still.
We cut back to Sam as we finally get a glimpse of his personal life. He travels to his family in Louisiana and we find out his sister is running a family fishing business that is losing money. Sam can’t bear the thought of letting the family business go, so he convinces his sister to try to save the business by getting a loan. This goes poorly, as the banker explains that Sam wasn’t the only one blipped out and millions of people are in lousy financial shape and they can’t give the loan.
Sam is contacted by his military contact at this point (Googling the characters name, it’s a comics easter egg, Joaquin Torres, future wearer of the Falcon suit), who tells him a new terrorist group, the Flag Smashers, are trying to bring things back to the Blip Years, just chaos with no government controls. We see the leader has powers as he quickly beats down Joaquin and escapes.
The episode ends with a breaking news segment: the Department of Defense counters everything Sam said at Cap’s ceremony and names a new Captain America. We’re left with Sam shocked and disappointed.
Overall, enjoyable episode. The opening Falcon Flight Fight showed they’re willing to put cinematic quality into the series. The rest of the episode did a good job fleshing out characters that have to carry 5 more episodes but until this point in the MCU have been sidekicks.
Hype Machine Week #1
Being Kings and Queens of the world, Disney shows are now built around hype. The next Grogu. The next Luke Skywalker moment. The next
Reed Richards random aerospace engineer.
I imagine The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be no different! I’m calling my shot, based on the rather obvious clues dropped in this episode, by the time we get to episode 6 later this spring, the MCU’s newest hero? Namor himself, the Sub-Mariner! At one point in this episode, Bucky enjoys sushi with his friend. Why sushi? They could have eaten anything but chose fish. Who knows fish? Namor! You heard it here first!