The Cap wing of the MCU remains my favorite. While a large part of that was Chris Evans nailing the role, Anthony Mackie’s work as Falcon and Sebastian Stan as Bucky have been crucial to humanizing Steve Rogers, and they have a really fun brotherly chemistry bickering with each other.
LAST WEEK”S EPISODE did a nice job setting the table, giving you a bigger look at the post-blip world that WANDAVISION and even SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME didn’t really give you. There’s a shell-shocked chaos you can imagine in a world where life was put on hold and suddenly everything just starts resuming like normal. After two episodes, it looks like the series will focus on the struggle, with the group known as the Flag Smashers wanting the unorganized chaos of no functioning central authority that the blip years provided.
One fear after last week was a Netflix-style slow burn, where Falcon and Bucky don’t actually interact for far too long into the run. Luckily, the budget and star power Disney’s throwing into these shows means they don’t have time for Netflix meandering and we do get Falcon and Bucky interacting for nearly the entire episode.
I’ll be honest, I enjoy their banter and while at times John “New Cap” Walker’s dialogue is exposition heavy, I could watch many episodes of just Falcon and Bucky bickering with each other. I managed to fill a whole page of notes for this episode with their dialogue alone!
Sam and Bucky breaking down the current threat as either “Androids, Robots, or Wizards”; Bucky mentioning he read the Hobbit in 1937, leading to trying to decide where Dr. Strange fits into the discussion “A sorcerer is just a wizard without a hat!” made me laugh.
The episode starts with John “New Cap” Walker doing a creampuff Good Morning America interview trying to intone Steve Rogers’ trademark modesty, but having an undercurrent of tone-deaf dumbassery to him. By episode’s end, you can see a case both ways whether they let the power corrupt him or he genuinely fights the good fight trying to carry Captain America’s mantle. We cut to Bucky, watching the interview incredulously with his jaw on the floor as if wondering what anyone that idolizes Steve Rogers has been asking: “Who’s this dork?”
At the heart of the episode, we do have some conflict between Sam and Bucky. Bucky is disappointed Sam gave up the shield. In a really well done scene, Bucky lays it out there to Sam – by turning down the shield, Sam is spitting on Steve’s choice and legacy. And, in a vulnerable beat, realizes if Steve was wrong about Sam, what if he was wrong about Bucky too?
Sam and Bucky end up in Germany following a lead on the Flag Smashers. There, we get another well done bit of choreography where our heroes try to free someone they think is a hostage, only to learn she’s the leader of the Flag Smashers, Karli Morgenthau. We quickly find out the entire Flag Smasher organization has somehow acquired super soldier serum and make short work of Bucky and Falcon.
John Walker and his sidekick Lemar Hoskins (Battlestar) show up to try to even the odds. Walker has Cap’s moves, tenacity, and grit but not his super soldier abilities, so isn’t much help. Walker again toes the line of modesty and dick. Put together with Bucky’s distaste for Walker carrying Cap’s shield, their partnership quickly ends.
The episode wraps up with Bucky and Sam going to visit someone Bucky fought with during his Winter Soldier days, a Korean War vet who was also given a variant of the super soldier serum that created Captain America and Bucky. Considering Isaiah Bradley, our vet, fought and defeated Bucky, he wasn’t receptive to the visit, but it did serve as an eye opener to Sam that the government has been in to more things than he, and us as the MCU audience, knows.
From here, Bucky ends up being arrested for missing his court-appointed therapy session. John Walker again tries to play peacemaker but only pisses off our heroes more and they part ways for now, a begrudging dance of trust and distrust between John/Lemar and Sam/Bucky.
Bucky points out without government backing, they’ll need more info on the super soldier program and there’s no one better than an ex-Hydra operative to get it. The episode ends with a look in at CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR’S Baron Zemo in his cell setting up a new confrontation next week!
I’m digging this show! I’m an outlier on WandaVision, as I liked their sitcom spoof bits more than their foray into the post-blip world, but here I’m vested and interested where the story goes and the chemistry between Stan and Mackie continues to be loads of fun!
My one wonder though at this point is the status of Steve Rogers. It’s quite the elephant in the room that they’ve strategically danced around at various points the first two episodes. The prevailing wisdom is they’ve gone with “Cap died in the battle with Thanos” to have less questions about Old Man Steve still alive. They implied a remembrance ceremony of sorts in episode 1. In Far from Home, we had the RIP Cap memorial powerpoint. But it seems a big beat to have played off-screen. My legit pet theory is we might actually build up to some sort of final episode cameo. At the least, it does feel like they should give some sort of fan service update on Old Man Steve’s whereabouts at this point.
This week’s ep? 8/10
Hype Machine Week #2
This week Bucky teases he “knows a guy”. We then cut to him taking Sam to meet Isaiah Bradley. But obviously, this is a misdirect. I’m calling it! By episode 6, we’ll meet the real guy Bucky knows, Adam Warlock. That’s right, they’ll pick up on the dangling thread of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and we’ll introduce Adam. Not just a guy, but the first guy, to the MCU!