Last week I felt inspired to share my thoughts on the first episode of Disney+ and the MCU’s latest series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I wasn’t sure whether this was going to be a weekly series but again I took a ton of notes while watching Friday’s instalment, so here we are again!
This episode was more action packed than the first instalment, with lots of Winter Solider and Civil War vibes… I felt personally, anyway. We finally get to see Sam and Bucky together and there’s also the introduction of more MCU characters, most of them new!
My thoughts of episode two of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Episode two, The Star Spangled Man (eeeek), deals with the aftermath of the “new” Captain America being revealed and though we did get some of the action we know and love, there was a ton of character insight and development too.
The episode opens with John Walker in his old sports locker rooms, grappling with his new identity as he talks about how his touring doesn’t feel like what he should really be doing. Shortly after, we see John run on to the football fields as part of said “Captain America” tour, brought on stage to the sounds of a jazz version of Star Spangled Man, which we know and love from The First Avenger. This is more or less a nod to Steve during his tour, with similar shots of him meeting fans.
Prior to becoming “Captain America” (nope sorry I cannot say this without the air quotes because he is NOT Cap), we see that John served in the military and has a history of training behind him with results in speed, strength and agility. Although his interviewer shares how amazing people may think John is, at the beginning of this episode he makes a point that he’s no Tony Stark or Bruce Banner, and that he has “big shoes to fill.” DAMN RIGHT YOU DO.
“Everybody in the world expects me to be something. And I don’t want to fail them.”
The scene cuts to Bucky who is watching this unfold on the news, and he looks devastated. What was his best friend’s legacy, and Steve’s identity long before he became the iconic soldier, is now being paraded and used as a tool by the government.
Sam and Bucky finally come together, starting off in the true essence in their very on brand manner: by bickering. They discuss what’s happening with the “new Cap” and we learn that Bucky is angry with not only what’s going on, but with Sam for relinquishing the shield because “this isn’t what Steve wanted.”
While things get a little deeper than usual with them, as they each share valid concerns, they’re soon back to arguing over who the new bad guy is and how they want to move forward.
“A sorcerer is a wizard without a hat.”
Despite them not necessarily agreeing on who is involved in “the big three”, Bucky joins Sam on his mission to scope out The Flag Smashers at the location Redwing found them hiding in when looking for intel.
I was literally howling at the scene on the plane where Sam was reluctant to share his plan and instead just flies off the plane. So Bucky decides to follow him, using his Vibranium arm as a shield. What really got me, was the SCREAM that he let out as he did. Oh, and the fact that Sam caught alllll of it on camera.
I personally feel that the hate Bucky has for Redwing isn’t spoken about enough. Is it because it’s like a smaller, buzzier version of Sam? Or is he just not about technology that almost has a life of its own? I mean, we literally later see Redwing get destroyed and Bucky, despite being in the middle of a fight, can’t help but praise the team because he’s “always wanted to do that.”
After a literal lifetime spent as a solo assassin, we learn that Bucky is learning to adapt to missions as part of a team. Sam wants to tread carefully, monitoring The Flag Smashers from a distance to gather information before moving forwards, whereas Bucky wants to charge in and get started… which, he then does. Hello super speed!
“What’s going on in that big cyborg brain of yours?”
When things don’t really go according to “plan”, we finally get the fight scene we’ve been waiting for! It was so cool to see them both using their individual skills in tandem, one utilising their strengths where the other may have a weakness. This scene was just peak MCU for me: a good old action fight sequence on the roof of a moving vehicle.
So while all of that was super exciting, my heart was in my mouth when CAPTAIN AMERICA SHOWS UP. Look, I knew it wasn’t Steve, but it was such a Steve move that I got emotional all over again. Having tracked Sam and Bucky down through Redwing, John and his friend and colleague Lemar join the fight. With a lot of anger towards John and Battlestar, and realising they aren’t going to win the fight, Sam and Bucky leave. I say leave… it was more a case of Sam catches Bucky and drags him away, ending with a roll in a field.
Two important things to note in this scene: Bucky effortlessly catching the sheild again like WHAT, and him saying “stop the car” totally deadpan after hearing that Lemar calls himself Battlestar 😂
“Just cause you carry that shield it doesn’t mean you’re Captain America.”
We are then introduced to a new character in the MCU, and a storyline that again links to the discussions of race and prejudice.
Isaiah Bradley was the first Black super soldier to become Captain America that knew Bucky, and fought him, in the 1950s. Sam is confused and frustrated – how did nobody know that he existed? Not only was Isaiah erased from history where other super soliders have been deemed ‘heroes’, we find out that he was also jailed for 30 years after he donned the uniform. This storyline is pretty much straight from the comics, and his grandson also appears in this scene who is likely to become a superhero in his own right if they again follow the comics. His strength still very much intact despite his old age, he is understandably angry and tells both Bucky and Sam leave.
With Sam being pissed at Bucky for having kept this a secret for so long, the pair argue outside Isaiah’s house. As things get heated, a police car shows up and the cops demand to see Sam’s I.D., asking Bucky “is this man bothering you?” The micro aggressions continue until one cop tells the other that “they’re The Avengers”, after which he promptly apologises and suddenly appears to have a ton of manners. Like racially profiling is ok if you aren’t a superhero?
Due to missing his court mandated therapy sessions while fighting The Flag Smashers, Bucky is arrested. To rub salt in the wound, he is later bailed out by John Walker. Aaaaand to make matters even worse for him, his therapist demands that he and Sam have joint therapy.
In the beginning the two are reluctant to participate, acting childish and avoiding the questions. How they filmed the soul gazing exercise without laughing I DO NOT KNOW, and with the interlocked legs! The arguing here really reminded me of Civil War, when Bucky ask’s Sam to move his seat up in the car.
When forced to confront their issues however, Bucky makes a devastating statement. The waver in his voice and the catch in his words, as though ready to burst into tears, really fucked me up.
“Maybe he was wrong about you and if he was wrong about you then he was wrong about me.”
The pair agree to put aside their differences to stop The Flag Smashers and then go their separate ways, however John and ‘Battlestar’ have waited outside the police station to suggest working together to take down the bad guys. Due to Bucky and Sam’s mutual feeling that John doesn’t deserve to wield the title of Captain America and the fact that they do not want to operate under the constraints of the government they decline, resulting in John telling them to “stay the hell out of his way”. Excuse me? The audacity?????
Wanting to know more about the serum that is clearly still in circulation somehow, and with HYDRA conducting tests on Isaiah back in the day, they decide to go and speak to the person who is still around who may know something: Zemo. The parting shot is Zemo locked in a cell and I’m excited to see what his role is going to be in the next episode!
“Steve believe in you. He trusted you. He gave you that shield for a reason.”
Okay so again, that was longer than I aniticpated. But there’s just so much to unpack!
I’m glad to see this direction Marvel that have taken, clearly highlighting the issues of racism and prejudice that massively impact today’s society – it isn’t something they’re shying away from. I’m intrigued to see how the latest character introductions will come into play through the next four episodes.
I feel like there’s something more going on that meets the eye with The Flag Smashers, partly because duh it’s Marvel, and partly because of the cryptic and threatening text they receive during the episode. Sharon is also yet to make an appearance so I’m wondering how she’s going to come into it!
If you made it this far, I commend you. And if you ever want to fangirl over Marvel you know where to find me.