The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2 Review
It’s never easy to accept when someone new steps into an iconic role. No matter how good people say the new person is. There’s going to be the critics and naysayers who say “You’re not good enough”. I’m of the opinion that its best to reserve judgement until we see the new person in action. And having seen New Cap (that’s what I’m calling John Walker, the new “Captain America” until further notice,) in action , I can safely say…that this isn’t going to work out. At all.
New Cap’s Already Cracking
On the surface, John Walker seems like a worthy successor to Steve Rogers as the New Cap. He’s got three Medals of Honor, top marks in every category, the trustworthy face, and good with the shield. And he does make an effort to reach out to Sam and Bucky, asking to work with him. Altogether, he seems like a decent guy. On the surface.
I could already see the cracks forming, though. From the outset, Walker recognizes how monumental a task it is to become the New Cap. How everyone has high expectations of him to fill Steve Rogers’ shoes, and it’s tearing him apart. On the one hand, he wants to meet the expectations everyone’s got for him and be the best Cap he can be. On the other hand, he knows that he can’t live up to Steve’s legacy. In addition, we see how frustrated he is at being at the beck and call of the US Government. Unlike Steve, though, who chose to embody the best ideals of America over being just a soldier, Walker allows himself to be shackled to the bidding of the government. The contradictions are eating away at him.
Even the way he talks to Bucky and Sam after fighting the Flag-Smashers is off-putting. Despite their obvious distrust of him, Walker acts respectful to the two and wants them to work with him. It feels like someone who knows they’re in over their heads asking for help from someone who knows what they’re doing. But at the same time, it feels condescending, with Bucky and Sam thinking he only wants them to help legtimize his role as New Cap. And when they make it clear they’re not interested, he drops the niceties and tells them to stay out of his way.
Bucky and Falcon Tensions Brewing
Bucky and Sam have had six years to build up their character dynamic, and it’s one of the best things about this show. They both have similar personalities (I think) and hold Captain America in high regard, and the trailer for show makes them out to be vitriolic best buddies. However, this episode demonstrates just how high tensions are between the two.
It all comes down to Falcon’s decision to give up the shield. Bucky continues to tell Sam that he made a mistake doing so, and while a part of Sam thinks so, too, he tries to justify it by saying it was the right thing to do. Bucky doesn’t see it that way, though. He thinks Sam turned his back on what Steve stands for, that he made the wrong decision to make Sam his successor. And as he points out during their joint therapy session (which is hilariously written like couples therapy), does that mean Steve was wrong about Bucky?
I see right through Bucky, though. Even though none of what he did as the Winter Soldier was his fault, he still blames himself. And now he’s projecting his guilt onto Sam. It’s uncalled for, and it takes until the end of the episode to realize that he was out of line. The two even agree to part ways for good after dealing with the Flag-Smashers. I really hope they don’t, though.
Legacy of Racism
It goes without saying, but even fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement, America’s still trying to move past its history of racism. Recent events in society have made that obvious, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier brings it to the forefront just how bad still are.
Firstly, there’s the unspoken issue of why Sam turned down the Shield. He’s afraid that no one’s ready for an African-American Captain America. I mean, he can’t even get into an argument with Bucky in public without some cops racially profiling him! Bucky had to outright tell the cops that he was the Falcon to get them to back off.
In addition, we see another reminder of the legacy of racism present in the form of Isaiah Bradley, a Korean War veteran who got a version of the Super-Soldier Serum. This man was a war hero that even fought off Bucky and ripped off half his metal arm. And what happened to him? He got jailed for thirty years and used as a guinea pig by the government and HYDRA. It’s unfair, it’s cruel…and it sounds like something that the US would do. And I hate every part of it.
The Return of Zemo
The big, overlying issue that the episode talks about is the Flag-Smashers. Their members were able to fight off Bucky, Sam, Walker, and Battlestar (Walker’s partner). There’s no doubt about it-someone’s making more super-soldiers. And we don’t know how. The name “Power Broker” gets dropped by the Flag-Smashers, but that’s about it. Bucky’s only idea on what to do is to go see the one person who knows more about HYDRA than all of them: Zemo.
Zemo may not have powers and he’s no Thanos, but he came closer to tearing apart the Avengers than anyone else. I hoped to see him again in the MCU, and now that wish is coming true. And the fact that he’s back is bad news for everyone.
So, in short, I liked this episode. I think it’s doing a great job at building the post-Endgame MCU, and giving us a lot to look forward to. I can’t wait to see what happens next week.
I Give “The Star-Spangled Man” a 4.5/5
- We got to see Isaiah Bradley’s grandson, Eli Bradley, in this episode. In the comics, he’s the superhero Patriot and leader of the Young Avengers. Like I said in my post for The Game of Nerds, the Young Avengers are coming!
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