by Sam Acosta
This episode is the best of the series by far. The story, the acting, and the action all come together in a perfect cinematic symphony that will thrill you and make you feel like a superhero. What I was very worried would end up being a failed endeavor on Marvel’s part is now a show that I can’t get enough of.
The first scene provides one of the series’ most emotional scenes thus far. We see Ayo and Bucky back in Wakanda before the events of “Infinity War.” Ayo begins to recite the code words that activate his Winter Soldier psyche, not in order to control him but to see if he’s able to resist his former programming. We watch as Bucky, with tears in his eyes and then a look of pure relief, is able to break free from his dark past. This scene was beautifully poignant and some of the best acting I have ever seen Sebastian Stan do in the role. It honestly might be one of the most moving scenes in the entire MCU canon, only surpassed by the climatic and devastating endings of “Infinity War” and “Endgame.”
Back in the present day, Ayo warns Bucky that he has eight hours before the Dora Milaje, an elite, all-female unit of Wakandan warriors, come after Zemo. Rushing to find the answers they seek, the group sneaks into a refugee camp to see if anyone can point them in Karli’s direction. Zemo is able to get the location of a funeral that Karli will be attending from a local refugee girl, but the group is found by Walker and Battlestar before they can go it alone. Instead, Walker and Battlestar, asserting that they should be involved in hunting down Karli, go to the funeral with them.
Sam insists on talking to Karli alone, convinced that he can reason with her. While Walker pushes back on the idea, he agrees to give Sam ten minutes to try. Sam goes in and is able to start a productive dialogue with Karli. Using his experience counseling soldiers, he shows that he is sympathetic to her and her cause.
Their conversation was a great inclusion in the story. I have been having trouble caring about the Flag Smashers and Karli, but this interaction actually made me care about her and the role she plays in the story. We get a look into her motives, which come from a good place, and see her internal conflict as Sam tries to make her see the problems with the path that she is on.
This conversation is cut short, however, as Walker breaks his word and burst into the room before ten minutes is up to arrest Karli. A chase after the Flag Smasher’s leader ensues, and she escapes… almost. Having broken away from the others, Zemo manages to cut her off and injure her with a gunshot, causing her to drop the remaining vials of serum on the ground. One by one, Zemo shatters the vials under his boot until he is abruptly hit by Walker’s shield and knocked out. Out of the corner of his eye, Walker notices the last intact vial of super-soldier serum and quietly pockets it before going to find the others.
Back at the safehouse, the Dora Milaje come for Zemo. Walker condescendingly tells them to leave, leading to a fight between him and Battlestar and some of the MCU’s most dangerous women. Walker and Battlestar get absolutely trounced before Sam and Bucky somewhat reluctantly step in to stop the humiliation. In all the chaos, however, Zemo escapes, and the Dora Milaje leave to hunt him down.
Later, Karli sends a message to Sam and Bucky asking to meet up, threatening Sam’s sister’s life if they refuse. They go to meet her, and Karli reveals that she wants Sam to join her but also wants to kill Bucky. Another chase ensues, and Walker and Battlestar quickly join the fray. They are led into a room with the rest of the Flag Smashers where an all-out brawl commences.
The odds are against the Flag Smashers this time, however, as Walker has seemingly injected himself with the super-soldier serum he pocketed earlier. While most of the team is able to fend for themselves, Battlestar gets thrown into a pillar by Karli and is killed on impact. Overcome with rage, Walker angrily chases a stray Flag Smasher into a public square, where he bludgeons the unarmed man to death with his shield in front of a crowd of civilians. The episode ends with our new Captain America, his true colors now fully revealed, standing defiantly over his victim’s body, blood-stained shield in hand.
This episode was a cinematic wonder from start to finish. In terms of the writing, it feels like the kids were playing around for the last three episodes, and only now have the grown-ups finally decided to show up. Tonally, the episode was gritty, dark, and exactly what I’ve wanted from this show since the beginning. We see how Walker keeps getting belittled for being just a man and how this insecurity pushes him to take the serum. His character needed that internal motivation for us to understand how he ultimately becomes the fallen hero that he is at the end of the episode.
I hope the grown-ups stick around for the last two episodes. If they do, this might be one of the greatest show redemptions in the last decade. I am so excited to see where this story goes next, and I am counting down the days until the next episode releases.
Episode four of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is now streaming on Disney Plus.
Sam Acosta is a sophomore Theatre Comprehensive Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper, and writing plays.