SPOILERS FOR EPISODE FOUR OF THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
Some people found episode three of the Disney + series to be a bit of a step down (not me though) from the rest of the series. However, I don’t think anyone is saying that about episode four, an amazing thrill ride.
There are two images/moments that are right near the top of the best moments not only of this series, but also the MCU (that may be hyperbolic, but…). One of those were at the very beginning of the show and one as the ending image at the very end of the show.
The episode started off in a flashback from six years ago in Wakanda. Bucky and Ayo are at fireside and she is saying the trigger words that activate the Winter Soldier program that was in Bucky’s head. Shuri had been working to remove the programming and this was an attempt to see what would happen. Sebastian Stan was absolutely brilliant in these few minutes. He worked through such pain and anguish as the words were being said. He had flashbacks to some of his past atrocities as the Winter Soldier and he struggled to maintain his control. Then, when the words were complete and Ayo said that he was free, Bucky’s tears of relief rolled from his eyes. The scene ended with a slight smile from Bucky. Such a powerhouse moment for the character of James Barnes.
The second image that brought tears to my eyes was the very end of the show. John Walker, the new Captain America, who had taken the final vial of Super Soldier Serum that Karli had (Zemo had destroyed the rest and took a shield to the head for his trouble), flipped out and chased the Flagsmashers away. He flipped out after Karli kicked Battlestar into a pillar and he dies (we think). He caught up with one of the Flagsmashers and he brutally killed him with the shield. The show gave a final shot of Walker standing, holding the shield with blood covering the bottom of the shield. It was a gutshot to me. It was so disturbing and painful for me to see the shield tarnished with the blood of the Flagsmasher. It shook me.
By the way, as John Walker is driving his shield into this helpless man, there are tons of people with their cell phones out and recording. It is very much like the current world when police officers are over stepping their boundaries and using excessive force. I certainly think the scene with John Walker plays as an analogy to those real life moments.
Now, the rest of the episode was awesome too. It was just bookended with some amazing awesomeness.
In particular, the Dora Milaje was here. We saw Ayo show up at the end of the third episode to confront Bucky. This week she told him that he had eight hours and then they were coming for Zemo. Then they came for him and wound up in an epic battle with Walker, Battlestar, Bucky and Sam in a hotel room. The expertness of their fighting skills were on full display as they showed why the Dora Milaje is considered the elite fighting force in the world. And, Ayo delivered one of the defining lines for the characters of the Dora Milaje when she said, in response to Walker saying that they did not have jurisdiction, that “The Dora Milaje have jurisdiction wherever the Dora Milaje find themselves to be.”
We continue to develop the character of Karli. Last episode, it looked as if she had taken the turn to full fledged villain, but her motivations are walked back a bit this week. There are still some ways to redeem her because they have truly made her shades of grey. She had a philosophy that you could, conceivably, get behind. Her interactions with Sam during this show were so well written that you could see how the two of them could be connected. It is still unclear who might be the “big villain” of this show because there are so many shades here.
Of course, Daniel Brühl is just the best. After Disney released the extra scene of Zemo dancing (looped for an hour), it is obvious that Baron Zemo is a star in this show. He continued here being one of the best characters on the show. He is both hilarious and sinister at the same time. He is the smartest person in the room and he is fully committed to his agenda. As he smashed the super soldier serum, Zemo showed that he could not be corrupted by the power. You could almost respect it if he was not taking things in another different path,
- “Looking strong, John!” – Bucky
- Bucky has his metal arm removed in battle
- John Walker’s story is great. Plus, he is shown as being uncertain about what to do with the super soldier serum he had found. It is a great character moment as we watch him slip into his head.
- Bucky shows his knife fighting skills once again.
- The extra drop of Battlestar’s head is dramatic when he is “killed.” I put it in quotation marks because I am assuming that he is dead, but you can never be sure.
- Was there a relationship between Bucky and Ayo? There was a look of betrayal from Bucky when she took off his arm. This has easily been Sebastian Stan’s greatest MCU performance so far.
- Karli is still iffy in my mind. She made a threat against Sarah and her children.
- Is Sharon Carter the Power Broker? Could be.
- It is amazing that Zemo’s head is still on his shoulders after taking the shield to his face.
- Zemo in the bathrobe is just a perfect character trait. Zemo has been such a fantastic character here.
- Sam stood out here too. It seems clear that Steve Rogers was right when he picked Sam to carry the shield.
- It was sad how the man Walker murdered with the Shield was the same man who had told Karli that he was a Captain America fan as a child.
The brutality of the final scene is something that we have not seen a lot of in the MCU and it caught me off guard. It served to taint the symbol of Captain America and it was a serious gut punch. I did not know that it meant as much to me as it did until I saw the shot of the shield with the blood on it. The show has two more weeks left and it has stepped up into a new stratosphere with this week’s offering.