This week on Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam and Bucky reunited in the wake of a new Captain America being unveiled. Is their biggest adversary now themselves, the Flag-Smashers, or Cap himself?
To start, we got to know a bit about the new Captain America, John Walker, during his sitdown with GMA‘s Sara Haines on the football field of his high school alma mater. He’s a husband (to Olivia), a decorated war hero (who only weeks ago was prepping a special ops team for a mission in Chile), and a rather elite, non-enhanced physical specimen. “I don’t have flashy gadgets or super strength,” he admits. “What I do have is guts.” When he says he never met Steve Rogers but considers him a “brother,” we see Bucky at home, shaking his head at what he’s hearing.
Bucky in turn finds Sam to declare how “wrong” this new Captain America sitch is. Sam says the reveal broke his heart as well, but when Bucky says that Sam had no right to yield the shield, Sam counters, “You’re not gonna tell me about my rights.” Sam says he has bigger fish to fry in the form of the Flag-Smashers, whom Redwing has traced to Munich. Bucky insists on tagging along, though once aboard the plane he fixates on the idea that Sam has no plan. They both jump from the low-flying plane (chute-less, Bucky lands with a thud), then stake out a warehouse where the Flag-Smashers are loading trucks with stolen vaccines. When the trucks pull away, Bucky and Sam give chase, and when Bucky believes he has found a female hostage inside of one, he soon learns she, Karli, is very much a bad guy — and a super-strong one at that. A group fight breaks out atop the two trucks, and just as Sam and Bucky both get pinned, Captain America’s shield zings by to break things up. John Walker and his own sidekick, Lemar Hoskins/Battlestar, join in the fight, though all four men wind up bested by the small but super-strong army.
After insisting on hoofing it a bit, Sam and Bucky accept a ride to the airport from Walker and Hoskins. Walker recaps how the GRC (Global Repatriation Council) has been working to ease the un-Blipped masses back into society, while Cap’s job amidst it all is to keep things stable. “I’m not trying to be Steve; I’m just trying to be the best Captain America I can be,” he tells Bucky and Sam, but when he invites them to be his wingmen, they promptly hop out of the vehicle.
When Karli and the Flag-Smashers arrive at their destination (one of many safe houses for those who believe in their “Robin Hood” cause), they are met with (questionable!) food and barracks, and their tech guy gets to erasing their online footprint, in light of the Interpol BOLO that is now out. “The GRC cares more about who came back than those who never left” and thus “got a glimpse of how things can be,” Karli says. “After tomorrow, there is no going back,” she warns her comrades, who respond with the mantra: “One world. One people.”
Back aboard their plane, Bucky suggests they reclaim Cap’s shield, but Sam reminds that the last time they did that, Sharon Carter wound up an enemy of the state and he and Steve were on the run for two years. “We’ve got nothing” to go with, Sam sighs, to which Bucky says, “That’s not entirely true. There is someone you should meet.” He leads them to a small house in Baltimore, where after IDing himself as “that guy from the bar in Goyang,” Bucky gets them inside to see Isaiah Bradley (Alias‘ Carl Lumbly), an older gentlemen with whom Bucky had “a skirmish in the Korean War” — because Isaiah, “like Steve,” was a hero HYDRA feared. Isaiah has no interest in helping his onetime foe or the government, saying, “You know what did to me for being a hero? Threw my ass in jail for 30 years,” running test after test. After getting booted from his home, Sam rails at Bucky, asking why no one ever told him (or Steve) there had been a Black super soldier. Their argument is cut short by the racial profiling of some local cops, who after backing off (upon realizing Sam is Falcon) note that they there is a warrant out for Bucky, who blew off his latest court-mandated shrink session.
Dr. Raynor insists that Sam join Bucky for his therapy session, and runs the frenemies through some exercises that are used in couples counseling. Cued to reveal, un-childishly, why Sam aggravates him, Bucky asks, “Why did you give up the shield?? Steve believed in you and trusted you, and you threw it away like it was nothing.” And if Steve was wrong about Sam, Bucky wonders, maybe he was wrong about him as well. In response, Sam maintians, “I did what I thought was right,” after which he says he will squash any beef with Bucky so they can get to their task at hand. “Thanks for making it weird, doc,” Sam quips on their way out.
Walker and Hoskins are waiting for Sam and Bucky outside, to tell them that “divided, we don’t stand a chance” against the Flag-Smashers, whose symbol has been showing up in displaced communities across Central and Eastern Europe. Invited once again to join on the official fight, Sam and Buck counter that as “free agents,” they enjoy less oversight and more flexibility. If that is their stance, New Cap offers “one word of advice: Stay the hell out of my way.”
Meanwhile, we see that someone known as the Power Broker and his men are chasing after Karli and her crew. When one of her colleagues offers to hold off the arriving goons, by first knocking down a utility pole and then surrendering himself to a hail of bullets, she takes off in a jet full of vaccine and other supplies.
What’s next for Sam and Bucky? Recalling how Isaiah said that even Bucky’s “people” — as in HYDRA — “weren’t done with me” after his imprisonment, the gents head off to see Baron Zemo, who is currently holed up in a supermax prison….
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