The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5 (2021)
Written by Dalan Musson
Directed by Kari Skogland
This episode was a bit of an improvement from the last couple, but the show is still far from being as good as it could be. One of the most glaring problems with the mini-series is how bloated the narrative has become with characters. In this one episode, we have scenes with Sam, Bucky, Isaiah Bradley, his grandson Elijah, John Walker, John Walker’s wife, Lamar’s family, Sam’s sister, and his nephews, Zemo, the Dora Milaje, Joaquin Torres, Batroc, Sharon Carter, Karli Morgenthau & the Flag Smashers. Plus, they introduce a new character, the Contessa de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The Zemo narrative appears to be over as he’s taken into Wakandan custody, but I just don’t see a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to all these arcs next episode.
There were some strong points to this episode, and like I said above, it was an improvement from the last few. One moment that immediately comes to mind is Sam’s scene with Isaiah Bradley. Bradley gets a chance to lay out the events of his life as part of the super-soldier program and how that has left him feeling about the United States. He explains to Sam that he feels no loyalty to a nation that betrayed him at every turn and doesn’t even want to look at the shield. I thought the show was finally saying something relevant here, Bradley’s experience mirroring the medical experimentation done on black people throughout the 20th century.
His words to Sam were very potent, “You want to believe jail is my fault because you got that white man’s shield . . .They will never let a Black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever want to be.” Bradley is one hundred percent correct, and Sam shouldn’t become the next Captain America. He should divorce himself of allegiance to the U.S. military and operate independently as The Falcon. But the rest of the episode makes very clear that it is likely not going to happen. Sam has a lengthy training montage, and I guess in the finale next week, he’ll be wearing new wings made by the Wakandans and wielding the shield. There’s a good reason why so many athletes kneel during the national anthem and why those symbols of this country should be openly disrespected. They are the icons of a history of cruelty and hatred. The world doesn’t need a Captain America. But Marvel needs to convince us so they can keep cashing checks on that I.P.
John Walker gets a decent scene when he testifies before a congressional subcommittee. His behavior in the last episode is cause to remove him from his position as Captain America. Walker reminds them he’s spent his entire adult life in service to their wars, allowing them to shape him into what he is. Every action he has taken has been at their order, and that he did what he was asked as Captain America as well. That falls on ears that don’t want to hear, and Walker leaves the hearing uninterested in what they have to say. It’s clear by the post-credits scene we will be getting the MCU’s version of USAgent. I’m interested to see who Walker goes after. Ultimately, the show won’t go further than this in indicting the U.S. military. The whole character arc will get reduced down to him being purely personally responsible for his aggression without any further commentary on how the military systematically dehumanizes people to make them efficient immoral killers.
At this point, the show has made it clear that Sharon Carter is the Power Broker, right? She literally calls in Batroc to have him become involved with the Flag Smashers. That whole story will likely play out with Sam & Bucky fighting Karli, who might also be engaged in battle with Walker. Batroc will try to get some sucker punches in on Sam only to get defeated again. I’m very curious as to what the conclusion of this will ultimately be. I suspect Karli dies, and the show continues to admonish revolutionary thought. This episode seemed like they might not go that route, but I just don’t have faith in Marvel actually delivering a subversive narrative. They are an arm of Disney, which has no interest in subverting that cash flow. One more episode to go, and then we are done. Surprisingly, I am looking forward to Loki now, which was on the bottom rung for my expectations going into the Disney+ MCU shows.