TL;DR – This episode is like a storm approaching over the horizon. You see it coming, you feel the wind, you know something bad is about to strike, but you are not prepared even then.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no End Credit Scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this episode.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Review –
Many people feel that comic book films are nothing but popcorn trash, just there to fill in time with some pretty colours and then send you on your way. However, when we look at just the Marvel Cinematic Universe [and there is a whole lot more than that], then that statement simply does not hold water. We just watched an entire season of WandaVision exploring the legacy of trauma and what that does to a person. I mean, Thor: Ragnarok is all about post-colonial societies and how they whitewash and inevitably have to rectify with the darkness of their pasts. Sometimes, that means tearing the state down completely. Then it should be no surprise that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier set in a world trying to recover from a great cataclysm would have something of relevance to say, and this week they were most explicit about it.
So to set the scene, at the end of Power Broker, Bucky (Sebastian Stan), Sam (Anthony Mackie), and Zemo (Daniel Brühl) had arrived in Latvia in the hopes of tracking Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) down. However, they were not the only ones on the hunt because as they arrive at their safe house, Bucky spots Wakandan tech lying around and traces it back to Ayo (Florence Kasumba), one of the Dora Milaje. As she is one of the people that helped Bucky get rid of his programming, she is most upset that he was the one that broke Zemo out of jail. However, as Zemo is just ‘a means to an ends’ Ayo will give Bucky eight hours, and then she is taking Zemo for herself. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Throughout this season, one of the concepts that they have been dancing around is that of is someone a terrorist or are they freedom fighters? It is one of the classic debates in the literature that makes first-year international relations students groan when it gets brought up. Well, this week, we don’t quite dive into that debate, more like we sit on the edge of the pool and dip our legs in over the side. Sam is insistent that Karli is looking out for a people that have been oppressed, and even though she killed some people last week, her ideals are good, and she can be walked back from the cliff. In contrast, the new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), does not like to live in a world of grey and nuance, to his own detriment. It would have been good if they dived in completely, but as we will see, they had a more significant point in mind this week.
Indeed, a lot was going on this week as we had five different factions trying to outmanoeuvre each other. Sam, Bucky, and Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) trying to find the peaceful option, Fake Cap and Lemar/Battlestar (Clé Bennett) just wanting to take them down, Karli and the group trying to mourn and decide if they should grow their ranks, the Dora Milaje wanting to get what is theirs back, and then Zemo being peak-Zemo. This led to some interesting encounters: my favourite was when Ayo, Nomble (Janeshia Adams-Ginyard), and Yama (Zola Williams) arrived to get everyone else a smackdown. However, one character arc defined this episode and that was the fall of Captain America.
If we go back to the very first Captain America film, one of the core things about the serum is that it amplifies what is already within. Much the same way that power does not corrupt, it reveals. Right from the start, even before he took the serum, John was someone that looked perfect on paper but was in reality entirely unprepared for the pressure the role of Captain America brought. Throughout the season so far, we have seen how he dealt with people ignoring him or when things go wrong, and that has been frustration. We see it building throughout the episode as Sam ignores him and shows he has better instincts than him, when the Dora Milaje beat his arse, and when Zemo was goading him. This frustration provided the temptation that was the serum, but like all things, you can’t just throw a stopgap into your personality and hope it would fix it.
From the moment you see the one vial of serum left, and that look in John’s eyes, you know that disaster is approaching. While he will, of course, use the [apparent?] death of Lemar as the match that caused him to act, In reality, he had been pouring petrol/gasoline over the situation, just waiting for the spark to go off. The image of Captain America abusing his power to hunt down and brutally murdering someone in broad daylight is going to be a scenario that will ring true for a lot of people that have experienced similar brutality from people in positions of authority. The parallels with police shootings or deaths in custody are not subtle, and sometimes it is good to have a point rammed home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Or, in this case, a blood-soaked shield.
In the end, do we recommend The Whole World is Watching? Yes. It is not an easy episode to watch in places, and it would have been good if it had been a little bolder in some areas. However, I am sure that the last image will linger in the minds of many in the weeks to come.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Directed by – Kari Skogland
Written by – Derek Kolstad
Created by – Malcolm Spellman
Based on – Characters created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Production/Distribution Companies – Marvel Studios & Disney+
Starring – Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman, Florence Kasumba, Adepero Oduye, & Daniel Brühl with Clé Bennett, Desmond Chiam, Dani Deetté, Indya Bussey, Renes Rivera, Tyler Dean Flores, Noah Mills, Veronica Falcon, Janeshia Adams-Ginyard & Zola Williams