TL;DR – It takes what could have been a boilerplate story, and elevates it with emotion and strength.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a Mid-Credit Scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this episode.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Review –
If there is one running theme that we have been seeing so far in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, actions have consequences that can ripple out. We have seen that pop up time and time again, but this week it reveals itself in sharp contrast after the events of The Whole World is Watching and the desecration of a symbol in a moment of anger.
So to set the scene, we pick up right after the closing frames of last week’s episode with John Walker (Wyatt Russell) running from the scene covered in blood and still brandishing the murder weapon. He is trying to justify the unjustifiable when Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and Sam (Anthony Mackie) catch up to him in a warehouse. They both know that after what happened and that John’s best case scenario at this point is that he is not court marshalled, but his tenure as Captain America is over. As they try to talk John down from the cliff and disarm him of his shield, John sees what they are doing and attacks without abandon. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
The first thing I want to take a moment to highlight is the remarkable job they have done lighting this series. In this episode, you see it the best in that warehouse, as we see a broken Captain America sitting dejected in a shaft of light. This excellence continues throughout that fight sequence, which might be the best action sequence we have seen so far due to how intimate it was. Light, dark, and contrast appear all through the episode vignettes that are striking and powerful, and it has a strong hand in making the emotions land.
The second thing that stood out to me was the emotion throughout the whole episode. When Bucky and Sam arrive at the warehouse, you can feel their genuine concern right up until he straight-up tried to murder him. When they are working on the boat, you feel that strengthening a bond growing from antagonism to respect culminating in both of them giving each other tough love. You can also see that bond at a community level when everyone comes together to help repair that boat. These are the positive ripples of hard work and a good reminder that actions can have positive effects when we take in the concerns of others.
This also continues the trend of taking a moment to explore some significant real-world issues, in this case, how a government treats their soldiers as expendable commodities that can be used up and then spit out. We see that reinforced through two different stories, the first being John Walker. The government took someone exceptional in one particular field, assumed that meant he was exceptional in every way, threw him out unprepared, and then discarded him when he became inconvenient. His lament that “You Made Me!” wins home with force because it is true. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there should have been no consequences for what he did, but that a media parade and then throwing him to the wolves is not the right choice. Especially when the wolves co-opt him, like Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine aka Val aka Madame Hydra aka why you 100% hire Julia Louis-Dreyfus if you can. It is also one of the many ripple effects of this episode.
The other example is with Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), who was used as a guinea pig by the US Military, exploited and watched his squad die off, and when he was the last one left, he was taken and experimented on. A military experimenting on their own troops is nothing new, and there is a long, sordid history of that happening across the world but very much so in America. This is coupled in Isaiah’s case with him being a Black man and thus considered expendable by those in power. There is a weight that comes from his story because you know deep down that it not an entirely fictional tale. You see that in how Sam takes that on-board and processes it throughout the episode. Which is a good time to mention that we get a great display of Anthony Mackie’s acting range this week, in the highs and lows, and in those small moments as well as the big training montage.
In the end, do we recommend Truth? Well, as a metaphysical concept, of course. But as an episode? Absolutely. Structurally speaking, all this episode is, is a coda for what happened last week and a set up for what is happening in the finale next week. It could have been dry and lacking substance as it went through the narrative motions. However, it is anything but this. There was weight and power to every action. Even if the characters were in the show for a hand full of lines, every exchange held meaning. More than anything, it has me excited for what is 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 – Dalan Musson
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, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Florence Kasumba, Danny Ramirez, Georges St-Pierre, Adepero Oduye, Carl Lumbly & Daniel Brühl with Desmond Chiam, Dani Deetté, Indya Bussey, Renes Rivera, Chase River McGhee, Tyler Dean Flores, Elijah Richardson, Charles Black, Jane Rumbaua,Noah Mills, Janeshia Adams-Ginyard & Zola Williams