In episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Karli Morgenthau is in possession of twenty vials of the new super-soldier serum, and her group the Flag Smashers are escalating their fight against the system which has discarded them. As the acts of violence threaten to spiral out of control, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes – the Falcon and the Winter Soldier – attempt to track Karli down so they can reason with her.
But can the help of Baron Zemo be trusted?
For Zemo, the clock is ticking before Wakanda’s Dora Milaje warriors begin their hunt to make him pay for assassinating King T’Chaka. Meanwhile, John Walker begins to question if he’s the right man to take the mantle of Captain America.
Let’s get serious for a moment.
Just like real life, the MCU is full of great moments. You know the ones I mean.
They’re ones so powerful that they create snapshot images in the memories of the audience. It’s hard to forget the sight of a thawed-out Captain America, straight from WW2, looking overwhelmed as he stands in 21st century Times Square; the Avengers, truly assembling for the first time in New York; a dejected Thor, failing to lift Mjolnir in the rain; Captain America and Iron Man’s teams facing off in an airport showdown; Thomas the Tank Engine being involved in Ant-Man’s battle; and, of course, the return of the heroes in Endgame.
There are plenty, far more than I’ve mentioned. And episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier adds another to the list.
And it’s terrifying.
It’s a bloody, visceral depiction of so many of the points the show has been trying to make all along. The timing of it couldn’t be any more jarringly perfect, too. Last week, the world (or at least the world’s social media) was lulled into a false sense of security, becoming obsessed with a lighthearted, meme-worthy dancing Baron Zemo. Well, let’s see what they make of this nightmarish sight, because this is as much about our reaction to it (and what it says about us individually) as it is about the image itself.
Assuming you know your history, episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier title (“The Whole World is Watching”) is significant.
Being an old rallying cry to highlight the abuse of power, that alone should tell you everything. We get a decent lecture from Zemo about supremacy, and how its parallel paths can lead to the same place. Zemo reminds us that Steve Rogers was an exception, not the rule, to never taking advantage of his power – and we know that he’s right.
However, episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s visual demonstrations to prove his point are far more efficient.
With Karli Morganthau fighting for refugee’s rights through crime and terrorism, and John Walker – the all-new Captain America – masking his own shortcomings through his determination to succeed at all costs, we see matters more clearly than ever. And while Steve Rogers was unique, even the most grudging observers must now realise who his natural successor is… and, more importantly, why.
It’s all intelligently handled, and it continues the trend of matching the pace, style and tone of the Winter Soldier and Civil War films with its more mature take on the MCU. When this show was first announced, one of the questions surrounding it was whether this show would fit in. The answer is that it absolutely does, as it once again offers up a spectacular piece of quality cinematic storytelling.
Even with a few impressive fight scenes thrown in to lend the show plenty of thrilling action, it’s the sleek writing and character development which manages to keep your attention focused and ratchet up the tension. It’s hard to pick out any actual complaints with this episode, even if it won’t be for everybody. Meanwhile, each actor brings their character to life naturally and the chemistry between the cast is apparent.
All of that makes episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier sound incredibly serious, probably because for the most part it is.
It also makes it sound like it isn’t much fun… which is a tricky one, because there are still a few moments of levity and it’s certainly entertaining. But on a more emotional note, it’s simply brilliant stuff – from the emotional empathy of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson to the fun-and-games ass-kicking with the Dora Milaje.
As for the end of episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it gives us that shocking image which kicks like a mule. Best to not let the kids see it.
This is top-class stuff from Marvel, proving that they’re still telling stories which matter even as they enter their next phase.
Now please, give the shield to the man who truly deserves it.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4 - “The Whole World is Watching”
A brutal, hard-hitting episode.