Episode 2 starts with an extended scene designed to make John Walker sympathetic…and it works on me. He’s got a hot girlfriend, and they have special pinky promise kisses. He’s got a best friend who gives him pep talks. He is all chin.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is great at anticipating my skepticism, because just as I was wondering why this huge crowd of people would be cheering for a Captain America without superpowers, he gives this really inspiring speech about just that – he’s not super strong, but he does have guts. Guys, he’s winning me over!
Finally we cut to our heroes. Bucky is feeling all kinds of emotions while watching this guy fill his best friend’s suit, and he finds Sam to yell at him about giving up the shield. Everything about this tv show is instantly elevated as they bicker at each other.
“You can’t call me that.”
“Steve called you that.”
“Steve knew me longer, and Steve had a plan.”
Out of pure spite, Bucky throws himself out of a PLANE. This show is a gift. And Sam films it! Although episode one was good, these last five minutes immediately make me wonder why they wasted an entire sixth of the story with these two people not interacting.
They snipe about how many Flag Smashers are loading cargo, then chase the semis. Bucky runs faster than a truck, and rips the door open. The only thing I love more than this is the realization that the helpless redheaded girl is actually a badass! She looks a lot like the first class girl in Snowpiercer, and I am scared of her.
Oh, and people stealing vaccines? In this economy!? Must be evil. Unless they are giving vaccines to people who don’t normally have access, in which care. Hm. I’m conflicted about these badies.
The fight atop two semis is very good. Karli kills Redwing, and people are tossed between trucks. When Captain America (henceforth referred to as New Cap’n) shows up, it is deliciously wrong to see the three fighting together again. However, I am distracted by the fact that other cars are still driving on the highway while this fight is happening?? Stop your cars!
The fight ends when New Cap’n escapes with his bestie, Lamar Hoskins, and SAM AND BUCKY TUMBLE INTO A FIELD OF FLOWERS IN EACH OTHERS ARMS. Be still, my shipper heart.
New Cap’n and Hoskins drive past the petulant men, and I laughed out loud when New Cap’n repeated Sam’s “Big Three” question. The dialogue is really popping in this episode. Unfortunately, New Cap’n can’t quite stick his invitation to work together, calling Sam and Bucky Steve’s wingmen. It’s like he doesn’t know that this show is named after them.
We cut to the Flag Smasher super soldiers who are hunkering down in a civilian’s space. They’re given a room with chicken livers, cot beds, and…high tech computers with three screens? Sure, whatever. They encourage each other with their rallying cry: “One world, one people,” and I’m already sad that they’re going to turn out to be villains.
Bucky takes Sam to meet Isaiah, a super soldier from the 50s who is not pleased to see Bucky (who was Winter Soldier during their previous run in). Turns out that not only did the US government not advertise a black super soldier, they also incarcerated him for 30 years and ran experiments on him! It’s really bad, and then it gets worse! Sam and Bucky are arguing in the street when cops pull them over and immediately target Sam as the problem. It is heartbreaking to watch Anthony Mackie’s face as Sam is confronted with the reality that no matter how much of an international hero he is, some podunk cop can still pull him over.
I’m honestly really impressed with how this show is handling race, not only by giving a black man the lead role and filling in supporting roles with black men and women, but also because they’re making the inequalities black people face in America explicit. Unexpected but very welcome!
In another spot-on observation, the white cops who thought the black man was the problem have accidentally let their racism blind them to the fact that it’s the WHITE guy who is the problem. Bucky is arrested for missing court-mandated therapy, but New Cap’n releases him from jail. Well, not until his therapist demands an impromptu session and drags Sam along.
It is a testament to this episode’s greatness that a tumble through flowers is not even the shippiest thing that happens. The therapist says the two of them need to have couples counseling so that they can figure out how to build a life together. She orders them to face each other and sit closer, no, closer. Eventually their legs are intertwined and I am cackling with glee.
It works, though. Bucky’s anger that Sam returned the shield is a cover for his fear that if Steve was wrong about Sam, he might have also been wrong about Bucky. Sam just wants his decision to be respected. Neither can empathize with the other, so nothing is resolved.
New Cap’n is waiting for them outside, and ominous music when Cap’n says “Stay out of my way” after they reject his offer of teamwork. I’m sure THAT doesn’t mean anything.
The military tries to capture the Flag Smashers, and the one guy’s sacrifice ought to feel impactful, but instead I just wondered, Why did he run into open fire after knocking down a power line? He already stopped them. They have super strength, but not super intelligence.
Bucky convinces Sam to go to a man with some answers – Zemo! Some awesome requiem music kicks in, and it’s like the music in the Avengers when Loki smirked and then whacked someone’s face with his staff. There’s a shot of a chess board, so we know that Zemo is going to be Smart Villain. Can’t wait!