Episode three of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is fun enough, full of explosions, fights, and familiar faces. But we didn’t learn a lot or advance the plot. They’ve only got three episodes left…I’m not really sure what they’re trying to do with this show.
We start with New Cap searching for leads on the rogue super soldiers. He rages when the person they raid spits in his face, screaming, “Do you know who I am?” Smells like toxic masculinity to me. The only redeeming thing is Hoskins’ bulletproof vest with the star motif.
Bucky visits Zemo in prison, and it’s terrible. He apologizes for using Bucky in Captain America: Civil War by saying, “You were a means to a necessary end.” Endless crying; that’s the story of Bucky’s life.
Bucky and Sam argue about whether to break Zemo out of prison. Except the argument is useless, because he already escaped. Scenes like these always alarm me, because they make it seem very easy to break out of prison. Zemo is very rich, and he rocks a fun fur collared coat. Apparently his plane and butler were on standby waiting for him to escape prison, which is very nice of them.
While they’re traveling to Madripoor, Zemo needles Bucky, reading from his atonement list. Turns out that’s the same notebook that Steve had, and my heart shatters a little bit. We also get another interesting comment on race relations, with Sam telling Bucky that Marvin Gaye is beloved and Zemo whitesplaining black culture to Bucky.
Madripoor is a rad city; formerly a pirate haven, currently a very colorful, diverse, and vaguely intimidating city Southeast Asia. Is this a real place? Google says no, and also that it’s the MCU’s first step toward the X-Men. As the three men walk through the city streets, graffiti reads, “Power Broker is watching.” At first I assumed Zemo would turn out to be the Power Broker in a long con sort of situation, but if this is supposed to tie in with X-Men, maybe it’s Wolverine? That would be rad! No one tell me; I like not knowing what’s going to happen next.
Sam has to drink snake guts and Bucky has to recreate his violent past in order to gain access to Selby, a badass older woman with short white hair! I instantly love her, which is too bad because she is murdered after Sam’s phone rings and his sister calls him by a name other than his alias. I’m glad we got to touch base with Sarah, but I really hope we get to see more of her soon. They’re globetrotting in a way that makes me doubtful.
(Also, it was explicitly shown that Bucky was filmed acting like the Winter Soldier. I assume this will not be good for him in his rehabilitation program.)
Sharon saves the day by killing Selby (RIP) and everyone else. Turns out, no one thought to clear her name after she helped Steve and Sam, which is…pretty bad. She fled to Madripoor and turned to a life of crime. I like her so much more in this tv show than in Civil War.
She takes them to a secret lab hidden in a storage container, where Nagal the scientist admits that he made 20 vials of super soldier serum, but that Karli stole them all, putting her on the Power Broker’s hit list. How did she know about the program in the first place?
While they’re talking, Sharon takes on all of the bounty hunters in Madripoor who have amazingly shown up simultaneously! She does look really badass righting, though, and I assume everyone has now joined me in loving her? The violence doesn’t stop! Zemo kills Nagal. The places blows up! Zemo escapes. The place blows up some more! Zemo puts on a mask and there is even more blowing up. Wow. This is an action show, guys, did you know?
Sharon won’t come with them, and Bucky refuses to move his seat forward for Sam, in a nice callback to the moment that their frenemies relationship began.
Sam and Bucky are still hung up on Captain America’s shield, and Bucky says he would have taken it before giving it to New Cap. Sam says he thinks he ought to have destroyed the shield. Sounds like some Flag Smasher talk there, Sam! I like it.
New Cap thinks Bucky and Sam busted Zemo out and tells Hoskin they are going to go rogue too. I assume this will be a bad thing, but it’s hard to judge him for it when our stars have just loosed a baddie into the world with seemingly no plan to bring him back to prison.
Karli has been having a hard day at the Resettlement Camp. A woman has died of tuberculosis (I guess because the camps are overpopulated), and she raids food supplies from somewhere that had six months supplies just sitting there. She and her friend with the cheekbones try to humanize the super soldiers to us, but then Karli blows up the building because “that’s the only language they understand.” Oh Karli.
In Latvia, Bucky breaks off from Sam and Zemo to pick up tiny balls with runes carved in them. I did not recognize them at all and genuinely gasped when a woman from Wakanda showed up. (She is apparently Ayo, a renegade Dora Milaje who fell in love with Aneka – are we about to get some lesbian Wakandans up in here??? YES PLEASE.) We are left eagerly awaiting more Black Panther tie-ins until next week!
This was very much a Bucky episode, though I wish we had gone a little deeper into how he is being affected by playing the Winter Soldier role. I assume we will find out in future episodes. I also hope we shift the focus back to Sam. I am a huge Bucky Barnes fan, but this show is doing a lot to interrogate black people in the MCU and in America more broadly, and Sam deserves the spotlight.