I heard that this is the episode that would make me cry. It didn’t make me cry, but it was SO GOOD OH MY GOSH I HAD SO MANY WONDERFUL FEELINGS!!
First, we’ve got to start with New Cap (who will henceforth be known as John), who we left towering over a corpse with murder blood dripping from his shield. I was ready to throw him out with yesterday’s trash, but seeing him grieve Lamar made me unwillingly sympathetic. I should have expected this from all the other times they’ve resisted turning John into a cartoon villain.
Sam and Bucky show up, and John is paranoid, thinking they’ve come to take the shield. I roll my eyes, but that is what they are here for! All three fight, and it feels a bit like the Civil War fight between Captain America, Winter Soldier, and Iron Man. He says the most white man thing imaginable: “Why are you making me do this?” Booo! He goes full crazy and screams, “I am Captain America” before attempting to BEHEAD SAM WILSON!? Oh man.
Bucky swoops in and takes him out, and Sam picks up the shield. It feels very powerful to see a black man wipe blood off of Captain America’s shield. Chills! This episode is all about Sam deciding that he wants to take the shield, and it begins when he leaves his wings behind with Torres.
John is formally stripped of his title as Captain America, and he calls out the US military for making him what he is. By this point in the episode my eyes were SO BIG because I could not believe that the Disney/Marvel/US military industrial complex was explicitly addressing racism and military misjudgments. And then Julia Louis-Dreyfus swoops in and steals the scene as an absolute show stopper with a purple streak in her hair. I love her immediately and I cannot wait to see what her role will be in future movies. She’s got to wind up in a movie, right? She’s such a big name!
Karli and her super soldier friends find out that the refugees in Latvia have been taken because they abetted the Flag Smashers. It’s amazing how quickly I don’t care about this subplot anymore. I just want Sam and – oh okay, a quick aside of Zemo and Bucky at the Sokovia memorial. Bucky “shoots” Zemo with an empty gun, and it’s a very nice (though scary) display of the control he has over the murderous impulses Zemo once tried to harness. The Dora Milaje show up to take him away, and I am confident he will reappear in future Marvel properties.
NOW we get to Sam, who is visiting Isaiah in one of the best scenes in Marvel history. Isaiah tells his story, how the US military experimented upon him, jailed him for saving his partners, and erased him for 30 years before a nurse had pity and smuggled him out under the pretense that he was dead. By then, his wife was gone, and he had lost all respect for America.
“You think things are different? You think times are different? They will never let a black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting black man would ever wanna be.”
Honestly, I would have been crying at this point if I weren’t so damn shocked that the show was allowing black pain and righteous anger to take center stage. I’m just white girl; I hope this meant a lot to black folks who are watching. I can’t wait to scour Twitter to see how all of this went over for people who understand far more intimately than I ever can.
Sam goes back to Louisiana, and the heaviness is balanced with the charm and hopefulness of community coming together to fix the family boat! Bucky shows up too, and hits on Sarah. Now, I am a huge Stucky fan, but I was INTO IT. He also brings Sam a gift from the Wakandans, which we don’t get to see. I am also VERY INTO THIS, because I think it heralds a fundamental shift in the Marvel universe. Tony Stark, rich white guy, is no longer the supplier of cool tech. The Africans will take that over, thank you very much!
AND THEN John visits Lamar’s mom and family, and I am fully struck by how unusual it feels to get to see a black family mourning the untimely death of their son. MORE OF ALL OF THIS PLEASE! Unfortunately, John says that the man he killed was responsible for Lamar’s death, which isn’t true! He’s telling himself lies to make him feel better.
We get a brief scene of Sharon talking to Batroc on the phone, saying she got him out of prison, This confirms that she is the Power Broker, right? There’s not much more time left in this show, but hopefully she will have a bigger part to play in future movies! It would also be awesome to show more consequences of the US government forgetting and abusing people who are not straight white men!
Bucky awakes on the couch to little black boys playing with Captain America’s shield and my heart fell out of my butt I love this episode so much! Sam and Bucky practice with the shield outside, and Bucky confirms that Steve talked to him about his plan, which is a nice BFF acknowledgment. Then he admits that neither Steve nor Bucky understood what it would mean to hand the shield to a black man. I am 100% sold on this show now; it would have felt disingenuous for Sam to immediately take up the mantle of Captain America without having space to work out if he wants it or if America deserves it.
The vulnerability continues with Bucky breaking every heart with, “That shield’s the closest thing I’ve got to a family.” Sam is a super stunner with his warm but no- nonsense counseling advice. This scene, more than any fight, made me see Captain America in him. I am so ready for Sam Wilson, Captain America!.
I’m really glad that Sam saves his decision for his sister, though. This is a conversation that needs to happen between family, between people who understand the struggle of being a black person in the USA.
“What would be the point of all the pain and the sacrifice if I wasn’t willing to stand up and keep fighting?”
That’s the most Captain America thing I’ve ever heard!!! We are treated to a solo Sam montage with bicep closeups and subtly patriotic shirts. It is working, because I am feeling patriotic; give this man America! He does parkour and everything!
It is so anticlimactic to shift focus back to Karli, who gets bombs or something from Batroc and demonstrates how many people are on the Flag Smashers side. They act like zombies, and in NYC, the GRC are in trouble. I don’t care!! Just give me more Sam!
We do get one last glimpse of Sam, finally opening the box from Wakanda. Is it new outfit time? We don’t get to see, and for once I’m excited for a week’s worth of speculation about what it will look like. Personally, I am very torn between wanting it very patriotic (THIS is America, bitch!) or something entirely new for a new age. I will likely be happy no matter what.
Oh, and we get a mid-credits scene of John making his own shield. We’re done with you! I only want Sam in Louisiana with his family and future brother-in-law Bucky.