I can’t believe we’re already at the mid-way point of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and even so, we’re still being introduced to new players in the story and I get the feeling that we haven’t even really breached the main part of the story it is trying to tell. Most noticeable of these “new” characters are: Sharon Carter (played by Emily VanCamp) and Baron Zemo (played by Daniel Bruhl). We also get a little more story on the Flag Smashers and “The Power Broker” is finally involved a little more. Definitely a lot going on!
In our last review (of episode 2) I brought up that the very brief introduction of Zemo at the end reminded me of Hannibal Lecter and that same sentiment came across in this episode. From the way he spoke to Bucky, escaped the prison, and seemed to fall right back into his typical character makes him an interesting and almost creepy character that adds another level of intrigue to the show. Is he actually helping or does he have something else up his sleeve? But, on to the recap!
Episode 3 (titled “Power Broker”) starts with everyone’s “favorite” new Captain America, John Walker coming across as desperate and even more unlikable (if that’s possible…it is). In the opening when he feels like he is being disrespected his ego emerges stating “do you know I am?” Yeah, we know you who are and it’s not Captain America! Although most of us haven’t really like his character from the opening shot of him at the end of episode 1, I do kind of get the sense that his character is being a little bit rushed due to the 6 episode count. But ultimately, his role in this episode is simply trying to figure everything out before Sam and Bucky and NOT succeeding as he is always one step behind.
The introduction of Zemo to the show is something right out of a jail break movie which plays out as a sort of flash-back/real-time montage of emo escaping custody while Sam and Bucky are fighting over what to do about/how to use him ending with Zemo ultimately agreeing to help the two heroes because he says he simply hates the super soldier serum and the possibility of more “heroes.” Although Bucky and especially Sam, reluctantly agree to work with Zemo, it’s obvious they don’t totally trust him and rightfully so. Sam warns that he will play with their heads just like before. Even so, they go off to continue their mission, which is seemingly made easier by the fact that Zemo is rich and has the means (e.g. a private plane) that they can, and are soon headed to Madripoor under the belief of Zemo that they can discover more info among its many “lowlife criminals” starting with someone called Selby.
The episode than quickly cuts to Latvia, where Karli Morgenthau who is saying goodbye to someone named Donya Madani. It’s a brief scene that again serves to kind of humanize the “villain” as she once again comes across as fighting for the people she believes are often left behind by the heroes of the world. We don’t see Karli or the Flag Smashers again until the very end of the episode, again leading me to believe they aren’t the true villains of this story.
When our heroes (and Zemo) arrive in Madripoor, they take on the personas of various criminals to “blend in” with Sam taking the alias Smiling Tiger, and Bucky is forced to once again “be” the Winter Soldier. They start their search in an underground club in Lowtown, where a thug of the Power Broker makes it clear that Zemo isn’t welcome there. Playing into his character, the Winter Soldier acts as Zemo’s protection, easily handling a group of them before the rest of the bar basically draws guns on them and the bartender states Selby will see them now, all while Sam looks on a little nervous about how well Bucky acted out his role. Something Zemo is sure to point out to Sam as well. The bar fight scene was quick and not the major action sequences we’ve seen so far and while it was interesting to see Bucky fight in the Winter Soldier style again, the scene itself did seem a little choppy when compared to what the MCU usually puts out. Not enough to distract from the scene, but noticeable.
Their meeting with Selby is going “as planned” with Selby revealing the name of Dr. Wilfred Nagel who is making the super soldier serum in return for the command words to control the infamous Winter Solider. However, before we can see how this was going to play out, Sam (aka “Smiling Tiger”) gets a call from his sister Sarah. Selby, suspicious of this forces him to answer on speaker and when Sarah refers to Sam by name, Selby orders her men to kill the three. (I mean, Sam didn’t turn off his phone on an undercover mission?) Luckily though a shot bursts through a window hitting Selby and allowing the three to make an escape. This is where we meet Sharon Carter (the women behind the mystery shots).
We learn Carter has been hiding in Madripoor since the events of Civil War, although she’s not really “hiding” as she does seem involved/semi-powerful in the city. We aren’t really told how Sharon knew they were there though, (perhaps this will be answered later?) She seems content leaving their interaction there, but Sam and Bucky push for her help in their case and offer to clear her name back in the states if she helps them; an offer she accepts.
The deal with Sharon pays off quickly (perhaps too quickly in the grand scheme of themes…again maybe a side effect of the short episode count) when she is able to track Dr. Nagel a secret lab in a shipyard where we learn he is the one behind recreating the serum and that he has so far made 20 vials…could there be even more super soldiers our there?
As Sam and Bucky push for details, Sharon is keeping look outside when she encounters a group of thugs and begins taking care of business in another great fight scene. In the midst of the ensuing chaos, Zemo finds a hidden gun and shoots the doc and has the thugs continue to attack (including blowing up the lab with a rocket launcher) Zemo is able to once again escape. While it looks like he’s about to bail, we do get a bit of a twist as he returns to help Sam, Bucky, and Sharon finish off the thugs. Zemo, Sam and Bucky continue their search, while Sharon (who must continue to hide in Madripoor) stays behind. But not before she casually gets into a waiting car (that happens to also be in the shipyard) where she tells a mysterious woman/driver that “she has a big problem.” Could she be working for the “Power Broker?” (I’m starting to think I might need to un-retire the Wandavision theory white board)!
This episode once again ends with a few quick items to lead us into episode 4. We see Walker and Hoskins frustrated as they are still one step behind everything going on. There’s another exchange between Sam and Bucky about Sam giving up the Captain America mantel and Bucky telling him if Sam won’t he is going to take the shield for himself. The Flag Smashers make their appearance as Karli seems to go to the next level, killing innocent people to reach her goals and stay presumably stay out of reach of the mysterious “Power Broker.” Lastly, after arriving in their next stop of Latvia, Bucky breaks off from Zemo and Sam and after following a trail of small orb like items (trackers, cameras?) he is led to Ayo who says, “I’m here for Zemo.” Oh-man…this is getting good!
Overall, episode 3 serves to continue the story and seems to be a transitional episode setting up the main part of the story. The fact that we are already half-way through the show and we’re still being introduced to so many new characters and plot lines has me thinking two things. One, it is keeping me interested as I feel like a bigger story is unfolding than the straight-forward action/spy thriller I was thinking the show was going to be. But secondly, it does have me a little worried that we might be getting more rushed episodes to try and wrap up the story in the remaining episodes (unless Marvel has plans for a season 2)? This act showed some of those rushed plot points: e.g. Walker’s character, Sharon’s involvement, etc… that I hope don’t become a common tendency in the second half of The Falcon and Winter Soldier. But yet again, another solid entry.
I will continue the trend of our first 2 reviews comparing the show up to this point to Wandavision, but unlike my first 2 comparisons, after episode 3 I would have to say that I might choose to continue watching Wandavision over F&WS at this point. Not because the latter is bad, but because of how good Wandavision got after episode 3!
Our reviews of episodes 4/5 might be coming out a little later as we’ll be in Disney World for the next 2 weeks, but stay tuned as we’ll be sure to get them up (even if we can just get some quick blurbs out). Thanks again everyone for reading and the continued support! See Ya Real Soon.