Right away, I want to admit that I’ve been rather critical of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Compared to Wandavision’s sweetly homespun tale of love and loss, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has created moments of big blockbuster action previously experienced on the big screen with a large bucket of popcorn in our laps, while at times, dragged its heels.
After a penultimate episode that meandered to the finish line and stretched out proceedings to the last possible moment, the payoff in this week’s finale “One World, One People”, left me dazzled and clapping with joy.
First and foremost, let’s begin with the hero of the hour, the most obvious contender for the next Captain America, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, and in truth, the one we all wanted to see. Mackie swoops into action in the opening moments to the finale, reborn as a Captain America/Falcon hybrid. The world has needed somebody worthy of stepping into the shoes of Steve Rogers since his exit in Avengers: Endgame, and John Walker failed to live up to the mantle. Mackie, for years, has always felt somehow second best to the Avengers top elite.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has given The Falcon the spotlight, and he shines wonderfully. Best of all, Mackie has been transformed, and this makes him perhaps one of the most important characters within the MCU as Phase 4 involves, and perhaps, looking beyond to Phase 5. He’s got his work cut out for him though, from a showdown with Georges Batroc, a breathtaking aerial sequence with a helicopter over Manhattan, and the final chapter to Karli Morgenthau’s tragic story.
His empathetic speech to the GRC after Karli’s death is by far one of the most poignant and important moments of the series. He questions the GRC’s methods in relocating those who returned post-Thanos and to help the people Morgenthau fought and died for.
Then we need to add Bucky to the equation, whose attempts to persuade Karli to stand down from her mission fail, but his later acts of heroism, including a sweeping somersault from a moving motorbike (what a moment), take him a step closer to fully redeeming his character after his dark tenure as the Winter Soldier.
He later confesses his involvement in the death of Nakajima’s son, after failing to do so in Episode 1, completing a full redemption arc for Bucky Barnes. Meanwhile, on the subject of reformed superheroes, John Walker redeems his ways slightly, as he joins forces with Bucky and Sam to take down the remaining members of the Flag Smashers.
His actions, in part, help save a group of GRC hostages, but it’s fair to say Walker has a considerable way to go to fully reform from the devastation left behind in Episode 4. He’ll still be the Cap that bludgeoned someone to death with Steve’s shield.
Plus, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ exhaustively named Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (nope, still too many words), is instrumental in Walker’s transformation to the codenamed U.S. Agent. In the event they roll into a second run, there’s much to be excited about where these guys are concerned.
In the midst of all of this, Sharon Carter is revealed as the unseen Power Broker. Carter swiftly kills Karli Morgenthau and conceals her secret before later receiving a full pardon and an offer to rejoin the CIA. She’s soon making some sneaky calls to her contacts, confirming that they now have access to government resources. Played by the brilliant Emily VanCamp, Carter’s descent to the dark side has been executed perfectly.
One can understand Carter’s motivations to turn to the dark side since she was left out in the cold after the events of Captain America: Civil War. VanCamp looks set to take centre stage as potentially the show’s next big bad villain if a second season is green-lit. I can’t wait, as I’ve simply loved watching VanCamp for years in ABC’s Revenge.
Let’s quickly talk about the Flag Smashers. Truth be told, they’ve been the most underwhelming aspect of the series. That’s the problem with super soldiers, they’re predictable and narratively functional to a fault. After their arrest, the remaining members of the Flag Smashers are blown up by Zemo’s butler.
So the Butler did do it, not often I get to write that. Elsewhere, Wilson reveals a memorial to Isaiah Bradley’s fallen comrades within the Captain America museum exhibit. No, you’re crying, I’m not crying. Final thoughts, as I’m likely waffling too much.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has been a solid, at times electrifyingly series worthy of standing among the greats of the MCU. Henry Jackman’s score has been candy to my ears. The production values are, at times, rather staggering considering The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has been produced for television. The chemistry between Mackie and Stan is undoubtedly the best thing about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
It’s a team-up that we perhaps wouldn’t have anticipated a few years ago, but one we ultimately never realised we needed until we did. Here’s hoping then that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will be picked up for Season 2, because I for one, can’t wait to see more.