Happy Wrestlemania weekend, everyone. Welcome back as we review a show that seems to not really follow any clear thematic path other than THE SHIELD, which ties things together with the WWE.
I don’t mean to say that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is bad or unentertaining, but the structure of this show is baffling. The second episode ended with the earth-shattering revelation that the U.S. government experimented on soldiers of color to create Black Captain America. Then we follow that up by having our heroes go clubbing with international terrorist and all-around bon vivant Baron Zemo.
I get that hanging around an elderly man’s Baltimore home is less sexy than infiltrating underground crime rings in Neo-Tokyo or whatever, but it seems like we might want to follow up on that whole Tuskegee Weapon X Program thing.
Grievances aside, this episode opens with a flashback to six years ago in Wakanda. Bucky, with his flat-iron middle part, is being tested to see if he has truly recovered from his Hydra brainwashing. Fortunately, he has gone from Manchurian candidate to an also-ran. He is the Howard Dean of sleeper agents.
Returning to the present, Wakandan muscle Ayo tells Bucky that he has eight hours to finish his business with Baron Zemo before they beat the brakes off of everyone. I look forward to this.
As Falcon and Bucky attempt to locate the whereabouts of the Flag Smashers, insurrectionist faction leader Karli Morgenthau retrieves the few remaining samples of the Super Soldier Serum. Knowing these are the last samples in existence and sought after by the world’s most elite forces, Karli naturally carries them around in a fanny pack.
Out of nowhere, the new Captain America and his right-hand man Battlestar rock up to Falcon and Bucky in the middle of a Latvian thoroughfare in broad daylight. For government agents, these people are pretty big on doing things out in the open. This scene looks like one of those Conan O’Brien remotes where he antagonizes local tour guides and dances in a coffee shop.
“Why are we having such a difficult time catching up with the rampant terrorist cell?” our heroes wonder as they stand outside of the local sorrel soup shop wearing ankle-length purple trench coats lined in fur and star-spangled ballistic gear. It’s not going to take TMZ’s network of freelance voyeurs and morgue tipsters to get the word out that superheroes have been spotted in the area. Please bring back the sunglasses and baseball caps.
Our heroes decide that the best time to confront Karli is during her maternal figure’s funeral. We all know how notoriously reasonable insurrectionists with super strength can be when they’re mourning.
This idea is as bad as those viral videos where police pull people over and then surprise them with an ice-cream cone. No one needs that ice cream. What they need is to just get home without having to revisit and imagine every possible grievance they could be perceived to have committed.
Post-funeral, Falcon attempts to reason with Karli within feet of her loved one’s corpse, while Bucky and crew wait in a nearby room. Falcon suggests that Karli’s plan to create a personal army of super soldiers is not the best method for overthrowing supremacists. This would be an interesting intellectual pursuit to portray in a universe populated by Ubermensch.
While this poses a valid and fascinating moral quandary in the realm of superhero fiction, new and fake Captain America quickly grows impatient and decides it’s time to open the hurt locker.
He storms in and declares that Karli is “under arrest.” Like, what clown shoes nonsense is this? I don’t think the newer Captain America has any sort of omni-jurisdictional arresting power. I’m pretty sure Interpol is only concerned about us illegally duplicating VHS tapes.
Anyway, Karli easily evades everyone, only to be confronted by Zemo, who utilizes the power of GUN. Cornered, Karli spills the remaining vials of Super Soldier Serum, which Zemo stomps — all save one, which is secreted by new fake Captain America.
I don’t know about you, but I bet he is going to take it.
Reconvening back at Zemo’s place, the newer, faker Captain America storms in to demand Zemo’s surrender. Then the Dora Milaje rolls in. The newest Captain America questions their jurisdiction, which is such a random thing to assert in the Marvel Universe.
“I was bit by a radioactive spider in New York, so I can hand out citations for elemental beasts in London.”
“Hello, yes, I am a former surgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme. I can perform outpatient surgery and meddle in the inner workings of hell.”
It’s all a very stupid line of reasoning.
Back at Zemo’s crash pad, the Dora Milaje clear this all up by saying they have jurisdiction wherever they find themselves. Then, as outlined in the terms of the Geneva Convention, they assert this right by beating the newest, fakest Captain America in the knees and head.
Zemo takes his drink into the bathroom while everyone fights it out, which is a real family reunion move. Moments like this are why someone always keeps a cooler in the bed of their truck during Christmas.
During the battle with the Dora Milaje, Bucky suffers the Kill Bill five point palm exploding heart technique and his mechanical arm falls off. It’s fantastic.
Meanwhile, the Captain America who constantly calls you about car insurance hoaxes experiences whatever the Wakandan battle spear equivalent of penis envy is as he is bested by the Dora Milaje. Also, Zemo escaped through the bathroom window, which is a Beatles song played backwards, minus all the “Paul is dead” stuff.
Karli arranges a meeting with Falcon and Bucky, but things are cut short when they learn that Fyre Festival Cap is closing in on the Flag Smashers’ home base. It appears that Theranos Captain America has already taken the serum. Except he received it at a Walgreens, but they actually sent his sample out to a third-party lab. Anyway, he’s strong as hell now.
During a battle of super soldiers — and Falcon — Battlestar rushes in and is immediately killed. Not even like an honorable or captivating death. He just gets pushed too hard for a normal, human person.
You know how people always say they should have some average joe compete against athletes at the Olympics just so we can see how otherworldly these people are? This is the Marvel equivalent of that. Battlestar is just a regular bloke turned to jam against a banister by someone who can bend steel.
Understandably, this sends Scientology Cap into full berserker mode, and he beats one of the Flag Smashers to death with his shield in a town square. All the townspeople film it on their phones.
So here’s the thing: the show has briefly touched on racism in America before setting out on an international adventure. Now we have an instance where an American agent has carried out the extrajudicial execution of a person. That murder was caught on film.
You know where I’m going with this. How relevant are they going to allow it to be?
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