A Review of Episode 2 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
This review DOES have spoilers because there is too much to unpack in this episode- so much that I can’t do a good review of it without saying spoiler things. You are WARNED. SPOILER CITY.
I didn’t expect much from this episode but oh holy sh*t did I get more than I wanted.
This episode starts off trying to build some much- needed, but not-wanted empathy for John Walker- our new, head-a** not-real Captain America. While I understand why Marvel started off showing us that John Walker IS a human with actual emotions and not -only- a 100% jerk, I still didn’t care for this. Maybe because I just WANT him to be bad. I WANT him to be a jerk I can just hate. But Marvel is challenging me, and I’m sure many others, on this, and whether I like it or not, this isn’t something Marvel is doing wrong- I just don’t want it for me, oops.
It hurts even more to watch because right after Marvel makes you start to emphasize a -little bit- for John Walker, they cut to Bucky seeing him on TV as Captain America, curled up in a ball, and I- nope, f*ck off Walker, this isn’t right!
oh my god Bucky having to watch this "John Walker" try to be Captain America bye I'm crying bye I need to hug Bucky
Thank God Bucky is in the same mindset as me, because he marches off to go find Sam and tell him he shouldn’t have given up the shield. From this point on, the episode is filled with tension between the two, from awkward staring contests to many, many terrible jokes from Sam, including Sam letting Bucky jump out of an airplane himself without a parachute, falling through trees, and hitting the ground hard, and getting it on camera just for a laugh. More terrible jokes include Sam making a joke about Bucky getting beat up by a “little girl” and Sam making a joke that he can visibly see the gears in Bucky’s head-turning, while Bucky is clearly still upset and Sam knows he’s working through legit trauma. Maybe I’m just hoping for better between the two, but oof did that irk me. I knew Sam and Bucky were gonna have a rocky start, which makes sense, but I guess I didn’t expect Sam to be such a bouncy “I’m just kidding” kind of jerk and Bucky to be such a kicked puppy.
Throughout the episode, Bucky will admit what’s wrong with him to his core, and what hurts him so; whereas, Sam won’t budge a f*cking inch- he won’t bring his walls down. He keeps up this “not giving a sh*t” facade and this “haha everything is a joke” facade and I want to see those facades fall down. I want to see the REAL SAM, MARVEL. Again, maybe I just don’t like the tension between the two of them and just want them to be good teammates already. But, while Bucky and Sam do have some moments of tension that are actually funny, some missed the beat for me.
Eventually, Bucky tags along with Sam, and fights happen- and of course, John Walker and his pal come in and do their best to help them out. I gotta say, the fighting here was underwhelming for me, and Bucky’s fighting was way cooler when he slaughtered everyone, no mercy. But, I will also say, the fact that the fight scene took place jumping back and forth between two trucks- that WAS cool. So I give them that. I think I enjoyed the action of the last episode better than this one, but this one still had some decent stuff.
Now, onto the thing that I didn’t care less about the last episode- the PLOT (other than John Walker clearly not deserving to be Captain America)!
The plot actually takes a decent forefront this episode! I like that they are still focusing on what happened after The Blip and how this has affected people disproportionately- rich vs poor, white vs POC, etc. There are The Freedom Fighters who are doing just that- fighting for freedom. They want to take out the people in power that aren’t helping those who have been displaced by The Blip. They want to take out the rich and a*sholish. The only problems with this are a) the government clearly doesn’t want them to do this b) they are resorting to violence and c) they are Super Soldiers. I gotta say, this reminds me a lot of the plot from the Miles Morales Spider-Man Video Game, where Phin, The Tinkerer, decides to fight back
against Roxxon, who killed her brother and continue to hurt others without remorse, but Miles has to stop her because she’s hurting innocents along the way, intentional or not. I feel similarly about these two situations in that I hate that when a person, or group of people, go to take out the rich and powerful who hurt others with no remorse, and once these people use methods that are harsh on the rich and powerful- they are made into villains. These are the people that are fighting for the right reasons but using the wrong methods, right? It’s the argument that “violence is never the answer” and not understanding that it IS necessary at times. I’m nervous that Marvel is doing a similar plot here, where The Freedom Fighters are right in theory but will be stopped not only by the government but also by Sam and Bucky because they are resorting to violence. It’s a hard thing to create a commentary on, but I’d like to see Marvel take a different approach on it for once. I’d like to see Sam and Bucky realize they are right, at least in intentions, and help The Freedom Fighters fight for their cause, rather than trying to convince them that they should just stop altogether. I like the start of this plot but I am nervous to see where it goes and it definitely had me anxious the entire episode- which is probably Marvel’s intention. (Why is it bad that The Freedom Fighters give the rich and powerful a taste of their own medicine? Oh right, the rich and powerful produce our entertainment)
SPOILER!!!!! WARNING!!! I mentioned that the Freedom Fighters are Super Soldiers, right?
How did this happen? Well, Bucky takes Sam to Isaiah Bradley’s house, where his son Eli opens the door (yes, PATRIOT Eli! Lets gooo!). I was very hype to see Eli show up briefly, but then Bucky speaks with Isaiah and.. My damn heart broke. The actor who played him did an absolutely heartbreakingly great job selling Isaiah’s brokenness; how he was a Black Super Soldier but treated so differently than Steve and Bucky. How he was jailed, tortured, experimented on, while Steve got a shield and glory and Bucky… well, at least he wasn’t jailed. This was the biggest emotional piece of the episode for me, and this is the part of the plot I can’t WAIT to see expanded- how will Eli get involved in all this- does he know why those people became Super Soldiers?
Now, there’s a moment of significant social and political commentary that I’m not sure landed for me- As Sam and Bucky leave Isaiah’s house, two cops randomly pull up in their car, step out, and ask if everything is okay, as Sam and Bucky were having a disagreement. They both say they are fine, but the cops won’t leave them alone- in particular, one of them turns their attention to Sam and insists on ID. Sam refuses to give it because they are just talking and he doesn’t see why, and Bucky steps in and tells the cops they should know who Sam is- luckily, one of the cops does and he tells the other cop, and immediately, the cop backs down. This is 100% commentary on BLM and ACAB, and I’m torn because it was just so randomly placed there but also… maybe that makes it more realistic? Am I really in a position as a white person to judge this scene’s commentary? I’m not sure, but I would really love to hear how this landed for others, particularly those that are Black.
Overall, this episode shows that this series is trying to do many things- entertain us, bring growth to these characters we love, AND comment on current political and social issues. I think the first episode did a great job with the first two goals and didn’t have much time to complete the last goal, and that’s okay, it was the first episode! The first two goals were more important. However, in this episode, they do add more commentary on the current political and social landscapes- and for me, I’m not sure it always lands. I think it’s the right idea, in terms of actually adding real issues like racism into the show, but something didn’t sit right with me. Maybe I just have high expectations. Maybe it's too "choppy" for me. Or maybe it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, which is make me uncomfortable and frustrated that that sh*t happens in the first place. I’m going to keep watching because it’s Marvel and I want to see these characters grow and see if Marvel actually takes some great steps forward in terms of their social and political commentary, but… this was a lot for me to process. This could turn into something great, or it could fail drastically in terms of storytelling, and I’m very nervous about which way it will go.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Bi gives this episode:
2.5 out of 5 Finger Guns
(because I'm bi)
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