Stacey Jones: NOTHING BUT SPOILERS (Because That’s How You Learn)

EDITOR’S ALERT: Like it says above, a world of SPOILERS awaits below the thin red line. Oh and also an assumption that you’re familiar with the MCU!

by Stacey Jones

There’s a lot of commentary on all the Disney+ MCU shows, and most of said commentary is coming from the ‘geek in the trenches,’ comparing comics stories to their filmed counterparts, etc.  Well, this ain’t that.

I’m here for the story and craft of writing, and who better to learn from than the folks at Marvel; currently the most successful franchise in all of filmed entertainment history. The plan is to use the show to discuss writing mechanics and character, while hopefully still enjoying the process of watching the show for its (so far) superb entertainment value.

With that out of the way, let’s press play on Episode One.

“How does it feel?”

“Like it’s someone else’s.”

“It isn’t.”

Sam’s getting dressed in a civilian suit, and Cap’s Shield is on his bed. Their exchange from the final scenes of Avengers: Endgame, repeated now. An audio flashback combined with a piece of perfect ‘show, don’t tell’ action in the “present”.

Its power lies in the simple yet elegant set up of what will be Sam’s major through-line, or character arc in this series. It feels like he’s dressing for a funeral. What’s clearly dead is Sam’s self-worth; he doesn’t feel fit to wear the Shield.

All that in about 1:35 of screen time. Efficiency!

Because I want to focus on the story arc, I’m going to skip talking about the excellent action scene with the return of Batroc, and the introduction of the Flag Smashers, set up to be the main baddies in this series.

Back in Washington, with a speech, Sam gives up stewardship of the Shield to a glass display, like it was frozen back in an ice cube, for the dedication ceremony to the Captain America display.

Rhodey and Sam’s scene in the Captain America exhibit is between two soldiers, neither of whom seems comfortable standing up into the shoes of their mentors. They also touch on the disparity of the post-Blip world.

At this point in the show, between these two men, it becomes clear that part of the arc is going to rightfully include the experience of The Black Man in modern America. This comes back, painfully, in all the scenes with Sam and his family in Louisiana.

Bucky’s session with Doctor Raynor is my favorite scene in episode one. The writing here is tight, essential character stuff. Their relationship is combative yet honest. Buckey’s dealing with nightmares about past missions, and denying it.

As part of his rehabilitation, parole and freedom, he must see Raynor on a regular basis, and Bucky is complying. He’s making amends, on a kind of 12 step program for former Manchurian candidates who have retrieved their personalities after repeated brainwashing and mental trauma, which probably happens fairly often in the Marvel Universe.

Bucky has also isolated himself; a man out of time, unable to form connections or maintain them because of his guilt over a past that was out of his control.

His attempts to make amends are heart wrenching, indicating a real hero inside the broken man.  His arc, too, is about self-worth and living up to Captain Steve Rogers.

Now we’re at the end of this episode, and enter Captain John Walker, the New Captain America.

My prediction for the series is, it feels like we have a set up here where the US is going to send John Walker’s Cap to deal with Flag Smasher, and it’s not going to go well.

The new Cap is going to display some very untraditional Captain America behavior, and may even join the enemy.

Never fear.

This show’s title tells you who the heroes are.

Stacey Jones is an award winning writer, composer, musician, and rebel philosopher who was, in fact, the overall winner of the 2nd running of TVWriter™’s now gone but not forgotten contest, The People’s Pilot. TVWriter™ is happy to welcome him back to the fold.

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