EDITOR’S ALERT: This is the second in Stacey Jones’ ongoing discussion of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ergo, like it says in the title of this post, a world of SPOILERS awaits below the thin red line. Oh and also an assumption that you’re familiar with the MCU!
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
S1:E2 / THE STAR-SPANGLED MAN
by Stacey Jones
Episode Two opens on John Walker unzipping a bag, to reveal the uniform of Captain America, and accepting the mantle of responsibility (in a mirror of Sam zipping up the Shield at the start of episode 1).
This is the beginning of Walker’s arc. He’s starting from a place of acceptance and confidence. Now, if the class is paying attention… they will notice that last week, the characters of Sam and Bucky are set low, and they must rise. If we have a character starting high…
“Everybody in the world expects me to be… something. And I don’t wanna fail them,” he says, laying out exactly how his arc is going to go over the remaining episodes. Even though he expresses some doubt to his wife Olivia here, he’s still going to put that suit on.
His compatriot Lemar/Battlestar’s pep talk involves a reminder that the suit comes with responsibilities, and punching his way out of problems is no longer the go-to. John Walker’s biggest enemy, we sense, is himself, as he prepares for an interview on Good Morning America on the fifty-yard line of his high school’s football field.
Bucky, watching, feels like it’s gone wrong, and goes to see Sam.
When Steve gave the Shield to Sam, it was because he was the only one Steve trusted with it. The only one worthy. He’s fit to wear the Shield, or to choose the next bearer of it.
We’ve seen this before. Tony Stark left Peter Parker his magic shades for the same reason. It’s knowing… no, it’s discovering one’s purpose; a last quest given by the metaphorical dying mentor, straight out of Joseph Campbell.
Sam doesn’t feel ready for the shield, but with his past in VA counselling and his previous tense relationship to Buck, it’s clear that Sam is Steward of the Shield. He is holding it for the once and future king. He’s got to help a broken soldier heal. This is Sam’s calling. It’s what he did in the military as a pararescue specialist.
Bucky is that broken soldier. From their rocky start as competing for being Steve’s best bud, these two are going to be the tightest team in the MCU. Bucky is going to be the next real Captain America, and it’s going to be because Falcon is right beside him. Two men who make each other whole by their roles of what they have, what they need, and what they want.
The fight with Flag Smasher, with Walker and Hoskins joining in, pushes all the arcs forward while being a top-notch action sequence, ending with a look Walker gives the departing super-soldiers he just lost to. If he can get his hands on that shit, he’s injecting it.
The post-fight scene with the four heroes brings the GRC (Global Restoration Council) and their actions to the forefront. What they call restoring order, people left behind in the Blip call being put aside.
Again. Walker needs Sam and Bucky’s help, not only as former Cap associates, but because of their abilities. It takes a super-soldier to beat one, but Walker fails the sales pitch and Buck and Sam leave.
The rest of the episode includes a startling revelation exploring Sam’s black experience, and propels us towards the inevitability of the rise of the Flag Smashers, with Buck and Sam on their side, against the GRC and John Walker… plus the “mystery player” Power Broker, which comic readers also know as General Thaddeus Ross and Red Hulk.
In other words, series wise we’re still in Act One, setting up some tantalizing options for future events not only in this show, but, unless they’re playing us, for the entire MCU as well.
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.