Hi! It’s Annie!
Yesterday the second episode of ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ premiered and I have a lot of thoughts again. I think everybody agreed that this episode had some annoying plot points, but some of it was meant to be annoying. However, there were several things that I’m not sure were meant to be annoying that I found to be so, so really there’s a lot to unpack here. I think I’ve talked enough so I’m going to dive right into it. This will be very SPOILER heavy, so please be warned and go watch the episode first if you want to get into this series. Because this story is said by the writer to be so character driven, I am going to continue to review the story by discussing it character by character.
We saw this episode start very early on with Sam and Bucky meeting up completely out of the blue. In the first episode we were not even aware that either of the knew about each other’s whereabouts and then Bucky suddenly appeared conveniently before Sam was about to go on a mission to track down the so called “freedom fighters”. Sam tells Bucky that there’s no way that Bucky’s coming with him, and then of course in the next shot they’re both on the plane. This goes into an action sequence where Sam makes fun of Bucky for being beat up by a girl. Ok guys, it’s 2021. We’ve already established that women kick ass. Why is this joke still around? At least by now we’ve started to get the Sam and Bucky banter. Sam and Bucky are met by the fake Star Spangled Man with a plan (what is your plan today?) and they reluctantly take a ride from him. Bucky is having none of it, but Sam is willing to hear him out up until the new guy says that he wants Cap’s wingman, referring to Sam, and Sam declares “It’s always the last line” and leaves. We then go on a weird tangent where Bucky and Sam travel to a Black neighborhood to see an old super soldier Bucky has said nothing about played by the absolute legend Carl Lumbly; and then Sam is almost arrested because of the color of his skin until Bucky reminds the cops who Sam is. I actually really liked this tackling of racial profiling. Sam spends the rest of the episode being really angry at Bucky for being mad at him for giving up the shield and declares that he never wants to see Bucky again after this. Real nice considering everything Bucky has been through without Steve. Sam is continuing to act really selfishly and remains unempathetic. I understand where they’re going with Sam not wanting to represent the US, because, really, who would? But that doesn’t give him the right to treat both Steve and Bucky horribly. There’s even a part where Bucky asks Sam how he could have not known that the government would do that with Cap’s shield and Sam just comments that he couldn’t have known. Even though Sam was by Steve’s side every step of the way when Steve was fighting against the government and eventually on the run from them. How could Sam have not known? Why on earth would Sam ever trust the government with anything ever? It almost feels like the writers of this willfully decided to pretend Civil War didn’t happen. Yes, Sam would be conflicted over the shield, but Sam is not and has never been stupid.
Bucky was really interesting this episode which is not something I was expecting. I went into this show thinking that I would like Sam much more than Bucky, because honestly I always have liked Sam much more. But I have a feeling that will change considering how well they’re writing Bucky’s motivations and how poorly Sam’s are being written. We first see Bucky in what I can only describe as absolute anguish as he’s watching John Walker take Steve’s shield on television. This is what causes him to track down Sam and Bucky spends every second of the rest of the episode trying to connect with Sam on some level. Sam constantly dismisses Bucky and even treats him like a stranger whereas Bucky seems to see Sam as one of the few connections to this new time that he has left. Bucky understandably becomes angry at Sam for giving up the shield. If he didn’t what to carry the shield, fine, but that doesn’t mean giving it over to the government is ok. That’s not what Steve would have wanted. This only sours Sam’s attitude towards Bucky. Bucky does not talk with John Walker (he stares at him instead) and refuses to listen to anything he’s saying. The episode leads up to an intense therapy session where Bucky yells at Sam that if Steve was wrong about Sam being a good fit for Captain America then Steve could have been wrong about Bucky’s capacity for good as well. The emotion was just coming off of Bucky in droves in this episode and it was difficult to see him paired with Sam. Though they were funny together, it really just seemed like Sam didn’t at all care about Bucky where as this wasn’t the case with how Bucky viewed Sam. It was frankly heartbreaking. Bucky was also hit with the realization that there are more super soldiers out there, which I thought was weird considering the entire plot of Civil War, but I digress. This show seriously operates like Civil War doesn’t exist sometimes.
This one really pissed me off. She isn’t in this episode either! The main female lead of this show is officially not in a third of it. How is this good use of her character? I’m not sure how they’ll even be able to give her a full arc and character development in four episodes that aren’t even focused around her. I feel like it’s safe to just call it now; so much for the female representation in this show. Once again, I would love to be proved wrong, but there’s no getting past that she’s only in two thirds of the entire show. And that’s if she even shows up next week.
The new “Captain America”. Though not really because Bucky points out that it takes much more than a shield to carry Steve’s title. Welcome to the most annoying character to grace your screens in a while. A snobby jock in high school and a total douchebag, there is no liking this character. Though this by no means implies that you should go after the actor who is just doing his job and doing it well if we all find the character to be this annoying. John Walker is not a super soldier, but apparently the action sequences were not told this. John Walker is slammed into the windshield of a car and gets up. This is a feat that Steve could achieve, but that’s because he’s a super soldier. There is absolutely no way that John Walker would have been able to get up from that. At the end of the episode he has the bright idea to try to threaten Sam and, you know, an actual super soldier. To make matters with this character worse, they actually had that stupid idea to give him a black side kick. What the hell was with that decision? I thought pulling Sam up to a main character position was Marvel getting past that. I guess it was the episodic reminder that the main writer for this show is a white man.
At the end of this episode we see Sam and Bucky go off to see someone and a shot of Zemo in prison implies that maybe it’s him. I’m not sure, I’m hoping that they actually go to see Sharon, but I’m really confused. This episode set up a little more plot, but I thought Zemo was going to be the main villain of this show. It doesn’t bode well that there’s only four episodes left and I’m still kind of confused about the plot.
The Freedom Fighters:
If I had to pinpoint the thing that this show is having the most trouble with, it would absolutely have to be motivation. We know that this group wants things to go back to the way they were before the blip, but everything about their motivation seems odd. It’s probably because of the same reason that Thanos wanted the blip in the first place, but we’ve already explored this line of thinking in two movies if that is the case. It feels kind of tired to be going over it again after such a short period of time. The group also uses the catchphrase “one world, one people” which is baffling. How does that catchphrase make sense for a a group that wants half of the world dead? These characters are barely being built up at all anyways so this entire group is just really confusing to me. And not in a good way.
I’m sorry that I’m going after this show so hard, but it’s difficult not to. Malcolm Spellman, the main writer, said that the main focus of this show would be characters and it feels like the motivations for most of the characters don’t make sense, which is a big thing for character development. Not to mention we are getting absolutely zero female characters to focus on so far. Recently Spellman also addressed fan rumors that Bucky might be bisexual and had feelings for Steve and simply said that we should keep watching the show and see. I can’t help but be really worried about that statement considering how the show is going so far. I’m just saying now, he better not queer-bait all of us on top of all of this. Hopefully the show gets better, but I’m not too optimistic on that front.
See you across the pond!