The second and third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are on Disney+ but do they live up to the excellence of the first episode?
The Falcon and Winter Soldier series is going from strength to strength. Continuing from the first episode where the two titular characters were developed apart, the second episode wastes no time in bringing Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) aka “Falcon” and James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) aka the “Winter Soldier” together, quickly establishing the driving conflict between the two, being Sam’s decision to give up the shield.
This conflict is further emphasised within the therapy scene, where Dr Christina Raynor (Amy Aquino) prods the two to try and overcome their differences in order to hunt down the Flag Smashers. This scene is excellent, and while it has comedic beats it doesn’t detract from Bucky’s outburst at Sam, and nor does it feel forced.
Another character that gets good development throughout is John Walker (Wyatt Russell). He went from having an easily punchable face at the end of episode one, to them adding more sympathy in his character right from the first scene, which makes him more than a one note guy. Walker is a good person, but he is struggling to feel like he lives up to the Captain America mantle.
However, the shades of grey were reintroduced as the episode progressed, with him shooting a “Flag Smasher” – with the intended effect of making the audience feel uncomfortable – and telling Sam and Bucky to stay out of his way. This makes for a good character, as he could go on to be an awful person or more sympathetic.
Moving to the Flag Smashers, they too have more than one side to them. Initially our heroes think they are stealing weapons for nefarious purposes, but we later found out they are in fact stealing medical supplies for poorer communities (something which hit a little hard given the global pandemic).
This added sympathy makes me think that they won’t be the true villain. The action that they brought on the lorries was genius and well-choreographed. I appreciate that Bucky, Sam and Walker all get beat by Super-Soldiers, because that is exactly what would happen. Brawn won’t work on these guys.
Episode three had a much faster pace compared to the first two. The titular pair quickly break “Zemo” (Daniel Brühl) out of prison, where again Marvel give him a more rounded character, and honestly, he can give good comedic value at times as well. His comment about being invaluable and dancing were particular highlights for me. I’m looking forward to seeing if this remains, or whether he turns on our heroes toward the end.
Another returning character is Sharon Carter (Amy Vancamp). She also gets more to do than just be there, not only a great action scene (though the lorry action was better than the docks) but again has more depth to her character, that of disillusionment from the symbol of Captain America. Instead of being pardoned like all of the other heroes, she was forced to live underground in Madripoor, and because of this, there is more sarcasm about the role Captain America can play. This is great as it not only adds to her character, but also further adds to the conflict about the shield Sam is feeling.
John Walker also got some great development in the short time he was present. Instead of being sympathetic, he is seen threatening a shop owner to get what he wants. This further pushes him down the path of not being what Captain American represents. The strain of the job is clearly getting to him as well, as he believes that simply invoking the Captain’s name will get him what he wants, and he is wrong. I’m glad even the short, few scenes with him are used effectively, so it doesn’t feel like he is being forgotten.
Marvel’s The Falcon and Winter Soldier continues to give a good story, along with decent action throughout, but it’s the continued development of both new and old characters that makes this series strong for me so far. Hopefully the remaining three episodes keep up what the first three have started; I am faithful they will.
The Falcon and Winter Soldier is available to stream on Disney+
By Kieran Burt
Feature Image: Disney