Series Review (With Spoilers): The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1, Episode 4


Image from Disney+

John Walker (Russell) and Lemar Hoskins (Bennett) together, in Latvia, in pursuit of the Flag Smashers.

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 4 – The Whole World Is Watching” was written by Derek Kolstad and directed by Kari Skogland. In Latvia, Sam (Anthony Mackie), Bucky (Sebastian Stan), Zemo (Daniel Brühl), Walker (Wyatt Russell) and Hoskins (Clé Bennett) all meet to track down Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the Flag Smashers.

I could start off with some joke about Marvel releasing an hour-long cut of Zemo dancing, but instead, I’m going to be a debbie downer and say that episode four ended on somewhat of a weak note, despite the shock that this was Disney going full throttle. Last week’s episode, which focused almost entirely on Zemo, was phenomenal. While I’m not saying this week’s episode was a huge step down, it’s clear that the development of the story has slowed its pace only to lead up to the (predictable) final revelation. If you know anything about Marvel, whether you’ve read a comic book or not, “Captain America” is an outright villain. This is exactly why I wish that the super soldier serum buildup didn’t drag on for so long and we ended somewhere else. 

After this series completes its six-episode run, I have no question that the whole thing will feel like a movie. At this point, it feels like we are approaching the conclusion of “act two” in any feature-length piece of entertainment. We end up, of course, with the “big reveal” that John Walker was the wrong choice to be America’s mascot, Zemo has escaped, the secret Power Broker seems to be emerging, the Flag Smashers are dropping like flies and running out of options and our two protagonists haven’t a clue as to what to do next.

Image from Disney+

I enjoyed more focus on Karli Morgenthau this episode, because my interest in the Flag Smashers has been diluted as of late. Erin Kellyman is basically playing the exact same character she played in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Enfys Nest is an outcast in society who is made out to be a villain, but then a greater threat is established and she has to join forces with our heroes. These typecast roles are things that quickly become irritating. But we now know from her conversation with Sam what her overall goal is and what motivated her to start this revolution. We now know that she and John Walker are two sides of the same coin. Given that grief and loss was the overarching theme in “WandaVision,” I find it interesting that the same type of pattern is developing and present here as well: Sam is motivated by the inferred “disappearance” of Steve, Bucky is in it for those he has wronged and murdered as the Winter Soldier, Zemo for his family, the Dora Milaje for their former king, Karli for her adoptive mother Donya and now Walker for the loss of Battlestar. It also seems like Hoskins (coincidentally a character of color) was only killed off to provide motivation (and further a white character’s arc) for publicly murdering the enemy in the eyes of the public. Speaking of this, a lot of people have been brutally killed on this show so far, and it’s surprising that not only Marvel, but Disney, has put the image of Captain America’s shield covered in blood out into the world. I would’ve preferred if we had gotten more of Battlestar later on, as well as gotten to see Walker eventually turn on his own partner. But as it was said before, the super soldier serum brings out one’s true character.

It makes complete sense why the Dora Milaje wouldn’t let go of their grudge against Zemo: he killed their king, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another action sequence with their inclusion. However, if there was to be an appearance by Chadwick Boseman, I think it would’ve been the opening flashback scene in Wakanda. I also don’t understand what Zemo’s endgame is. Last week he had many opportunities to escape and continue his plan of ridding the world of superheroes, so why would he slowly and ominously exit a room with Sam, Bucky, Walker, Hoskins, Ayo (Florence Kasumba) and multiple other Doras, this week? I don’t expect to see Sam and Bucky teaming up with him again in upcoming episodes, because he labeled them as enemies to random people he talked to, one of which was a random child in Latvia after he slipped them a bag full of candy (odd placement of commentary.) We now know there are five super soldier serums left, and as he was about to destroy them I was hoping he would take one for himself, even if that would be hypocritical.

Image from Disney+

Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) still very well could be the Power Broker, although I’m leaning towards the possibility of her being an employee of this mysterious person. I still don’t buy into her legitimately assisting Sam and Bucky, because we’ve known since episode one that the Flag Smashers are a common enemy, and using superheroes to take out super soldiers isn’t a bad idea. Everything we’ve seen in the series so far hasn’t leaped too far from the standard Marvel product, and with that being said I still believe that “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will conclude in favor of the characters we came for, like “WandaVision.” Hopefully, it will also set up future projects.