The Whole World Is Watching… So Be On Your Best Behavior
It’s time to don your wings and cybernetic arm because this week’s adventure sees every villain thread come to a head. And so, like a dancing Zemo, we break it down in episode 4 of The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. In this one, our heroes come terribly close to the Flag Smashers, as Baron Zemo plays some cunning head games and an old friend comes to take the Baron down.
And though it’s an action-packed thrill ride filled with battle and chase scenes, there is sadly not exactly a lot in terms of character motivation as mostly the episode repeats its themes about the potential evils of those with power (in this case, super soldier power). Jumping from monologues to fight sequence in speech-to-speech exchanges amongst conflicting heroes what spat ideologies yet never listen to one another — because in doing so, would reveal too many similarities and fewer conflicts of interest than we think.
In the end, almost everyone in this series sees themselves as the little guy. Everyone’s trying to do the right thing. None of them are communicating and instead favor punching one another. Which tries to change in this episode… yet, ultimately fails in big ways, leading to yet more punching.
A recap… But first. Here’s an hour’s worth of Zemo dancing for you #ZemoCut fans out there.
FAIR WARNING. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS
Longing. Rusted. Furnace. Daybreak. Seventeen. Benign. Nine. Homecoming. One. Freight Car
We open on six years ago in Wakanda, back when Ayo helped Bucky overcome his Winter Soldier triggers, where a tearful Bucky realizes that after being everyone’s pre-programmed assassin for almost a century, he was finally free to live, which is why, in the present, we see a furious Ayo upset that Bucky freed Baron Zemo, the man who murdered the Wakandan King T’Chaka. She gives Bucky 8 hours until they come after Zemo.
When James rejoins Sam and Zemo, he divulges that the Wakandans are coming after them. As the reluctant truce is nearing its end, Sam reminds Zemo that he’s a means, they’re not friends, and that after he killed Doctor Nagal, they are definitely not defending him.
Just then, Karli and the Flagsmasher’s bombing of the GRC supply depot hits the news. Zemo condemns Karli as a supremacist and that anyone with the super-soldier serum is on a path to supremacy. Though Bucky reminds him that it never corrupted Steve. Thinking over how to stop Karli, Sam deduces that the death of Donya Madani, a beloved motherly figure amongst the refugees, might be a gathering point for the terrorists. So they interrogate the refugee quarters Madani was last living in. Ultimately, failing when every refugee avoids the group. However, Zemo finds success when he bribes the children with Turkish Delight (The candy from The Narnia Books) and gets information on where the funeral is, choosing to withholds it from Sam and Bucky.
Sam calls Sharon for help as they acknowledge this is their last shot at Karli, given how angry the Power Broker is now that Doctor Nagal, the serum’s creator, is dead. Before they can enact their plan to find Karli at the funeral, the new Captain, John Walker, along with sidekick Battlestar (Lemar Hoskins), intercepts the gang in Latvia to question why Zemo was freed. Revealing the plan, Sam reveals that he wants to reason with Karli, which John disagrees with given the recent bombing.
When they get to the funeral, the group gives Sam a few minutes to approach Karli alone. He finds her, giving a speech at Mama Donya’s funeral. When the crowd disperses afterward, Karli speaks with Sam, sharing how she was only looking out for people the world ostracized once everyone came back. Sam shares how Zemo thinks Karli is a supremacist. But he disagrees, and ultimately, Sam understands and agrees with Karli’s fight, just not the way she’s fighting it.
At that moment, an impatient John interrupt. Feeling betrayed, Karli escapes as the group chases after her. She is intercepted by Zemo, who shoots at her. In the scuffle, she drops the super-soldier serum vials before finally escaping. Zemo destroys the vials one by one until John takes him out with his shield. He notices a vial was left behind and tucks it away for himself.
Realizing that without the vials, hope seems lost, Karli contemplates the future. The Power Broker messages Karli with a threat. Realizing they can’t deal with both issues at once, she wants to separate Sam and kill Walker. Sam messages Sharon to track Karli.
Power Just Makes A Person More Of Themselves
When the heroes regroup again, Zemo warns Sam not to be sympathetic. Meanwhile, Bucky is convinced something’s wrong with Walker, who at that moment, happens to barge in asking for Zemo. Coincidentally also at that moment, Wakanda’s Ayo and the Dora Milaje arrive also for Zemo. A showdown begins, and the warrior women prove themselves fearsome warriors. In the scuffle, Zemo slips away into a sewer tunnel, and eventually, the Dora Milajae beat everyone and even disarm (literally takes his arm off) Bucky and John. When the women realize Zemo escaped, they leave. At this moment, Walker feels completely defeated.
At a cafe, Walker asks Hoskins if he would take the serum if he could, contemplating on whether or not to make himself a super-soldier. John thinks about the horrible things he’d experienced in Afghanistan. The things that earned him three medals of honor and how finally, after becoming Captain America, it felt like he was finally doing the right thing. Battlestar reminds Captain how many lives they could have saved if they had the serum back then…
That night, Sarah gets a call from Karli, who threatens their family and asks Sam to meet with her. Sam later confronts her, though he brings Bucky along. She tells him she doesn’t want to kill him and was going to ask to either join her or let her go. At that moment, Sharon tells Sam Walker’s found the Flag Smashers, causing Sam, Bucky, and Karli to rush to Walker to stop him.
This Is Captain America
Walker and Battlestar look for the Flag Smashers but are ambushed, as Battlestar is taken out and tied up. Alone, Walker battles the group outnumbered; however, it’s revealed that he’s more than a match for the super soldiers. He’s become one himself, having taken the serum. Bucky and Falcon race to the area, and together, the group looks for Lemar. When they find them, a quick battle unfolds with the Flag Smashers, where Karli punches Lemar, who goes flying to a concrete column and dies.
The Flag Smashers run. Angry, Walker goes after them, along with both Bucky and Sam. When Walker takes one down with his shield out in the public eye, he proceeds to angrily and brutally murder him. In the distance, Karli sees her friend murdered and flees, just as everyone records the new Captain with a bloodied shield. Revealing to the world that this is the new Captain America.
That Was Not Best Behavior
Easily the most traumatizing episode of the series, the themes of absolute power corrupts absolutely ring true and come to a head in this one. Because the new Captain America just committed the worst crime, you can imagine for the world to see. The problem is that despite approaching the end, we’ve really yet to really explore either Bucky or Sam. Instead, we have gone along this ceaseless chase down the bad guys who aren’t actually bad guys, adventure, and though it’s been fun action, it’s also often shallow in meaning. With only two episodes remaining, it’s uncertain how this ends or whether this war between the haves against the have-nots can come to any settling conclusion. I just hope Sam gets his family’s boat back.
Final Verdict: 3/5