DISCLAIMER: I was provided access to this episode by Disney+.
Editor’s Note: The following review will only contain necessary spoilers, and only what appears on Disney+ descriptions and marketing materials.
As The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has reached the middle of its six-episode story, I’d like to start by evaluating what progress the miniseries has made thus far. So, the following review will not only be a review of the third episode, but a review of the show so far. Catch up with my previous reviews if you haven’t read them by clicking below.
Alright, you’re back? Cool. Let’s get into it.
I’m relatively enjoying the show so far (although, I am enjoying it much less than I thought I would), but the show feels like it’s handicapping itself at every turn. The problem isn’t the premise, as every trailer I see hypes me up for what lies ahead. The problem isn’t the cast, as the chemistry between all of the actors and actresses is felt and is much appreciated. Rather, I think that the show’s structure is the root of the problem here. The show seems to revolve around the trope of the “mission of the week” and interweaves other storylines and characters along the way. The reason I don’t think it works here is that the show seems much more concerned with retconning Phase 2 events rather than solving the mystery at hand, and frequently waves off the topics it brings to the surface every week. I know no more about who the Flag Smashers are, what their purpose is, why Sam doesn’t want the shield, or why Bucky abandoned his journey to become something other than the Winter Soldier for some random group other than a hunch Sam (well, Redwing, technically) has.
Getting to the episode that I’m reviewing, I think the show is starting to make a turn for the better. We learn more about who the Global Repatriation Council is and are finally reunited with Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), making their first appearance since the events of Captain America: Civil War (which, fun fact, took place eight years ago in-universe!)
After a short commercial for the GRC, we catch up to John Walker and his partner, Lamar Hoskins, arriving a few days late to where we saw the Flag Smashers last week. This hideout raid thankfully gives comparison points between the two Caps (something that was sorely needed) as John busts into the hideout without a care in the world and is spat on by someone who knows what he stands for and don’t fear or respect him.
The remainder of the episode follows Falcon and the Winter Soldier on their mission to “go see Zemo”, as they state in the previous episode. Avoiding spoilers, Zemo partners with the two to “scale a ladder of lowlifes” in a southeast Asian city from the comics called Madripoor, which is divided into two neighborhoods: Lowtown, where the trio do their investigative work on the Flag Smashers and Hightown, where we meet Sharon Carter after she gets done saving the trio from the criminals of Lowtown.
We do see the Flag Smashers this week, but it feels unnecessary, other than to set up Episode Four, so I’ll save that critique for the next one.
Brühl is simply a delight here. I loved his rendition of Helmut Zemo (now Baron Helmut Zemo) as the refugee of a war-torn country in Captain America: Civil War, but the rendition of Baron Zemo as half-serious, half-joking is quite refreshing. It allows for the show to have a feature player that can comment on things like Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack encompassing the African-American experience while also giving him the room to dance at the club. Emily VanCamp’s return as Sharon Carter was great as well, especially in the action set pieces the episode gives her to audition for the role of Jane Wick.
Unlike last week, this episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier does the work to right the ship towards the finish line, while not forgetting to be coherent or entertaining. The real test that lies ahead for the show will be if it can hold this momentum for the final half.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available to stream with a Disney+ subscription. New episodes will be released every Friday.
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