The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Ep.2 Review

Katie Keller, Staff

Disney+ aired episode 2, The Star-Spangled Man, of their new series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Mar. 26. The main cast of this episode featured Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Wyatt Russell and Erin Kellyman with a brief shot featuring Daniel Brühl. There will be spoilers from last week’s episode as well as this week’s, so read at your own risk.

Last week, Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Mackie) was the main focus of the episode as he donated Captain America’s shield to the Smithsonian, engaged in a picture-perfect Marvel fight scene and tried to keep his family’s small business afloat. Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Stan), is struggling to adjust to being in the 21st century without Steve and having a clean slate for the first time since the 1940s. As the episode closed, a new Captain America was introduced.

Picking up right where the previous episode left off, John Walker (Russell) makes his first public appearance as the new Captain America, much to Sam and Bucky’s disdain. Sam and Bucky spent the majority of the episode at each other’s throats over Sam’s decision to give up Steve’s shield. During a medicine smuggling operation, the leader of the terrorist group the Flag Smashers is revealed. Bucky gets himself arrested for missing a therapy appointment and after Walker bails him out, an awkward session of couples therapy commences between Bucky and Sam. The episode ends with the two agreeing to pay a visit to a villain from their past.

Our new Captain America gave a good first impression that quickly got flushed down the toilet. Right off the bat, he admits that he’s nervous about filling the position, admits that he’s not perfect, admits that he’s not Tony Stark or Bruce Banner and admits that he’s not trying to be Steve. That humility is short-lived. I’m not saying I blame him, but I’m not excusing his actions either. The way he treats Bucky and Sam, two guys that Steve respected, is uncalled for and seriously downplays his credibility as the new Captain America.

Bucky and Sam’s relationship is one that I find myself smiling at. The scene where they’re in couples therapy is just painful to watch on so many levels, but once I got past the awkwardness, I saw something deeper in Bucky. In this scene, he puts it all on the line and admits he’s scared that Steve was wrong about him. The raw emotion I felt from this scene was different than any other I’ve felt from Marvel characters. Not all the characters in the MCU have clean hands, but this was someone who has so much blood on his that he can’t sleep at night, someone who looks in the mirror and sees a monster. This was such an amazingly touching scene and while it’s understandable that episodes can’t be too long, it’s a shame this scene was cut short. As the series continues, I can’t wait to see if Bucky’s going to have his own redemption arc like Wanda Maximoff did in WandaVision.

Villains are a key part of any Marvel media, and while we shouldn’t be expecting a second Thanos or someone greater than Thanos, Marvel definitely has a certain stigma surrounding its villains. The main antagonist of this series surprises me a little bit. Karli Morgenthau (Kellyman) looks like she can’t be older than 17 or 18. She should be in school, not running a terrorist group. At this point, nothing is known about her MCU backstory so I’m keeping an open mind about Karli, but I’m not super psyched about her being the villain. While her alias fits with what she and her group is trying to do, it seems a little blasé and generic.

Overall, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is living up to my expectations. I definitely have a few things I’d change about it, such as Bucky’s character moment during couples therapy and possibly the main antagonist, but it’s got more pros than cons so far. I’m looking forward to see what’s next when Bucky and Sam encounter a little blast from their past and to dive into our villain’s backstory a little more.