Just two weeks removed from the end of the spectacularly successful and popular first Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe television show, WandaVision, we get ready for the political intrigue and espionage that we are expecting from The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
What happens as this duo tries to live up to the mantle and shield that an elderly Steve Rogers passed on to Sam at the end of Avengers: Endgame?
Recap of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E1: “New World Order”
Right from the jump we get to see Sam Wilson aka The Falcon on a mission to rescue a captive on an airplane in Tunisia as the captive is rushed to Libyan airspace. Falcon is helped on the ground by First Lieutenant Torres, who seems to be his new liaison and sidekick.
What transpires is a pretty incredible fight sequence between Falcon and members of the group LAF. He boards the plane with the help of the drone Redwing and we get what is almost a Hall Fight, as bullets and punches and kicks fly, most notably from one Batroc the Leaper. But then the fight takes a twist, as the LAF jumps out of the plane in paragliding suits with the hostage in tow.
The paragliding LAF members and Sam then have an epic game of chase through airspace, and then into a canyon with lots of tricks and toys displayed. Sam clearly has done some upgrading on the suit and learned a few things. At times, Sam’s wings are a bit too long and clip the sides but the real trouble comes when helicopters appear.
Deploying Red Wing, Falcon is able to takedown LAF, rescue the hostage and do it all before passing into Libyan airspace, using high flying maneuvers plus their own missiles against them.
Back on the ground, Torres and Sam debrief as Sam works on Redwing. After being thanked by a man in the crowd, Torres tells Sam about the Flagsmashers, an organization that seems to be dedicated to the idea that the world during the blip created by Thanos was better than the one that has come since it has been restored. Their red handed logo with the world inside of it is a calling card, and Torres agrees to continue to follow it and give Sam more information when he has some. But Torres also expresses that some of the online chatter is that Steve Rogers is up on the Moon, looking down over all of us.
Sam then heads to Washington, DC, where he gives a speech about the symbolism of Captain America and his shield. And while Sam hopes for more heroes for these times, he believes it is time to retire the shield. So we watch as the shield gets placed in the Smithsonian, and James Rhodes, aka War Machine appears and he and Sam have a good, old fashioned walk and talk through the Captain America exhibit. Rhodey seems to question why Sam didn’t take on the shield and mantle to carry it forward but Sam seems content with his decision.
The next scene is set somewhere in Europe and we watch a young Asian-American engineer return to his hotel room after a conference. When a escorted official and his security group is attacked, we watch as the Winter Soldier quickly dismantles them, killing the target. But the Asian-American young man is a witness and the Winter Soldier kills him. And Bucky wakes up in a cold sweat, processing his memory.
The next scene has Bucky in therapy, where he denies having a nightmare. Instead, he explains that he crossed a name off his list yesterday to make amends for past deeds, promising he used his three rules that his psychologist (and government liaison gave him.
- He cannot do anything illegal.
- Nobody gets hurt.
- Where Bucky has to tell them: “I am no longer the Winter Soldier. I am James “Bucky” Barnes and you are a part of my amends.”
In this case, we watch as Bucky explains the rules while getting intelligence on a corrupt, former Hydra official that is a Senator that the Winter Soldier helped get into office. When he finishes, we catch a quick glimpse of a notebook he has with a list in it, as he checks off Senator Atwood’s name.
His therapist then pushes Bucky to trust people and calls him out for having a lack of friends and ignoring his texts from Sam. He talks about the little calm that he had in Wakanda but that other than that, he has been going from fight to fight for 90 years. When he says he wants “Peace,” his therapist calls him out, revealing that she has history as a soldier as well.
Bucky then meets up with his friend Yuri Nakajima for lunch, saving a wierdo New Yorker from a beatdown for using Yuri’s garbage can. While at the sushi place, Yuri manages to get Bucky a date with the waitress/hostess by promising her a night of Bingo or pinochle. But then he turns sad, remembering how his son loved an item on the menu and explaining how he was killed for no reason, on a job for a consulting company overseas. It haunts the old man. Bucky sits silently.
We cut to Sam, riding home to Louisiana, where he see his sister and her two kids, coming off the boats for the day. Discussion quickly turns to how the family business isn’t doing so well. Sam doesn’t want his sister to sell the house or the boat that are their inheritance. Sam promises that he can help his sister, working on a plan so that they can fish and use the boat as a tourist charter. He says that he will do the legwork getting a bank to secure a loan to make it work.
Bucky’s date night turns out to be a mix. He and she are flirting well, playing Battleship after he brought her flowers but when talk comes to Yuri, Bucky heads out to go speak to him, clearly wanting to make amends. But when he arrives at the door, he cannot bring himself to do it.
Sam and his sister’s visit to the bank doesn’t go well. Though recognizing him as the Falcon, the bank refuses to give him and her a loan. Sam vows to press on. He is called away by Torres, who had been following the Flagsmashers posts and wound up in a face to face confrontation with them.
But the episode comes to an end when Sam’s sister calls him to the television and they see the government unveiling something unexpected: a new Captain America, who is even using Steve’s shield
Thoughts on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E1: “New World Order”
Let’s say this about director Kari Skoland’s and writer Malcolm Spellman’s opening scene: they went for it. It winds up as a 10 minute beautiful fight that shows what Falcon is truly capable of. And it wasn’t just a “That looks good for television” scene. It was a crisp as any scene we’ve seen in the MCU, and I appreciated the nod to the Netflix series and their Hall Fights, when the fight was happening in the tight control of the fuselage. It is a heck of a way to launch a new series!
They can let Batroc the Leaper jump off of and out of anything they want. He is a ridiculous villain and I love that they keep him bouncing around the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And how great is it that they used the group LAF?!
Bucky’s list and attempts to make amends is interesting and heartbreaking. Sure, putting someone like Senator Atwood away must feel good but the heartbreak around someone like Yuri is just so sad and real. His sparring session with the therapist, played by the awesome Am Aquino could create some great moments in the upcoming episodes.
So, who is behind the Flagsmashers? And are they just lowly thieves dressed up in some political theater? Or is there more to them? And how did the guy who assaulted Torres get super strength? Is he one of the other Winter Soldier types from the same program as Bucky that we last saw in Siberia at the end of Captain American Civil War?
Once they brought out that new Captain America, it brings to mind a valid question: did Rhodey know that this would happen? I mean, certainly that early conversation at the Smithsonian takes on a whole different meaning.
Do we get to know a little bit more about this brand new, yet very different Captain next week?