WIth a wicked encounter with the Flagsmasher group that left Sam and Bucky hitchhiking to the airport, they eventually catch a ride with the new Captain America and his sidekick, Battlestar. But the main thing is this: where did all these Super Soldiers come from? After meeting Isaiah Bradley, who wants no part of the current story, Bucky and Sam are headed to check in with someone who knew all of HYDRA’s secrets: Baron Zemo!
Recap of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E3: “Power Broker”
After an opening commercial for the GRC, we stumbled on to new Captain America and Battlestar, as they work their way through eastern Europe, trying to catch up with the Flagsmashers.
But their lack of success seems to be bothering the new Captain America, as he gets very irate with a man who spat upon him, yelling “Do you know who I am?!?” The man’s response of “I don’t care.” isn’t what is expected but Battlestar tries to help Captain understand the loyalty and trust these people have with the Flagsmashers: they are feeding refugees, delivering medicine to them and caring for them. No wonder the people aren’t talking. So the Captain says then they have to bet on someone who has a better hand.
That takes us to Berlin, Germany, where Bucky meets up with Baron Zemo. The two chat and Bucky seems convinced that they need his help. So he helps Zemo enact a plan to get out of the prison, not revealing it to Sam until after it is underway.
Zemo is able to get free and then they come to an arrangement. Zemo despises what the Super Soldier Serum stands for and agrees to work alongside of them to take down whoever is responsible, starting at the bottom of his contact list. So, the trio then stop by Zemo’s garage, he picks up a few things, including his iconic mask.
Falcon is surprised that Zemo is wealthy, but as Zemo explains, he was a Baron before everything that happened in Sokovia went down. This also creates some fun moments of the Baron and his butler having some jokes that presumably Sam and Bucky cannot understand in German. But there is a more serious moment when Zemo reveals he had swiped Bucky’s notebook, which we discover was also once Steve’s notebook, where he made notes about things to experience since he crashed in WW2.
That leads to a discussion of Captain America as an icon. Zemo points out how icons can very quickly become more than that and used to rally people for negative reasons and causes. It is profound to see Zemo lay out how much he is opposed to something like the Avengers because he believes that when their faults are ignored, they become very dangerous. And that segways nicely into…
We get a shot of Karli, the leader of the Flagsmashers. She goes to be with a friend who is dying in what seems to be a refugee camp. We will hear more about it later but it helps us understand the why behind the Flagsmashers’ what. Resources aren’t balanced and haven’t been since the return of the Blipped.
And welcome to Madripoor, the seedy-ish island nation where black market deals happen. Zemo has connections there and has a plan, with Bucky acting like the Winter Soldier, Zemo acting as himself, and Sam playing the role of an African prince that he resembles.
This set-up creates some issues, some humorous and some not. First, Sam is made to drink the favorite drink of the guy he is pretending to be, which seems to involve some kind of snake glands. But it turns more serious when Zemo tells the Winter Soldier to attack and an epic bar fight breaks out. But it ends when the trio get permission to meet with Sybil, who Zemo thinks is connected to the Power Broker, who they suspect is the person responsible for the serum.
Zemo essentially tries to cut a deal where he promises to hand over the Winter Soldier in exchange for the information. Things seem to be going well, with Sybil willing to give information on a Dr. Nagel. But then Sam’s sister Sarah called his cellphone and the truth comes out when she starts yelling at her kids about Cheerios. In that moment though, Sybil is sniped and killed. And the three men are on the run, as a bounty is immediately given for her killers. And they seem to be stuck until…Sharon Carter!
Sharon comes on the scene and helps them get away and then welcomes them into her apartment. But, it is sadder still as Sharon is completely disenchanted. She reminds them of the high cost she had when she stole both the shield for Steve Rogers and Falcon’s outfit for Sam. (As seen in Captain America: Civil War.)
But she comes around and agrees to help them if Sam can help her get a pardon so she can get her life back. The trio get to stay for a party at her house, where we get excellent footage of Baron Zemo takes no enemies…on the dance floor.
The next morning, the group finds Dr. Nagel’s lab, hidden among containers in a shipping yard. Though he seems hesitant to speak to the crew at first, he comes around and shares, while Sharon singlehandedly whups the great Madipoor bounty hunting population.
Among the revelations is that he used blood for an old man super soldier to break it down and discover the serum and he was well on his way to recreating it for the CIA, when he was dusted by Thanos. When he returned, he convinced the Power Broker to set up his lab and he created 20 vials of the serum before they were stolen by the Flagsmashers.
He also reveals that Karli had recently reached out to him about helping a Donya Madani, who we can deduce is the refugee we saw dying with Karli at her bedside. Nagel didn’t offer his help and seems to be on his way to cutting a deal when Sharon busts in saying that they are out of time. Zemo then shoots and kills Nagel as a RPG blows up the lab.
Sam, Bucky and Sharon make it out of the lab, but they have lost Zemo. The two men get into a childish argument, while under fire from the bounty hunters when Baron Zemo rescues the trio, with his mask on, shooting a gas line, then taking out some bounty hunters himself before he rolls up in a supercharged muscle car for the escape. Sharon sends then on their way, asking Sam to keep his promise and get her a pardon, so she can go home.
We then see Karli and another Flagsmasher scout a site where the GRC is stowing resources. The two of them talk about how life was and their hopes before the restoration of Thanos’ snap and how hard it had been since. Karli admits to not knowing what to do now. And later, we see when the Flagsmashers have raided that site and taken the 6 months of resources that the GRC was hoarding. But, Karli escalates it, setting off a bomb in a van, that likely killed others in the same building as she declares that is the only language people hear.
Back onboard Zemo’s plane, Sam is dealing with how Sharon has been treated and how Isaiah was treated. He wants to equate the evil being done with the shield in mind, Bucky tries to point him to the good the shield has meant and declares that he will take it up before he lets Sam destroy it. Sam’s intel then lets him know that they found the refugee where has died that Karli wanted help for. So they head that way.
When they arrive in Riga, they are walking the streets, where Zemo talks about how Sokovia has been broken up into pieces, eaten by other countries. In the midst of their discourse, they arrive. But Bucky says he needs to take a walk. And he picks up a small metal ball and then follows a trail of them, before finding Ayo, one of the Dora Miljae, the Wakandian special guards, who declares she is there for Zemo!
Thoughts on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E3: “Power Broker”
Well, if you are a comics person, you cannot see Baron Zemo pop-up again without immediately thinking about what could be an amazing next group for the MCU to dive into: The Thunderbolts. Essentially, the Thunderbolts were initially a group of villains pretending to be heroes and eventually it became a group of villains working off their time under the guidance of hero leaders like Hawkeye and, later, Luke Cage.
A Thunderbolts with Luke Cage, and Loki, and Agatha Harkness and a somehow resurrected Killmonger? I mean, who isn’t in for this? Marvel, hear our hopes! Plus when he picks up the mask out of the car…awesome. [More on the Thunderbolts here.]
Madripoor! In the comics, the island was made (or at least made prevalent) in the 1980s, when Wolverine was somehow in every comic and his own series, so they needed to create a world for him to inhabit. So, with all that free time, he would put on a patch and head into the seedy streets of Madripoor.
Now, the MCU version is much more glitzy and EDM than the Madripoor we know from the comics but it is a fun add. I was waiting for someone to say “Listen here, bub” in a gruff Canadian accent!
Sharon Carter is back. And let’s be clear…she kicks some bounty hunters’ tail. I loved that we get to see these sequences that remind us of how great she is. But I also liked that they didn’t gloss over the impact of what price she paid for helping Steve, Sam and Bucky. In MCU timeline, that could be a total of 8 or 9 years ago and that time has taken its toll on her patriotism and belief in inspiring things. I hope that we get to see some of that restored for Sharon. But that jump into the car was ominous. Do you think she is working for the Power Broker?
Zemo dancing. Y’all. I was dying. So silly but fun to think about.
And not a ton of the other Captain America in this episode. I wonder if they are going to slow play out his story across multiple episodes. We do know that he is closing in on Bucky and Sam, which could ultimately lead them to the serum. I still bets are solid he and Lamar take the serum and that the effects of it aren’t good. We may not get to see the full dark turn that happened in the comics but we might.
And how does the “White Wolf” manage to keep Ayo away from Zemo, who killed their king?