Last week’s episode ran the gamut of emotions, as we watched the aftermath of Captain America murdering someone in front of a crowd and the consequences that came after it. And we also saw Sam wrestle with not just having the shield but possibly having the mantle of Captain America himself, while also helping his family’s struggling business. But Bucky showed up as well, and together, they seemed to work through their issues.
But what will happen when the Flagsmasher group takes a chance on a major attack in New York City? MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! So don’t read if you haven’t watched the show yet!
Recap of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E6: “One World, One People”
The Flagsmashers have decided it is time to deal with the GRC directly, attacking their gathering in New York City. Having managed to infiltrate the GRC security teams, they have a simple plan. By creating an attack inside the meeting room, the GRC members will be forced to flee, with some using large trucks via the basement exits and some using a helicopter on the roof. But they are being opposed by the Falcon, the Winter Soldier, and Sharon Carter, who Sam has called in to help.
When the Flagsmashers set off a gas weapon in the GRC meeting room, Sam, looking glorious in the new suit, comes crashing in with the shield. He quickly figures out that the Flagsmashers are trying to get everyone to exit but then Batroc the Leaper shows up, telling Sam that “The robes don’t make the monk!”
Bucky and Sharon head to the garage to deal with those vehicles but Karli calls Bucky. They argue about the merits of what she is doing and how it compares to him. In the end, it was just a rouse in order to get the GRC loaded into vans and sealed up with some kind of lock. Realizing it, Bucky heads to the garage and grabs a motorcycle, while Sharon drops a gas weapon on a Flagsmasher driver that gruesomely kills him.
At this, we wind up with two interspersed chase scenes. Falcon, having dispatched Batroc, then heads after the copter of GRC members, covering the air, while Bucky and Sharon chase the trucks, handling the land.
After attempting to take the copter, Sam dispatches Redwing, who is able to use facial recognition to identify a GRC member onboard who knows how to fly a helicopter. After a few more attempts on the helicopter on his own, he sends a message to the person’s phone and they concoct a plan that will take incredible timing. But it works, as her countdown ends, Sam removes the pilot, and she takes over the helicopter!
Karli is having a huddle with her folks and there is a clear sense that they are not as comfortable with the more extreme measures that she is recommending. It really comes to a head when she has them light one of the trucks on fire as a distraction so they can get away from Bucky.
Bucky does make the choice to help them. But the loud voice of John Walker calls out to Karli and he is in his Captain America garb with the new shield that he forged in the post-credit scenes last week. She tries to apologize to him but it is no good. In the midst of the Flagsmashers pummeling him, Walker has PTSD-like issues, seeing Lamar’s star. But Bucky, having saved the people in the truck, steps in and the two of them go to battle.
Karli, on the run, jumps in the truck that still has captives, sending it hurdling off a ledge. It gets stuck, with Walker the only who can do anything. So, he shakes his head and casts down the shield, choosing to do the heroic thing of saving the people instead of pursuing the fight. But as he is seeking to do it, he is attacked by the Flagsmashers. After a long fall, they are saved from the falling truck by Sam and his powered Captain America suit pushing the truck to safety.
And the crowd cheers him on.
The fight is interrupted by gas cartridges from Batroc and everyone heads different ways. Falcon tracks their path via infrared goggles and when the Flagsmashers split, Walker and Bucky go one way and Sam another. But before any of them can arrive, Sharon corners Karli and we get confirmation for the first time: Sharon is the Power Broker.
They have a discussion but Batroc overhears the news of Sharon being the Power Broker and asks for more money to keep that secret. Then everyone pulls triggers, with Batroc getting shot by Sharon and Sharon being hit by Karli.
Hearing the gunshot Sam arrives. When Karli attacks, he goes straight defensive measure, basically refusing to fight her. Karli eventually manages to disarm Sam and when she has a gun and appears to be ready to kill him, Sharon shoots Karli, killing her AND keeping her Power Broker identity a secret for now.
The other Flagsmashers are captured when Bucky and Walker use their messaging app to lure them into a trap, where they are captured.
Sam isn’t done. Taking Karli’s body, he goes down and encounters members of the GRC, who were just rescued. In front of the news media and cameras, they debate. Sam challenges their desire to re-set the borders, the label of “terrorist,” and despite the fact that things are complicated, they, as leaders and politicians have to do better.
It is a moving speech, so much so that even Bucky makes a joke about it as a friend would, noting “Sorry, I was texting and all I heard was “A black guy and star and stripes. Nice job, Cap.” And it is noted that Walker, having heard the speech, nods his head at Sam, the new Captain America, when he walked by.
When the Flagsmashers are all together and allegedly heading to the Raft, the one guard says “One World, One People” to them. But their vehicle explodes and after having seen Baron Zemo’s butler put away the detonator he just used to end the Flagsmashers, and we cut to the Raft, where we see Zemo himself give a sly smile as he hears the news over a radio in his cell.
Walker is then shown in a new suit, and he is dubbed USAgent by his new friend Val. Walker and his wife celebrate as he declares “I’m back!”
Bucky then is seen going down the hall and he arrives to tell his friend Yori about what happened to his son. “He was murdered by the Winter Soldier and that was me.” It is heartbreaking as we watch Yori wrestle with this knowledge and Bucky leave. But the next scene is more hopeful, as we see Bucky’s therapist open a present – Bucky’s little book – with all the names crossed off and a note that says thanks for her help.
Sam has a different place to go, choosing to go visit Isaiah Bradley. The two of them discuss what has happened, which Isaiah saw on television. Sam says about the hard road ahead, “We built this country. Bled for it. I’m not going to let anyone tell me that I can’t fight for it. Not after what everyone before me went through…including you.” Sam then tells Isaiah that they need to take a trip.
Sam takes them to the museum to visit the Captain America exhibit, the place where he gave up the shield originally. Only now, in a prominent location, there is a piece that tells the story of Isaiah Bradley, who is deeply moved. Sam promises him, “Now, they will never forget what you did for this country. Never.” And Sam and Isaiah embrace as Isaiah is overcome with emotion.
The closing montage is of celebration of Sam and Bucky returning to Louisiana, eating, singing, dancing, and happy to be together, especially as they look out over the water, as friends.
Thoughts on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E6: “One World, One People.”
So, as season one of this show comes to an end, as a viewer, you always want to think about was it worth it and was it any good. I suspect that Disney+ executives are a little bummed that this show didn’t hit the cultural zeitgeist in the same way that WandaVision did; in fact, if the original plan had held, and this show had been released first, it probably is the better scenario. But that lack of attention and hype doesn’t mean that this show was bad; I just think that it was different.
One of the ways that I think this show is most definitely different is that it wasn’t meant to be a one hit / season show in the same way that WandaVision was. The beats and flow of this show feel way more familiar to us as the audience and that approach doesn’t leave me conflicted. The reality is that this common complaint is that this is really just a 6 hour movie makes me go, “And, that is a problem because?”
Like all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, this movie has the same ticks that go all the way back to Iron Man where we thought, “What is coming next?” But before we go there, let’s talk about the main characters and where the end of the episode leaves them.
Sam Wilson, aka Captain America. There is no way to talk about the changes to Sam without talking about the political parts of the show. Sam is an African-American former soldier who signed back up to fight alongside Steve Rogers.
It really wasn’t until this episode that I realized something that may have been intentional or may not have been. (For a very long run, the Captain America comic book was named “Captain America and the Falcon”.) Does Sam’s wrestling of the mantle of Captain America seem real? I think it does. Are there times where the politics of our real world being laid on top of the Marvel world feel just slightly out of sync? Sure. But I don’t think that lessens the experience of seeing Sam go from Captain America’s sidekick to Captain America.
And the Wakandan uniform is amazing and 100% it would be amazing for people to declare like the people in the crowd did; it isn’t that Sam is Black Captain America. He is, now, Captain America.
So what does that set up for season 2? I think that there are a lot of political folks that wouldn’t be happy with Sam as Captain America as well as a lot of domestic terrorist groups that would most definitely make him a target. There are a lot of ways to go from here.
John Walker aka USAgent. Walker is perhaps the most interesting character to track his evolution over the course of this season. From the get-go, he is put in a nearly impossible position as the new Captain America. I mean, in part, Sam gives up the shield because Sam knows no one replaces Steve Rogers. But Walker is given that task.
Now, that said, Walker is going to still have to deal with what he has done and the fact that the super soldier serum in him may be having some weird side effects. While you can understand what happened when he avenged Lamar, it doesn’t mean that everyone will embrace him as a hero, even though he did try to prove to be a hero at the end in saving the GRC members.
A lot of what happens with him in season 2 depends on his relationship with Val; is the USAgent now the black ops Captain America? In the end, he wants to do right and serve his country, even if it is extremist at times. And I am curious how the audience deals with that switch and contrasting with Sam going forward. (And if you know Walker’s history and a particular injury that occurs to him in the comics, this final episode teased that over and over. More than once, I asked “Did they just?? Noooo!” (Also, I am very worried about his wife’s survival long term…)
Sharon Carter aka Agent 13 aka The Power Broker. By the time the revelation happened that Carter was the Power Broker, it seemed extremely likely unless they took a total introduction of a new character.
Golly, I am torn. The niece of Agent Peggy Carter broke bad on us? The one who gives that moving speech at her aunt’s funeral that was basically a pep talk to Steve Rogers now lacks the belief?
I suspect that they are setting her up to a more important role and maybe the Big Bad of next season, the post-credits scene showing her being given a full pardon and restored in the intelligence community. If so, the audience needs to see more of what her hard times have been like since being on the run since helping Steve, Bucky and Sam escape with their gear in Captain America: Civil War.
Baron Zemo. Even from the Raft, the Baron finishes his mission. (And can we just say that if there really was a superhuman, supervillain prison like The Raft, they wouldn’t get news updates?) The thing about this season is though you may disagree wildly with his principles, Zemo has a code and a path. (And, unrelated, fantastic dance moves.) That helps set-up him coming back, either as a part of the trio like this season or down the road as a Thunderbolt, which is a Marvel team of “heroes” made up of villains.
Isaiah Bradley. I hope we keep seeing Isaiah for two reasons. He is an excellent character to give voice to some of the feelings and issues that Sam would be wrestling with as a black man hero in America in today’s world. He and Sam managed to find common ground and Sam making sure he was honored at the museum was very touching. The second reason is Isaiah plays a huge roll in his grandson eventually becoming a hero himself, as Patriot in the Young Avengers in the comics.
Batroc the Leaper
Batroc the Leaper. Uh, keep jumping, I guess?
Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. I saved him for last because in some ways, his growth and arc is the most significant. Think about all the things that Steve wrestled with in coming to a new world out of the frozen ice. Bucky in many ways has the same issues to wrestle with.
Plus, he also has a ledger of all the people he has harmed, hurt and killed. He is in therapy for a reason and the talk he and Sam have in episode 5 really does seem to help further his healing. The scene of him making amends in this episode is very touching, as he has to be vulnerable, maybe even losing a friend in the process. (The outcome seems unsure from the show.)
But seeing his completed ledger been given as a gift to his therapist as a thank you shows his growth. And, he and Sam have become real friends. The montage of him in Louisiana with Sam and his ability to laugh and have fun is proof he moves forward. If anything, his character moving forward is the most interesting. If he has laid all his past behind him, what does his future look like? Regardless it needs to involve motorcycles because that chase scene was stellar!
So, what about you readers? Who was your favorite character from this season? What was a key moment for you? And what did you think of the politics of this show?