This The Falcon and the Winter Soldier review contains spoilers.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 6
Last week’s episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had a weird feel to it. It was almost like a season finale where there was still more story left, but that would be next year’s problem. It was relaxed, it took its time, and it felt incredibly coherent. Then they got to the cliffhanger, including the mid-credits scene, and it left everyone wanting an action-packed final episode. Well, we got it with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6, “One World, One People.”
Yes, the finale has plenty of action and it does give us some closure, but it’s also a big mess. While I didn’t come out of it hating the episode or the show, but it just didn’t sit right.
Let’s look at our major characters and how things worked out for them. Maybe that will help.
Sam Wilson spends the episode being Captain America and proving he’s absolutely worthy of the title. This is exactly what it should have been, down to the inspirational speech at the end. This was his audition and he did way better than Walker did. The only real downside is that his big coming out party is hurt from two different parties going over his head to get at the Flag-Smashers.
Bucky does his work, but this finale isn’t really about him. His time to shine is in the aftermath, where he finally earns his true freedom from his tortured past. It’s fine, but he feels a little underutilized. That said, his phone conversation with Karli is a fantastic moment and shows that while he’s not as good at talking down enemies as Sam or Steve, he at least tries his best.
Karli comes out of this well enough. It hits me that her character is about as sympathetic a villain we’ve seen in the MCU since Erik Killmonger. By the events of Black Panther, Killmonger had already taken countless lives and was too twisted to fix. Whatever point he was trying to make was buried under his own anger and bloodlust. Karli was similar in that she was fighting for the right thing but in the wrong way and it was only going to get worse. She gets a fitting end and there is some good that comes in the follow-up.
Sharon Carter’s whole deal feels poorly considered, or possibly re-written/re-edited from something else. It was already pretty clear that her intentions weren’t pure last episode, so the major reveal with her is the least surprising thing ever. It’s like the Batman story Hush where the secret villain is the only person it could have been and we’re supposed to be surprised. Things can pay off in the future, but Sharon isn’t even the most interesting double-dealing scheming woman in this episode. Seriously, I come out of Sharon’s final scene with, “That’s great, but what’s going on with Contessa?”
Isaiah Bradley gets closure, even though it involves Sam doing something Isaiah straight-up told him NOT to do. I did get teary-eyed at Isaiah watching Sam on TV. It took me back to a scene in the Young Avengers comics and the great scene of Bradley seeing his disguised grandson in the newspaper and crying out of pride.
But then there’s John Walker. Walker is the true x-factor of the series and watching his journey has been one of the true highlights of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. He means well, but he’s broken. You want him to do the right thing, but you fear for the worst. There’s a cloud of twisted despair that follows him around, but you know that deep down he’s not truly a villain. And while I expected to see Walker redeem himself in some way this week. I just expected it to feel a little more earned.
All that edge to him is just gone. The horrible feeling of him creating his own shield because in his mind he is Captain America, damn it, and he’ll decide when he’s done is up in smoke. Outside of one moment where he has to make a major decision and does the right thing, he feels completely underdeveloped. Remember how weird it was when Smart Hulk showed up fully formed in Avengers: Endgame? Like there was this big pile of character development that we didn’t get to see? That’s how I feel about Walker popping in and practically putting his arms around Sam and Bucky’s shoulders.
I’m glad they have plans for him, at least. I love Wyatt Russel’s performance and I can’t wait to see the next project for him. I’m doubly excited if it turns out to be Thunderbolts or Dark Avengers.
While this episode could have used some sprucing up, the series was what it needed to be. Steve Rogers passing over the shield with no questions asked was a nice moment, but there needed to be questions and that’s what this show gave us. Now we can move forward and see what’s next for the patriotic hero corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.