The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Power Broker
April 2, 2021 1:58 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Sam and Bucky go to a criminal safe haven to find information about the Super Soldier serum.

There's nothing after the credits.
posted by Pronoiac (73 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm calling it now Big Bad is ..
[spoilers? - if my guess is right??]

posted by Faintdreams at 4:24 AM on April 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

Agent 13 / Sharon Carter / Emily VanCamp finally appears!

The GRC - Global Repatriation Council - creeped me out, and I’d wondered if the Flag Smashers would be sympathetic, that maybe they knew something that Bucky and Sam didn’t because they were blipped for five years, but *boom* ok maybe not.

The Wakandan that Bucky spoke with at the end was Ayo.

Comics references -
This is the first MCU appearance of Madripoor, which I usually associate with Wolverine.
There are nods to Zemo in the comics, with the mask and the name/title Baron Zemo.

My understanding: Sharon was the "guardian angel" sniping in the alley. She was in the bar, in a very brief glimpse, stepping away from the bartender just as the others were arriving at the bar - right around "we have business to do with Selby."

So, questions: who shot Selby? Who put a bounty out? Because I could see Sharon doing both (or at least the first, as Selby had just ordered her bodyguard to kill the others), then not admitting it, in the old school need-to-know SHIELD way, to herd the others in a more favorable direction.

On preview: I don't disagree, Faintdreams. Oh wait. Could she be the Power Broker?
posted by Pronoiac at 4:39 AM on April 2, 2021

Fake Singapore checks out. Too many westerners. *Runs away in Malaysian*
posted by cendawanita at 5:54 AM on April 2, 2021 [13 favorites]

I would watch Daniel Bruhl read a phone book and so I'm glad he's back. I've never not seen him elevate material he's given.

With that in mind I hope they do right by the character of Zemo. So far it's OK but they need to pull off that he's ruthlessly smart and constantly several steps ahead of the game/playing an entirely different game. He's much more of a spy than either Sam or Bucky and the way he manipulates people is what makes him dangerous and a true super villain. I did like the line Zemo casually drops to Sam about Bucky as he's pretending to be Winter Soldier (at his "order"): "Didn't take much for him to fall back into form", playing into Sam's doubts about Bucky. There's also a shot of a woman filming the scene on her phone which, when published, is going to make it harder for Bucky to separate himself from his reputation as the Winter Soldier.

Also, he must be so warm in that coat with the fur lined collar.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:11 AM on April 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

"It is a masterpiece, James. Complete. Comprehensive. It captures the African American experience."

"You're out of line. But you're right."
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:27 AM on April 2, 2021 [10 favorites]

I fully anticipated resenting every moment Zemo was on screen as one more moment Sam and Bucky were not, but lol Zemo ended up being delightful. What a fun villain, Daniel Bruhl is clearly having a blast, and the Sam and Bucky vs. Zemo vibe was funny. Perfect balance of comedy plus some genuine menace/danger from Zemo.

Anyway, the plot stuff was pretty fun and zippy, but also: lot of meaty identity stuff simmering and bubbling away! It did not escape my notice that during this whole episode, Bucky kept being put into the position of being the Winter Soldier again and having people only see him as that, despite his clear discomfort. And not only that, but Zemo calls him James and Sharon identifies him as "Mr. America" and Captain America's best friend. But Sam calls him Buck again and again--a nickname of a nickname, an intimacy Bucky previously got annoyed at Sam at using but which he has since apparently accepted without comment--and in fact there's one person thus far who consistently tries to connect with Bucky as Bucky, and it's Sam. Clearly we're building up to Bucky having some reckoning with his own identity and defining what that is for himself. At least, I sure hope we are.

There's also Sam, who while undercover pretending to be someone else (and not doing too hot at it, lol), gets a call from his sister, reminding him of his past and who he is beyond/apart from the Falcon and the maybe next Captain America. And that call of course sends everything going south, a reminder that Sam needs to deal with his problems at home before he can move forward. Sam's torn between identities/roles too: the Falcon, Sam Wilson who wants to do right by his family legacy, Steve Rogers' chosen successor as Captain America, what it means to be a Black man in America...

Anyway, three episodes left and I'm genuinely wondering how on earth they are going to wrap up all these threads in a satisfying manner. There are a lot of plot and character balls in the air right now, and it feels inevitable that some of them will be dropped. To be honest, I don't care about the majority of the plot points: I'm here for the characters, so I'm anxiously awaiting and hoping for a good resolution to Sam and Bucky's arcs. Both their arcs are about coming to terms with their pasts and affirming their identities in a way, and I really, really hope we get good resolutions for them because uh, I am unfortunately extremely overinvested.
posted by yasaman at 11:52 AM on April 2, 2021 [16 favorites]

This is the first MCU appearance of Madripoor, which I usually associate with Wolverine.

Yeah, they walked past the Princess Bar which was Wolverine's main hangout there.
posted by Quonab at 11:55 AM on April 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

When Sam told Fury, "I'm more of a soldier than a spy," he was perhaps understating the case a bit. That man is SO NOT A SPY.
posted by merriment at 12:49 PM on April 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

If Sharon is the Power Broker, presumably she wouldn’t have helped them find her serum lab/scientist. I guess it could have been a decoy lab/scientist. And then I suppose the logic is she needs them (and they in turn need Zemo) to find the super soldiers?
posted by snofoam at 1:16 PM on April 2, 2021

Flag smashers are basically Antifa / BLM taking things too far. At first I resented this, but then I remembered it's a comic book show, not news reporting. Now I'm finding it interesting to experience what it must feel like to have extremest represent my views.
posted by rebent at 2:50 PM on April 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

The two major characters I associate most with Madripoor are Wolverine and Psylocke. I know we're not getting Logan here but please somebody namedrop Kwannon, that would rule.

I'm on the "Sharon might be the Power Broker" train as well, not sure how it would work logistically but give me some time to think that through.

Speaking of, in the comics the name "Power Broker" is an ironic reference to the fact that his whole deal is selling superpowers to rich people. I guess here it's just a happy coincidence that the guy who figured out the Super-Soldier Serum sought him/her out?

Lastly, I skipped Civil War and Daniel Bruhl isn't making me regret that decision. Although admittedly it's not easy to translate to live action the character of Helmut, the 13th Baron Zemo, a hypercompetent mastermind whose precise plans have brought the Avengers to their knees numerous times but who also runs around in a purple ski mask, calls his associates the Masters of Evil, and, well, is named "Baron Zemo." Even by the standards of what the MCU has already put on screen, it's very specifically a comic-book sort of thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:48 PM on April 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

If Sharon is the Power Broker, presumably she wouldn’t have helped them find her serum lab/scientist.

Possibly more lucrative to only have a few vials of the serum left.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 PM on April 2, 2021

I’m also a little dismayed by how sprawling and seemingly unfocused this one was: less a plot than a bunch of things happening. There were some weird jumps in the editing too: when the two prisoners began the fight that kicks off the prison riot, the table between them goes in five seconds from a chess game to empty to having a scattering of disks from checkers/draughty/backgammon. And even for someone more soldier than spy, it’s hard to reckon when going into a life or death situation, you wouldn’t, y’know, put your phone on airplane mode.

Nice to see Sharon Carter back but this was the messiest bit of MCU TV so far, I thought.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:41 PM on April 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

I liked this one. It was messy and a little all-over-the-place but that I think was intentional, gave it a real feeling of "events are starting to spiral out of our control"....starting right from the prison riot and escalating from there. (I am fully expecting the inevitable reveal that all this seemingly-out-of-control chaos was predicted if not orchestrated by Zemo to further his schemes; hopefully they'll do it well.)

I got stuck trying to evaluate Sharon's pretty stark fall-from-grace and figure out if it felt believable; doing so just kind of highlighted for me how much of an under-written, non-character she's been in the MCU up to this point. Can't really evaluate her journey from point A to point B when point A was so fuzzy to begin with. I'll roll with it for now, but if she turns out to be working for Power Broker (or to secretly be Power Broker) instead of secretly working for Nick Fury, I'm gonna need a little more information about how that pretty substantial off-screen character arc came about.

Excited to have Wakanda make its presence felt. A perfectly logical yet extremely interesting complication to the plot.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:25 PM on April 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Like yasaman, I'm trying to keep my expectations reasonable in the face of my overwhelming fondness for this duo (like, this show made me even more invested in them, like, how? I thought I've maxed out on my 'i love them so much' meter). Production and worldbuilding-wise, we're only halfway through but it's shaping up to be something of an inadvertent MCU tradition: the team that gets the Captain America branch of the narrative is the team that *gets* MCU as a 'verse. Whatever the shape this series ends up being this will be probably the canon for the world details the rest will borrow (maybe even the filmic phase 4? Who knows).
posted by cendawanita at 7:51 PM on April 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I admit I'm having trouble drawing the line from "Sharon Carter who stands up to Hydra and is Peggy Carter's niece and (briefly) snogs Steve Rogers" to "Sharon Carter is a freelance dealer of stolen art and kills people casually". So I would love to learn that she's deep undercover.

Sam is a terrible, terrible spy.
posted by suelac at 8:44 PM on April 2, 2021 [8 favorites]

I'm with the I-know-we're-not-getting-Wolverine-in-this-show-but-I-really-feel-like-Patch-needs-to-make-an-appearance contingent for Madripoor to feel right.

That classic car collection was lovely, even if I'm unsure about that yellow and green combination (although I'm sure it would grow on me if it were parked in my garage). I've also taken a fancy to Sharon's black top. Cute neckline.

Were we supposed to catch which piece of art (or armour) held Bucky's attention during the party?
posted by sardonyx at 8:51 PM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

It’s interesting that episode 1 was drama, episode 2 was superhero action, and episode 3 was John Wick. (And by the way, the writer of this episode in fact wrote John Wick!) Maybe episode 4 will be a classic family sitcom pastiche?

My favorite part of the episode was when Sharon is keeping watch while the boys are in Nagle’s lab, and the first group of bounty hunters show up. I expected there would be a sneaky cat-and-mouse chase around the cargo containers, with Sharon stealthily taking them out one by one, but no!! Sharon just runs in with a lead pipe and beats all three of them in the head until they’re senseless!! So hilarious!

It was also interesting that Sam did not use his Falcon gear once the whole episode. He may not be a good spy, but he doesn’t need Stark tech to be a hero.
posted by ejs at 9:14 PM on April 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I'm not sure having a different tone every episode is working for this show. This episode was hugely messy and the mid-season episode ends with the introduction of another character? And the Sam & Bucky snarking in this episode makes me wonder if they even like each other at all? Because I'm not really sure why they are together.

They are burning through plot at a huge rate, character insights are few and far between and there are so many balls in the air... Next week better be more focused.
posted by crossoverman at 9:23 PM on April 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

- I kind of get Sharon becoming disillusioned and using her abilities to better herself, between the events of Civil War and the Blip, which she may understand might not have happened at all if the Sokovia Accords hadn't been ramrodded through and split the team.

- Not sure that I completely buy everyone trusting Zemo that much, considering, well, everything; the only real explanation I could accept is that they're maybe wondering if the GRC is a resurgent Hydra front, in which case they really don't have a choice. Then again, I can kind of buy Zemo being a chessmaster who's using both the GRC and the Flag-Smashers to escape and do stuff... unless he really does hate supers just that much that he'd never condone anyone having the super-soldier stuff, even if they're really working for him.

- Speaking of which: I'm really starting to wonder if there's more to Karli Morgenthau than meets the eye, given that they spent so much time on her this ep. In the comics, the Red Skull has a daughter, Sin, who has red hair. Just sayin'.

- A bit disappointed that we didn't get to see the Power Broker; not quite buying Sharon as the PB. Thought that that lady in the club was it, but no.

- Ayo! Zemo had better watch his back. Being in that prison was for his protection as much as his punishment, probably.

- There were, what, supposed to be 20 doses of the Super-Soldier serum? The Flag-Smashers didn't use that much. And I keep seeing what looks like a vial of the stuff in the end credits. Another thing that I was skeptical about was the idea that the government would simply give up the serum rediscovery program after the Blip; they sure got someone else in the Cap costume as quickly as they could. There may be a better explanation for that.

- Battlestar got to do a bit more in this one. Poor guy, I'm not expecting him to live to see the last ep, for some reason.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:18 AM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Alan Sepinwall's review this week is very much it's-fine-but:
There’s a moment late in “Power Broker” where Sam and Bucky are once again bickering, this time about which direction Bucky was supposed to go in the middle of a gunfight. Sam feels his instructions were very clear, and gripes, “It’s in every action movie!” It’s supposed to be another joke about how these two just plain don’t like each other, in an episode working hard — really, really hard, to the point where the strain is palpable — to lean into the comic tension between our heroes. But Sam’s complaint inadvertently hangs a lamp on the generic nature of the episode, and really of the show so far.

[...] It’s all cobbled together from ideas that have been done to death elsewhere, in the hopes that the mere presence of familiar (or, in some cases, semi-familiar) faces from the MCU will make it seem brand new and thrilling.

We’re also leaning way into the “six-hour movie” model at this point, where the only concern is advancing the plot by any means necessary, regardless of how interesting it is on its own. Whether or not you enjoyed the sitcom tributes on WandaVision, that was a show that was very clearly built to be consumed weekly, whereas Falcon so far would probably play better all at once. It would still be saggy and shapeless, but at least certain stretches, like this one, wouldn’t have to linger very long.
also this:

I admit I'm having trouble drawing the line from "Sharon Carter who stands up to Hydra and is Peggy Carter's niece and (briefly) snogs Steve Rogers" to "Sharon Carter is a freelance dealer of stolen art and kills people casually".

And I'll admit I spent the entire episode thinking "wait, who's Sharon?" The show very confidently names her like we're supposed to know; and I didn't remember her at all.

(But now "briefly snogs Steve" does jog my memory; guess I need to go rewatch Civil War to remember the rest.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:19 AM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Despite myself I'm enjoying this show. I keep telling myself No More Comic Book TV and Movies. So tired of the tropes. And then they produce something well packaged and entertaining like this and I'm in.

Particularly liked the realization of Madripoor. Not sure if it's Singapore or a fantasy of what Brunei could be if it were more like Macao. Saw a whole lot of Hindi writing, not to mention the -pur city name. Which suggests the old Hindu history of Indonesia. Then again Singapore has a -pur name, too. (This wiki has more on fictional Madripoor.)

However.. at the beginning of Madripoor, our heroes are... walking across a highway bridge to enter the city? And then a car picks them up? WTF? Where were they walking from? What possible excuse could they have for being on foot? It looked cool, so fair enough.. The brief party scenes at Sharon's were another sort of unnecessary but beautiful and location-establishing set of shots.
posted by Nelson at 12:08 PM on April 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

I didn't really feel like I got what was going on here, though Zemo looks like he's having fun.

posted by jenfullmoon at 1:31 PM on April 3, 2021

And I'll admit I spent the entire episode thinking "wait, who's Sharon?" The show very confidently names her like we're supposed to know; and I didn't remember her at all.

I also should have re-watched Civil War because I had no idea who she was.

Although, I'm not sure anything captures my comic book experience better than having to google supporting characters who haven't been mentioned in years but are suddenly integral to the plot. Uncle Ben's death is recapped every third issue, but it's up to you to remember that Greg Grumbleton was Spidey's tenth grade lab partner and was briefly the Hobgoblin in 1987.
posted by Gary at 1:44 PM on April 3, 2021 [9 favorites]

Madripoor is where?!? And the climate is what?!?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2021

I was just happy to see Woodhouse showed up; it's been a while.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:42 PM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Madripoor should be basically next door to Singapore. So, tropical.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:57 PM on April 3, 2021

I haven't spent a lot of time in the tropics, but I don't remember people wearing winter coats.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:25 PM on April 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

It' a weirdly high elevation?

Pretty sure captain logic is not driving the bus in a lot of ways on this show.
posted by DebetEsse at 3:33 PM on April 3, 2021 [6 favorites]

> However.. at the beginning of Madripoor, our heroes are... walking across a highway bridge to enter the city? And then a car picks them up? WTF? Where were they walking from?

They keep doing this! They walked around a corner in Baltimore, but how did they get there? Once you accept "They want to get their steps in" a lot of their actions make more sense.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:36 PM on April 3, 2021 [14 favorites]

n.b.: if Sharon is the Powerbroker, then she just murdered up a lot of her own goons.

(having said that, I have to admit that hers would be one of the more compelling villain-backstories we've had in a while. "I gave up everything for a hero, and then he quantum-dumped me" [or died, depending on what she's been told about his disappearance]).

>Anyway, three episodes left and I'm genuinely wondering how on earth they are going to wrap up all these threads in a satisfying manner. There are a lot of plot and character balls in the air right now, and it feels inevitable that some of them will be dropped.

I remember similar conversations around the time when WandaVision was wrapping up, or trying to. Mileage may vary here.

anyway, so now Sam has to secure a pardon for Sharon, and a loan for his sister's boat, and at present I don't see how he can swing either one. Maybe Zemo would be willing to make an investment?
posted by queen anne's remorse at 5:34 PM on April 3, 2021

I'm not totally sold on the Sharon-as-Power Broker thing (as character development, not her competency), still leaning much more on the got-too-deep-undercover-double-agent. But that's probably because before this series is over, I want to see her get one of those remaining formula doses herself.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 7:12 PM on April 3, 2021

At this point, I'd be VERY interested in a show titled Travels with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, by Baron Zemo.

'Cause Zemo needs to back to jail with how shamelessly he stole the episode.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 PM on April 3, 2021 [11 favorites]

Madripoor being realised for MCU still cracks me up, more than anything, though the last time I had anything to say in fanfare this year about a hodgepodge fictional SEA setting i was tersely reminded that that was an American show (meaning, what, i have to find camaraderie with Africans over their feelings over Wakanda instead, however good Black Panther is?), so take the following as not a particularly motivated attempt to reply with rl!SEA bits with regards to that city.

Saw a whole lot of Hindi writing, not to mention the -pur city name. Which suggests the old Hindu history of Indonesia. Then again Singapore has a -pur name, too

Yes, 'Singapura' is a Sanskrit-derived name (not Hindi) meaning 'City of Lion', indicating its earlier pre-British history of being part the Hindu-Buddhist maritime empires dotting the archipelago. The inspiration does become clearer when you also look at madripoor flag, though if it's meant to be southwest of Singapore then it's actually Batam in which case 2 darkly hilarious conclusions to be made: 1. The Riau Supremacy has arrived; 2. If you know anything about the real-life Batam, the fact that Madripoor is a hive of shady commerce checks out extremely.

And the thing about the climate, parts of the region can be extremely temperate (even snowing) because of high elevation. Even in Indonesia, what more in the Philippines etc. But usually such highlands, while close enough to the coast, don't have port hubs for obvious geographic reasons so maybe Zemo is a genius for that climate-controlled coat.

But on that note, as another friend reminded me, a corrupt cadre of elites investing to make an entire climate-controlled island checks out for the region, if they have comicbook technology, lol. (Which reminds me, a person from a country with nine useless royal houses, to have a Sokovian royalty blather on about symbols and blind loyalty is toooo rich lmao).
posted by cendawanita at 8:39 PM on April 3, 2021 [9 favorites]

There is still the question of how (or whether) they will acknowledge the death of Chadwick Boseman. I am fairly sure that eventually, we will see Shuri take up the mantle of Black Panther but the loss of T'Challa is going to be delicate.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:35 PM on April 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

I doubt it, my understanding is the bulk of the production was done in early 2020 (they were aiming for a summer release), and no one knew at that point, when they were developing this series.
posted by cendawanita at 11:17 PM on April 3, 2021

It's kind of boring and predictable that Sam will have to take the super serum before he feels that he deserves to take the shield and become Captain America.

However I like that they've flipped it so that being a super soldier no longer makes you jacked. Hopefully that means they can keep actors in movies for longer without forcing them to ruin their lives lifting weights.
posted by medusa at 5:49 AM on April 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

There's a lot of interesting ideas in the show, but I remain confused about what's going on. Not in the can't-follow-the-plot sense, but rather what is the show about and/or trying to do. I assumed from the title that it would be about how Sam and Bucky would learn to be friends and work together. But that doesn't seem to be happening, they really seem to dislike one another.

So what are we doing here? The idea of Cap and the American mythos is definitely in the show, but it comes across as a vague idea, like something mentioned at a party, talked about for a minute and then things move onto to a another subject.

As a viewer and consumer of MCU movies, I just don't what to think. I want to like the show, I do, but it's all over the place after 3 hours, yet I'm expecting it to congeal into something by this point. Maybe by next episode?

But I keep coming back to what are Sam and Bucky doing? Why did Bucky decide to go with Sam on a mission? Shouldn't he be following Cap's example and getting a life? Did he seriously think it was a good idea to break Zemo out of prison? Did Sam really just sort of go along with that? Why didn't they call any one of dozen or two other superheroes to help them find the other super soldiers? Why the ever loving fuck is Sam traveling around with his cell phone on? After he knows NuCap and NuBucky tracked him via Redwing before?

I could go on with a list of questions that keep coming up and that's the big point. I don't love this show (yet?), so its flaws are glaring, despite liking the characters (still ready for a Baron Zemo miniseries) and assumed buddy cop premise.

Hopefully things will come together in time, but I'm keenly aware we only have 3 episodes left. That's still time to stick the landing, but I am worried.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:29 AM on April 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

All that said, my favorites development so far is ShadySharon. It's an understandable turn (No one call her for the airport battle? the final Thanos battle? Or after the blip?). Good contrast with Sam's devotion to the hero life and Cap, especially since he failed to keep up contact with her, after all she lost. Who wouldn't be disillusioned at that point?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on April 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Also I just caught on that Sam cosplaying the tiger villain was an "all black people look alike" joke.
posted by medusa at 9:22 AM on April 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm coming off of having just watched all the Marvel movies in universe order (a pandemic project to line Family Cocoa up for WandaVision) and, like Brandon Blatcher, I'm underwhelmed with what Falcon and Bucky seem to be up to, and impatient with a lot of what we're being asked to just roll with: Springing Zemo. Apparently Bucky was able to get a prison security-card into Zemo's copy of The Prince. Sam leaves his cell phone on. A bartender who can't tell the difference between Sam and Smiling Tiger, even though ST is a regular at the bar.

That they're letting Zemo direct everything and lead them willy-nilly is bonkers.

The biggest source of disbelief for me though is still how normal the world seems to be just a few months after the blip. Yes, the GRC (and others surely) are helping manage, but it's weird. I mean, everything looks brand spanking new and people seem to go on as normal but the impact of the Blip would be catastrophic. I mean, look at what life has been like during the pandemic when "just" 10-20% of the global population has contracted covid-19, let alone died. I feel like I need to rewatch The Leftovers to settle myself.

Sharon's trench and Baron Zemo's dance moves (hellllooooo, Lenin!) were the only redeeming elements of this episode for me.
posted by cocoagirl at 9:37 AM on April 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

Is this going to be one of those shows that only works if you accept smart characters becoming temporarily stupid at random? Sam keeping his cell phone on and with him: stupid. Bucky getting himself filmed playing the Winter Soldier: stupid. Sharon believing Sam about a pardon while he's in the company of an international fugitive and a walking parole violation: playing them? If not, stupid.

I will do Bucky the favor of assuming he planned on Wakanda coming for Zemo - that's a neat way to clean up that loose end. (If it works, and I rather hope it does not. He was fun.)

Sam never smiles while playing the 'Smiling Tiger', that was a nice touch.
posted by mersen at 9:47 AM on April 4, 2021

Also I just caught on that Sam cosplaying the tiger villain was an "all black people look alike" joke.

I got the feeling Sam was about to make that objection until he got a look at the photo and realized that no, there's actually a resemblance.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:49 AM on April 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

In the Tor discussion someone called Walker Captain Ersatz. I like it.

Flying Down to Madripoor in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “Power Broker”
For all that I love the consequences, this episode has a lot of lazy writing in it. Having Sam disguised as a flashy criminal and be forced to drink snake guts to keep in character is played for laughs, but it just comes across as pointless filler, especially since the character he’s playing is irrelevant to what they’re doing. He could just be a bit of muscle or something instead of pretending to be an existing person, whose cover can be blown by a call from his sister (an utter waste of Adepero Oduye). It’s fun to see Emily VanCamp take out a bunch of bounty hunters singlehandedly, but it’s mostly there because there isn’t enough action in the episode otherwise, and it breaks up Nagel’s lengthy infodump. And after spending three episodes portraying the Flag Smashers as noble outlaws, to have Morgenthau then blow up a building full of tied-up prisoners is trying too hard to say, “but they’re bad guys, really, honest!” thus ruining the shades of gray we’ve been getting.

Worse, though, is how utterly ineffectual Sam Wilson is in this episode. He barely manages to keep in character when he’s disguised in Madripoor, he’s a spectator to Bucky breaking Zemo out of prison, and his objections are run over by Bucky and Zemo both. Bucky’s the one who does most of the ass-kicking in the episode, leaving Sam to mostly stand around. He gets to express outrage about the abuse of Isaiah, but that’s about it. It’s massively disappointing.

Each episode of FWS has ended with someone showing up in the last shot, setting up the next episode. It was Walker in “New World Order” and Zemo in “The Star-Spangled Man,” and this week it’s Ayo, played by Florence Kasumba, the first Dora Milaje warrior we met on screen in Civil War when she faced down the Black Widow, who has come to bring Zemo to justice. I was initially disappointed that we didn’t get Danai Gurira’s Okoye, but it’s fitting that we get someone who was present for Zemo’s assassination of King T’Chaka be the one to go after him now.
posted by medusa at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

That's a great price on that coat, cocoagirl. If you like it and you're looking for a trench, I say go for it! (Assuming that the jacket that gets shipped is anything like the one on screen. I know nothing about that company or its reputation.)
posted by sardonyx at 11:40 AM on April 4, 2021

A whole bunch of same-y looking websites (,,, etc) advertising Sharon’s coat and Semi’s coat popped up like mushrooms after the episode aired. They all show art from the show but no actual garments. I imagine they might deliver something eventually, but I for one wouldn’t take that gamble.
posted by jedicus at 5:59 AM on April 5, 2021

It's kind of boring and predictable that Sam will have to take the super serum before he feels that he deserves to take the shield and become Captain America.

My assumption has been the opposite, that at some point Sam will have the opportunity to take the serum and choose not to, but nonetheless will acquire the shield and become his own version of Captain America.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Sharon take the serum instead, this episode is setting her up as a exiled, morally conflicted bad-ass, seems like the template for her own adventures. Not sure what MCU would do with another hero, not big enough for a movie, probably not even another tv show. Maybe MCU should start moving some of these characters to alternate media, have they ever considered comic books?
posted by skewed at 8:55 AM on April 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

My take on Sharon after she was picked up by that other woman in the car is that she's totally working for either Nick Fury, the CIA or some other agency (I think she went to the FBI after Winter Soldier?). The art job screamed cover to me and I got the vibe of, "hey lets support these guys but I'm not breaking cover with Zemo around!"
posted by invisible_al at 9:14 AM on April 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

That makes a lot more sense instead of Sharon being the Power Broker. Bucky, the international assassin that operated for decades, got a pardon. Sharon, who stole some tech that a couple of Avengers use was...not? That's odd as hell.

Yes, it's not odd in terms of sexism, but the MCU hasn't addressed that animal at all, so it's doubtful they will now.

But the name of the episode seems to point to Sharon being the PB.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 PM on April 5, 2021

Interview with Erin Kellyman on BuzzFeed, talking a bit about the audition and filming TFATWS. Bonus points for crediting her stunt double, Hannah Scott, by name.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:27 PM on April 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

1. First, what's the last TV show you binge-watched?


BuzzFeed: Oh my god, did you love it?

It's freaking incredible. It's so cool. I loved it. I was so into it. Like, three episodes into it, I was like, "I love this, but I don't understand anything."

Interesting. I hadn't realized that Erin Kellyman is actually me.
posted by medusa at 8:31 PM on April 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

> That they're letting Zemo direct everything and lead them willy-nilly is bonkers.
Yeah, I had a hard time with this one. I'm not a big Marvel person, but it seems like Zemo is kinda the MCU version of Osama bin Laden? Or at least the MCU version of Ted Kaczynski or something? Like he blew up a building and killed a bunch of people in a world-changing terrorist attack? And so the plot of this episode is that the heroes break MCU Osama bin Laden out of jail and go on a road trip with him, and wacky hijinks ensue? I don't know, I guess I'm taking it too seriously and I should just roll with the comic book logic; just having a hard time with the Sam/Bucky/Zemo buddy movie treatment.

(My spouse, who is more of a Marvel person, was more appreciative of the comic book treatment of Zemo here, especially the purple mask.)
> at the beginning of Madripoor, our heroes are... walking across a highway bridge to enter the city? And then a car picks them up? WTF?
While watching this scene, I ad-libbed Zemo muttering: “Damn Ubers, always screwing up the pickup location.”

Metafilter: a fantasy of what Brunei could be if it were more like Macao
posted by Syllepsis at 9:03 PM on April 5, 2021

My first thought when Sharon said "We have a problem" that the "we" she was referring to was the Flag-Smashers. Her motivation seemed to be almost identical to Morgenthau's. Angry at the powerful people who reinforce the status quo. It seems pretty clear to me that she was radicalized by "The Shield™" in the opposite way Sam and Bucky were.

I would hope that constantly referring to The Shield™ as some sort of infallible symbol is going to be used to bite Sam and Bucky in the ass. It's all too Christopher Nolan-y/Zach Snyder-y Heroes. are. so. much. better. than. us! for my taste. I have a sliver of faith that somehow Marvel will not go down that path but they really do seem to be turning Cap into Jesus and it's disappointing.
posted by M Edward at 7:31 AM on April 6, 2021

I'm with Brandon Blatcher, I do not understand what this show is about. What is the theme here? That Falcon is good enough to warrant carrying the shield? I guess?

I like the fact that we're seeing more of the MCU shy away from fate-of-the-world stakes, because then usually we get some good character development to replace that. But not this time. There's very, very little character building going on here, it's all dumb plot. That prison break was dumb and just way too easy, which is why I suspect they just glossed over it, because we gotta move the plot along. The lady who owns the bar gives up info way too easily because we gotta move the plot along. The scientist gives up way too much info way too easily because we gotta move the plot along. Just so much dumb behavior because plot is everything.

And plus, everybody is doing just the dumbest stuff, many of the setups have no payoff (why exactly did Falcon have to go undercover in Madripoor, considering he's such a bad spy? And also he's famous enough that people in the street recognize him, so...) and then it's not like it matters, they just duck a couple of gunshots and then boom, new character. Because they gotta introduce at least three of those every episode.

If you're going to tell a "smaller" story, then look to WandaVision, or Matt Fraction's Hawkeye stories, because you can have fun action without world-ending stakes that build out interesting characters. But we're 3 hours into a 6-hour show that feels like a CBS NCIS-style drama and I'm not buying it.
posted by nushustu at 10:15 AM on April 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I feel like the Flag Smashers plan is pure underpants gnome except with, like, multiple layers of question marks. How does any of what they're doing make sense in terms of their stated goals? How do their stated goals even make sense? You can't, like, ignore that 5 billion people reappeared.

I like everything about this show except the actual plot 'cause I can't figure out what it is.
posted by Justinian at 10:25 AM on April 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

(which does appear to be a fairly consensus view and not my own original though, obviously).
posted by Justinian at 10:25 AM on April 6, 2021

- Given what they've said about the Flag-Smashers wanting there to be less people, and that their plan seems to involve large quantities of chemicals, I can only surmise that they're planning to either kill or sterilize an awful lot of people.

- I'm not sure that the whole point is going to be that Sam gets the shield back, even if he does; it may be simply that it's about following Steve's example, rather than simply putting another soldier in the suit and giving him the same name. (Especially as John Walker seems to be losing it.) The real Captains America were the friends we made along the way, as it were.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:49 AM on April 6, 2021

If the last guy who tried your plan of "kill half the people" had what amounts to omnipotent godlike powers and he still failed, maybe you and your ragtag band of misfits who are regular humans except a bit stronger should rethink your odds of success.
posted by Justinian at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2021

Thanos had to fight all the Avengers (and half the universe too apparently) whereas the Flag Smashers only have to fight Falcon & Winter Soldier (because the Avengers are on holiday because comics)
posted by kokaku at 12:16 PM on April 6, 2021

I think this episode does a potential narrative framework in terms of Sam and Bucky. Namely, Sam is terrible spy, while Buck is pretty good. Sam is great soldier, as seen in the opening of the first episode, he did a helluva job rescuing that kidnapped captain.

But the show doesn't seem interested in actually having them work together or learn from each other. And it's not really dealing with whatever symbolism Cap and the shield had. Does this new world need a Steve Rogers like Captain? If so, why and in what way?

The only huge problem the show has been talking about is dealing the billions who have returned. Yeah that's a huge problem, but is it a problem for Captain America to solve? If so, how?

Steve Roger's superpower was getting people to follow him, to believe in decency, fairness, and liberty in a time where those things were obviously threaten. Getting billions reintegrated back into society doesn't have the same poetic ring to it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 PM on April 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Lol, Zemo fills the rich, playboy-ego vacuum left by Tony Stark, so if he's reading that book I bet Pepper is his lover. He'll get her one of those soft purple helmets, too. And Morgan will be one messed-up kid.
posted by cocoagirl at 8:18 AM on April 7, 2021

I wanted the Leverage team to steal Zemo's cars.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 9:47 AM on April 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm enjoying the "48 hours" vibe but I'm also not sure what is going on. I'm also not sure why Bucky has such a hostile attitude towards therapy considering that his deprogramming saved his life.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

We don't know HOW he was deprogrammed though. I presume it was done by the folks in Wakanda, possibly using Shuri's next-level tech. Or maybe just hanging out in a tent in the wilderness did the trick? Maybe Wakanda has their own take on psychology that's vastly different and more effective than our Western models?
posted by wabbittwax at 11:50 AM on April 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

I feel like the Flag Smashers plan is pure underpants gnome except with, like, multiple layers of question marks. How does any of what they're doing make sense in terms of their stated goals? How do their stated goals even make sense? You can't, like, ignore that 5 billion people reappeared.

Yeah, for example their big heist in this episode was...stealing maybe a few thousand dollars worth of cooking oil and other staples, then blowing up the building, murdering the people trapped inside. They should really have stuck to robbing banks.

They just aren't very compelling villains, at least as written. Maybe their murky goals and questionable competence are mainly there to throw Zemo and the Power Broker into sharp relief.
posted by jedicus at 3:43 PM on April 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Jedicus - the Flagsmashers didn't blow up a building full of People, they blew up a building full of Soldiers.

I make the distinction not because I think Soldiers aren't people, but this show sure does like to use Military personal as placeholders for institutions and forget the implications of treating them as individual people.

We (the audience) are never really told why that food wasn't being given wholesale (or free) to the people in the Displacement camps.

The Narrative isn't even discussing the logistical horrors of shrinking food production/food waste INTERNATIONALLY by 50% and then suddenly needing to ramp it all back up again because an extra 5 BILLION people Blink back into existence half a decade later- and that's mere production, the logistics of transporting all that foodstuffs is head mashingly huge.

I do think that within the MCU there is a struggle to make the Flagsmashers unsympathetic, so Narratively making them 'blow shit up' Terrorists is the shortcut that's been chosen.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:35 AM on April 8, 2021

(because the Avengers are on holiday because comics)

That's something else that I've been wondering about. Tony's dead, Nat's dead, Thor's in space, Wanda and Vision are MIA, Clint is probably on his farm trying to process his grief WRT Nat and whatever baggage he might be carrying around from his vigilantism as Ronin (and spinning up for the upcoming Hawkeye series), Scott (Ant-Man) is likewise probably working on family stuff (and likewise spinning up for his own movie), we know that Rhodey is still operational thanks to the first ep of this series but he's probably pretty busy as War Machine. Steve is... probably not on the moon, but I'm guessing that Captain AARPmerica is deep in some government enclave to avoid potential sleeper Hydra revenge squads or whatever. Spidey's on the run. We don't know how the T'Challa question gets answered, yet; the Dora Milaje studiously avoid mentioning him here. Who knows what Carol is up to. That leaves, in terms of quote-endquote official Avengers, and that only if Thunderbolt Ross was a mensch following the end of the Blip, Sam. Their HQ was destroyed.

So... who would replenish their ranks or replace them? Plenty of possibilities from the comics and/or hinted at in various MCU things:

- The Thunderbolts. We've already got Zemo, and although I think that the MCU has generally been pretty deadly for villains, it's not out of the realm of possibility for them to pull in some people from hither and yon. If they wanted to draw on the defunct Netflix shows, they could bring in Trish Walker as Hellcat.

- The Iron Legion. You might think that no one would dare suggest it after Age of Ultron, but real life shows us that there are few if any ideas so patently bad that someone doesn't try to revive them, usually promising to do them right this time. If you wanted to make them only with people inside, I think that there's supposed to be an Armor Wars series coming up, and we already have War Machine and Pepper Potts' Rescue, and Ironheart upcoming.

- Young Avengers. We've already seen Billy (Wiccan) and Tommy (Speed) in WandaVision, Eli Bradley (Patriot) in this series, Cassie Lang (Stature) in the Ant-Man films and as a teenager in Endgame, plus Kate Bishop, America Chavez, and Ironheart upcoming. And, potentially Teen Loki.

- The Eternals. At least one or two. They've got a pretty big cast, and the Black Knight was an Avenger in the comics for a while.

- The X-Men or other mutants. For a while, Henry McCoy was much more known for being an Avenger than an X-Men (before that series was revived and more or less ruled Marvel Comics for some time), and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were originally X-Men villains.

- And, finally, something that I'm still hoping that happens in this series, if not this season then a future one or elsewhere: Wonder Man. Maybe with a different name (because, come on), but since he was created by the first Baron Zemo (basically Helmut's dad)...
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:08 AM on April 14, 2021

Anyone notice that the performance of the good Doctor Nagel seemed to be channelling Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor?
posted by Apocryphon at 11:14 PM on April 16, 2021

Sharon Carter being stuck in Madripoor, a fugitive from U.S. authorities and unable to see her family, for her role in Civil War is the most hilariously disproportionate legal punishment done to a secondary character in a Disney movie since the fate of Commodore Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean 2, who was disgraced and become a drunkard and vagrant simply for showing a day's worth of clemency to Jack Sparrow in the end of the first movie.

Like I can get that you need the character to be a badass off-the-grid crime lord now, but that is a silly justification for it. With all of the insane things that's happened in the MCU in the past six years, including the events of Civil War, you'd think the remnants of SHIELD and whatever powers-that-be have way better things to do than heavily prosecuting such a minor not-crime.

Also, I like how this show is giving both Sharon and Zemo a lot more than they had in that movie, and I wonder if it's going to bring any more bit characters out of the woodwork and give them (and their actors!) a lot more things to do.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:22 PM on April 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

It will be a waste if the actress playing Karli never gets a chance to play Maya Rudolph's younger self or daughter.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:52 AM on April 24, 2021

I surely can't be the only one to think the plot of this episode made no sense whatsoever.
posted by kyrademon at 12:31 PM on April 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

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