The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: One World, One People
April 23, 2021 5:22 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Things come to a head in NYC; Sam Wilson gives a speech; Bucky Barnes makes a confession; Isaiah Bradley gets recognition; John Walker gets a costume update. Sharon Carter gets her way.
posted by cendawanita (160 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
are there hanging threads? yes.

are there grounds for much meta? holy fuck yes.

did i still cry at the speech tho? YES.

----
in a lot of ways to do with the real world, this is even more fantastical than wandavision, because the fantasy is justice might be delayed but it still will be served. and people can be swayed by good reason and empathy. BUT GFDI FINE I WILL TAKE IT.

season 2, y/n? i want to say yes, but i don't want the black Captain America (who chose to take on his colours! The US Govt didn't give it to him! Wakanda did!) be the Cap whose adventures only lives on streaming and not have his own movie trilogy.
posted by cendawanita at 5:25 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]


ok let me work through my silly thoughts:

- zemo is snyderverse!batman circa BvS, pls discuss.
- HOW INTERESTING THE WHITE CHARACTERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE GOVT IS INSTITUTIONALLY NOT PUNISHED BUT IN FACT REWARDED
- wow domestic Sambucky of my dreams but also
- ha Bucky got invited to the cookout.
posted by cendawanita at 5:38 AM on April 23 [13 favorites]


A badly lit and edited climactic fight scene, of course. Also, pretty bad blocking, too. At least in Avengers 1 you could tell that they actually looked at a map of Manhattan and planned things out.

A half-assed redemption arc for John Walker, which somehow is worse than no redemption arc at all.

A pathetic exit for Batroc; Georges St. Pierre deserved WAY better.

I was waiting for Sharon to turn into a Skrull during the stinger. It would have been lame, but still better than what we got.

How is Bucky suddenly able to ditch his court-appointed therapist? The whole therapy-and-amends subplot was just really poorly thought out.

The speech and the Isaiah Bradley scenes were awesome, though.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:59 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


• John Walker as good as yelling "Black Lives Matter" in his fight with Karli
• When the Flagsmashers were striking and crushing Walker, anyone else reminded of the Capitol Police on January 6
posted by cheshyre at 6:02 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


(a lot of the in-verse explanations seems to be explicitly "psst, white privilege")
posted by cendawanita at 6:05 AM on April 23


Still processing, but not 100% on-board with the branding "Captain America and the Winter Soldier", since Bucky should be White Wolf now that he's "closed the book" on his Winter Soldier days.
posted by mikelieman at 6:43 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


It's a good outcome, if predictable, that Sam ends up as Captain America. And his new costume looks all right, though there's something weird about the headpiece, and too much white in the color scheme. (Unless the Wakandans made it out of some special dirt-repelling material, that thing is going to get trashed every time he's in a fight.)

Overall, though, my main reaction to this was disappointment. The early sequences involving the attack on the GRC meeting, the council members attempting to escape, and then being rescued were disjointed and hard to follow. Are we meant to think the GRC members escape plan was hastily improvised on the spot, or that they actually made in advance a plan that involved two different modes of transportation (trucks and helicopters) and four separate vehicles, with minimal police or military escort? Because if the latter, that seems like a dumb plan.

And when we last saw Sam in episode 5, he was still in Louisiana practicing his shield tossing. Yet when the Flag Smashers attack the GRC meeting in New York, he shows up to fight them. So is the idea that he heard about/saw the attack on TV, and then flew from Louisiana to New York in his new suit to fight? This would mean the suit has a similar range to a jet plane, but is even faster, which seems improbable given the state of in-universe technology.

Speaking of hard to follow, Isaiah Bradley's timeline didn't make a lot of sense, either. We're told that he fought in the Korean War, which ended in 1953, and was then deactivated and imprisoned for 30 years after that, which would take him into sometime into the mid-1980s. So what's he been doing in the 35 years since then? Hiding out and pretending to be dead? If so, why wasn't his grandson more wary when Sam and Bucky showed up asking for him the first time?

Also, how much time is supposed to have elapsed between the fight in New York and when Sam takes the Bradleys to the Captain America museum? The process of commissioning, approving and making a statue like the one of Bradley we saw takes years in the real world, but it was made to seem like the visit came days or weeks after the battle in NYC. No way a major museum exhibit gets revised and has that much new material added to it in that short a period of time.

Other things:
- Sam's speech was, for me anyway, way too on-the-nose, like the writers didn't think the theme was clear enough, and had to be spelled out again for dimwitted viewers.
- The sequence with the four captured Flag Smashers getting blown up was confusing, too. They get loaded into the transport truck, one of the cops makes a sympathetic remark, and then the truck immediately is blown up, apparently by a very old man who I *think* was Zemo's butler that we saw for all of 30 seconds four episodes ago. Was the guard's remark just a misdirect, or did it have some larger importance? And let's not even get into how an obviously out-of-place old European man managed to infiltrate a high-security location in New York and plant a bomb in a prisoner transport vehicle. (Alternately, if that wasn't Zemo's butler, who was it?)
- Sharon gets gut-shot, surely a life-threatening wound, but still is wide awake, able to walk around, and apparently in no hurry to get medical attention? I didn't care much for her heel turn, either, and the idea of her as a mole/spy now inside the US government seems too close to Hydra infiltrating SHIELD. Been there, done that.
- John Walker's new costume is ugly, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus played her scene like she was still in a sitcom.

(Sorry for going on at such length - I really wanted to like this, but found many aspects of the execution fell short of my hopes/expectations.)
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 6:44 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


This would mean the suit has a similar range to a jet plane, but is even faster, which seems improbable given the state of in-universe technology.

It's a Wakandan super suit. It can probably go suborbital and runjj 100 years between refuelings.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:53 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]


The text on the plinth at the exhibit:
Isiah Bradley is an American hero whose name went unknown for too long.

Isiah was one of a dozen African-American soldiers who were recruited against their will and without their consent for participation in human testing in pursuit of the super soldier serum. Most did not survive. The few who lived were sent on secret missions during the Korean War. During the conflict, against all odds, Isaiah Bradley rescued his fellow soldiers and 28 other POWs from behind enemy lines.

However, fearful of the ramifications of a Black super soldier, some individuals within the government tried to erase Isaiah's story from history. His family was issued a falsified death certificate, and for decades the truth of his unflinching bravery was denied.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:56 AM on April 23 [20 favorites]


I'm Captain America.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:58 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


It's a Wakandan super suit. It can probably go suborbital and runjj 100 years between refuelings.

And I love it. Although I do hope that it's got a forcefield to cover the rest of Sam's head...
posted by mikelieman at 7:00 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Yep, I teared up at the Isiah Bradley exhibition scene, no lie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


It's a Wakandan super suit. It can probably go suborbital and runjj 100 years between refuelings.

Sure, it's a comic book story, so they could have just given Sam a personal teleporter, or had a wizard do something, if they wanted to. But the idea that the suit has attributes previously unseen in-universe lays the groundwork for them to invoke "advanced Wakandan technology!" any time they need to fill a plot hole, which makes for some lazy writing.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 7:08 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I wonder what the extended warranty and service plan is like on Wakandan tech.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:13 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


My superhero TRPG group has a shorthand phrase "at the speed of a comic book panel" for getting characters from one place to another. Basically, if the logistics of travel don't make the story more interesting, then the characters arrive at the narratively appropriate time and place. In the original Avengers movie, it doesn't make logistical sense that Dr. Banner's motorbike ride from a random mall in the middle of nowhere got him into midtown Manhattan during the exact five minute span the rest of the team arrived via a quinjet from the helicarrier. Things like getting Sam from Louisiana to New York or the time it takes to put together a museum exhibit fall under that sort of calculation. If I need to justify it though, I'm also willing to believe that Sam has enough military contacts from being in pararescue and other exploits that he might have cadged a ride on an actual jet offscreen, or maybe War Machine called in a favor for him. He doesn't actually have to have flown the Falcon wings the whole way.

I thought it was interesting that I heard more Louisiana in Sam's speech to the senator than I usually notice the rest of the time. I wonder if that was a deliberate choice or just an artifact of the difference between having a conversation and giving a speech.

I suppose Sharon's wound was one of those miracle "missed all the major organs" bullets like the ones that manage to hit heroes in the shoulder all the time without causing permanent damage.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:43 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


lays the groundwork for them to invoke "advanced Wakandan technology!" any time they need to fill a plot hole, which makes for some lazy writing.

A wizard Wakandan engineer did it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:43 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


This may be the first time the classic comic book “back and sides” costume design (hair free, back and sides of head and sides of face covered) has been implemented in a live-action costume.

It mostly works, for me, but the ears are still a little doofy.
posted by sixswitch at 8:09 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


I loved it, they really stuck the landing I thought and scenes like Isaiah getting to see himself in a museum exhibit had me almost in tears. I loved Sam's entrance and the stuff he got to do to show off the suit and him being Captain America, like shielding the pilot on the bridge and the helicopter rescue.

I genuinely welled up at Sam's speech, partly as it was the character really stepping up to be Captain America all the way but also because sometimes subtle doesn't get the job done, sometime you need a hammer. And I was totally up for Sam descending from the sky like an angel, again sometimes you gotta not be subtle.

I loved the experession on Bucky's face when he saw Sam in action as Captain America for the first time in person.

So yeah some bits were messy but I can forgive a lot for everything they got right.

On Sam flying to New York, Iron Man flew from the US to Afganistan in his suit, I reckon the Wakandans can at least match that. Also what Karmakaze said :).

Isaiah Bradley's timeline made sense to me, yes he's been quietly living for 35 years with his PTSD and the only reason Eli let him in was because Isaiah said to. Also this is a universe with Stark Tech and whatever else, I'm prepared to believe fast 3D printed statues are a thing.

The Flag Smasher car bomb was two gambits hitting each other, they had supporters among the guards and I guess were aiming for a breakout, but Zemo got his butler to blow them up because he is crazy prepared and rich.

Now how do I survive the wait for Loki?
posted by invisible_al at 8:10 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


I'm pissed that karli died but also the last time we saw her, a supersoldier-serum infused body was being rushed off to medical aid. There's an easy out there.
posted by fomhar at 8:37 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Thinking back on it now, with the sympathetic guards, they could have a villain show up with horrible burns in a few years and just announce that this is one of the flag smashers and a guard faked a death certificate until the serum helped them recover.
posted by fomhar at 8:40 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Isaiah Bradley's timeline made sense to me, yes he's been quietly living for 35 years with his PTSD

I'd be willing to buy into this if the actual story had provided even the slightest hint as to how he managed to survive all that time. Dead people don't get social security or military pensions, and Bradley's PTSD and lack of a social security number would seem to have prevented him from holding down any sort of job.

His grandson obviously had a parent or parents at some point, so maybe that person was supporting the family for a while, but they're apparently long gone. So how has Isaiah Bradley been paying rent & utilities, buying groceries, etc, for 35+ years with no income?

Of course, there are plenty of ways this could have been explained in-universe, but my gripe is that the show didn't even try to provide a remotely plausible explanation. Relying on the audience to assume stuff that's not actually in the story in order for your narrative to make sense is bad writing, and there were a number of examples of that in this series.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 9:32 AM on April 23


There was something unsatisfying to me about this finale, as if they needed another couple of episodes to earn it. Everything was wrapped up a little too quickly and too neatly, even for a comic book series.

I would have liked to see the Wakanda-made wing suit show up looking like Bucky's arm and Sam adds the MERICA to it.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:05 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


A finale is sort of functional, so there will be lots of things to point at and go "what?", but my favourite is the bit at the beginning: A male security guard is unlikely to attract attention; A female security guard is unlikely to attract attention (even if she is wanted by the authorities, as the rest of the episode demonstrates). But surely a male security guard who pulls off his face to reveal a woman's face underneath is stretching the definition of "undercover" further than it will go and likely to attract attention. Though it didn't. None of the other guards even noticed it happening.

Um.

And surely if they were going to put a statue of Bradley in a museum, wouldn't it have been tactful to write him or his family a letter about it? Less dramatic, obviously, but showing some of the consideration that the whole exhibit is there to apologise for the previous lack of.
posted by Grangousier at 10:05 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


I was a bit squicked out about the redemption arc that John Walker got—like two episodes he bludgeoned a man to death with his shield and then in this episode Cap and Bucky just joke around with him with no questions asked.

Batroc deserved better.

On the other hand, Bucky got invited to the cookout! (Wish that whole scene could have gone on longer, it was great.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:05 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


the redemption arc that John Walker got

That's no redemption arc, that's a villain origin story. Both his and Sharon's, which raises an interesting point on that very deliberate choice over which characters got a villain origin setup that's delivered in the shape of a heroic happy ending ... (:

And Bucky's apology/confession and how he (and the text) knew it's not his place to hear that he's being forgiven? Imagine me watching that scene and pointing meaningfully to the imaginary Wanda in my head about how the difficulty of apologies and how the lack of possibility of forgiveness doesn't mean you ought not to do it.
posted by cendawanita at 11:13 AM on April 23 [19 favorites]


I demand justice for Batroc
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:14 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


That's no redemption arc

Then why did they even bother to show Walker saving the van?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:23 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


To my mind, it's because they never wrote him as a cackling vaudeville villain? He even took on the mantle out of a sense of duty and guilt. But it's warped in him. Who did he kill in his mind? A bad person. Who did he save? Important (and therefore good) people.
posted by cendawanita at 11:29 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


I think that they stuck the landing remarkably well, given that the original ending (which apparently involved the Flag Smashers trying to give everyone in the world the super-soldier formula via fake vaccinations--yeah, that one wouldn't have gone over well) ended up getting scrapped. (Probably before being actually filmed, but regardless.) A few points that people have raised, and my take on them:

- As cendawanita says, Walker's story is a villain origin story. My guess is that La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine is representing a sort of superhuman-black-ops organization and that Walker will in effect become the MCU's version of Watchmen's Comedian. (And Sam and Bucky may have been glad to have his help against the Flag Smashers, but his invitation to the Louisiana party seems to have gotten lost in the mail.) Interestingly, part of Ed Brubaker's original retcon for Bucky was that, even though he was technically a kid (I think that Brubaker aged him up to sixteen), he was also involved in a lot of dirty tricks back in the Deuce, slitting throats behind the lines while Steve was punching Hitler or his duly appointed representatives in front of the cameras. That has been a part of the traditional commando purview, and even though the first Cap movie had the Howling Commandos basically be just regular soldiers, it's interesting that the WS' sort of signature weapon, besides his arm, is a knife. And the Contessa seems to be always careful about only meeting Walker when the only one else around is his wife. Time is a flat circle. Walker may have had his redemptive public moment, but now his costume is literally darker.

- Still not too sure about Sharon. Still kind of hoping that she's just playing a long game. Not terribly sad about Batroc; he got a better showing in his relatively few MCU appearances than he did in decades of the comics.

- WRT the possibility of a super-soldier Flag Smasher surviving: I think that it could still be Karli. Yeah, she "died", but Steve Rogers got frozen in the Arctic for decades without the ice crystals destroying his cell walls, you never know. Sharon's ultimate plan just might involve yet another secluded secret lab.

- There aren't any serious questions WRT Isaiah Bradley and how he got by that I can see; any one of what seems to have been several attempts by the government to revive the super soldier program could have kicked some money his way. And yeah, the same level of tech that lets Tony Stark create a new element in a cobbled-together lab in his basement, or the Wakandans to fabricate a new Falcon suit for Sam in approximately nothing flat, could create a statue of Bradley pretty quickly.

- Sam's new costume could use a little work. I was kind of hoping that Rhodey would show up at the end and suggest that they get the band (or what's left of them) back together. Maybe they'll do something for the Young Avengers? Yes, I'm still hoping for that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:41 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


There aren't any serious questions WRT Isaiah Bradley and how he got by that I can see; any one of what seems to have been several attempts by the government to revive the super soldier program could have kicked some money his way.

The government thought he was dead, so they would have had no reason to kick some money his way at any time.

And the problem is not so much that there are no possible explanations as to how Bradley got by; any decent writer could come up with something. The problem is that the show didn't bother to offer any explanation, or even acknowledge that it would have been an issue for Bradley.

Again, it seems to me that for this to make sense, the writers are asking the audience to fill in blanks they couldn't be bothered to complete within the confines of the story, which is bad, lazy writing.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:00 PM on April 23


Also, even if Bradley's statue could be 3-D printed, the process of selecting an artist, coming up with a prototype design, and getting it approved still should have been time-consuming.

Based on what I've seen regarding other statues of famous people, that part usually takes much longer than producing the actual statue, in part because there always are a lot of different stakeholders who need to sign off. (Not to mention that the exhibit would have to been researched, text written, displays fabricated, and so on.)

Sure, it would be possible to expedite the process to some degree, assuming that the people involved don't have anything more pressing, like a worldwide crisis of hunger and homelessness, to deal with. But we didn't even get a line of dialogue or two to suggest that's what happened, so who knows?
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:20 PM on April 23


I loved it. I might have liked it more than the final episode of Wandavision even. Sam's cap suit looked great, and I loved the flight scenes and the fight scenes. Shout out to the stunt team for so thoroughly exploring the possibilities of shield + wings + Redwings. I loved the speech, loved the cookout scene, and loved the Isiah Bradley scenes. I hope his story is developed further when we circle back to pick Eli's story up for Young Avengers. Could not stop smiling after Bucky said "Nice going, Cap."

WILD SPECULATION: Contessa is setting up The Thunderbolts, with both Zemo and Walker on the roster.

Wish Loki was premiering tonight. Make mine Marvel.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:51 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


It would make great sense if Sharon was a Skrull. It works if she isn’t, but if she is, that’s fine too
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:14 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


OK, hands up if you started singing "It Was Sharon All Along". ✋
posted by automatronic at 1:17 PM on April 23 [19 favorites]


Mostly, I enjoyed it. I have many issues but on the whole I enjoyed it.
*Uh, WOW is that whole bad guy plot a hell of a thing to watch after January 6th and that whole literal violent coup attempt thing we had.
*I hope folks are open to hearing Black fans who are critical of how this show has handled race and reputation. Even if you love the show, it's really worth listening.
*If Sharon is the Power Broker, who sent the guys she was fighting in the cargo yard in episode 3? If she sent them after herself to create legitimacy, I guess that fits with the Idiot Ball of that whole episode, but ugh. It's still weird.
*Sam should've had a clean win against one or more super soldiers. They're overselling the importance of superpowers and the gap between the serum and normal people (and have all along in the MCU, imho). Really, really wish it had never gone beyond "peak human health" like the comics used to.
*Totally echoing the cries of Justice for Batroc here.
*Bucky's line with Walker comes off too good-natured, too friendly, and it really undermines the complexity of Walker and his issues and "redemption," which I otherwise thought was fine.

On the upside--and I really did mostly like it:
*Walker making the decision to save lives instead of hit bad guys was good. The dude is trash, but he's not a consistent literal villain. He's complicated trash, and that's what makes him an interesting character. You don't have to forget that he's trash.
*Sharon's scene at the end was everything Larry Hama's comics ever taught me about writing a good ongoing title. Did the good guys win? Yeah... mostly... and the bad guys too, kinda.

Most of all, Sam got some real good true-to-the-comics Captain America moments that even MCU Steve hasn't gotten. Sam gets a hostage critically involved in her own rescue, and that is some pure undiluted inspirational Captain America awesome right there and I fucking loved it. The speech at the end was the same. Captain America talking people back from their bullshit after a crisis, despite how it lands in our post-2020 world, is some big time Cap stuff and I was glad to see it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:35 PM on April 23 [19 favorites]


I re-watched Civil War and I like Sharon's turn as Power Broker. In that movie she was the typical early MCU girlfriend character. She runs a few errands for the heroes and then gives Cap a big smooch before goes off to fight. Then everyone forgets about her for years. Now she's back and clearly has too much going on in Madripoor. But our heroes never mention her unless they need assistance.

So having the heroes treat her like a stock female character while she runs a criminal empire under their stupid noses seems like it might be fun.
posted by Gary at 1:39 PM on April 23 [19 favorites]


Bucky's line with Walker comes off too good-natured, too friendly, and it really undermines the complexity of Walker and his issues and "redemption," which I otherwise thought was fine.

It definitely rankled me, but once the ep concluded and i saw what happened by the end with Walker and Sharon, i found it such a fiendishly 'hail hydra'/'hydra in SHIELD' moment, similar to Tony's time travel and meeting his dad who was clearly cordial with Zola, except this time we don't have hindsight, just an active trainwreck in progress. Worth noting though it rankled to me because if Sam's empathy could see how Karli is hurting, Bucky's been the one whose suspicion/snap conclusions with Walker and Sharon ("she's mean now") bears out, so he's been calling it too but in-text thought he was wrong. But in-text also, the story's been prepping them about 'complicated' charas through Zemo (who still murdered ppl through it all). So, much like Sharon's govt pardon, they took a move which we the audience do see as one based on incomplete information.
posted by cendawanita at 2:10 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


- Sam's speech was, for me anyway, way too on-the-nose, like the writers didn't think the theme was clear enough, and had to be spelled out again for dimwitted viewers.

It was very on-the-nose but given the perspective of some very vocal fans, the subtext as text will likely be helpful.
posted by memento maury at 3:20 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


Walker mostly makes me sad. He so obviously wants to do the right thing, even though he's not very good at seeing what the right thing is (which is most of it, actually). Olivia Walker obviously loves and is proud of her husband, who obviously loves her and wants to earn her pride. But... he's not quite up to it, is he?

He has a lot in common with Bucky and Isiah: Another Super-Soldier test subject fucked over and discarded by the People In Charge.

He wants to do the right thing, and he'll fail and ultimately it will destroy him. And I think that's sad.

Maybe this is me looking at him and seeing Sean Dudley, I don't know. But I do think I'm seeing... not a villain, but a mis-shape of a hero. And that's fine. Team mis-shape is a broad church.
posted by Grangousier at 3:48 PM on April 23 [12 favorites]


WILD SPECULATION: Contessa is setting up The Thunderbolts, with both Zemo and Walker on the roster.

And the MCU is setting up their own Suicide Squad.

Walker's story is a villain origin story. My guess is that La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine is representing a sort of superhuman-black-ops organization and that Walker will in effect become the MCU's version of Watchmen's Comedian.

Or antihero, at least. But "U.S. Agent" is just such a weirdly generic name for a superhero.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:40 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]




Well well well... I did speculate that if true to form for the MCU so far, those who holds the keys to the Captain America story branch holds the shape of the next MCU phase, but clearly I was thinking too small because I only speculated as far as the streaming shows are concerned.
posted by cendawanita at 4:59 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


I think they're trying to have it both ways with Walker, letting those who want to see it see a redemption arc in his saving the hostages over getting the bad guy. Which is unfortunate, because the whole "killing a defeated opponent" thing is very much still not redeemed by him correctly answering the Trolley Problem, Easy Mode.

I have less problem with Sam's hypersonic suit (Iron Man seemed to have similar range and speed in getting to Afghani-stand-in in the course of a commute time) than I do with the show's inability to consistently handle deadly force. There's a weird hierarchy where the good guys don't use guns; the bad guys are doing something worse when they're using guns, as opposed to bombs, flames, superpowered kicks, or car crashes; and if you're *really* evil, you kill someone with an elaborate, likely more traceable gas bomb instead of shooting them in the head, which could be blamed on anyone with a gun. Karli is supposed to be more sympathetic even after repeatedly killing and trying to kill hostages; more sympathetic Flag Smashers with fewer lines and less screen presence don't get that same sympathy.

I can't help but feel that the character of Sam Wilson understands the motivations of the Flag Smashers better than the writers who wrote both Sam and the Flag Smashers--their actions and dialogue come off as far more naive and shortsighed than is necessary to put them in the wrong for the purposes of plot.

Complete waste of Batroc, both in the fighting, and in the potential for future shenanigans. (It probably would have been too cute for Sam to speak Louisiana Creole back to him (or even metropolitan French--who's to say Sam didn't take a few classes?), but that extremely cheesy thought did occur to me in the moment.)

The Smithsonian exhibit bit was very nice--that, Sam's speech, as on-the-nose as it was, and the cheerful party ending were the high points. Store-bought cake seems like a safe choice, but acknowledging his limitations seems to be a big part of Bucky's growth.

In light traffic it's about an hour from Baltimore to DC. What are they talking about in the car?

Finally, I have no idea what that room is that they're supposed to be in every time Senator Vint Cerf grants, strips, or reinstates a hero. Is it supposed to be a legislative hearing? A quasi-judicial procedure? What building is that supposed to be? But I expect as much about government procedure as I do for DC/NYC geography from superhero shows, so whatever. It's no Turkish Delight-gate.
posted by pykrete jungle at 5:07 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


I gotta reiterate that Sharon Carter's received the most disproportionate disciplinary action after the events of Civil War since Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean. Guess sometimes in these Disney movies a good deed can go very much punished.

Sharon was done dirty, and it's somewhat puzzling that a government struggling with the consequences of Thanos' attack and rebuilding from the Blip is still so hamstrung on whatever regulations that she broke. It's a bit of an impossible plothole that's about as silly as Sam Wilson, co-savior of the universe, not being able to get a loan, but in both cases they serve to set up important storylines and characterization so I understand why they're there.

Could the Power Broker have been written to be any other secondary character in the MCU instead of Sharon Carter, though? I guess the Carter name is another vital part of Steve Rogers' legacy, but did they really have to turn Sharon into a criminal mastermind, out of nowhere?
posted by Apocryphon at 5:30 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]


In the MCU the american government allows military and quasi-military organizations with foreign allegiances (like SHIELD, which reports to some kind of UN council) to operate on US soil, and also requires US powered-and-powered-adjacent people to sign an international agreement that involves extradition of US citizens to a foreign country. This has no real world analog, so I assume the room they use for all of the superhero-adjacent hearings also to be some weird bureaucratic mess with no real world analog.
posted by fomhar at 6:23 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


So is the idea that he heard about/saw the attack on TV, and then flew from Louisiana to New York in his new suit to fight? This would mean the suit has a similar range to a jet plane, but is even faster, which seems improbable given the state of in-universe technology.

If he can match a 747 that's around 1,300 miles at 560ish mph, so two hours and change.

I mean there are bigger issues there like just what the hell is up with the power density and energy output of all this superhero gear when everyone else has basically our tech, but that's an issue looong predating this show. Probably something in the Flag Smasher manifesto about that tbh
posted by jason_steakums at 6:33 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


One thing I keep thinking as I watch all these Marvel movies is that in the Marvel Universe, they may have actual superheroes but they only have DC comics.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:34 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


I love that this show is a celebration of Blackness. Just love it.

I enjoyed watching Julia Louis Dreyfus say "Or did I?"
posted by medusa at 6:55 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Let's just state the obvious: The show was uneven as hell and at times makes no sense if you pause and think about about for second. Sam having no money? The GRC, in any aspect. The Flag Smashers being able to handle military trained soldiers, let alone a legendary assassin. But it handled the emotional beats pretty well and developed the characters while touching on some important issues. It gets a B- in my book.

Not crazy about how Bucky's arc was finally settled, as it was still about him and awkward as fuck by any stretch. But hopefully it's settled and done, and there's no "oh I found the super secret winter solider book, we can reactivate his programming" That would be lame, boring, and tedious, much like season three of Game of Thrones, which spent a lot of time literally torturing a particular character endlessly. Bucky has natural smiles and is part of a family, don't fuck that up. And drop the Winter Soldier name, it makes no sense to keep it.

Sam isn't a very good fighter when it comes to close combat by himself. BUT, he's hell on wheels with the wheels. A lot of serious thought was put into how someone would you use those in a fight and it shows. Kudos for that.

The racial issues: generally well handled, but am curious how they'll be handled going forward. What's NuCap's response to the variou police shootings? Police firing on protesters? US foreign policy? etc, etc. It's a good step forward, but I wonder if it could have been a great step forward. For instance, this was very male and heteronormative racial issues, what about queer folk? Black women?

Please lose the headpiece on Sam's new outfit. Just keep the googles, the rest of the gear around his head just looks weird.

More Zemo and his butler please.

Still not crazy about Elaine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]


I gotta reiterate that Sharon Carter's received the most disproportionate disciplinary action after the events of Civil War since Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean. Guess sometimes in these Disney movies a good deed can go very much punished.

I got the sense that much of her "punishment" was really mentally self-inflicted - she believed she was this wanted criminal and totally abandoned, so she made no effort to clear her name and instead leaned into being this criminal that she felt the world had cornered her into being. (I actually got the same sense about Norrington - not that it was official disciplinary actions that had destroyed his career and ruined his life, but that his own sense of shame and guilt and being a failure had caused him to, well probably self-medicate at first and from there, wrecked his life and probably earned him some official disciplinary actions. Self-inflicted, rather than handed down from above.) I'd still like to know a little more about how Sharon got there exactly, but it seems like maybe we'll get that down the road somewhere. I was a little surprised that nobody batted an eye at her offhanded "oh yeah btw I mercury-gassed a supersoldier" though.

Sad to see Karli go. For all the effort they've made to make Walker an ambiguous antihero-or-villain open question, Karli's the one with the sympathetic cause; she could've easily slotted into the role of sometimes-helpful, sometimes-troublesome super-soldier-at-large. In theory I'd like to see her ideas explored more but I'm not sure how many writers would actually be able to do the topic justice. That's cuz Karli's right though. Nation-states are obsolete.

And definitely adding my name to the "Batroc deserved better" chorus.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:44 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


What's with all this Batroc deserved better nonsense? Let's go to the tape. 23:17 - Sharon shoots in his general direction, camera cut, Batroc flinches but there's no blood. Cut to Sam. 23:19 - Batroc falls down but his hand doesn't each touch the ground (his gun is also no longer in that hand). That's the last we see of his body. An entire fight scene happens there and the camera avoids showing the area where he fell.

Batroc didn't die. I'm not even convinced he got shot. Sam showed up and Batroc got to leaping while the leaping was good. Batroc is a survivor and there's no way he goes out like that. Not when we still need him for the inevitable Gwenpool series.
posted by Gary at 8:30 PM on April 23 [9 favorites]


If we're going to vent spleen, my personal little one is bionic arms - prostheses are only as strong as their anchor point.

The notably exception that I've noticed is in original anime 'Ghost in the Shell' where The Major ends up ripping her arms off in desperation trying to pry open an access hatch in a mecha tank. Yes I know, not quite the same.

link comparing the original and the live action remake [dailymotion]
posted by porpoise at 8:38 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]


It's well known that putting machinery into a human form factor increases it's strength 100x.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:51 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


On the one hand, the Flag Smasher plot certainly does evoke the Jan 6 insurrection, especially the escape footage we saw during the second impeachment trial.

On the other hand, the GRC, and Sam's insistence that they "control all the banks", trigger my anti-Semitey sense.

The show is trying, at least, to transcend some of its military-funded Marvel roots.
posted by HeroZero at 8:55 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


One tiny thing this episode did right that I love and didn’t see mentioned: Walker’s homemade shield clangs loudly when it gets hit. It isn’t made of Vibranium, so of course. But it would have been easy to get that wrong, and they very much didn’t.
posted by Night_owl at 9:32 PM on April 23 [10 favorites]


Walker's fake shield reminded me of the scene in the first CA movie where little Steve picks up a trash can lid when he's beaten up in the alley.
posted by gatorae at 9:39 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Let's take as given everything everybody has said about the emotional beats and the development of the two main characters. That way, I can pick some nits.

First, why are comic book movie and TV statues always so bad? Okay this wasn't Arrowverse levels of bad, but I still cringed at how cheap and terrible-looking that statue looked of Isaiah was.

I know it's pointless to complain about comic book fights, but I'm still going to do it. Bucky has been trained as a killer and a fighter and has been doing this for decades. The Flag Smasher guy has had the serum for a nano-second and has never really trained to fight super soldiers. It shouldn't have been a contest and definitely not one that just went on and on and on. I had similar quibbles about Sam being subjected to too much force to survive, but it's easier to wave away saying vibranium/adamantium shield plus Wakandian tech.

We've seen both Steve and Bucky get shot before and suffer serious wounds. In this episode we see non-enhanced Sharon get gut shot and be pretty much perfectly fine. So, why should Karli be killed by pretty much the same type of attack? It doesn't make much sense.

I'm also in the camp that Sharon's story line didn't quite make sense, especially when she was acting against her own self-interest. I don't have issues with her going over to the dark side, because her comic character was always morally complicated (to say the least) but I think a tiny bit of clarity could have been brought to how the character's actions were portrayed.

Overall, I could have used more of the main characters palling around, hashing out their differences and getting to know each other and less time spent with Karli and friends. I said in an earlier thread that I don't call this The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. In part it's because that name is just too long, but it's also because it's Bucky and Sam and who they are in their cores who interest me, not their public super-suited personas. Yes, I know this is a comic book franchise, but that's usually where I land on these things (and has been from pretty much the first time I picked up a comic book). The battles and spectacular rescues are fine, but it's always the characters under the capes and their motivations and their fears and strengths and weaknesses who interest me the most. Maybe that makes me a bad comic fan, but that's fine with me.
posted by sardonyx at 9:56 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


When that helicopter took a steep dive trying to get away from Sam, I laughed out loud. That's like the Rhino deciding he's gonna defeat Spider-Man by challenging him to a test of agility, reflexes, and climbing walls.
posted by straight at 10:16 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]


If we're going to vent spleen, my personal little one is bionic arms - prostheses are only as strong as their anchor point.

Maybe Bucky's arm is roughly as strong as the rest of his body except he can punch as hard as he can without hurting his fist.

We'll talk about how much that would hurt his shoulder and how he can block an I-beam with it next semester after we've covered how Captain America's shield works.
posted by straight at 10:33 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Chapter One: "That thing does not obey the laws of physics at all." -- attributed to the Amazing Spider-Man.
posted by straight at 10:37 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Sharon was done dirty, and it's somewhat puzzling that a government struggling with the consequences of Thanos' attack and rebuilding from the Blip is still so hamstrung on whatever regulations that she broke.

Sharon got dusted so she was really only a fugitive during the same time that Captain America himself was on the run. So she's actually getting reinstated pretty quickly after Sam did, and he was right there being a big hero on American soil, while she was off in Madripoor. The US Government revisiting her status probably wasn't a high priority for the US Government. They may not have known she was still alive.

What doesn't make sense is how she was able to become the Power Broker in so short a time. Maybe the Power Broker was some dude nobody knew who he was and Sharon killed him and took his place like the Dread Pirate Roberts.
posted by straight at 10:58 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


If nothing else, the Flash TV show demonstrated that you can get away with using any comic book hero/villain name, no matter how ridiculous, if you have the right character to propose it.

I can totally buy Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Val coming up with "USAgent" and John Walker thinking it's cool.
posted by straight at 11:06 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


This may be the first time the classic comic book “back and sides” costume design (hair free, back and sides of head and sides of face covered) has been implemented in a live-action costume.

Gemma Chan rocked one in Captain Marvel. (And Captain Marvel's space helmet is an amalgamation of that and the traditional Kree finned helmet.)
posted by straight at 11:16 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


If we're going to go there; I have no idea if 'US Agent' is canon or anything, but to my ear the name instantly conjures racism and sadism of badly damaged people who thrive on executing being granted authority.

Its essentially calling him Thin Blue Line.

With echoes of steam trains and dynamite and First Nations and immigrant Chinese and chain gangs.
posted by porpoise at 11:44 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]


About Sam getting to New York so fast: at the end of the previous episode he saw that the GRC meeting would be there and started traveling then, in advance of the attack, because he knew that was where Karli would be.
posted by mistersix at 11:50 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


I got the sense that much of her "punishment" was really mentally self-inflicted - she believed she was this wanted criminal and totally abandoned, so she made no effort to clear her name and instead leaned into being this criminal that she felt the world had cornered her into being.
That's a very good interpretation of her predicament, and gives her downfall into villainy a lot of depth.
I was a little surprised that nobody batted an eye at her offhanded "oh yeah btw I mercury-gassed a supersoldier" though.
Was that even a supersoldier? I thought it was just a random henchman or military/LEO driver!
Sharon got dusted so she was really only a fugitive during the same time that Captain America himself was on the run.
Did she even commit any acts that merited becoming a fugitive? I might have to rewatch Civil War. Though my bigger criticism is out-of-universe; the problem with the Civil War to Infinity War transition is that it was disjointed. Because the threat to the world vastly increased in scale, the conflict in the former movie was pretty much resolved in one awkward reunion between the Avengers who were fighting nearly to the death a year ago. But because she's not part of the super-team proper, Sharon gets completely overlooked off-camera, and doesn't get the free clemency that they do.
The US Government revisiting her status probably wasn't a high priority for the US Government. They may not have known she was still alive.
True, which is why the "her guilt and inner demons motivated her more than the government" explanation above feels more compelling.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:09 AM on April 24


I really enjoyed the final! Sebastian Stan's Instagram story today has some TikToks and some behind the scenes photos and videos which are cute.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:33 AM on April 24


A lot of serious thought was put into how someone would you use those in a fight and it shows.

I think it did well in answering the question we have all been asking, "What would a kung-fu film look like if the hero had wings?"
posted by mikelieman at 1:58 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Did she even commit any acts that merited becoming a fugitive? I might have to rewatch Civil War

She stole the shield and wings and gave them back to Sam and Steve in Civil War at the start of the third act. That’s what she was punished for. The dusting came after her being drummed out of the CIA or whatever.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:35 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Yeah now that I've thought it over Sam's white turtleneck/headband combination is not working for me. It looks like some kind of misguided 80s exercise video's idea of cutting-edge fashion.
posted by medusa at 4:43 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I'm watching the review channels who're saying the two times bucky fought for a greater cause and didn't work out (re: the conversation with Karli) referred to his previous Avengers outings, but i honestly thought he meant when he was in the US Army and later Soviet Union-then-Hydra. Hmmm maybe another rewatch is in order...
posted by cendawanita at 5:41 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Yeah now that I've thought it over Sam's white turtleneck/headband combination is not working for me.

It looked to me, immediately, as if he was wearing some manner of underpants on his head. And now none of you can unsee it.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:16 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Economics: I have no trouble understanding how a strong guy would earn under the table cash in a North American context, or live with family...that seems a bit of a stretch to worry about. It happens every day. I have more trouble understanding why Sam doesn’t get Pepper to lend him a few thousand bucks.

Vision: I feel like the wish fulfillment here fits in well with the Captain America context, and I cried at both the speech and the statue because damn, I would like this world. Also the empathy piece.

Chaos: I do feel like all the dangling pieces are annoying but as long as they get picked up later, it’s cool. I kind of like the “who knows who’s a bad guy these days” feeling.

I did think this one stuck the landing better than Wandavision, but would like to see Wanda go down to Louisiana for some group therapy.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:08 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


First, why are comic book movie and TV statues always so bad?

It's not just comic book statues; there was one of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, and one of Lucille Ball, that were notorious. And those were famous people and the creators had plenty of time to get it right.

Bucky has been trained as a killer and a fighter and has been doing this for decades. The Flag Smasher guy has had the serum for a nano-second and has never really trained to fight super soldiers.

Bucky was never really trained to fight super soldiers, and could be fended off even by the non-super Black Widow, at least for a little while. The bulk of his targets were non-trained civilians like the Starks; even the professional soldiers and bodyguards that he fought weren't really prepared for who and what he really was. We don't know what sort of training the Flag Smasher guy had, and at the very least, he could have had weeks if not months to train against the other juiced-up Flag Smashers.

We've seen both Steve and Bucky get shot before and suffer serious wounds. In this episode we see non-enhanced Sharon get gut shot and be pretty much perfectly fine. So, why should Karli be killed by pretty much the same type of attack?

I think that precisely where the bullet hits and goes through matters. A fraction of an inch can be the difference between someone bleeding out in a minute, or not.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:14 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


If we're going to go there; I have no idea if 'US Agent' is canon or anything, but to my ear the name instantly conjures racism and sadism of badly damaged people who thrive on executing being granted authority.

Oh, he is canon for some 35 years now. The comic version of John Walker begins his mask career as Super Patriot, so the connotations you are noticing are not coincidence.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:42 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Reading the comments about how newly minted super soldiers shouldn't be able to fight as well as Bucky, I'm reminded that it seems to be a thing in comic-derived stories for bad guys to pick up a new power, weapon or technology and immediately be able to wield it as effectively (or even more effectively) than the hero who has had said power/weapon/technology for a while.

One of the most egregious examples of this is in the first Iron Man movie, which spends a good bit of time showing Tony Stark learning how to use his suit of armor. Then at the end of the movie, when Obidiah Stone puts on the knock-off suit, he's able to fight Tony pretty evenly without any practice at all.

See also the first Ant-Man movie, in which Scott Lang is shown learning to do Ant-Man stuff in fairly exhaustive detail, and then at the end of the movie, the Corey Stull character is able to operate the Yellowjacket suit, change sizes, etc, with no problem.

It's not just a Marvel thing, though - in the second series of "Umbrella Academy" on Netflix, there's a character whose power is to be able to mimic the powers of anyone she's in close contact with, and she was able to kick the butts of all the Academy members, who had possessed and been using their abilities pretty much all their (young) lives.

Comics, whaddaya gonna do?
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 8:53 AM on April 24


Random thought: Did Sharon take a dose of the serum and that's why she could survive that gunshot as well as she did?

I mean, people live through gunshots. It happens. She's clearly tough af without it. But this all presents her as someone with access to it, so I have to wonder why she wouldn't have taken the opportunity. I mean, obviously the cargo yard fight is a problem, but that whole thing is a big narrative problem anyway if she's the Power Broker in the first place.

As for a lot of the other big tangles of this show--the Flag-Smashers' politics and purpose, life during the Blip, wtf is the GRC and how does that work--I feel like this show is another big example of the MCU deliberately choosing not to give us details, because that kind of complexity is hard.

And I'm all good with discussing and debating interpretations as long as we all step back and recognize that decision on their part. Sometimes I wonder how much of the fandom doesn't really see it there.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:14 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Scary: yeah, that definitely seems like a big part of it. It's impossible to really determine who has the better argument re the Sokovia Accords, because we never know what they actually say or do. We never knew the extent of the truly strange international authority that the Avengers, the Iron Legion, and then just various OECD-esque militaries have to operate in other places. ("GRC" or "UN" troops always seem to be coded American, which departs from reality in a couple of particularly funny ways.) This is why it's particularly weird for Nu-Cap to complain that the Dora Milaje have no jurisdiction in Latvia, but he apparently does.

This will always make comic book politics more about themes and tones and not about actual formulations of even fictionally workable rules, just like comic book physics is. But comic books rarely are trying to say anything of consequence about physics, while they do often aspire (and sometimes succeed) in saying something meaningful about politics, ethics, or governance. There will always be inconsistencies, but the MCU often is even more careless with this than it needs to be for the sake of the grand gesture or plot.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:26 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


Thanos broke Steve's original shield, the one given to him by the US government, in the Endgame fight. So the shield Steve gave Sam is probably a Wakandan replacement.

One thing I really liked was Sam deciding he doesn't need anyone's permission to be Captain America. Steve and Bucky and Wakanda and his experience as a pararescue airman and an Avenger gave him the tools to help people and he's going to decide how to use them.
posted by straight at 9:31 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


One thing I really liked was Sam deciding he doesn't need anyone's permission to be Captain America.

This is a great way of saying that the US government doesn't, in the end, decide who is and isn't representative of America. Walker being "U.S. Agent" means he is an agent of the political entity; Sam is for something broader, and in a way that avoids or explicitly rejects the ethno-nationalism that often accompanies rhetoric about someone representing a people or a nation rather than a state or political entity.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:47 AM on April 24 [11 favorites]


So the shield Steve gave Sam is probably a Wakandan replacement.

Which makes Senator Plot Obstacle’s line to Walker’s retreating back about returning the shield all the funnier. I wonder how many people actually know it’s not the same shield; as discussed elsewhere in either this show’s or the WandaVision threads, it’s unclear just how much about the final battle with Thanos is common knowledge. D’arcy certainly seemed pretty up to speed on it, but she Knows People.

And without searching back, I cannot recall what sharp-eyed mefite observed that whole thing is a battle where a massive dreadnaught lands a huge alien army in upstate New York to face off against a force of ultratech African military, platoons of sorcerers, space pirates, and dozens of superheroes (including a man forty storeys tall and a Norse god), with a last minute save from probably the most powerful figure in existence.

And as it happens maybe an hour after several billion people reassemble from dust, it’s not even the lead story on the news.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:48 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Personally, this episode was twice as long as it needed to be, owing exclusively to the ridiculous battle scene. After five episodes of promising drama, the sixth heads straight back to the done-to-death big battle scene. I have to admit that was a huge disappointment.

Overall, I kind of feel like they set-up some interesting and important issues throughout the series and then pissed them away in this episode. Sam’s speech was pretty movie-textbook “speaking truth to power” but it didn’t really change anything other than check the feelz boxes. Yeah, the powers-that-be are holding off on their relocation plans, but there’s no indication that they’ll actually do anything that might live up to the spirit of Sam’s speech. So, in the end, the global elite remain in power, and the ones actually standing-up (however misguidedly) for the downtrodden are all dead. I didn’t expect the Disney MCU to suddenly go full socialist nirvana, but it’s pretty clear it’s gonna be business as usual in their world view.

Walker needed to just go away. Disappear. Fade away like a good soldier.

Who was the prisoner listening to the radio on The Raft?

WandaVision made me want to watch this. This show’s by-the-book finale really kills my interest in checking out any further series.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:02 AM on April 24


Who was the prisoner listening to the radio on The Raft?

Zemo, learning that his butler got the job done.
posted by medusa at 11:09 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


metafilter: Senator Plot Obstacle
posted by ovenmitt at 11:42 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


My headcanon is that the shield Steve gives Sam was his WWII shield from the timeline where he married Peggy.
posted by sixswitch at 11:44 AM on April 24 [8 favorites]


Overall, I kind of feel like they set-up some interesting and important issues throughout the series and then pissed them away in this episode.
I felt it's like we returned to the pro-military opening episode after setting up some genuinely interesting possibilities.
Sorry about your wife, here's a shitty statue in a dingy back room of the Smithsonian.
Also, the new costume is hideous.
posted by fullerine at 11:47 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


My headcanon is that the shield Steve gives Sam was his WWII shield from the timeline where he married Peggy.

Entirely possible, when time travel multiverse hijinks are involved, but it is manifestly not the same one that Howard Stark gave him during WWII (or at least, it has been visibly modified) and not even the one he’s carrying up to and through most of Endgame: there’s the five raised sections making up the points on the star, and the five, er, coin slots distributed symmetrically around it. And we also definitely see a partially assembled (or perhaps disassembled) shield in Tony’s workshop way back in... Iron Man 2? Anyway, when Cap is still in the ice.

I’m sure a deep dive into the MCU wiki could trace the chain of ownership of the original, but this is my best guess for this timeline: Stark Senior hands it over to Steve Rogers in WWII, and it sits on the bottom of the North Atlantic with a very chilly Cap for decades; he then hands it over to Tony in disgust at the end of Civil War; Tony gives it back in Endgame before Morgan goes sledding on it, and Thanos rends it asunder not long thereafter.

Between that one, the one Tony is working on before Cap is revived, the one handed over by a 106-year-old Steve on a park bench (which appears to be the same one in the current series), and John Walker’s tin knockoff, there’s quite a few versions of “the shield.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:15 PM on April 24


Marvel didn’t go very deep with the vision for this show, meant to appeal to the general MCU fan: let’s have lots of action and then also a story that could be cohesive if not pressure-tested. But Spellman and his writers room had lots of important stories they wanted to tell. So everything seemed to get short-shrift in the end. This is a story about systemic raci... this is a story about how we treat our vete... this is a story about post-traumatic str... this is a story about the dangers of globa... this is the story of two men very clearly falling i... okay, that one’s just head canon.

It left me wanting more: more Isaiah Bradley, told today and in flashback; more origins of the flagsmashers to feel the pain of people being physically displaced from their homes (man, I would have cared so much more if they’d given me a reason to empathize)(also, did we learn if they were given the serum in order to be Sharon’s body corps or if they stole their doses and then the rest of the supply? while engaging as characters, their plot line was forgettable); more of Bucky and those amends, and the reformation of James Barnes as he went from avenging to amending; more of Sam struggling with the shield and struggling to come to his decision that giving it up was the right thing to do; time for each storyline to be shown, and not handled as rushed exposition.

also, some costumes are better in print than on screen. someone please remove most of that shit from cap’s face. one of the biggest losers on this show seemed to be super heroes’ ears.
posted by ovenmitt at 12:17 PM on April 24 [7 favorites]


This is why it's particularly weird for Nu-Cap to complain that the Dora Milaje have no jurisdiction in Latvia, but he apparently does.

Americans always think they have jurisdiction. And that goes double for American superheroes.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:20 PM on April 24 [7 favorites]


I'm very interested in what the Contessa knows that makes her tell Walker that "things are about to get weird". Skrulls or multiverse hijinks are the most likely candidates with what we know, I'm just curious about her involvement with either. Julia Louis-Dreyfus Skrull Queen would be an excellent thing.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:53 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


...that whole thing is a battle where a massive dreadnaught lands a huge alien army in upstate New York to face off against a force of ultratech African military, platoons of sorcerers, space pirates, and dozens of superheroes (including a man forty storeys tall and a Norse god), with a last minute save from probably the most powerful figure in existence.

Worse Monday EVER.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:27 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


episode 1: "sam no"
episode 2: "redwing no"
episode 3: "zemo no"
episode 4: "karli no"
episode 5: "walker no"
episode 6: "SHARON NO"

5/7; would watch again
posted by queen anne's remorse at 2:46 PM on April 24 [5 favorites]


Someone help me out with this because I don't entirely remember how Skrulls work: would it make sense that the reason Sharon didn't want medical attention for the gunshot wound was because she didn't want to be found out as a Skrull? Or is their impersonation so perfect that it wouldn't have been an issue? Also, how do Skrulls feel about gunshot wounds to the abdomen?
posted by omnie at 3:15 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Marvel didn’t go very deep with the vision for this show,

In fairness, they kind of did that in the previous show.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:50 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


omnie, the origin of the Skrull Kill Krew implies that the imitation includes internal organs and tissues.
posted by FallibleHuman at 4:31 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Then again, if you’re a shapeshifter, maybe you can heal wounds by shifting the affected tissues?

If that’s the case, Sharon may have declined medical attention to hide that the wounds were already gone...
posted by FallibleHuman at 4:33 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


My headcanon is that the shield Steve gives Sam was his WWII shield from the timeline where he married Peggy.

Except how did he get it? Did he thaw out the Steve Rogers of that universe and say, "Hey, you're welcome for the rescue, but I kinda married Peggy. Mind if I take that shield?"
posted by straight at 5:07 PM on April 24


Oh yeah. Regards Sharon.

I called it correctly!!
posted by Faintdreams at 5:15 PM on April 24


Marvel didn’t go very deep with the vision for this show,

In fairness, they kind of did that in the previous show.


It's worth noting that both major characters of FatWS were blipped. Just disappeared in the midst of a battle and then suddenly reappeared five years later. Yet they never talked about it.

Nobody in the MCU talks about it.

Mostly likely Sam was brought up religious, along with his sister, in some Baptist, Lutherean, or Methodist church. Yet they never talked about the implications of half the world being blipped and what effect that would have on their religious beliefs.

Meanwhile a literal god from Norse legends on Earth for years.

SOMEBODY in the MCU needs to talk about this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Also. Was Sharon snapped? Is there proof of it somewhere?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:11 PM on April 24


Yet they never talked about it.

They did talk about it! In the first episode, Sam talks about how his nephews were babies and now they’re grown kids.
posted by bq at 6:17 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


That’s just speaking about it, IMO. That’s not TALKING about it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


This deserved more episodes. Why did it get six to WandaVision's nine? The story, the characters, the themes, they all deserved more time.

There wasn't that long a time between Age of Ultron and Civil War, like a year? Certainly not long enough for Zemo to have heard of the reputation of the Powerbroker as stated, if he was that powerful. Zemo says he knows the Power Broker only by reputation, and uses he, implying that Zemo things the Powerbroker is a man. I think there was a Powerbroker before Sharon. There is also some deep-cut stuff that ties Sharon Carter to Nick Fury in several ways, which makes me wonder what might happen between their organizations, and if there are connections. Sharon gives them Naggle. Karli Morgenthau supposedly called Naggle for help. Does that make sense? I think Zemo killing Naggle messed Sharon's plan, which was to get a pardon and to keep Naggle using the hired guns to intervene and put pressure on Bucky and Sam. She changed her mind about coming to the US, that's for sure.

Tangental Note: I got to thinking about Sharon's backstory and Endgame's Cap and it turns out the director of Endgame said in an interview that the timeline with Steve Rogers marrying Peggy is an entirely different time line, and Steve had to jump from that reality back to the prime universe, so there was no great uncle Steve for Sharon if you were wondering.

Of course, that really creates questions about how Cap can smile thinking about that universe, if Thanos won there, if he rescued Bucky, prevented Hydra from rising again... and other stuff, but I'm going to let that go and just write fanfic or something.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 6:45 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


The main things we know about the other universe where Steve may have stayed are that Loki escaped from there with the Tesseract to have adventures in his new TV series and that Thanos left and died in our universe before he could collect any of the Infinity Stones. Nebula and Gamora also left and died/stayed in our universe.

But I imagine the Loki series is going to drastically shake up all these kinds of speculations.
posted by straight at 8:00 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


It's worth noting that both major characters of FatWS were blipped. Just disappeared in the midst of a battle and then suddenly reappeared five years later. Yet they never talked about it.

From the perspective of people like Sam and Bucky, it probably seems much more like Thanos teleported them five years into the future. Bucky has been through something like that several times. I agree that the people Left Behind ought to have had their worldviews severely shaken.
posted by straight at 8:08 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


My headcanon is that the shield Steve gives Sam was his WWII shield from the timeline where he married Peggy.

Except how did he get it? Did he thaw out the Steve Rogers of that universe and say, "Hey, you're welcome for the rescue, but I kinda married Peggy. Mind if I take that shield?"


A wizard did it.
posted by sixswitch at 8:24 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Maybe...he didn’t thaw that Steve out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Was Sharon snapped? Is there proof of it somewhere?

That's a good point. I think we've been assuming she was because her picture is among the missing at the beginning of Endgame. But they thought Ant-Man had been dusted too. That five years must have been endless "I thought you'd been dusted!" reunions. And a whole lot of people in denial about someone unless there were witnesses.

So Sharon might have had five years of being presumed-dusted to hide out and become the Power Broker in Madripoor. There must have been a whole lot of people doing something like that, too.

Gotta give these writers credit for imagining that everyone returning would create a refugee crisis. I hadn't thought that or read anyone else who predicted it, but it seems satisfyingly obvious when you see it. It's kinda too good because it makes me and a lot of people wish the show was more about that.
posted by straight at 8:56 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


There's a dark MCU comedy to be made about someone who breaks bad and fakes being blipped to go underground.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:06 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Maybe Steve and Alt Universe Peggy lived their lives then right after they both died the govt unfroze Alt Universe Cap so he could be around for another 40 years and fight evil.
posted by emjaybee at 9:49 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Honestly the only way i would square it if he's in our timeline is that this is the one timeline where everything worked out (per Strange) and among the reasons why is steve (& peggy) compromising with the main arc of history and sabotaging all of hydra's long-running plots at every opportunity to set up the various lucky breaks.
posted by cendawanita at 10:22 PM on April 24


Maybe Steve and Alt Universe Peggy lived their lives then right after they both died the govt unfroze Alt Universe Cap so he could be around for another 40 years and fight evil.

You really gotta stretch your Caps out these days
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:55 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Maybe...he didn’t thaw that Steve out.

Obviously the only and obvious scenario is Steve^¹ definitely thawed out Steve^² and they all lived together with Peggy^² as a happy polycue. In this TED talk based on my 50,000 word AO3 fic I shall show-
posted by happyroach at 10:56 PM on April 24 [10 favorites]


I was a bit squicked out about the redemption arc that John Walker got—like two episodes he bludgeoned a man to death with his shield and then in this episode Cap and Bucky just joke around with him with no questions asked.

I mean, Clint killed way more people towards the beginning of Endgame (and this was not his first massacre). He didn't rejoin the Avengers until there was something in it for him--Nat told him he had a chance to get his family back. Nobody seemed to question bringing Clint back. I remember more skepticism about Thor for getting fat and depressed. Clint doesn't achieve much redemption-wise in the course of the movie, but by the end, we're supposed to be uncomplicatedly happy for him for getting his family back, and thrilled to see him again in the Hawkeye series. I dislike Walker and think he got cut more slack than he deserved. But his privilege is nothing compared to Protagonist Privilege in the MCU.

General thoughts about this series: I wish it had been better-written, because the actors were great and they deserved a more coherent story. I'm kind of glad that the next step is a movie, because I hope the shorter run-time means that they stick to the most important parts, and meander less. I think Wandavision was more tightly written, but had nothing in it that hit as hard as the scenes with Isaiah Bradley.
posted by creepygirl at 11:29 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


If this Screencrush theory (that Sharon's been the Power Broker/Hydra since we first met her in TWS) becomes MCU canon, I will cackle.
posted by cendawanita at 12:37 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Was Sharon snapped? Is there proof of it somewhere?

Her entry on the MCU wiki states that she was. I honestly have no recollection of any mention of it; as straight mentions above, there seems to be a brief view of her headshot when the Avengers are looking over the display listing the vanished about ten minutes into Endgame, but they were off the mark with Scott Lang.

Certainly in our mundane reality people have taken advantage of massive crises to drop out of sight; if Sharon is indeed a long-term villain, there’d be no better opportunity than this. Chaos is a ladder, but it’s also a slide.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:02 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]




i look forward to learning that “Power Broker” is a title. i think it’s perfectly acceptable for Sharon to have dethroned the previous one when _they_ were blipped. i am okay with her family reporting her dusted bc she never contacted them post-snap, giving her time to expand the PB’s existing empire with our future flag-smashers as her team.

i do not know why the power broker would be boots on the ground monitoring and performing their own assassinations. i do not know why sharon would have parties with people dancing with drinks so close to priceless artwork. i do not know why she was confiding in her driver as she got whisked away in epi 3.

i never watched revenge, but what i really struggled with was believing that woman onscreen led an internationally-renowned-madripoorian-based-crime-syndicate. i saw EVC’s performance as the least convincing of the cast. the authority simply didn’t come across for me.
posted by ovenmitt at 8:22 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Did Sharon appear at Stark’s funeral in that extended cameo sequence? Would be a bit of a plothole if she did and then had to disappear into hiding for basically what amounts to committing a clerical error.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:48 AM on April 25


Sharon was not there.

I gotta admit this whole Disney+ thing feels like having a box of comics in your room that you can just go back and look through any time you want.
posted by straight at 8:54 AM on April 25 [12 favorites]


I was also disappointed that the writing was weaker than the Captain America movies, but this show was swinging for the fences in ways that those movies never do. It's easier to write a rousing speech that you can believe would inspire people to stand up to Hydra. It's much harder to write a plea for why we ought to care about refugees and do hard things to take care of them that you can believe would inspire a politician to change their policies.

I'm struggling to think of another movie in which the hero stands over the body of their defeated foe and proclaims that, in spite of this battle, the enemy's cause was just.
posted by straight at 8:54 AM on April 25 [13 favorites]


yes, straight, i love having this entire catalogue at my fingertips! for anyone who grew up in the NY tri-state area in the 80s, i have audibly said “let’s go to the video-tape!” a la Warner Wolf many times throughout this series. i have confused several of my California friends when i’ve done it.
posted by ovenmitt at 9:10 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


SOMEBODY in the MCU needs to talk about this.

This is a series where Disney actually brought up race relations, asking them to tackle real-world religion would be even more challenging to them. (I shudder to think how live-action The Hunchback of Notre Dame will play out.)
So, in the end, the global elite remain in power, and the ones actually standing-up (however misguidedly) for the downtrodden are all dead.
Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly has a scathing yet thoughtful critique of this series with his usual pop cultural scholarship and dry wit:
[Carl] Lumby [Isaiah Bradley’s actor] starred in the one-season wonder M.A.N.T.I.S. back in the mid-90s, playing a paralyzed scientist with a high-tech exo-suit. That was also the era of Meteor Man, Spawn, and Blade. Big budgets arrived for superhero cinema right alongside overwhelming whiteness, so Lumbly's haunted gravity evoked the double erasures of American political history and onscreen genre history.
The Flag Smashers were your worst uncle's notion of Antifa, masked anti-everything flash-mobbers taking commands from their smartphones.
[Bucky] was brainwashed, like sci-fi brainwashed, with no control over his actions. It's not his fault [...]The tougher interpretation of a character like this would necessitate a sharper view the 20th century. It would require that this eternal warrior always thought he was doing the right thing, like so many predatory CIA agents and war-hawk presidents who made the world "safer" one napalm burst at a time.
Bucky told Yori he killed his son, and then the scene ended right when it should have started. [...] Sam is the new Captain America, which means a random government guy in a suit can walk up to him in the street and ask him to get the last Flag Smasher from the Hudson.
Who has the real power: The icon the public adores — or all those faceless government guys in their suits? Heroes and symbols can be flawed. But maybe the real problem is the pedestal, which gives the rubes something to worship while the real power brokers fly free.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:11 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Still chewing on it days later, I'd say I mostly loved this show. Walker's "redemption" would've been fine as just "he did the right thing for a minute." The banter at the end is what spoils it. We've seen Daredevil work alongside the Punisher without ever getting any sense of acceptance or being generally okay with what Frank does. The creators had examples to work with. That banter is only one moment in an otherwise okay arc, but man does it make the whole thing icky.

My main problem with the show is how it feels like the creators wanted the Flag-Smashers as a complicated antagonist for the sake of complexity, not because they really wanted to address something complicated.

In the end I think the show would've been better off with an unambiguous villain.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:02 AM on April 25


I mean, Clint killed way more people towards the beginning of Endgame (and this was not his first massacre). He didn't rejoin the Avengers until there was something in it for him--Nat told him he had a chance to get his family back. Nobody seemed to question bringing Clint back. I remember more skepticism about Thor for getting fat and depressed. Clint doesn't achieve much redemption-wise in the course of the movie, but by the end, we're supposed to be uncomplicatedly happy for him for getting his family back, and thrilled to see him again in the Hawkeye series.

I've said this in a lot of discussions, but fundamentally the only difference between the Punisher and Endgame Clint is that Clint is a member of the right clique.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:14 AM on April 25 [10 favorites]


This deserved more episodes. Why did it get six to WandaVision's nine?

I agree but I had been nursing a pet theory and this made me go check the data directly. I had been thinking that Disney/Marvel probably budgeted for a fixed amount of runtime and the showrunners then allocated it as they thought served the stories.

Excluding the end credits (7 minutes for FATWS, 7:45 for Wandavision) the total run time for the two series is almost identical: Falcon comes in at 279 minutes, Wandavision 284.

Of course given the realities of storytelling, fewer episodes probably means fewer Big Ideas you can tackle, which helps me at least appreciate how it can feel rushed despite a comparable total run time.
posted by range at 10:59 AM on April 25 [5 favorites]


Apocryphon, that Darren Franich article is interesting, but kind of scattershot, and not really accurate in some of the specifics. Take that one paragraph, for example:
[Carl] Lumby [Isaiah Bradley’s actor] starred in the one-season wonder M.A.N.T.I.S. back in the mid-90s, playing a paralyzed scientist with a high-tech exo-suit. That was also the era of Meteor Man, Spawn, and Blade. Big budgets arrived for superhero cinema right alongside overwhelming whiteness, so Lumbly's haunted gravity evoked the double erasures of American political history and onscreen genre history.
That is genuinely interesting, that in the nineties you had that set of superhero projects starring African-Americans, definitely more than we've had before or since. (Although, given that the current MCU lineup includes Sam, James Rhodes, Monica Rambeau, and... whoever succeeds T'Challa, that will change.) But the line about "Big budgets arrived for superhero cinema right alongside overwhelming whiteness" is, sorry, just horseshit; Spawn and the Blade movies were by no means low-budget productions, for their time. (The budget for the Blade movies actually went up with each subsequent installment.) I think that it's worth taking a little time to pick apart these projects, in this context:

- Blade: All of the movies made money, and we might have even had more, if Wesley Snipes hadn't gone to jail after sovereign-citizen-inspired tax evasion. He's talked about coming back to the character; who knows, it might happen.

- Spawn: product of Todd McFarlane, a white guy who gave his African-American protagonist a full-face mask with a crapload of scar tissue underneath it; Michael Jai White may have had more face time in The Dark Knight than he did in this movie. The movie was very poorly reviewed, the sequel has been in development hell for over two decades, and McFarlane is in general just a massive asshole.

- M.A.N.T.I.S.: A genuine waste of a real opportunity. The pilot featured mostly African-American actors, and a plot that was based on the then-recent LA riots, but the TV show basically ditched all that. I caught a few episodes, and really liked the design of the exoskeleton, but the plots were kind of meh.

- Meteor Man: maybe the biggest disappointment of the bunch. Robert Townsend couldn't seem to decide whether to make a blaxploitation tribute, an inspirational film, or a superhero parody, and even though it's got an incredible cast, that really just means that it's maybe the biggest waste of James Earl Jones' talent ever.

So, kind of a land of contrasts, and while racism might have had a role in the watering down of M.A.N.T.I.S., I don't think that the Hollywood Illuminati got together to decide to not give black people starring roles as superheroes in the 21st century. (You could also throw Steel in there if you wanted, although I don't blame Franich for, ah, overlooking that one.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:27 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]


i do not know why the power broker would be boots on the ground monitoring and performing their own assassinations.

That's one of the situations that fits perfectly in a comic book universe, but looks ridiculous outside of it. Leaders in comic book universes, both heroes & villains, tend to be very hands on.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:37 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


My other disappointment:I didn't hold out much hope for it, but I'm disappointed we haven't seen the most interesting part of comic-book Batroc get translated onto the screen.

Batroc is a bad guy, but he's a bad guy with limits. There's shit he won't do, and a point where he'll turn on an employer--and it's not a redemption, just a limit.

We could've seen that here. Even up until episode 1, we only see him act against military and spy agency types. A show of some limits would've been an interesting character beat, but instead we see no sign of it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:15 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


I don't think that the Hollywood Illuminati got together to decide to not give black people starring roles as superheroes in the 21st century.

Yeah, I agree that Franich's narrative seems to be more clever than accurate. Come to think of it, aside from Steel there was also Halley Berry's execrable Catwoman, which existed in the '00s following both of Sam Raimi first two seminal Spider-Man movies, clearly after the era of African American comic book movie heroes that he's bemoaning the supposed loss of. He also ignores the existence of Hancock, the incredibly rare example of an original superhero movie not based on a preexisting comic book.

I think some of his other criticisms are off the mark as well, (I thought Redwing Google Image face-searching for a helicopter pilot was nifty and took far more effort than lazy writing) and his final grade is far too harsh, but overall as with most of his writing, the review makes some good points.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:43 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


really good point, teegeeack.
posted by ovenmitt at 1:01 PM on April 25


Hmm. I seem to be a rare viewer who did not like the resolution to the Bradley arc. I don't think it should have had a resolution I guess. Guy is completely screwed by the military, sees his friends die, spends seven decades in poverty and hiding and bitterness, then is not just OK with a statue in a government museum but actually accepts it as amends? Maybe, but not guaranteed and I wish the show at least acknowledged that this was not necessarily the outcome he was looking for. He had far more grievances than just lack of recognition.

Overall I liked the series OK, not great. I love the leads. Action scenes could have been clearer and less confusing. I never really bought into the Sam/Karli connection. The importance of super hero costumes in this (Walker Captain America, Sam Captain America, and especially US Agent) seems a step in the wrong direction--up until now Marvel usually winked at the inherent silliness of costumes.

I do hope we see more of Sam.
posted by mark k at 2:23 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


That's a good analysis, Halloween Jack. I saw all of those movies at the time or not long after, and you're right about them.

I would add one thing, though, which is that all of these movies/shows came out before Hollywood was totally down with embracing comic book source material in all its comic book-ness.

Even so, for the most part I enjoyed the Blade movies, even the third one that many people disliked/mocked. Spawn tried really hard to be grim/dark, and wound up being pretty "meh." "Meteor Man" was likeable because of the cast, but didn't really work as either a comedy or an action/adventure/scifi movie.

And MANTIS (sorry, can't do all those periods) definitely was a missed opportunity. Carl Lumbly was and continues to be a very good actor and did a solid job with what he had to work with. The character had some similarities to Iron Man, with maybe a smidgen of Batman in the mix, and could have worked if they'd been willing to lean into the comicbook aspects of it a bit more.

(I think I still have the pilot movie of MANTIS on a VHS in a box somewhere....)
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:30 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Sam is the new Captain America, which means a random government guy in a suit can walk up to him in the street and ask him to get the last Flag Smasher from the Hudson.

We're supposed to be upset that someone turned to Sam, a pararescue airman, to help retrieve an injured combatant? I loved that the final beat, where they give you a glimpse of what Captain America is going to be doing in the future, was Sam flying off to rescue someone. Much better than charging off to fight the next bad guy.
posted by straight at 3:24 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


I don't think the random government guy asking for help means that Sam works at the will of the government at all. I think it was just an example of Sam being willing to help out.
posted by crossoverman at 6:00 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Excluding the end credits (7 minutes for FATWS, 7:45 for Wandavision) the total run time for the two series is almost identical: Falcon comes in at 279 minutes, Wandavision 284.

I also noticed this. I was thinking folks were given the budget of a Marvel movie for about twice the screen time. There are probably some economies of scale, so they probably don’t have to cut too many corners compared to a movie. I feel like this series would have been better if it were a little simpler and had more time for character moments. But it was meant to be the first of these D+ series, so maybe they were overstuffing it to make a big first impression.
posted by snofoam at 6:01 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I think it was just an example of Sam being willing to help out.

100% agree. "Can you help?" "Always." Hit me the same as Steve's last line in Civil War. "And if you need me, I'll be there." To me. this is nothing more complicated than Sam Wilson performing the office of Captain America to the utmost, and completing his pilgrimage along the Stations of the Shield. The other Heroic Labors of Captain America include but are not limited to:

1. At least one montage, training or otherwise

2. Making a plan for the whole super squad, which includes the element "Cap solos everything for as long as he can get away with it"

3. Refusing to fight a misguided enemy and letting them work it out on the shield

4. Agreeing to fight Batroc

5. Hurling the shield through a window then jumping out after it

7. Rescues > Violence

8. Giving everyone a TALKING TO
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:32 PM on April 25 [18 favorites]


Spent the weekend rewatching the MCU captain america stuff (though i skipped Ultron and i could barely remember to ffwd a lot of Endgame - what a victory lap of a movie) and while i still have my issues (as already mentioned), definitely having the same guys writing Steve Rogers since TFA meant I can't say his conclusion came out of nowhere: the man's barely kept a lid on his sadness/depression of being time-dislocated since he thawed out. It also meant the change in writers really showed (ie the Whedon ones) because he got the luxury to be consistent.

That said post-TWS, that team didn't really find anything interesting to say or do with Bucky, even when he's the object of pursuit for Civil War. So this series has truly been a gift just by comparison. Sam as well of course, but aside from the Ultron outing, on rewatch he too got to be rather consistent even if he got mostly the stalwart friend beats.
posted by cendawanita at 7:27 PM on April 25


Refusing to fight a misguided enemy and letting them work it out on the shield

Metaphor alert: the American shield is Privilege. Privilege means you can take a few hits in the service of de-escalating a fight.

Giving everyone a TALKING TO

**Turns chair around, sits down** "So you've taken some hostages..."
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:10 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


I think, as a whole, I ended up liking this series a lot. Bucky and Sam didn't really get a lot of characterization in the films. The one thing that doesn't work for me about the Winter Soldier (the film) is that Roger's relationship with Bucky never felt that well formed. I was impressed how this took a lot of time to establish both of them as well rounded characters, and enjoyed it's decision to make Sam's race actually matter; up until now there have been black characters in the MCU, but it has hardly informed who they are. You could argue that perhaps the decision to include these angles now is a little cynical, but it worked rather well.

I also liked Walker, as whole. I agree that in no way is he redeemed at the end. The show clearly doesn't want him to be an absolute villain: he's now a moustache twirling monster, but equally he's going to be happy to do whatever dirty work Contessa has for him.

Ultimately though I don't think the flag smashers and Carly worked very well as villains. The show didn't really want to engage with the huge body count that the avengers have built up, so the tension around trying to spare Carly was really off putting. While they did make a bit of an effort to show them (somewhat) non lethally taking down the other flag smashers, it's a bit weird that they focused so much on sparing the one person in that group who was pushing for more violent action. Carly is actually the only flag smasher who on screen murders people! Repeatedly! And attempts to do so again! She hires someone who wants to murder Sam! She threatens Sam's family! I don't think she should die because I don't think anyone should, but the weird line of her being the one to redeem just came across as odd. There's even a scene where she talks about murdering the GRC leaders, and everyone look horrified, but the pay off is that the people who were horrified get murdered in an explosion from Zemo.

Still, I think the show accomplished the main outcome, which is that I'd definitely like to see what Sam and Bucky get up to next, and I'm also keen to see Zemo again, which definitely wasn't an opinion I had before this series aired
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:17 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


I probably wouldn't have watched this at all if I hadn't gotten sucked in by WandaVision, which made me go back and watch all the MCU movies over the last couple of months. Even still, going into this I was meh on MCU Captain America, indifferent toward Sam's Falcon, and not interested at all in Bucky. But this was good enough that I'd be interested to see a movie with Sam's Captain America and Bucky as his sidekick. So good work, Disney+ marketing.
posted by skewed at 7:21 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


There's a lot to be said and needs to be said but really for me it all comes back to "this was fine."

I can't say it was good though but I think that what we got, in the midst of a pandemic, was fine entertainment.

I appreciate that media is attempting to broach serious subjects and even more so that Marvel and Disney are frontrunners. They're certainly not perfect but they are giving it a go, be it for profit or possibly a bit of altruism the effect is the same. There is a Black Captain America soon to be joined by a young Black Ironman(heart), a young Pakistani Ms Marvel and Jane Foster likely wielding mjolnir.

The New Avengers are actually starting to look a bit more like the world they are protecting.
posted by M Edward at 8:33 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


the tension around trying to spare Carly was really off putting...the weird line of her being the one to redeem just came across as odd.

Yeah, it kinda had the same energy as the Solo movie where there's this villain that you thought was evil, but the mask comes off and it's actually an attractive young woman. Which the movie intends as a reveal demonstrating that the character isn't actually evil.

And in fact both characters are played by Erin Kellyman.
posted by straight at 1:25 PM on April 27 [7 favorites]


I'm glad you all liked it, but the series just did not work for me.

I guess all it took for Bucky and Sam to put aside their differences and be friends was the 'building a boat' montage? Differences that were barely defined and seemed to only exist so that they could have bad snipe-y banter at each other.

They're completely unwilling to explore the two catastrophes of blip and unblip, where apparently countries and borders collapsed and then were reformed. Because of this, Karli's motivations are completely ill-defined. Instead they give us another Killmonger-style villain who is not remotely villainous until they kill some people for little to no reason.

It's full nonsense that the GRC isn't going to do whatever they were planning to do because Captain America gave a little speech.

Similarly it's absurd that Isaiah would be happy with a statue in a museum as a make-good.
posted by graventy at 11:59 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Similarly it's absurd that Isaiah would be happy with a statue in a museum as a make-good.

I've heard this complaint a lot and, yeah, it's barely adequate but it's difficult for him to claim anything else, since he's been declared dead. I also think recognition is a big step, given how white-washed the history of Western countries are; getting a room in the Smithsonian is pretty big. Given how much Isaiah defined his trauma around his history being erased, the statue and a whole room about his platoon is major.

In the real world, you'd want him to sue and get a multi-million dollar pay-out. In a superhero show, a room in a museum is the equivalent - since we all know that superheroes don't do it for the money. They do it for exposure. *cough, cough*
posted by crossoverman at 7:52 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


In the real world, you'd want him to sue and get a multi-million dollar pay-out. In a superhero show, a room in a museum is the equivalent - since we all know that superheroes don't do it for the money. They do it for exposure. *cough, cough*

Tony Stark is a billionaire, didn't he set up a stipend? I mean come on.

We've seen Avengers toys in previous movies. The merchandising alone should have made Captain Flap Flap rich. Where were Tony's lawyers?

I suppose all his accounts could have been seized when we went on the run with Steve, and then he got blipped.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:08 PM on April 28


Also in Wandavision, Vision's corpse is said to be worth $3 billion USD. So the shield should have been worth a few mil just in raw materials. Plus his new Wakandan suit makes Captain Flap Flap uber rich, even though it's not a liquid asset.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:11 PM on April 28


For Isaiah...I guess I don’t insist that stories end in Absolute Justice, which is probably why Wandavision’s ending also didn’t completely bother me (other than Monica’s line.) I think it’s possible for Isaiah to cry at the statue *and* be just as bitter and angry the following week, and I don’t need the superhero movie to address that for me (but will discuss with friends ad nauseam!)
posted by warriorqueen at 4:31 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Tony Stark is a billionaire, didn't he set up a stipend? I mean come on.

I can't remember, was this mentioned in Avengers 1 or 2? Mind you, Sam was also Team!Cap ie anti-Accords, so likely the paperwork for all the cushy possible benefits got cut the moment Tony decided to make nice with the government, and the timeline got way too hectic after that with Thanos that it was never sorted or restored (since that's a private action by a well-off citizen who's dead now--and for plot/character reasons Pepper never revisited this and Sam never pursued, but textually also Tony+Pep broke up during Civil War so she might not even be aware--compared to the public pardon by the govt).

But that's all handwavium stuff to me personally. I was watching this video essay by HiTopFilms (he liked it) and he included an audio interview clip from Malcolm Spellman and apparently that narrative choice (the Wilsons being financially unstable) was the one story beat that got everyone from Feige upwards starting a whole corporate back-and-forth and production notes about it. He didn't cite the interview so idk where it's from but in that essay it's at the section from 2:56 specifically 3:30.
posted by cendawanita at 5:00 AM on April 29


Huh, now that i typed it all out and rewatched that bank scene, i wonder if this is another deliberate story link between Sam and Karli, who in this story is the one we saw was being supported by nameless civilians who believed in her cause, just like how Sam explained how his circle of Avengers got by.
posted by cendawanita at 5:08 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Captain Flap Flap

This seems oddly hostile and very dismissive of the first Black Captain America. Especially when you call all the white characters by their proper names. Probably not intentional, but definitely noticeable.
posted by cooker girl at 6:50 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


Interesting and long interview with FatWS showrunner at Fade to Black. There's various good nuggets there, great for background noise while doing something else. My biggest take away is that there's a lot going in the future with the MCU in general and of course Sam and Bucky, that he can't talk about. There's a lot of pauses and what as he's thinking about what he's allowed to say.


nd for plot/character reasons Pepper never revisited this and Sam never pursued, but textually also Tony+Pep broke up during Civil War so she might not even be aware--compared to the public pardon by the govt

Pepper was known for running Stark's business and being very good at i, so she definitely knows where money was going and why. Plus they had a kid together, so they no doubt talked. Plus Pepper fought with everyone at the big battle. Plus Pepper is a billionaire.

So it's incredibly difficult to believe that she wouldn't be like "Hey, how is everyone? I'm setting up this ranch, y'all hang out here while we figure stuff out. Here's a stipend, take it easy, relax, help clear some debris, get some therapy. Whatever deal you had with Tony is in place till we regroup."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


That's true, though is six months ample time between all the grieving she's probably doing herself? She's no Wanda, I'm sure but there's enough handwavium there. Plus as a character, would Sam go out of his way to collect, and from his (emotional) pov, he's been on the run from the govt and Stark (such as it is, being associated with the Accords) longer than he's back to being pals, invitation to the funeral aside? I've already written off Bucky to be such a character.
posted by cendawanita at 9:40 AM on April 29


Having just rewatched Infinity War, the confrontation between Captain America's crew and Secretary of State Thunderbolt Ross was a lot more heated than I remembered, with the latter declaring, "The world's on fire, and you think all's forgiven?" With a legendary stick-up-his-ass character like that in charge, it now makes sense to me why Sharon Carter could have been so persecuted by the U.S. government just for some light treason of aiding and abetting Cap and co.

Still think the reconciliation between Rogers and Stark was way too quick and easy and glossed over. It makes sense given that it was a 3 hour movie with cosmic stakes, but it really minimizes the impact of Civil War, leaving regular people like Sharon and Zemo to have to deal with that movie's consequences- which is what this show is for, I suppose.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:59 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Upon recent rewatch I've been struck by how many of the preceding MCU movies, Winter Soldier excepted, sort of give Sam the short shift. He's not comedy relief, but he's often backgrounded, especially relative to his later importance. After War Machine is downed in Civil War, Stark just unceremoniously blows him away. Even at the end of the Infinity War with the Snap, he doesn't get a tearful dusting while others holds him in his arms! (Rhodes just walks around going "Where's Sam?" while the future Captain America fades away, unnoticed.)

A supercut of all of the Falcon's scenes in those movies would involve him cracking wise, which is refreshing compared to Steve Rogers' straight-laced demeanor, but also emphasizing how he's a secondary sidekick compared to say Bucky, who gets a lot more backstory and character development. Humble beginnings, I guess.

Though Falcon anonymously disappearing is a nice unintentional echo to Steve Rogers originally being MIA for seventy years. I haven't rewatched Endgame yet so maybe he gets more material after Stark's snap.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:17 AM on April 29


Still think the reconciliation between Rogers and Stark was way too quick and easy and glossed over. It makes sense given that it was a 3 hour movie with cosmic stakes, but it really minimizes the impact of Civil War,

They had five years of not speaking to each other to get over some of the anger and hurt and were finally brought back together by some of the things that matter the most to them (Steve: saving Bucky, saving the world; Tony: solving an impossible tech problem, saving Peter and Rhodey, redeeming himself for failing to beat Thanos). I thought it was neither quick nor easy.
posted by straight at 3:15 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


This seems oddly hostile and very dismissive of the first Black Captain America. Especially when you call all the white characters by their proper names. Probably not intentional, but definitely noticeable.

Not intentionally - I like the show. But I apologise.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:10 PM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Have we discussed outfit colours yet?

walker!Cap's uniform is mostly blue and conspicuously lacks the colour white. US Agent's uniform is mostly black.

wilson!Cap's uniform is predominantly coloured white.

The colour white in the US flag is traditionally attributed to "purity and innocence" (and blue "vigilance, perseverance and justice").

wilson!Cap is going to have his heart broken shattered in a dramatic fashion, isn't he?
posted by porpoise at 9:28 PM on April 29


Huh, now that i typed it all out and rewatched that bank scene, i wonder if this is another deliberate story link between Sam and Karli, who in this story is the one we saw was being supported by nameless civilians who believed in her cause, just like how Sam explained how his circle of Avengers got by.

The bank scene with Sam and Sarah is also explicitly linked to the bank robbery by the Flag Smashers in the first episode. Sam can't get money through legal means; Karli knows how to steal it for her cause.
posted by crossoverman at 11:13 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Well, this episode was a mess.

I felt that some of this series was great, especially episodes two and five. But some of it was close to incoherent, especially episodes three and six.

Both this show and WandaVision came close to being brilliant. I enjoyed both of them, and both had individual episodes that not only lived up to but surpassed the promise of their premise. But both also stumbled into unforced errors by the end.
posted by kyrademon at 6:35 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]


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