The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 1 “New World Order” Review

As promised, today marks the start for the Falcon and Winter Soldier reviews/recaps. As with WandaVision, these posts will be full of SPOILERS, so please beware. Hope you’re all caught up on your Marvel Legends (or the entire movies), so let’s dive in!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Sam and Bucky both deal with the repercussions of Endgame and the changed world they live in on their own terms.

My thoughts?

The showrunner for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier made it very clear that this would be an anti-thesis to WandaVision (although, according to reports, it will still be connected to no less than three other MCU projects) in every way and I was prepared for that. There are going to be only 6 episodes in this series, however, they are all longer than any of the WandaVision episodes were. From trailers alone, you knew this was looking more like a buddy-cop-action-type storyline and what else would you expect from Sam and Bucky? Still, this first episode caught me off guard in a couple ways, so let’s dive in.

First of all, this episode there is zero interaction between Sam and Bucky. I’d just like to get that out of the way. I honestly thought we would start with them already being a team right away, but easing us into what TFATWS would be about was probably a better call. It’s a very humanizing show, giving us a look at the men behind the masks and suits, while still delivering on copious lengthy action sequences (what a great fist 10 minutes!) that are so very Marvel and adding that dose of humour that comes so natural with characters like Sam and Bucky.

credit: Marvel Studios

I did this thing in previous reviews/recaps where I broke down the show into it’s smaller parts and I’d like to do that here as well, but make it about the characters. Let’s start with what we learned about Sam’s state of mind and future storyline in the show:

  • After having returned from the blip, Sam has now already worked with the Air Force for 6 months. A new addition to the MCU here is Torres, an intelligence officer Sam works with, charmingly played by Danny Ramirez. If that name is any indication, he might be based on comic book Joaquín Torres, who eventually became the Falcon’s successor. He definitely looks up to Sam already and is involved in one of the villain plotlines.
  • Speaking of villains, Sam’s POV introduces us to the Flag Smashers, a group of people who thought the world was better during the blip (with less people) and want a world without borders, therefore gathering growing support. We only saw a glimpse of them so far, but they definitely seem to be physically stronger than an average person should be. The reason behind that is still unknown.
  • While I always liked Sam Wilson, I felt like I learned much more about him in this one episode than in previous movies. We meet his family (his sister and two nephews), find out about his family’s business and their struggles. It’s heartbreaking to learn that heroes don’t really get paid and that they are in the process of losing everything their family had worked for. They deserve better.
    I do realize that the bank scene is about systematic racism (why would the only reason Sam be well known be that he’s a Football player?) and the terrible treatment of veterans, but I still think Tony/Pepper should have set up a fund for the Avengers/heroes years ago. I know that all of Civil War was basically about how the governments didn’t want them to be a private army, but someone HAS to pay them and the Starks are rolling in money. The sentiment “it’s not a job, it’s a responsibility” is nice and all, but clearly you can’t live off of that.
  • I liked the little moment between Sam and Rhodey we got! They were once on different sides of the whole civil war, but now they have also both lost their best friends. I enjoyed seeing them connect and have a friendship of their own. I will always be in favor of Sam having people in his corner, which Rhodey seems to be since he asked him about why he gave up the shield.
  • Most importantly though, we need to talk about the shield. Sam never felt like it was his, but when I saw him hand it over to the Smithsonian in honor of an exhibition for Cap, it felt like he was coerced into giving it up, because someone mentioned “you made the right call in handing it over”. Even in that scene, it didn’t sit right with me, because while Sam might not have been ready to take up the mantle as the new Captain America, Steve intended for him to have it. It was even more grueling when the US announced their new Captain America, John Walker (played by Wyatt Russell, whose dad was also part of the MCU and played Ego, Starlord’s father) at the end of the episode and they had given him the shield. It was a pure insult to Sam and I suspect that this is how the show intends to tackle the topic of race and patriotism.
credit: Marvel Studios

All the while Bucky has to deal with his own demons. As mentioned above, I didn’t expect it to start off so separated, but it was still good to get a feel of where everyone is at. Let’s break it down again:

  • Bucky is where he is supposed to be – in therapy! As he said himself, he had a little calm in Wakanda (a place he loves), but has mostly fought for 90 years and done little else. Sure, the therapy might be a condition of his pardon to make sure he is not a danger anymore, but it’s still necessary. There’s so much to work through and I love the rules that he has to abide to in order to make amends, whether they are working for him or not.
    • Rule 1: don’t do anything illegal
    • Rule 2: no one gets hurt
    • Rule 3: *whole speech about making amends* “I am no longer the Winter Soldier. I am James Bucky Barnes and you are part of my efforts to make amends”
  • While he is really trying to rectify some of the things he has done, he is still plagued by nightmares. His therapist critiqued that he has no friends (and seems to be ignoring Sam’s texts), but we learn he is actually quite close with a 90-year-old man called Yori.
    They are the perfect combination of two grumpy old men buddies and Yori even proves to be an amazing wingman when he secures Bucky a date (it was adorably awkward! He brought flowers). However, I think all of our hearts broke when it clicked that Bucky (as Winter Soldier) was responsible for Yori’s son’s death, making that the reason Bucky got close to him in the first place. It feels similar to him having been responsible for the death of Tony’s parents and like something he might not be able to make amends for, even if he was not in control of himself at the time.
  • Ultimately, it seems that Bucky is still filled with guilt and on top of that, has no clue how to live as a civilian with freedom again. It especially shows that he is struggling when his age comes into play. He is 106 years old after all, even if he doesn’t look it and this is a vastly changed world from the one he was used to when he was last a civilian.

So, this show is set several months after Endgame, which also puts it several months after WandaVision. I do wonder if that will ever be mentioned, but am not sure it fits with what they are trying to tell here. All in all, I think it was a more than solid start to the show and am looking forward to what’s to come.


What did you think of the pilot episode for the Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Would you like me to continue with the reviews/recaps every week? Let’s talk!

15 thoughts on “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 1 “New World Order” Review

  1. I love that we get a look at the men behind the masks (those are my favourite story lines). I believe in the comics the original avengers did get a salary (I didn’t read them, but I did pick some of the ‘New Avengers’ issues up, and when Tony says he cannot finance it, Steve says ‘So don’t. No more salary. No more tech. We never needed it.’
    Wasn’t this one originally supposed to come out before Wandavision? So I guess they won’t mention those events (unless they did some reshoots of course).

    Like

    • I love it when they show the people behind the facade as well. It just adds so much more depth to the characters.
      Well, I can’t really speak to the comics that much. I love Cap being all “this isn’t a job, it’s a responsibility”, but with families and personal lives on the line, they still need money. Everyone (unfortunately) needs money and it would have made the most sense for Tony (or Pepper afterwards) to set up some kind of fund for the Avengers. However, I also think it shouldn’t matter to the bank if someone had income the past 5 years considering that literally half the planet was blipped. It makes zero sense, even if that clerk said they struggled due to the many reappearances.
      Honestly, I got so muddled with the timelines. I don’t even know anymore what was supposed to be when. But I think all the shows did minor reshoots? Could be wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that I’ve finally caught up I’ve got thoughts and I am still raging at that ending.

    To start, I love that they explained more about the superhero financial situation. I was so shocked to find out that there was no fund for the heroes. Also, getting to see more of Sam’s family really did remind us of the human behind the hero. It’s easy to forget that Sam doesn’t actually possess any special power, just has an abundance of high tech equipment at his disposal.

    I actually liked that they kept Sam and Bucky separate for this episode because it gave us that chance to really get into their heads and check in with them mentally before things kick off again.

    I was so happy when I saw Bucky in therapy. With everything he’s gone through, he needs it, even if he only begrudgingly attends. I think this limbo where Bucky has to basically live his life while grappling with the guilt of his actions is so fitting and I really hope we get to see him try to reconcile his new reality more.

    That ending! I have never raged so much. It’s the biggest slap in the face for Sam and such an insult to Steve’s memory. They really did a great job with that reveal and using the start of the episode to remind us of the weight of carrying the shield really hit home the total insult this cheap gesture is to the legacy of the shield.

    To conclude this essay, Torres must be protected at all times!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get that the Avengers aren’t part of one country technically, because like 107 or something have signed the Socovia Accords and not all heroes signed those, but SOME governments need to pay them? I still stand by the fact that it would have made sense to just give a large portion of Tony’s inheritance to them haha but people got really mad at anyone suggesting he should pay.

      I also liked that they kept them apart for this first episode, it’s just not what I initially expected this show to look like. I thought we would start right in the action with the both of them.

      We are ALL mad at the ending haha most hated character without so much as a speaking line. I don’t know how much you know about John Walker, but he is US Agent in the comics and also at one point has the mantle of Captain America. So, I suppose this is in line with comic books, but a disrespect to Sam.

      Yes, Torres must be protected! We all had him for one episode and would give our lives for him haha

      Like

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