The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 3 “Power Broker” Review

As always, the following review/recap for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will include SPOILERS! Read on at your own discretion.

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Sam and Bucky break Zemo out of prison in order to investigate the provenance of the new super solider serum, meeting an old friend on the way. In the meantime, Karli proceeds with her own plans to help the people.

My thoughts?

Can you believe we have already reached the halfway point of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? The plot keeps on moving, clearing some things up while also raising new questions. This episode felt a bit slower to me than previous ones. There were a lot of locations involved with beautiful but lengthy exhibition shots that felt like filler and made it seem a bit scattered at times. Still, I cannot help but praise the stunt coordinators and choreographers, because every episode delivers on top notch action scenes that never get boring to watch.

We’re also at a point in the show where we have met most (but not all) the important players and it becomes more difficult to balance showcasing each character each episode. I enjoy that they, for example, had very few shots of John Walker this episode, because he got a lot of screen time last week. Instead, we meet old friends and new foes. Let’s dive into everything in a bit more detail.

  • We start off the episode with an ad (which we should be accustomed to from WandaVision by now, but always feels a bit odd to me still) for the Global Repatriation Council – or GRC in short. This organisation is supposed to help people who have returned find their footing in this new and changed world again. They make it look wholesome and good, but Karli and her group know that people are forced to live in crowded camps, getting little to no medical assistance and that governments regularly withhold necessary provisions.
    We also get introduced to someone dear to Karli, who ultimately dies because of the conditions at the camp, furthering her struggle. It adds more depth to Karli’s and the Flag Smasher’s rebellion and explains why people want to rally behind them. During a heist for provisions, Karli shows that she is done playing nice though, causing an explosion and killing several people in a building and therefore proving that she is dangerous in her grief. If she isn’t careful, it could soon create doubt in her character as I don’t believe everyone will like her radicalization.
  • All the while John Walker and Hoskins are scrambling for clues concerning the super soldier serum, showing a growing darkness and Walker getting more unhinged, Bucky and Sam follow their own lead by visiting Zemo. I think the show gave Zemo a great reintroduction to the universe, making his character shine in his own way. There wasn’t too much detail we knew about him, but he now carries himself with more bravado and charm than what I remember from the movie. His prison break was well crafted (when did Bucky have time to set all that up?) and he is sure to cause much tension. There is no way he can be trusted, but within a couple scenes he proves that he is useful (and not just because it turns out he is filthy rich).
credit: Marvel Studios

Once the new team consisting of Sam, Bucky and Zemo arrives in Madripoor, this is where things really kick off. So much information is learned there, but as always I’m going to try and break it off into smaller bits and pieces:

  • In order to not get immediately killed, the threesome have to pretend to be their old selves or someone different entirely. While Sam offers some great humor-filled scenes as The Smiling Tiger, it was jarring to see Bucky having to be the Winter Soldier again. Aside from people filming this and me worrying that the footage getting out could possibly nullify his pardon, I cannot imagine this didn’t take a toll on his mental well being. It warmed my heart to see Sam constantly checking in with him to ask if he was okay. They can pretend to be annoyed by each other all they want, but in the end, they care!
  • Things get a bit more complicated from here on out and I hope I won’t make it too confusing. It basically boils down to the boys making a mess and having a bounty put on their heads, them learning about the doctor who created the serum and having to get saved by the one and only Sharon Carter.
    She is different from when we last saw her. After being on the run for years and still not welcome in her home country, she is disillusioned of star-spangled awesomeness and has hustled her way up in Madripoor instead. She doesn’t hesitate to tell things as they are and the boys probably couldn’t have made five steps in that city without her. Sam ultimately convinces her to help them in exchange for a pardon from the US government. I’m not sure he has the sway to really make that happen, but she does agree to it.
  • Once they find Dr. Wilfred Nagel, (a reference to the comic book doctor who actually gave Isaiah his super strength) we learn that he was originally recruited by the CIA and was given genetic material from Isaiah in order to recreate the serum. After the blip, his project had been abandoned and he was employed by the Power Broker to continue his work. Zemo, who likely doesn’t want to see any more super soldiers in his lifetime and has made a point about how people glorify them and put them on a pedestal, goes to the drastic measure of simply killing Dr. Nagel and destroying the entire lab. It takes a shootout with the mercenaries that are at their heels to get them out of that place.
  • So, who is the Power Broker? There’s many theories going around about this. We know the Power Broker is an independent third party, not affiliated with a government. They have considerable amount of money and obviously power. They, too, are on the hunt for Karli since she stole the serum, but who is behind them? My bet is on Sharon Carter herself for now.
    Her appearance was mighty convenient and the way she exited those docks seemed like she was backed by someone powerful, or is possibly that powerful person herself. As always, I could definitely be wrong, but I also wouldn’t necessarily be surprised. I don’t think it would make her villain either. She had to do what she did to survive and no one can blame her for thriving and being good at what she does. Did you see how she took out a dozen mercenaries by herself? I would not mess with her.
credit: Marvel Studios

The entire ordeal in Madripoor made Sam reconsider his stance on the shield. He felt like he shouldn’t have given it up to the museum, but rather should have destroyed it, to which Bucky immediately replies that it has too much meaning and that he would rather take it for himself to become the new Cap than see it gone entirely. Such a small statement, and yet it carries so many implications with it. We know that Sam doesn’t feel ready to carry the shield, despite Steve having left it to him. Imposter syndrome is real and we have additionally seen the struggles he faces because of race and how a Black super soldier was treated by the government before, I understand his hesitations 100%, but I also think that statement hurt him a little bit. There was this flicker in his eyes and I hope it was the spark needed to get Sam Wilson on the road to actually becoming Captain America one day! It’s the ride I am here for.

Towards the end of the episode, we see Walker and Hoskins puzzling together the pieces of Zemo’s prison break with them going off the books and on the hunt for Sam and Bucky. I would be surprised if this doesn’t end in some sort of showdown between the duos.

At the same time, Sam, Bucky and Zemo are following their next lead already. When Bucky first said he needed to go for a walk to get some air, I thought he actually needed alone time (silly me), but he found trackers like bread crumbs and followed them to let us meet another surprise appearance – Ayo!
As Sam mentioned earlier on in the episode, Wakanda would not take lightly to Zemo being freed. Ayo, as part of the Dora Milaje, having been King T’Chaka’s security detail on that fateful day in Vienna when Zemo caused his death, would definitely be the last person to let his escape slide. I loved that Bucky immediately recognized the Wakandan tech and I’m very interested to see how he is going to stall her so she won’t go killing Zemo while he needs him. They definitely left us on a great cliffhanger here.

credit: Marvel Studios

Ultimately, I keep enjoying the show. I keep feeling engaged by the storyline and wanting to know what happens next. I am not trying to decipher as much as I did with WandaVision and rather try to just enjoy the ride, hoping that they will make it all come together in the end. By now, they have so much previous history to consider and need to be careful not to contradict themselves, but by adding small and fun callbacks to old scenes (e.g. the mention of “Travel Man” by Marvin Gaye or Sam/Bucky refusing to move the car seat for the other person, …) they seem to be on the right way, making it all feel connected.

Side note: Marvel has got to stop putting their characters all over the world and then having the actors and glorified extras butcher the languages. It’s painful and completely takes you out of the setting at times, because all authenticity is gone. I appreciate the efforts of making it global, because the world is larger than the US, but there’s a better way to do that.


PREVIOUS THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS


What did you think of this week’s episode? Are you enjoying the show? Let’s talk!

WandaVision: Episode 3 “Now in Color” Review

As promised, I am back with another WandaVision review! As with the previous post, I would like to point out that this is meant to be read after watching the episode to avoid any kind of spoilers. I will not hold back!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

After discovering Wanda’s fast pregnancy, the pair tries to prepare for the imminent birth as best as possible, all the while fighting off their growing suspicions of something being off in Westview.

My thoughts?

As we are hurtling through the decades with WandaVision, now squarely in the 70s, I adore how easily recognizable they make their inspiration in terms of intro and style of the episode. This time we clearly got an homage to the Brady Bunch, which seems fitting as it was the birth of the (at least to Wanda and Vision) unexpected twins.

In the comics, their sons William and Thomas (on the show only lovingly called Billy and Tommy for now) mirror the powers of Wanda and her late twin brother Pietro. It will be interesting to see where they go with the boys on the show as their lore in Marvel history thus far is quite scattered. It does, however, point to the much suggested involvement of Mephisto in whatever is happening to Wanda. Since it has been said that WandaVision will also heavily tie into Doctor Strange’s Multiverse of Madness and Mephisto is a main antagonist of Doctor Strange (and often Spider-Man too) as well as Stephen Strange being a big part of the twins’ lives, things are shaping up to go even more into that direction. We shall see!

credit: Marvel Studios

I do enjoy the general progression of the show! Much of the appeal is due to the dichotomy between fun, silly sitcom tropes and the complete tonal shift to dread and more serious matters. Both, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, deserve a tremendous amount of praise for how quickly they manage to switch between these contrasting emotions and portrayals. It’s often quite chilling to go from discomfort to bliss in an instant. I wasn’t sure how soon they would get into the nitty-gritty of their world, but I thought there were some incredible revelations this week.

I’ve mentioned before that I believed that important moments were shown mostly through Wanda’s eyes, but this week had an interesting shift to include major moments with Vision alone. He seems to be more plagued by whatever is off about their town and neighbors than Wanda is, which makes sense in that we believe she is partially responsible for what is going on. Once again, he got cut off by Wanda when he started asking too many questions (prompting me to believe my internet wasn’t working right, when it really was some smart editing choices). It shows an awareness and consciousness on his part that I probably did not expect in a character that is supposed to be deceased and possibly only imaginary.

This time, I have no useful theory about the “commercial break”. It was obviously a Hydra reference again, prompting the potential customers to find their inner goddess. If my suggestions last time had been correct, with the ads pointing to significant events in Wanda’s life in chronological order, there should have been an Ultron or Quicksilver reference, but we got that from Geraldine instead.

UPDATE on Hyrda Soak and it’s possible connection to previous Marvel content:

credit: Marvel Studios

While Vision was off on his own, getting warnings about Geraldine having no home, family or husband in Westview, Wanda also had a confrontation with the very same woman. If the final scenes of the episode are anything to go by, it looks like Westview is a very real town, but shut off from the rest of the world and suspended in old-timey sitcom bliss. Whoever lives there is bound to it and cannot leave. It looked like Wanda was not pleased to have her possibly self-made reality disturbed by a S.W.O.R.D. agent and therefore kicked Geraldine/Monica out, once again confirming that she has tremendous power over what is happening.

Now that we know all that, I simply have to wonder why Agnes and Herb showed concern about Geraldine’s presence in Westview and why Agnes stopped Herb from saying anything more to Vision. Clearly, they are stuck in that town as well, but do they not want to get out or are they worried that confronting Wanda (and Vision) with reality would end up putting them in danger? As Agnes is rumored to be Agatha Harkness, a fellow witch and potential villain, she might also have her own interest at heart in keeping Wanda put. It’s fair to say that I am curious! While the episode definitely answered some questions, it also opened up an onslaught of new ones!

I have to say, I wish they would continue with airing two episodes each week. On the one hand, I am glad that I am forced to be patient instead of binging it all in one go and then being miserable it’s all over, but on the other hand, 30-minute-long episodes are just not enough. This show is so much fun and so brilliantly intricate, I just want more.


Are you all caught up on WandaVision? Did you enjoy their take on the 70s? Let’s chat!

Doctor Who: Thin Ice

I know, I’ve been pretty quiet this week, but I wouldn’t miss Doctor Who! Even though it has just been a cold, it has drained pretty much all of my energy and concentration, which is why I didn’t do more than the necessary these past days (hence no new posts and no reading). However, here is my review for episode 3 of series 10 called Thin Ice! Spoilers ahead!

What was it about?

The TARDIS traps the Doctor and Bill in London 1814 to save an extraterrestrial sea creature and some street urchins.

My thoughts?

So, I enjoyed Thin Ice more than Smile, but still did not love it. I think my biggest problem with the season so far is that I really don’t care about the episode plots. It just all feels like “seen it/done it before” and that’s no fun. Just think about it, “extraterrestrial creature gets trapped and the Doctor can’t make the decision for humanity on what to do about it, his companion has to make the tough call”. Haven’t you heard that before? Just to name some recent examples, I will give you Clara and the moon egg story in Kill the Moon, where she has to decide whether to kill the creature that is supposed to hatch from the egg or endanger humanity by letting it live and possibly destroy the moon. I mean, the Doctor almost gave 1:1 the same speech about serving humanity but not making their decisions for them. Or we have Amy and the space whale in The Beast Below, which comes even closer to this because of the nautical aspect of Thin Ice (whale – sea creature … you know?). The space whale was feeling lonely and he didn’t want to hurt anyone, so he didn’t when he was set free just like the creature in this episode didn’t go on to eat half of London. Also, I almost mentioned The Beast Below last week because it again was an episode with a human colonization in space … very similar to what was happening in Smile. I just keep having these constant flashbacks to things I have already seen in Moffat’s time as showrunner.

What I am trying to say here is that the episodes aren’t crafted in a bad way, but their content doesn’t feel original. They follow pretty typical Doctor-Who-standards and are fun to watch, but not if you can still remember almost every single episode from the past 12 years. I feel like I am being especially hard on this season because it’s Moffat’s final one and he didn’t give us any new Who in 2016 because he wanted to go out with a bang … so, I am waiting for that darn bang. And I can see it coming, I know that the vault story is holding something big! (Who else thought of the Master when they heard the knocking?) But until then they really need to step up their game with the weekly topics, because I adore Bill and her interactions with the Doctor. She keeps asking all the right questions and challenges the Doctor while also bringing out his softer side again. I think she’s good for him and she feels like such a natural addition to this world, like she was always meant to fit in. And Twelve said some beautiful, note-worthy and very quotable stuff.

“History is a white wash.”

“I am 2000 years old and I never had the time for the luxury of outrage.”

I loved his speech about being defined as a species by how much we cared for the unimportant people, how much we value those without privilege. The Doctor has never met anyone who wasn’t important, if I recall those words correctly from Eleven’s time, and that is how I like to go through life as well. He was also hilarious when he gave Bill that lecture about diplomacy winning over passion, but then he downright knocked the guy out who insulted her. The Bill-Doctor-relationship already feels very special and I so appreciate that. I want more of that!

So, next week has some House of Anubis vibes for me, but we will see what it holds in store. Maybe I will finally get an episode that doesn’t constantly remind of the past? Oh, but one final thing, a virtual jammie dodger for anyone who can tell me who Pete is!

What did you think of Thin Ice? Did you enjoy the episode? Any and all thoughts are welcome!