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!

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 373

Again, but Better is a book with very mixed reviews, yet I felt absolutely compelled to pick it up for myself, because Christine Riccio was one of a handful of booktubers who inspired me to get into (book) blogging. (I even thought about doing the whole video set up, but then just was so disappointed with the light in my room, my lack of equipment, etc., I switched to plain writing my thoughts out on the blog) When it was announced that she was going to release her first book, I was all in! That book could have probably been a horror mystery thriller (a mix of all the things I do not like) and I still would have read it … maybe.

So, it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to anyone that I did not read the blurb properly …

I just want to start out by saying that I thought and was pretty sure that this book was a contemporary YA … but it’s not? I would class this more in the NA age group, because the main character is definitely in her twenties, although it still has great coming-of-age characteristics that many of us YA readers like. But, that’s not the big shocker, I just really wasn’t prepared for there being any sort of magical element (despite it literally saying so in the blurb). It’s still very much contemporary, but it has a magically twisty component. With my expectations being so totally off for this book, I think I was just sort of thrown for a loop there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just felt … off?

I debated for a long time how I could possibly review this book, but I think I just have to resort to the good old “things I liked/disliked”-list situation, because I really feel a lot of different things.

WHAT I LIKED

  • Shane is a lot like Christine and that’s a lovely thing! When you see Christine on the screen, it’s sometimes hard to believe that she is an introvert who struggled to talk to people at college or who didn’t date a lot. But … that’s also how I think some people see/saw me? I am pretty good at some social events and like to be upbeat and friendly with everyone, but it’s hard and took a lot of time to develop to the point where I become more confident. A big change has happened for me when I was on my semester abroad and so it makes a lot of sense to me that she would put herself in the shoes of her main character and live through her that way.

“It’s weird how we have to get a little older to realize that people are just people. It should be obvious, but it’s not.”

  • The Shane and Pilot banter was spot on from the first time they met to the very last page! In general, Christine’s writing is just a lot of fun to read. It flows super easily and had me laughing out loud several times.

“Shane. Interesting name for a girl,” he teases. I narrow my eyes. “Pilot. Interesting name for a human.”

  • I really, really liked that Shane hadn’t done it all at twenty. There are so many people who do not enter into romantic relationships at high school and it’s not even that they wouldn’t want to, it just doesn’t happen. It’s not that weird and I need everyone to know that, because it makes you feel like in this quote:

“The young women in all the YA books I loved were high-school age. By eighteen, the majority of them had saved the world, not to mention: kissed people, traveled, been in a relationship, had sex. At twenty I felt like a pathetic, unaccomplished, uncultured, virgin grandma. It sounds like a joke now, but at the time, around all these people my age casually discussing all of the above, I felt so small.”

  • The end of the book reminded me of my own book ending (Break Up Buddy, the only story I ever finished) and I thought that was hilarious.

WHAT I DISLIKED

  • A huge reason I was excited for this book was that I have done a semester abroad myself (as mentioned above). In fact, I have spent a notable time in other countries when I was 15 (the US), 16/17 (France), 18/19 (US again) and 23/24 (Canada) and like to think I know what I am talking about when it comes to those experiences. Of course, everyone is different, but some stuff just nagged me, e.g. when Shane and the others went to Italy on their first weekend in London. That’s just not realistic? No one I know would spend their first weekend in a new city NOT in the city …
    Other than that, I suppose I know a lot of people who really went someplace new every weekend. Especially in the EU, travel is easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s super cheap. For college students who were all living off of internships, I was floored by what they could all afford to do.

“I suck in a deep breath as I plop one foot over the line and then exhale, knowing I’m standing on both sides of the world at once.”

  • The relationship that Shane had with her parents felt very … wrong? I’d like to say borderline abusive. I am not here to excuse any of their behaviour, BUT I’d also like to point out why I was not siding with Shane in certain instances. Her parents have paid thousands of dollars for an education she does not intend to use, she also cons them into financing her semester abroad by telling them it is useful to her premed major in NY. I just can’t.
    Their relationship was very complicated and Shane obviously wasn’t in a place where she could tell her parents how she really felt, but that kind of money is no joke? IF she had financed the trip herself somehow, I wouldn’t have minded at all, but that wasn’t the case and therefore just really not cool. Having never spoken to her parents about her concern before, I understand that it resulted in disappointment.

“I’ve been trying to make you happy for six years now, hoping somehow that would make me happy too, but I don’t think it’s working. You’re not really happy with me because I’m not happy with you because I’m not happy with me.”

  • While it was a fast and easy read, something about the pacing didn’t feel natural sometimes. It was difficult to gauge how much time had really passed and sometimes it was just hours and then suddenly weeks.
  • WHY could this girl not get up from a chair, without it crashing loudly to the floor and her flailing about??? Or, you know, put down a glass?

Lastly, I want to add that there is a significant cheating plotline. I didn’t feel any certain way about it, other than obviously not being for it, but it also didn’t ruin the book for me. I just thought I’d mention it.

So, I liked the book, but didn’t love it. I found Christine’s writing style had a great flow and made it easy to breeze through the pages, but maybe I will enjoy her next attempt more.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Solid debut book by a great booktuber!

Have you read Again, but Better? Was it on your radar? Let’s chat!