This is a SPOILER review for Episode Six of The Falcon and the Winter Solider. For last week’s review, click here.
We’re finally here. Six weeks after its premiere, Falcon and the Winter Soldier has reached its final episode. The whole series has been leading up to what transpires in this final episode. The show has had a long and winding path to get to this. Featuring themes and topics such as race, social inequality, it’s stumbled in some moments in keeping a consistent theme. Still, the show has successfully integrated the mythos and history of Captain America as something of a metaphor for America itself. The shield at this point represents the flag, and our country, flaws and all.
Using the events of Endgame to its advantage, the show also has put real-world consequences to the large than life events of the blockbuster. The show has managed to integrate timely politics and societal issues to the world of the MCU. The fact Skogland and Spellman have managed to bring such poignant themes and merge them with these larger-than-life stories is impressive as it is compelling.
So now we’ve come to the conclusion of the story they’ve aimed to tell. Sam has spent the entire series struggling with the mantle of Captain America. His decisions and struggles in the series have elevated the character to new emotional depths. While the series may be inconsistent with scattered themes, it’s still used the circumstances to add depth to Sam. Moreover, his decisions regarding the shield and mantle of Captain America come to their natural conclusion. This is a legacy character that doesn’t feel forced or rushed. This episode is the best indicator of that.
From the opening of the episode, we’re put right into the middle of the conflict. The GRC, the political council at the center of the conflict of the series is at stake. The flag smashers are shown as more of a threat than ever. It’s a shame that it took so many episodes to show the reach Karli has and the paranoia her group can create. Still, though, they serve their purpose in this final episode.
Sam also makes his debut as Captain America in true cinematic fashion. Seeing him with the shield and in one of the most comic-accurate costumes the MCU has to offer makes this entire series worth it. This episode highlights what makes Sam different than Steve Rogers from character to physicality. Watching a Captain America that can take flight and use other resources than super strength shows respect for the differences in the two iterations.
This final episode also manages to wrap up several character arcs in a way that doesn’t feel rushed. Here we have characters like John, Bucky, and Karli reach their natural conclusions. Walker goes from a tragic villain to a likable anti-hero in the span of two episodes. He has a truly heroic moment in this episode allowing us to see another side of Walker, when not clouded by grief or responsibility he isn’t fit to handle. It’s a welcome development and shows the turn into his comic counterpart. He hopefully has an exciting future ahead of him.
Karli, however natural her conclusion may have been, comes across as the most cliche of them all. It’s wasted potential for a villain and shows another consistent problem in the MCU. Her story is brought to a full stop with little explanation or development for her sudden homicidal tendencies. Her big ideas and exciting morally ambiguous character concepts are pushed to the wayside. Moreover, pushed away by cliche villain tropes to avoid answering difficult questions the show brought up in the first place. It’s unfortunate not only that it happened, but that it was already expected from myself and other viewers of the show.
If there is one thing that this final episode does get right though, it’s the title characters. Sam and Bucky reach their full potential by the end of the episode. Bucky makes peace with his past and looks forward to his future. Meanwhile, Sam, who is now Captain America, steps up to the mantle more than ever before. In what is no doubt one of the best parts of the series: Sam Wilson fully embraces what Captain America should be.
He addresses Senators and politicians, calling them out on hypocrisy and the power they wield over the people they represent. In true Captain America fashion, he strives to not represent what America is, but what it can be. In front of the media and the politicians, Sam proudly wears the shield and upholds his values, unafraid of judgment. His final confrontation with Karli is a great example, avoiding violence at all costs and striving for empathy instead.
Falcon and Winter Soldier fails one character, though. Sharon Carter is unfortunately butchered from her roots as an unwavering ally for Captain America. Her uninspired twist seems like an example of poor and rushed writing that wishes to wrap loose threads up as neatly as possible, at the expense of character development. It’s undoubtedly the worst part of the episode and something that left a bad taste in this viewer’s mouth.
In my first episode review, I said that Sam has an opportunity to create a new legacy since Steve gave him the shield. An opportunity to show what else Captain America can be. Falcon and the Winter Soldier manages to take Sam Wilson on that journey exactly. In six episodes, we saw the journey and trials that shape an icon. The final episode delivers on the promise of a new Captain America. However, it comes at the cost of seriously poor execution to some of the characters around him.
Thankfully, the episode ends on a strong note. Sam Wilson takes Isaiah Bradley to the Captain America wing of the museum. Given a chance to bring peace to someone Society unjustly treated, Sam restores Bradley’s history. It doesn’t fix what happened, but it’s a start to recognizing the problems of the nation Sam represents. Captain America is back, and he’s going to honor what came before while creating something new. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 7.5/10
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1 is available in it’s entirety on Disney+