In “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” recap, Bucky goes with Sam on a mission and they run into the new Captain America along the way…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Following an action-packed debut episode, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” delivered even more surprises in the latest installment while also introducing several iconic characters from the history of Marvel Comics.
Last week saw Sam Wilson decide to give up the shield that Steve Rogers handed over to him after hanging up the mantle as Captain America. Sam didn’t believe he was worthy of carrying that shield much less trying to maintain the legacy that Steve had built — so he handed it over to the Smithsonian for safe keeping as part of their giant Captain America display.
But Sam soon learned that the U.S. government is not to be trusted, especially when it comes to handshake deals with a piece of weaponry as valuable as Captain America’s shield. By the end of the debut episode, Sam was stunned to see the government had introduced a new Captain America complete with the shield that was supposed to belong to him.
Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes is still struggling with the ghosts from his past after he served as a HYDRA assassin for decades after being part of their super soldier program. He seemingly has nightmares every night that bring him back to those awful acts he carried out in the name of HYDRA.
It’s safe to say seeing someone else carrying Steve Rogers’ shield woke him up from his slumber because Bucky has a few words for Sam after catching a glimpse of the new Captain America himself.
And this is all happening while a new terrorist group known as the Flag Smashers are trying to destroy all borders and return the world to the way it was for five years after Thanos snapped away half of life in the universe.
With that said, let’s get to the recap for the latest episode of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” titled “The Star-Spangled Man”…
John Walker knows he’s stepping into some mighty big boots to fill after accepting the role as the new Captain America.
This week’s episode opens with Walker lamenting about the decision the government made to hand over the shield and the uniform to introduce him as the new star-spangled savior. Of course, Walker isn’t alone on this journey because he has his girlfriend and his best friend by his side as he engages on a tour across the United States titled “Cap is Back,” which ends with an appearance on “Good Morning America.”
During the interview, Walker’s resume is revealed and it seems he was a really good soldier, who earned a whole lot of metals while serving in the military. He even tested off the charts for both mind and body when he underwent a battery of tests at MIT before being declared as the new Captain America.
If that seems suspicious that John Walker was a step ahead of everybody else both physically and mentally, just stay tuned for more on that in a bit.
All in all, while he’s not Steve Rogers, Walker seems like a true patriot who just wants to do the right thing but that will soon come into conflict with two of Captain America’s best friends.
After watching Walker parade around with the shield while calling himself Captain America, Bucky Barnes takes a trip to Washington D.C. to visit Sam Wilson to admonish him for giving up the gift that Steve gave him. Bucky doesn’t even begin to understand the logic behind Sam’s decision and the two engage in a bitter argument, which becomes a recurring theme throughout the episode.
While it’s fun bantering with a 103-year-old former assassin, Sam can’t stick around because he’s headed to Munich, Germany to further investigate this group known as the Flag Smashers. He believes this latest threat has to be one of the big three — aliens, androids or wizards.
In Sam’s mind, those are the same three threats that the Avengers keep having to fight, although Bucky argues vehemently that it’s a flawed group of villains he’s put together.
Regardless, Sam has a mission to complete but Bucky insists on joining him and they end up on a plane together bound for Germany.
Once they arrive, Sam flies out on his own while Bucky is left behind without a parachute because the plane is too close to the ground for that to work effectively. So Bucky takes matters into his own hands by just jumping out of the plane before landing with a mighty thud on the ground.
After meeting up with Sam, they find the Flag Smashers at a nearby warehouse where they are loading supplies into a pair of trucks. Bucky is confident he can just wipe them all out without a whole lot of effort involved but Sam cautions him that the group is bigger than he might thinks after doing a thermal scan and revealing a number of members lingering around the trucks.
He also reminds Bucky that at least one of the Flag Smashers — the leader that Torres encountered in Switzerland — appears to have some kind of super strength.
Once the trucks take off, Bucky finally decides to just give chase but he soon finds out that the Flash Smashers were well prepared for this kind of attack. They get the drop on Bucky and Sam’s attempts to rescue him don’t go much better because it turns out several members of this terrorist group are also displaying similar super strength.
Just when it looks like the Falcon’s wings will get clipped and the Winter Soldier will never live to fight another day, a helicopter arrives on the scene with the new Captain America there to save the day.
He takes out a few of the terrorists while introducing himself to Sam and Bucky, who don’t appear all that happy to have him there. Despite Captain America’s best efforts, however, the Flag Smashers are able to dump them off of their trucks as they make a clean getaway while stealing several containers of medical supplies that Sam and Bucky believe to be vaccines.
With Sam and Bucky stuck walking, the new Cap and his partner Lemar Hoskins offer them a ride back to the airfield.
Comic book fans will recognize Lemar Hoskins as a Battlestar — a hero who came up alongside John Walker when he was known as Super Patriot. Now in the comics both Lemar and Walker get their super strength through a group known as the Power Brokers, who employ a scientist named Dr. Karl Malus. His experiments eventually lead to the creation of his own type of super serum, which can be used to give any individual super strength — much like the program that helped to create Captain America.
For now, Lemar just appears to be a good soldier serving alongside his friend John Walker but something tells me there’s more to this story.
Regardless, Walker and Lemar try to get Sam and Bucky to work with them to investigate the Flag Smashers, whose primary target appears to be the Global Repatriation Council (GRC). It seems the GRC has been tasked with helping those people who returned from the Blip, get back into their old lives after they were all declared dead. But the Flag Smashers liked the world better when all of those people were gone — don’t forget that moment in “Avengers: Endgame” when they mentioned things like the environment had finally started to improve once all the people disappeared.
To make matters worse, the Flag Smashers don’t want to hand back over power to the people who disappeared for five years and then returned to settle back into their old roles with governments and corporations around the world.
Walker tries to convince Sam and Bucky to join them on the mission to bring down this organization but the new Captain America makes a cardinal mistake when addressing his best friend. Walker says that Captain America would be much better off with Steve Rogers’ wingman by his side and that’s all Sam can stomach before he leaves the vehicle.
On the way back to the United States, Bucky tells Sam that he might have a lead on figuring out how these Flag Smashers got so strong but that’s going to require him to meet somebody new.
Meanwhile back across the pond, the Flag Smashers are looking for refuge after their fight with the new Captain America, Sam and Bucky and they find it in a family in Germany sympathetic to their cause. The leader of this particular group is named Karli Morgenthau — a take on the character Karl Morgenthau from the comic books, who was simply named Flag-Smasher.
She mentions the fight against the GRC and how that government agency cares “more about the people who came back than the ones who never left.”
After escaping with the supplies they’ve stolen, Karli receives a message from an unknown number that promises to kill her after she stole from them. She later mentions the Power Broker, which was the group from the comics that developed their own super serum and now this is all starting to come together. Judging by the interactions we’ve seen, Karli and her group may have received their super strength from the Power Broker but then possibly turned against them, which is now what’s leading to this ongoing conflict.
Regardless, Karli and her team barely get a night’s sleep before heading to the airfield the next day to fly to their next destination.
Before they can get away, however, the Power Broker arrives to stop them and one of the members of the team sacrifices himself in order to slow them down so Karli and the rest of the group can escape on the plane loaded with supplies.
Back in the U.S., Bucky take Sam to Baltimore where he introduces him to a man named Isiah Bradley — another famed comic book character from Marvel history.
In the comics, Isaiah Bradley was the first Black super soldier, who attained his powers from a similar super serum that created both Captain American and the Winter Soldier. In the comics version, Isaiah is nicknamed Black Captain America and he becomes the stuff of legends, especially in the Black community where he’s hailed as a hero.
Sadly, Isaiah is rarely treated the same by his own government, especially after he was part of an experiment conducted on 300 Black soldiers in order to find out of this new version of the super serum even worked. While most of the soldiers died, Isaiah was one of a handful who survived and he went onto become a superpowered hero serving the government.
The version we meet in the show was equally powerful and he met Bucky during the Korean War when he was dispatched to deal with HYDRA’s Winter Soldier. It seems Isaiah got the better of Bucky during a fight and even managed to tear off a part of his vibranium arm during the battle.
Bucky has shown up hoping to get some kind of answers from Isaiah about the super soldier program that created him, which he believes might now be used to make super villains as well. But Isaiah isn’t in the mood to reminisce, especially after he returned home from serving his country only to be thrown in prison for the next 30 years while scientists studied his blood and conducted all sorts of experiments on him.
He tosses Bucky and Sam out of his house while being agitated that they showed up in the first place.
Side note — Isaiah Bradley’s grandson Eli is there helping out and in the comic books that would be Elijah Bradley, who carries on his family’s legacy as a hero known as Patriot. He later joins the Young Avengers, which is a group that also includes Cassie Lang (Scott Lang’s daughter) and Kate Bishop (who will soon be appearing in the upcoming “Hawkeye” series). Just something to think about for the future.
After striking out with Isaiah to get information on the super soldier program, Bucky and Sam get into another argument, which brings out the police. They are suspicious that Sam is bothering Bucky for no other reason than he’s a Black man in an argument with a white guy but when realizing that he’s actually Falcon from the Avengers, they back off.
The same can’t be said for Bucky, however, who is placed under arrest because he missed a court ordered therapy session that’s a non-negotiable part of his pardon from the President of the United States.
Back in D.C., Sam finds out that Bucky is being released and he thinks it’s because his psychiatrist Dr. Raynor has shown up to give him that therapy session he needs. Instead, Sam is greeted once again by the new Captain America, who pulled some strings to get Bucky released with no more conditions as a result of his pardon.
Before leaving, however, Dr. Raynor insists on a session with both Bucky and Sam so they can work out some of their shared differences.
During the tense session, Bucky finally reveals why he was so upset with Sam about giving up Cap’s shield.
“Steve believed in you. He trusted you. He gave you that shield for a reason. That shield, that is everything he stood for. That is his legacy. He gave you that shield and you threw it away like it was nothing. So maybe he was wrong about you. And if he was wrong about you then he was wrong about me!”
In other words, Steve put his faith in Bucky after he escaped the Winter Soldier programming but that doesn’t mean the former HYDRA assassin isn’t still haunted about all the horrific acts he carried out while under their control. But Steve knew Bucky was a good man who could be redeemed but now he’s wondering if perhaps his oldest friend was wrong — the same way he was wrong to give the shield to Sam.
When the session ends, Sam and Bucky are no closer to putting their differences in the past but they still have to figure out what’s going on with this Flag Smasher group but more importantly, how did they get super strength?
Outside the station, Sam and Bucky are met by Walker and Lemar, who are once again asking them to team up in order to bring down the Flag Smashers. Sam not so politely declines while reminding Walker that he doesn’t have to follow government orders so he’s got a little more free reign to get things done his own way. Walker then issues Sam and Bucky a warning to stay the hell out of his way.
After leaving the new Cap and his sidekick, Bucky makes a suggestion to Sam about how they can get more information about this rogue super soldier program that has apparently handed out powers to a whole lot more people than just himself, Steve Rogers and Isaiah Bradley. The only people who might know are within HYDRA but obviously HYDRA has been dismantled.
That only leaves one choice — the man who knows all of HYDRA’s secrets after he infiltrated the group in order to get information that helped him put Captain America at odds with his friend Tony Stark.
That man is none other than Helmut Zemo — the mastermind behind the conflict at the heart of “Captain America: Civil War.”
Bucky knows Zemo might have the answers they need so Sam agrees to travel with him back to Europe where they will seek an audience with the Sokovian to find out what he may know about this new super serum being introduced into the population.
It took a week to get Sam and Bucky together and now in the third episode of the season, we will finally get to see Baron Zemo’s return!
Finally, the introduction of this new super serum alongside the group the Power Broker could hint at a much bigger conspiracy that might explain why John Walker seems almost super human and how all of the Flag Smashers are suddenly so strong. Perhaps there is a new super serum out there and in the wrong hands, that could be very dangerous.
“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” returns next Friday with a new episode on Disney+