In “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” season finale recap, Sam and Bucky go up against the Flag Smashers one last time, the Power Broker is revealed and a new Captain America is born…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s all led to this.
A season spent with Sam Wilson struggling to understand his place as a Black superhero in America finally came to a head in the season finale of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” as a new Captain America was finally born but not because the government handed him a shield and told him to get to work.
Instead, Sam had to come to terms with his own decision to put on the stars and stripes to defend a country that’s spent hundreds of years mired in racism with a constant boot pressed down on the very people who helped build the United States.
But in order to make a difference, Sam understood that he had to become an agent of change and that meant becoming a symbol that people could look to as a new hope amid those struggles.
Truth be told, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” was some of the most important storytelling that Marvel has ever done because it not only created an enthralling series filled with a great story, incredible action and amazing effects but it actually tackled real world issues at the same time.
Of course, the season finale also wrapped up most of the storylines from the series including the end of the Flag Smashers, the revelation of the true identity of the Power Broker and even the redemption of John Walker after he was initially hand selected as the new Captain America.
And before it was all over, even Baron Zemo got a taste of satisfaction for his cause to bring down super powered people.
There was also a post-credits scene that sets up another season of the show or potentially an entire movie focused on these characters — and that would be a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With that said, let’s recap the season finale of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” with the episode titled “One World, One People”…
Captain America Reborn
Picking up where we left off last week, the Flag Smashers have infiltrated the building where the GRC (Global Repatriation Council) are about to vote to put back up the borders and order troops to return people to their countries of origin after the world change so dramatically in the wake of the Blip when half of life on Earth just disappeared in an instant.
Karli Morgenthau, who has spent the entire season striking back at the GRC after she and her friends were personally displaced after all of those people just reappeared during the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” led the attack on the building but not to take hostages on the inside. Instead her goal was to force the members of the GRC down to the street and up to the roof where her people could then kidnap everyone to hold for ransom to ensure that vote never took place.
Of course, Sam and Bucky both had something to say about that.
Bucky arrives on the scene and he’s soon greeted by Sharon Carter, who returned to the United States incognito in order to lend a helping hand. Then again as we saw last week, Sharon is holding onto some secrets of her own that are finally revealed before this episode is over.
With Bucky and Sharon heading into the building on the ground, Sam arrives in the air, crashing into the building with a shield through a window to take out one of the Flag Smashers. After landing, Sam’s new costume is revealed as Bucky had the Wakandan’s make him a new set of wings, presumably fortified with Vibranium, and the outfit decorated in the stars and stripes.
When a security guard thanks him for the assist, Sam officially introduces himself as the new Captain America.
Before Sam can lend a hand to the GRC members that Karli intends to take hostage, he’s blindsided by a kick from Georges Batroc, who has arrived to take his revenge. While Sam battles it out with Batroc, Bucky and Sharon attempt to keep everybody inside the building.
Karli makes a call to Bucky in an attempt to sway him to her way of thinking but it’s really just a distraction in order to allow her people on the inside to force the GRC members to a helicopter on the roof and a pair of awaiting vans in the basement that will carry them to her. Bucky gives chase on a motorcycle while Sharon subdues one of the Flag Smashers in the basement with a chemical agent.
Sam finally gets the upper hand on his fight with Batroc before tossing his shield out the window and soon following with his wings expanded as he goes after the helicopter.
At the rendezvous location, Karli tells the last of her troops that if all else fails with their plans to negotiate to stop the GRC vote, she wants the hostages killed in order to make a statement that this war isn’t ending. While the rest of the Flag Smashers are stunned by her decision, they eventually agree to the plan as they move out to meet with the vans and the helicopter filled with hostages.
When the vans eventually arrive at a roadblock where the Flag Smashers greet them, Bucky intervenes and begins a fight, which forces Karli to call for more drastic measures. She orders her people to set fire to one of the vans to serve as a distraction so Bucky will have to deal with that problem while they get away with the other van filled with hostages.
But before Karli can escape, she hears a familiar voice in the distance — it’s John Walker with a new shield in hand as he looks to settle some unfinished business. Karli makes the mistake of apologizing for killing Lemar Hoskins but then essentially saying his death really didn’t matter because it had nothing to do with her cause.
Walker then launches his attack but the Flag Smashers out number him as that fight ensues while Karli prepares to escape with the other van filled with hostages. Eventually, Walker battles back and takes out the rest of the Flag Smashers so he can pursue Karli.
They engage in a hand-to-hand fight with Karli knocking Walker down before running towards the van to drive off with the hostages in an attempt to exact her revenge. She drives the van towards a perilous ledge and jumps out just before the vehicle crashes through a barrier and ends up dangling from a distance where the impact hitting the ground would surely kill everyone inside.
Down below, Bucky finally dispatches the Flag Smasher attacking him but he looks up and he’s too far away to do anything about the van. That’s when John Walker decides to truly become a hero while abandoning his pursuit of Karli in order to pull the van back to safety.
Of course, Karli then circles back with the remaining Flag Smashers to pull Walker off the van and it finally begins to fall down towards the ground — except then it doesn’t. At the last second, Sam arrives and with an assist from his jet pack, he’s able to push the van back up to safety.
This all happened after Sam enacted a rescue of his own by stopping the Flag Smashers from taking hostages from that helicopter that left the roof of the building. His mid-air heroics ended with the Flag Smasher pilot being dumped into the Hudson River and a Senator with past flight experience safely landing the helicopter back on the ground.
After saving the GRC hostages, Sam flies back down and launches one more shield attack to take out the rest of the Flag Smashers who were attacking Bucky and Walker. Karli is shocked to see Sam wearing the outfit of Captain America and he explains that he’s trying something different — perhaps she should do the same.
Before anything else is said, a series of smoke bombs are dropped on the ground by Batroc, which then allows Karli to make a quick escape through a building under construction.
Sam, Bucky and Walker give chase inside and then split up to go after Karli.
But they aren’t the ones who find her — it’s the Power Broker, who finally comes face to face with the leader of the Flag Smashers. And as hinted last week, the Power Broker is none other than Sharon Carter.
She admonishes Karli for turning against her but then offers her a chance to return to her organization, no questions asked, but she refuses. When Batroc arrives, Karli realizes that Sharon sent him to spy on her and this has all been an orchestrated plan to take her down.
But realizing he’s just unmasked the true identity of the Power Broker, Batroc demands four-times as much pay, which results in Sharon shooting him dead. In the heat of the moment, Karli is able to get a shot off as well with Sharon taking a bullet in the stomach.
Hearing the gunshots, Sam rushes to the scene and he refuses to fight Karli despite her attacking him with everything she’s got left in her. Sam pleads with her to stop while only attempting to defend himself from her barrage.
Finally just when it looks like Karli is going to claim another life, she’s riddled with bullets from Sharon Carter’s gun.
Sam holds Karli as she expires but not before she apologizes to him. He then carries her out of the building and hands her over to medical personnel where he’s then greeted by the members of the GRC.
They thank him for stopping the “terrorists” and he insists they stop putting labels like that on people who would almost certainly say the same thing about the GRC. Because the organization is attempting to re-establish borders and remove people from places they’ve called home for the past five years, Sam knows the problems ahead aren’t going to be easy to solve but something more has to be done than just forcefully impacting millions around the globe.
Of course, the Senator from the GRC makes the argument what about the people who returned from the Blip only to find strangers living in their houses?
Sam knows there are no easy answers but nothing can be fixed with black and white decisions, especially when the people being displaced don’t even have a voice at the table. He tells them that perhaps they should take a step back and work with a truly diverse set of people from both sides of the aisle before making any decisions about what happens moving forward.
His passionate speech is picked up by news cameras arriving for the story about the attack on the GRC and people begin watching the new Captain America in action.
“I’m a Black man carrying the stars and stripes. What don’t I understand? Every time I pick this thing up, I know there are millions of people out there who are going to hate me for it. Even now, here, I feel it. The stares. The judgment. And there’s nothing I can do to change it yet I’m still here. No super serum. No blonde hair or blue eyes. The only power I have is that I believe we can do better.”
~ Sam Wilson
He reminds them that Karli and her friends were willing to die for the cause and there are many more willing to step into her shoes, which would result in even further damage and lives lost. Eventually, the Senator concedes that more needs to be done before a vote is taken on actions that would reset the borders and force millions out of their homes.
On his way out, Sam reunites with Bucky, who just captured the rest of the Flag Smashers with an assist from John Walker.
As for Sharon Carter, she refuses medical assistance but Sam promises to follow through and get her that Presidential pardon, never realizing that she’s actually the Power Broker. He then gets called away to help capture the last Flag Smasher that he dumped into the Hudson River while the last of Karli’s troops are rounded up and put into custody.
Just as the doors close to take them away, one of the guards whispers “one world, one people” to the remaining Flag Smashers and it appears they might escape yet again. Except this time the van explodes in a ball of flames as everyone inside is killed instantly.
The man flipping the switch on that bomb was none other than Oeznik — Baron Zemo’s butler who we met earlier this season.
On The Raft — the underwater prison facility where Zemo and the world’s worst criminals are being held captive – he hears a news report about the rest of the Flag Smashers being wiped out and he can only smile while laying down to read his book. Zemo is always playing the long game and he’s won yet again.
Back in Washington D.C., Olivia Walker is sitting with Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who is reveling in the news that the Flag Smashers were eliminated. She jokingly takes credit for the action but then walks it back — and then hints yet again that perhaps she played a part.
Finally, Val calls on Walker to emerge from the back where he’s been given a new outfit — one that’s adorned with the stars and stripes but also outlined in black. She explains the reason for this new look as he takes on a new character.
“Things are about to get weird so when they do we’re not going to need a Captain America. We’re going to need a U.S. Agent.”
Judging by Val’s statement along with her declaration that things are about to get weird combined with Zemo’s appearance on the Raft seems to hint at a longstanding rumor that perhaps a group of reformed villains are about to come together as the Thunderbolts.
It’s a legendary team from Marvel Comics that has undergone numerous lineup changes over the years but think of the Thunderbolts as the Marvel version of The Suicide Squad. At one point, Baron Zemo was even the leader.
As for Bucky, he finally takes it upon himself to make amends rather than avenge the people he wronged as The Winter Soldier. That’s when he arrives at Mr. Nakajima’s apartment where he tells the kindly old man that his son was murdered — and he’s the one who pulled the trigger. Of course, Bucky explains that he had no control over his actions but still Mr. Nakajima’s son is dead.
Later, Dr. Raynor — the psychologist who had been treating Bucky — walked into her office to find a gift bag waiting for her. Inside she found the notebook that once belonged to Steve Rogers that Bucky had been using to scratch off the names of everyone he’d ever hurt or helped as the Winter Soldier. By this point, all of the names had been crossed off and Bucky leaves the doctor with a note of thanks for her help.
And finally, Sam returns to Baltimore to pay a visit to Isiah Bradley, who was actually really impressed with the speech he made to the GRC council after Karli Morgenthau was toppled.
Isaiah knows it won’t be easy for Sam to take on the mantle of Captain America but it’s a risk he’s willing to take. Sam knows it might cause him to be hated or even killed but he refuses to let anyone tell him that he can’t fight for the country they helped build. He then tells Isaiah and his grandson to get cleaned up because he has something to show them.
The three of them take a trip to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to visit the Captain America wing and that’s where Sam unveils a statue made in honor to the first Black Captain America — Isaiah Bradley.
Isaiah is stunned to see the statue and a plaque in his honor telling the true story of his heroism as well as the way his country betrayed him. Now the entire world will know his story — and Isaiah is brought to tears by it all while embracing Sam for all that he’s done for him.
Back in Louisiana, Sam finally celebrates with his family and Bucky comes along for the ride as they eat, drink and begin this new journey together — perhaps finally as friends? As the scene fades to black, a new title for the series is revealed — Captain America and The Winter Soldier.
But don’t go just yet…
In a post credits scene, Sharon Carter stands before the Senate subcommittee where she officially receives her pardon and an apology from the American government for the way she’s been treated for the past five years. They also offer her a new high ranking assignment after she was a key agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
On her way out of the building, Sharon places a call to her people back in Madripoor to tell them to begin lining up buyers because while the Super Soldiers are no longer on the menu, she will now have access to government secrets, weapons and just about everything else that’s up for sale now that the Power Broker is back in business.
There’s no official word yet about what comes next for these characters but considering that dramatic reveal at the end with a title like “Captain America and The Winter Soldier,” it’s tough to believe that there won’t be a second season or a movie featuring this new team back in action.