FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
I gotta say, I love it when I’m rewarded for the fact that my brain can’t retain useful information but has an entire section devoted to comic books. Last time I talked about the Power Broker procedure, and what do you know, the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is titled “Power Broker!” Kismet, or something like that. But who or what is the Power Broker? Good question!
Bucky meets with Helmut Zemo (Mr. Daniel Brühl) in a German prison to find out more information on Hydra’s attempts to recreate the super soldier serum and how it’s connected to the Flag Smashers. Turns out the baron Zemo is useful so one prison break later, Sam and Bucky travel with him to Madripoor, a wretched hive of scum and villainy. There they find out that the Power Broker is a person and that he (or she, or they) have a powerful hold on the Southeast Asian island. Covers get blown almost instantly, but the trio have help from Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) who has been hiding out on the island ever since she stole Cap’s shield way back in Captain America: Civil War. Turns out amnesty isn’t so easy to get if you’re not a superhero, and also Madripoor has no extradition policy. She uses her contacts to find Dr. Wilfred Nagel (Olli Haaskivi), the man who recreated the super soldier serum that now flows through the Flag Smashers’ veins. Turns out he worked for Hydra and later the CIA, using Isaiah Bradley’s blood to create a more subtle serum–no bulging muscles like what Steve got. The Flag Smashers stole 20 vials, something no one is a fan of, let alone the mysterious Power Broker who was probably the one texting death threats to Karli. But Zemo’s main reason for helping out was to prevent more super soldiers from existing–remember, he killed off the Winter Soldier program in Civil War–so Nagel gets a bullet for his work. Leaving Sharon in Madripoor, the men head to Latvia next. But Bucky realizes they’re being followed, and sure enough he runs into Ayo (Florence Kasumba), one of the Dora Milaje, who sees Zemo’s escape as a slap in the face to Wakanda after he killed King T’Chaka in, again, Captain America: Civil War.
While that’s going on, a mourning Karli and the Flag Smashers steal a bunch of supplies for refugees of the Blip. But because we can’t have them become too sympathetic, she blows up the building, killing a bunch of people. Also, “Captain America” realizes that Bucky and Sam are responsible for Zemo’s escape, and plans to do something about it.
Lots of references this episode, as well as fleshing out some characters who ended up being rather one-note in the movies. The island nation of Madripoor first appeared in New Mutants #32 (1985), and while many heroes have had adventures there, it’s very closely tied to the X-Men. In fact, current issues of Marauders–the comic featuring pirate captain Kate Pryde and her band of merry mutants–is dealing with a political power struggle for the island nation. I’m not saying that this is going to directly lead to mutants being introduced, but I do wonder if Madripoor was something Disney got the rights to after acquiring 20th Century Fox… Anyway, another name that popped out was Dr. Wilfred Nagel. In the comics he was the scientist responsible for the super soldier experiments the US government inflicted on black soldiers that gave Isaiah Bradley his super strength, as recounted in Truth: Red, White & Black #1-7 (2003). Here he is a scientist whose work came after those experiments, but he’s a bad dude and I’m not sad that he’s dead.
Zemo and Sharon got some much needed screen time in this episode, too! Both of them got to show off that they are actual characters, something the movies never really got around to doing. Zemo is a baron–after all, he’s based on the Marvel villain Baron Zemo–who has connections around the world and at one point puts on the purple sock mask thing that he’s known for in the comics. Granted, in the comics he work the mask because his face was all kinds of fucked up, but Daniel Brühl is too pretty to do that to (I’m looking at you, The Punisher season 2). As for Sharon, she didn’t get as much screen time, but she did successfully fight off about a dozen armed guards all by herself, showing she is not someone to mess with. I doubt the series is done with her so early, so it’s going to be interesting seeing how and when she pops back up. She says she’s an outlaw, hiding from the US government in Madripoor, but she also told Steve Rogers that she was a nurse named Kate, so I won’t be surprised if she’s part of something bigger.
As for the Power Broker, we don’t get much information on who they really are this time, but I expect them to have a big impact on the story going forward. The Power Broker in the comics was originally a man named Curtiss Jackson, who first appeared in Machine Man #7 (1978) but wasn’t given a name beyond “Chief” until Captain America #230 (1979). He was one of the heads of the creatively named criminal organization the Corporation, where he was responsible for giving John Walker, Lemar Hoskins, and a number of other people who had the money needed. He was eventually killed by the Punisher and another person took the Power Broker title–real name unknown–who fought Scott Lang/Ant-Man. Then again, we’re halfway through the show and the identity of the Power Broker has been kept from us, so it’s entirely possible that the Power Broker in the show could be someone else, potentially even someone we the audience might recognize. Only time will tell!
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