FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
With only 6 episodes, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels much shorter compared to WandaVision, even though the actual difference in their combined length is about an hour. But man, we went through an emotional roller coaster throughout the series, especially in the season finale. Will there be a season two? Let’s dive into the final episode, “One World, One People,” and talk about that!
Karli and the Flag Smashers’ attack on the GRC commences as Sam and Bucky show up to stop them. Sharon is a surprise addition, having sneaked into the country somehow, but Bucky welcomes her. Sam gets to break in his new Captain America costume from the Wakandans–no surprise that was in the box–as he fights Batroc. The Flag Smashers manage to kidnap some of the senators to stop their vote, and Karli surprises her fellow members by being perfectly willing to kill the hostages in they need to make an escape. John Walker shows up in his homemade Captain America costume and fights Karli, but shows he’s not a complete dick by rescuing some hostages rather than chasing after the Flag Smashers. Huh, I honestly wasn’t expecting that. As Sam rescues more hostages in a helicopter chase, Sharon corners Karli. Turns out Sharon Carter is actually the Power Broker! To the surprise of two people, probably. Batroc isn’t a fan of being used as a pawn by Sharon, but a standoff ends with him presumably dead, Sharon shot but alive, and Karli standing over Sharon when Sam corners her. She tries to take on Sam, but Sharon manages to shoot Karli, incapacitating her (but no confirmed kill). The world has now seen a black Captain America, and their opinion of him most likely improves when Sam corners several senators and gives an inspiring speech that their actions essentially create organizations like the Flag Smashers, in part due to their inability to ask why these so-called “terrorists” hate them so much. It’s extremely socially progressive and tap dances a little on the “eat the rich” edge, so of course I loved it. The remaining Flag Smashers are killed in an explosion set by Zemo’s butler, meaning Zemo wins in the end. Walker gets his comic-accurate US Agent red, white, and black costume from Contessa Valentina, along with the new name and a new mission. Who is he actually working for? Unclear! Bucky tells Yori–remember him from the first episode–that he was responsible for the death of his son, giving him a sense of closure, albeit a painful one. Sam meets with Isaiah Bradley and says that since black people built America, no one is going to tell him that he can’t represent it. He then shows Isaiah and Eli a statue commemorating Isaiah’s service in the Captain America museum, ensuring that the world will never forget what he did for his country. The season ends with Sam and Bucky back at Sarah’s place, having a party to celebrate how things have turned out, followed by a title card renaming the series Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
A mid-credits scene shows Sharon receiving a full pardon and a job working for the government again. Afterwards, she makes a call saying that since she soon will have access to government secrets and weapons, they’re back in business. Meet the Power Broker, a potential new villain!
Man, I thought the previous episodes of this series were politically charged, but Sam’s speech about how those in power govern without a care for how the powerless suffer was so good. Sponsored by the state or not, the position of Captain America carries a weight to it, and getting berated by the new one in public after he saves your ass apparently gets shit done. Politicians who feel shame? What a world to live in! Too bad the world almost ends every few years due to some supervillain, but still.
While WandaVision wrapped up most threads and those that were still dangling were obviously leading to future movies–in this case, 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Marvels (AKA Captain Marvel 2)–Captain America and the Winter Soldier absolutely feels like the start of something. But will there be a second season? Nothing has been confirmed and no second season has been scheduled, but this is something that could absolutely continue, filling in more details about Sam, Bucky, John Walker, and even Sharon leading up to the recently announced Captain America: New World Order (set to come out May 2024). In fact, the more I think about it, we have no actual idea when we’ll see these characters next. Cameos are absolutely a thing that can happen–apparently the Contessa may have a cameo in Black Widow–but leaving these characters alone for too long would be an absolute mistake.
So Sharon Carter’s a villain now, huh? I mean, it does sadly make some sense as apparently all the people she teamed up with in Captain America: Civil War absolutely abandoned her… Steve spent two years running from the government and never gave her a call or checked in? Yeah, okay, I’d probably get bitter enough that gaining power through dubious means would sound pretty reasonable. This is a pretty big departure from her in the comics, where she’s been a loyal and trustworthy friend/lover to Captain America (with one exception, but I’ll get to that). First appearing in Tales of Suspense #75 (1966)–which was also the first appearance of Batroc the Leaper–she was an undercover agent of SHIELD who was introduced as Peggy Carter’s younger sister. This got changed to Peggy’s niece due to the sliding timeline nature of comics, because tying a character to a specific real world date can create problems (see the Punisher no longer having been in the Vietnam War). Anyway, she and Cap had a long term on-again-off-again relationship until she killed him. It was actually brainwashing orchestrated by the Red Skull, but she was the one who pulled the trigger and killed Steve after the Civil War event. Cap got better and the two hashed it out. She later was director of SHIELD for a few minutes before Steve took over the job, but really, who hasn’t been director of SHIELD? Then she got aged due to alternate reality stuff and is now helping Cap as a member of the Daughters of Liberty, a team of some of the most iconic Marvel female superheroes led by… Peggy Carter? Wait, she’s alive? And now younger than Sharon? And sometimes has a nose ring? Look, comic books are really fucking dumb (and I love them for it).
And that’s it for now! The next show to air Fridays on Disney+ is a Star Wars tie-in that I’m not immediately interested in, so next week this slot will be the final five episodes of the first season/series of When They Cry/Higurashi. Why not tomorrow? I’m making an executive decision right here and now that all TV posts scheduled for Sundays are dependent on whenever I have the time for them, which means I’m taking tomorrow off. If you’re more interested in these MCU-adjacent recaps, see you in June for Loki!
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7/23/22 EDIT: Replaced vague information on “Captain America 4” with “Captain America: New World Order.”