12:04 pm EDT, April 9, 2021

‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ episode 4 review: The world is watching

Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4 shows what happens when men are desperate for power and control. Read our review!

We are officially past the halfway point in Disney+’s new Marvel series. So far, it has taken us around the globe to visit with both new and familiar faces. Answers are coming in slowly, but the action never stops.

With only two more episodes to go, Falcon and the Winter Soldier may not be making the same splash as WandaVision, but it is giving us a closer look at the people affected by Thanos’ Snap. It’s also asking questions about the roles heroes and villains play in an increasingly complex world.

‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ episode 4 review

The episode opens in the past with Bucky recovering in Wakanda. Ayo recites his trigger words with controlled intention, and Bucky sees his past mistakes flash before his eyes. When the list is done, he sits before the fire, still in control of his own mind.

“You are free,” Ayo says while Bucky weeps.

Six years later, Ayo and Bucky stand toe to toe, and we can better understand the weight and respect between them. It is for this reasons—and this reason alone—that Ayo grants him eight hours before she and the other Dora Milaje will come to collect Zemo.

I would’ve been happy with an entire episode of Bucky and Ayo’s interactions. Neither one says much, but their presence commands everyone around them. Bucky still feels lost in this world, but Ayo sees it as her own: “The Dora Milaje have jurisdiction wherever the Dora Milaje find themselves to be.”

falcon and the winter soldier episode 4 review bucky

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It’s a badass sentiment only because we know the Dora are a force for good. But once again, Zemo’s unwelcome observations hold a validity no one wants to acknowledge.

He argues that all super soldiers are supremacists, including the Nazis, Ultron, and even the Avengers. I’m not sure if Marvel wants us to agree with Zemo, but they’re doing a good job of making his argument for him.

After all, just because the Avengers are heroes in our books, doesn’t mean they’re not the villains in someone else’s. The same can be said for both the GRC and the Flag Smashers—they’re doing what’s right for them and their people, regardless of how it affects others.

After the bombing, the GRC began writing legislation for the Patch Act, which would put the world on a fast track back to normalcy, as well bring about a return to traditional border regulations. This, of course, is exactly what the Flag Smashers didn’t want, and now Karli is preparing for war.

Zemo says every super soldier is inherently on that same path to supremacy, and when Sam steals ten minutes to talk to Karli alone, he uses that same logic to talk her off the ledge.

It’s easy to understand Karli’s plight. She sympathizes with the people she’s fighting for because she is one of them. The Flag Smashers rebel against the very idea of Captain America and see his shield as a reminder of all the people history has left behind.

For as good as Steve was, what he represented didn’t always align with his own values. You only need to look to Captain America: Civil War to see that it’s true. America is a complicated beast, and marginalized people suffer the most.

Even Sarah, Sam’s sister, can understand where Karli is coming from: “My world doesn’t matter to America, so why would I care about its mascot?”

In Karli’s world, she doesn’t have the luxury of keeping her hands clean. She will let no one stand in her way to create a better world for all those kids in all those refugee camps.

But don’t you see, Sam says, how you sound like one of them? He even calls Zemo out for his own hypocrisy. His removal of the super soldiers, his drive to control what he doesn’t understand or agree with, is nothing more than playing God. “Blood isn’t always the answer,” Sam says.

But as much as this Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4 review is inclined to agree, it seems the new Captain America does not.

If there is one exception to the super soldier supremacist rule, it may be Steve Rogers. But unfortunately for the world, John Walker is no Steve Rogers. Any pity I ever had for the man was washed away by his arrogance.

I’m not sure what drove Walker to interrupt the meeting between Sam and Karli. Did he doubt Sam’s intentions? Did he underestimate Karli’s humanity? Did he want the glory for himself?

I’m inclined to believe the latter, though I’m sure each played a part in his rash decision. His quiet conversation with Hoskins after the fight reveals more of his own humanity. He has three medals of honor, but what he did to earn them has never felt right.

But playing Captain America? That feels right. It’s the first time he’s been able to control his own destiny, and he doesn’t want to mess it up. He’ll do anything to protect it, including stealing a vial of the super soldier serum.

Where Sam does not hesitate to say he wouldn’t take the serum, Walker sets Hoskins up to convince him he’s a worthy candidate. “Power just makes you more yourself,” Hoskins says. The fact that Walker is still on the fence reveals the fact that he knows he’d be taking a risk. The hesitation is admirable.

But that admiration doesn’t last for long. After the Dora Milaje wipe the floor with him, Walker does nothing but feel sorry for himself. They weren’t even super soldiers, he says. How can he defend America if he can’t even defend himself?

And this is why John Walker will never be Steve Rogers. Steve spent his entire life being pushed to the ground, only to choose to stand back up again. John Walker is a man on top whose greatest fear is finding himself on the bottom.

And that fear is more than enough for Walker to inject the serum, despite the risks and consequences.

But what he didn’t realize was that the serum would not fix all of his problems. It has, in fact, only amplified them, just as it amplified Walker’s rage and righteousness.

falcon and the winter soldier episode 4 review lemar hoskins

As Karli and her soldiers fight Sam, Bucky, Walker, and Hoskins, she knees Battlestar in the chest and sends him careening into a pillar. He hits his head and dies. The heat of the battle freezes over as Walker checks on his friend.

Up until this point, I have been enjoying the series, happy to see where this narrative takes us. But Lemar Hoskins’ role in the show has bothered me from the beginning. In my episode 2 review, I talked about how it was a shame that another Black man was relegated to a sidekick role in a world where Sam Wilson was the rightful heir to the shield.

This Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4 review has no intention of being kind toward Marvel’s decision to kill Hoskins to further John Walker’s story. It’s been done far too many times before in media, and I had higher hopes for this series.

Walker was already on the brink of madness. His weakness and shame were enough to push him over the edge; Hoskins did not need to bear the responsibility of ensuring he lost what was left of his mind.

Besides, how much better would it have been if Hoskins had lived to see his friend’s downfall? If he had been unsuccessful in stopping his rage? If he had chosen to side with Sam and Bucky over his own partner? The complexities of that story were set aside for one that bludgeons us over the head.

Regardless of whether I agree with it, Hoskins death did have the intended affect. Karli may not have killed Captain America’s physical form, but she certainly killed his spotless image: As Walker chases down one of the super soldiers, he uses the shield to brutally murder the man as the world watches.

The blood on Walker’s shield sends a clear message about America’s tarnished image, and I’ll be eager to see how the show handles these last two episodes.

‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ episode 4 stray observations

There were a few moments from this episode that caught my attention but didn’t quite fit into the narrative of my Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4 review:

  • Sharon did Sam another favor by using a couple satellites to track down Walker and the super soldiers. We still haven’t seen the Power Broker’s face, and the longer we go without knowing who this person is, the more suspicious I am of Sharon’s power and influence in Madripoor.
  • “Aggressive, but I get it.” Zemo continues to be an odd sort of delight in this episode. While I cannot allow myself to forget the damage he has caused, I do find myself loving his interactions with Bucky and Sam. He is their perfect foil.
  • The shield looks great in everyone’s hands but Walker. I feel like Marvel is just teasing us by letting one of the Dora hold onto it for a few seconds.
  • Ayo knows the combination of points to press to get Bucky’s arm to fall off. He’s shocked and hurt, but Wakanda did not get to where they are by taking chances. As much as they trust Bucky’s newfound freedom from his past, there’s not a chance in the world they’d risk giving him a high-tech arm without some sort of fail-safe.
  • Zemo is now on the run from Wakanda. I don’t think he stands a chance.
  • I love the way Sam fights with his whole suit, including the jet pack. He might not be a super soldier, but don’t underestimate him!
    • What did you think of ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ episode 4?

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