12:37 pm EDT, April 23, 2021

‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ finale review: A new beginning

Our Falcon and the Winter soldier finale review discusses the events of “One World, One People,” and its repercussions on the MCU.

At the end of last week’s episode, Sam had taken the shield from Walker and presented it to Isaiah, who said he wanted nothing to do with it.

Isaiah’s reasoning for believing America would never let a Black man carry the shield was based on his own lived experiences, and no one can blame him for feeling that way. Sam had a tough choice ahead of him, but when we see him opening Bucky’s gift from Wakanda, we know what decision he’s made.

There was a lot of pressure riding on the Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6. It shouldn’t come as too much surprise that Sam picked up the shield, but how would his actions have a impact on the greater MCU? Where will we go from here?

Let’s discuss.

‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ finale review

captain america new suit sam

Becoming Captain America

Picking up where last week left off, the Flag Smashers have taken over the building where the GRC will vote on the Patch Act. Sam has called Sharon in as backup, while Bucky rounds out the trio.

We quickly get a shot of Sam’s new suit, which is modeled after Captain America’s in design, but with a bit more white across the chest and shoulders. The stars and stripes look good on him, and his wings give the suit a new dimension.

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Batroc tells Sam, “The robes don’t make the man,” and it’s a sentiment that Tony Stark has shared throughout his time as Iron Man: “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

Luckily for us, Sam knows exactly who he is and why he wants to wear the stars and stripes. It took him six episodes to get to this point, and a lot of thoughtful deliberation, but he understands now why he has to carry the shield. And, better yet, he knows what to do with it.

For as good of a soldier as John Walker was, he didn’t quite have the Captain America flair. Steve could bounce that shield off four guys and still catch it, and we see Sam do the same throughout the episode. Having Sam take up the mantle just feels right.

And it comes with some extra perks, too. I can’t go through this whole Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale review without at least mentioning the return of Redwing, who has been sorely missed, and you’ve got to admit being able to fly is pretty convenient.

The only thing Sam lacks is the super soldier serum, and I think he’ll find some tough battles ahead of him. He may not be able to attempt feats of strength like Steve, but thanks to his jet pack and wings, he can still save a truck full of people careening off the edge of a building.

“That’s the Black Falcon there, I tell you.” “No, that’s Captain America.”

It was a bit of a light moment (and maybe the slightest bit cheesy) in the middle of a pretty serious episode, but it gets the point across. This is not Black Captain America. Or Captain Falcon. Or any other iteration of the name. Sam is Captain America. Full stop.

One of the highlights of the episode for me was Sam’s equivalent to Steve’s “I can do this all day.” Batroc tells Sam to stay down, and Sam simply stands up and says, “No.”

In and of itself, this could be a throwaway line. But think of everything Sam has been through to get here. Think of the history of Black people in America and everything they’ve had to fight for. This line was an embodiment of the Black experience, as well as Sam’s current mindset as he navigates a world in which he’s Captain America.

falcon and the winter soldier finale review

Where does your loyalty lie?

Any Falcon and the Winter Soldier review worth its salt would take time to explore the subtle ways this series has presented its villains.

We were never meant to like John Walker, but at the end of the day, he’s not evil. He loved being Captain America, and he loved serving his country. He cut corners along the way, and took things too far, but even during this final fight, he knew which side to stand on.

When he throws down his shield to save the people hanging on by a thread in that truck, I was surprised. I would’ve bet money he’d go after Karli instead, but he made the right call. This shows us that while he may be misguided at times, he can distinguish between right and wrong. Revenge isn’t his only motivation.

I may not love the guy, but Sam gave him a head nod, and that’s good enough for me. We’ll see where John Walker’s story goes from here and pass judgment on him if and when it’s necessary.

Then there’s Karli. She tries to recruit Bucky to her side, but it doesn’t work. He won’t be swayed. In fact, he tries to talk some sense into her. Both Sam and Bucky have treated her with respect throughout the series, and while it’s true that she’s a killer, she believes she’s fighting for a better world.

Isn’t that what Captain America believes he’s doing, too? Isn’t that Bucky’s new mission, as well?

Unfortunately for her, Karli’s fanaticism is putting distance between her and her soldiers. She’s prepared to die, even prepared to kill their hostages, but her followers don’t think it’s the right call. They fall in line anyway, but the looks they exchange with each other are telling.

When Walker and Karli come to blows, she apologizes to him. She didn’t mean to kill Lamar; his death had no purpose in furthering her cause. Of course, this doesn’t sit right with Walker, but he’s no match for her. And neither is that janky ass shield.

While Karli’s super soldiers are arrested, Batroc, Karli, and Sharon have a standoff in the basement. We learn that Sharon is the Power Broker, and Karli knew all along. Sharon tries to connect with her, to convince her they can still work together, but Batroc ruins in the moment.

When Sharon shoots Batroc because she can’t risk him telling anyone who she is, Karli shoots her in turn. Sam arrives and still—still—he won’t fight her. He tries to get through to her, to make her see there’s a better way.

Karli is angry at Sam for not fighting back, for not seeing that this is the only option. In this moment, I see her as a desperate young woman who’s reached the end of her rope. I truly don’t believe she wants to kill Sam, but she can’t see another way out of the situation—much like not being able to see another way to stop the Patch Act from going through.

Sharon shoots Karli before she can pull the trigger on Sam. I feel as though this was both to save Sam’s life and to protect her identity as the Power Broker. Karli’s last words are “I’m sorry.”

falcon and the winter soldier new suit

Sam’s ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ finale speech

Sam carries Karli’s body to where everyone is waiting, loading her onto a gurney and walking over to some waiting members of the GRC. Sam’s wings are not unlike an angel’s when he descends to earth, holding her dead body, and while I don’t think the show was trying to equate those images, it was most certainly a captivating shot.

There are a lot of ways I could’ve broken down Sam’s incredible speech near the end of the episode, but I never would’ve done it justice. So, instead, I’m using this Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale review to write out the full exchange here:

Ayla: “Sam, thank you so much. From all of us.”
Senator: “Sincerely. You did your part in dealing with those terrorists, now we’ll do ours.”
Sam: “Are you still going forward with resetting the borders?”
Lacont: “Our peacekeeping troops will begin relocating people soon. The terrorists only set us back a bit.”
Sam: “You have to stop calling them terrorists.”
Senator: “What else would we call them?”
Sam: “Your peacekeeping troops carrying weapons are forcing millions of people into settlements around the world, right? What do you think those people are going to call you? These labels, terrorist, refugee, thug, they’re often used to get around the question, ‘Why?'”
Lacont: “Those settlements that happened five years ago, do you think it is fair for governments to have to support them?”
Sam: “Yes.”
Senator: “And the people who reappeared only to find someone else living in their family home, they just end up homeless? Look, I get it. But you have no idea how complicated the situation is.”
Sam: “You know what? You’re right. And that’s a good thing. We finally have a common struggle now. Think about that. For once, all the people who’ve been begging, and I mean, literally begging, for you to feel how hard any given day is, now you know. How did it feel to be helpless? Now, if you could remember what it was like to be helpless, and face a force so powerful it can erase half the planet, you would know that you’re about to have the exact same impact. This isn’t about easy decisions, Senator.”
Senator: “You just don’t understand.”
Sam: “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 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 blond hair or blue eyes. The only power I have is that I believe we can do better. We can’t demand that people step up if we don’t meet them halfway. Look, you control the banks. Shit, you can move borders. You can knock down a forest with an email. You can feed a million people with a phone call. But the question is, who’s in the room with you when you make those decisions? Is it the people you’re going to impact? Or is it just more people like you? I mean, this girl died trying to stop you, and no one has stopped for one second to ask why. You’ve gotta do better, Senator. You’ve gotta step up. Because if you don’t, the next Karli will. And you don’t wanna see 2.0. People believed in her cause so much that they helped her defy the strongest governments in the world. Why do you think that is? Look, you people have just as much power as an insane god or a misguided teenager. The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘How are you going to use it?'”

I’d be lying if I said this speech didn’t bring me to tears. I love that Sam doesn’t have all the answers, but he’s still asking the right questions. He’s telling the GRC that they have to figure out a way to help everyone. That’s their job, after all.

Whether or not Sam was aware, the cameras caught all of this. We see people like Isaiah Bradley and Sarah Wilson watching as Captain America fights for them, and those like them around the globe, with both his fists and his words. I think it’ll go a long way to endearing people to Sam and his cause.

Even Bucky calls him Cap, and when one of the officers asks Sam if he’ll rescue the Flag Smasher in the river before bringing him in, Sam replies with, “Always.”

You gotta love it.

john walker us agent

Other bits and bobs

As the Flag Smashers are headed to the Raft, one of the navy officers whispers, “One World, One People,” much like “Hail Hydra” made its way through previous MCU movies. But they don’t get very far because Zemo’s loyal servant (the old guy from the plane) blows the truck up.

While Zemo smiles at a job well done, Valentina lets us know she might’ve been behind it. But it was for a good cause! She was saving a lot of people from doing a lot of paperwork. A true national hero.

Walker saunters out of a back room fitted in a new suit. It’s pretty much the same as his old one, but black (hmm…). Valentina is a fan: “Things are about to get weird. So, when they do, we’re not gonna need a Captain America. We’re gonna need a U.S. Agent.”

Walker thinks he’s back in business, but even while writing this Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale review, I have my reservations. Valentina is not the U.S. government, which means she’s using Walker to her own ends. Whether or not he realizes that is less important than whether or not he’ll care when he does.

Meanwhile, Bucky finishes making amends and returns the book to his therapist. He’s put in the work, done the hard part, and now he is truly free. The biggest question is what he’ll do now. Whatever it is, I hope Sam is by his side.

Speaking of—Sam visits Isaiah Bradley and tells him the GRC is standing down on the Patch Act. Plus, he has some more wise words: “We built this country. Bled for it. I’m not going to let anybody tell me I can’t fight for it. Not after what everybody before me went through. Including you.”

Isaiah almost buys it, but he’s a tough nut to crack. Sam’s got a surprise for him, though, and takes him to the museum that features Captain America’s long and storied history. As they turn a corner, we see a statue of Isaiah, his story printed on a panel in the background.

“Now they’ll never forget what you did for this country,” Sam says. “Never.”

The past that’s been erased will now see the light once more. America deserves to know where it came from and how it got here today, no matter how dark and dirty that story is. No one can ever give Isaiah his life back, but hopefully there are plenty of kids who will live a better life because of him.

The final credits of Falcon and the Winter Soldier change to Captain America and the Winter Soldier.

It’s official: Sam is our new Captain America.

falcon and the winter soldier episode 6 after credits scene

‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ finale after credits scene

I hope you stuck around for the final scene after the credits rolled. Sharon stands on American soil in front of a council prepared to grant her a full pardon. She gracefully accepts a position in her old division, and they welcome her back as Agent Carter.

While it’s nice to hear that name again, it left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Not everything is as it seems.

After Sharon leaves the building, she raises her phone to her ear and tells the person on the other line to get their buyers together. They’re about to have full government access.

As Karli said earlier in the episode, Sharon wants to control a world that hurt her. I can’t blame her for being angry at the people and institutions that left her high and dry all those years.

But I am afraid of what the Power Broker will do with her new freedom. If she’s selling state secrets simply for revenge, how many people will get hurt in the process, and will she still be redeemable by the end of it?

If there’s a bigger picture here, and she’s doing this to track down some of the world’s most dangerous criminals in order to take them out, then I can get behind a little rule breaking.

Either way, I’m curious to see where everyone from Falcon and the Winter Soldier will go from here and when we’ll see them again.

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