The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Ep. 4: Clues, Takeaways & Predictions
After delivering an exciting cliffhanger for fans last week with the return of Dora Milaje member Ayo, Disney+’s latest Marvel Cinematic Universe series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is back with its fourth episode and the stakes are getting higher for the titular duo as the clock is ticking for them to bring Karli and the Flag Smashers down.
Clues: Bucky’s Deprogramming, Flag Smasher’s New Plans and Sam & Karli are Bonding
On the heels of seeing Ayo appear in the last episode, this week opens with a flashback to Bucky’s time in Wakanda shortly before the events of Infinity War, in which he and Ayo are seen to be working together to assist in his deprogramming, reciting the code words to see if they activate The Winter Soldier but it fails, with a tearful Bucky grateful. In the present, he explains his actions to the Dora Milaje soldier, who agrees to give the White Wolf eight hours to use Zemo to find Karli before they come for him.
In the meantime, we see Karli and the Flag Smashers camped out in an isolated area of a forest listening to the news that the Global Repatriation Council is drafting new legislation to reinstate border regulations in response to her attack on the Lithuanian storage depot that killed numerous people.
Sam, Bucky and Zemo head to the refugee camp in Latvia in search of information about Donya Modani and Karli’s connection to her, though are mostly turned away by those in the area, except for Zemo, who is able to bribe the children with candy to learn of the location of Donya’s funeral. In an attempt to keep leverage over Sam and Bucky, he refuses to tell them its location but instead lead them there, with Sam reaching out to Sharon to ask for help. She offers to utilize satellites she has access to, though warns that the Power Broker is very irate that Dr. Wilfred Nagel is dead and they need to bring in Karli and the super serum in fast.
Before heading to the funeral and delivering her eulogy for Mama Donya, Karli acquires the remaining vials of the super soldier serum from its hiding place, a secret compartment part of the tomb for the grandfather of one of the Flag Smashers.
As they head to meet the child who will lead them to the memorial, Sam, Bucky and Zemo are interrupted by Walker and Hoskins, the latter of who wants to go in fast and catch Karli off guard and arrest her, though Sam argues that with his past as a counselor for veterans, he should go in alone and talk to her about revising her approach to her cause. While Walker gives pushback, Hoskins agrees and they head to the area, with all but Sam hanging back and watching over a handcuffed Zemo.
While chatting about her methods and Sam slowly breaking through to Karli, an impatient Walker interrupts and attempts to arrest her, leading to a pursuit in which Zemo seemingly escapes as well, though he’s caught up to Karli and shoots and wounds her and destroys nearly all the super soldier serum until he is knocked out by Walker, who finds the last vial intact and pockets it.
Frustrated at Sam’s betrayal of her trust, Karli devises a plan to separate him and Bucky and kill the new Captain America in retaliation for the destruction of the vials.
Back at Zemo’s hideout, where he toys with Sam’s mind over whether he’d take the serum and the need to eliminate the existence of all super soldiers, Walker and Hoskins storm in and order the titular duo turn Zemo over to their custody. Before Sam and Walker can throw fists, they are interrupted by the Dora Milaje and Walker’s personality pushes him and Hoskins to fight the group, requiring Sam and Bucky to step in and help before they can be killed. However, Zemo escapes (properly) in the commotion, Bucky is disarmed (literally) by Ayo and Walker is left distraught he was beaten by a group without super soldier serum in them.
Seemingly swayed by her talk with Sam, Karli reaches out to his sister Sarah to set up a meeting between them, though threatens her and her kids should Sam not adhere to her instructions. Arriving at Karli’s meeting, she downplays the threat as simply wanting to ensure he knew she was serious and asks he join her in her cause, but before he can decide, he receives a call from Sharon noting Walker’s location as walking into a trap, with Bucky and Sam taking off to save him and Hoskins.
Meanwhile, Walker and Hoskins make their way through an abandoned building and are separated, with Hoskins being captured and tied up and a distressed Walker making an off-camera decision to take the serum. As Sam and Bucky arrive, they find Walker successfully fighting back against Dovich, clearly now powered-up, and attempt to aid him in his fight against the Flag Smashers to save Hoskins. However, he arrives mid-fight to save Walker from a knife attack by Karli and is subsequently killed when she delivers a devastating punch to his chest that sends him into a nearby pillar.
Realizing what she’s done, Karli and the Flag Smashers flee the scene, though a vengeance-fueled Walker chases after the Flag Smasher whose grandfather’s grave was used to hide the remaining serum. Cornering him at a nearby statue, Walker beats the Smasher to death with his shield in front of a horrified crowd, looking out at them with a now bloody shield as the episode ends.
Takeaways: Walker is a Super-Powered Killer, Zemo’s in the Wind and The Power Broker’s Pissed
Well what an ending, eh? From the moment the character was confirmed to be in the series and introduced in the final moments of the pilot, fans have been waiting with bated breath for when the ball would drop and Walker would show his darker side and the time is finally here as we not only got an insight into his crumbling mental psyche and impatient approach to conducting his mission, but the extremes he’s willing to go to, including taking the super soldier serum without a second thought and murdering a Flag Smasher for revenge. Given the rampage the titular duo incurred while visiting Madripoor in the last episode, it’s no surprise the Power Broker is a little upset, but this week seemingly confirmed that the person Sharon was talking to as she drove away from Sam and Bucky was the leader of the island, leaving one to continue to wonder how loyal she’ll be to him if he decides to turn on Sam and Bucky. Much like Walker’s heel turn, audiences have been on the edge of their seats waiting for Zemo to reveal some grand evil plan or to bail on Sam and Bucky and after a few fake-outs in this and last week’s episodes, the villain is now officially in the wind and his motives and future are very unclear. One lighter note found in this week’s episode could be seen in the light bond built between Sam and Karli as he attempted to reason with her on multiple occasions to change her course instead of strictly attempting to arrest or fight her, which could hold weight for the two’s interactions in the final two episodes.
Predictions: Civil War Fight Recreation, Sam Will Break Through to Karli and Walker’s Going to Jail
Given how many times Bucky has floated the idea to Sam and Walker’s latest dark action with the item, all signs are pointing to the titular heroes having to come to blows with the new Captain America in order to take the iconic vibranium shield from him for one of them to take up the mantle. But with Walker now becoming super-powered, we could very well see a recreation of the emotional fight from the finale of Civil War, only with Falcon and Winter Soldier facing off against Cap instead of Cap and Winter Soldier versus Iron Man.
There is seven years, 14 films and a television series between Sam’s introduction in The Winter Soldierwhich makes it very understandable that some viewers may have forgotten that, prior to his time as an Avenger, he was a counselor for soldiers with PTSD at the VA and therefore is versed enough in conversational tactics to break through to someone such as Karli and bring her to the brighter side of things. With his own displacement from The Blip and struggles at home, he can build that proper emotional connection to her and her cause and if this episode’s initial meeting between the two pointed to anything, it’s that Sam knows she’s just as scared as she is committed and neither wants her dead or arrested, just on a more morally-clear path, and with Walker, the Power Broker and Zemo all a part of the story, there’s plenty of other villains to shift Sam and Bucky’s focus to in order to allow Karli a shot at redemption.
A big point that Civil War introduced into the larger MCU that has carried over into Ant-Man and The Waspand this show in particular is that not even heroes are exempt from the law, especially if their actions don’t result in a successful mission, and with Walker straight up murdering the Flag Smasher at the end of this episode for multiple cameras to see, there’s no way he doesn’t go to prison at the end of all this. Even if the big fight between the titular duo and Walker does happen as predicted, they won’t go so far as to kill him and the mildly-shady GRC will not likely support him if he’s defeated by the two, which will leave the US government no other choice but to lock him up for his horrific actions.
It’s kind of hard, for the time being, to predict how things will go for Zemo in the remaining episodes of the series given that Marvel is very much a fan of leaving villain threads open for future projects, case in point Loki’s disappearance in Avengers: Endgame leading into the forthcoming Disney+ series. While both father and son Zemo’s in the comics have ties to various supervillain groups, the problem is none of the members of these groups have been introduced in the MCU as of yet and Helmut’s general motivation for his turn to villainy is different enough from the comics that it’s hard to try and determine where he would go next. Maybe back to Madripoor to overthrow the Power Broker….