TV REVIEW: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 2 (2021)
Following on from the ending of its opening episode with the reveal of the new Captain America, episode two picks up with Sam and Bucky reeling from this latest revelation, with Bucky aghast at Sam’s decision to hand over Steve Rogers’ shield to the US Government, seemingly letting down the pairs’ trusted friend. This adds an interesting dynamic to proceedings and further sows the seeds of doubt within both, as to whether they are up to the task of carrying Steve’s legacy.
We are introduced to the new mysterious Captain America – John Walker (Wyatt Russell) at the outset of the episode. He seems to be a prime candidate to take the shield, with an illustrious military record, but whether or not he is all that he seems, appears to be a major plot thread for this series. He butts heads with Bucky and Sam on multiple occasions in this episode, with the duo not sure of whether to trust him and pool their considerable collective resources.
One of the episode’s strengths is the way it introduces Walker, playing him as the everyman and an ideal candidate to follow on from Steve. The opening segment with him having an interview on Good Morning America, plays almost like some of the pro-America PR from The First Avenger. Walker clearly has an aptitude for the shield, helping out Steve and Sam in a mission to stop the Flag Smashers and more than holding his own.
Following on from the introduction of the The Flag Smashers in the opening episode, we find our heroes hot on their heels trying to ascertain their motives and prevent them causing chaos as they try to restore “balance” brought about during the five years of Thanos’ snap. The group are revealed to be super soldiers, which opens up a multitude of questions for the remainder of the series to answer; eg. how were they enhanced and where did they get their abilities from?
In search of answers, the duo meet with Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) who fans will know as the comics’ Black Captain America. In the series he has been discarded by history, much to Sam’s dismay, leading to a confrontation between him and Bucky. This episode, as with the opener, dives into African-American culture more than previous Marvel projects, with Sam also subject to racial profiling by the cops.
As with in the opening episode, the action of this episode is high octane, echoing Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The fight atop moving trucks between Walker, Lemar Hoskins/Battlestar (Clé Bennett), Sam, Bucky and The Flag Smashers (mainly Karli, played by Erin Kellyman) is particularly exhilarating, and shows how much effort Marvel has put into replicating the feel and ferocity of the set-pieces it puts on the big screen and this sequence would not be out of place in one of its film titles.
The series isn’t afraid to employ moments of humour to keep proceedings grounded and the chemistry and banter between Sam and Bucky is far more fleshed out here than in the films. The slightly fractious nature of their relationship is developed in interesting ways, but there are glimpses the pair could develop a closer bond as the series progresses. A dual therapy session between the pair is a particular comedic highlight.
A step up from the opening episode, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier appears to be coming into its own, as our heroes our united and we learn more about protagonists and antagonists. With more returning characters to follow, we can expect the series to continue to grow in scale. This episode is a fantastic advert for Mackie and Stan, showing some great chemistry and deepening the legacy of both their respective characters. With a tantalising glimpse of returning villain Helmut Zemo at the episode’s close, the show promises to deliver more in its coming episodes.