TV REVIEW: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4 (2021)
Following last week’s trip to Madripor and a taste of the criminal underbelly of the MCU, the majority of the 4th episode entitled The Whole World is Watching largely takes place in Riga where Bucky, Sam and Zemo have tracked the flag smashers. Following the surprise cameo appearance of Ayo (Florence Kasumba) at the conclusion of last week’s episode we learn the Wakandan’s, specifically the Dora Milaje are after Zemo following his escape from prison and give Bucky 8 hours for him to help track the Flag Smashers.
We see a brief sequence of Bucky while he was residing in Wakanda, events which are largely depicted off screen between Civil War and Infinity War. This goes some distance to explaining how he has overcome his Winter Soldier programming with Shuri and Ayo helping him to overcome his keywords. Its refreshing to see Ayo given a larger role here, as she perhaps feels somewhat of a neglected character in Civil War, Infinity War and Black Panther. The scenes with her and the Dora Milaje in this episode should whet the appetite for Ryan Coogler’s upcoming sequel and TV series both in development.
Daniel Bruhl once again excels in this episode as Baron Zemo, being at once funny yet deeply menacing, as the audience are never sure what trick he will pull next and he is fast deepening his claim to be one of the best MCU villains. His obsession with Turkish delight in this episode offering it as a reward to some children for information on Karli’s whereabouts is reminiscent of course of The White Witch in CS Lewis’s The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe.
Large portions of this episode are dedicated to Sam trying to figure out a way of getting through to Erin Kellyman’s Karli and they appear to have developed an understanding of one another when they do stop to talk through her desire to restore the world to its previous state. These sequences showcase Mackie and Kellyman’s talents and it is testament to Kellyman that she is able to hold her own in these scenes, it is remarkable to think she is only 22 and has starred in Solo A Star Wars Story and this series, making her most certainly a name for audiences to look out for.
This episode gives audiences more of a glimpse at our new Captain America John Walker, who now seems firmly at odds with Bucky and Sam, especially after they let Zemo loose. We learn more about his desires to succeed in his new role as Captain America and relationship with Lemar. The friction between Walker and the rest of the core cast adds tension to proceedings. Following a scuffle with the Dora Milaje, which is one of the episodes stand out sequences, Walker’s predicament over whether or not to take the super soldier serum makes his morality interesting, showing how far he is willing to go.
Spoilers: While we don’t see Walker take the serum (the rest of which has been destroyed by Zemo), we see the effect it has on his already considerable fighting abilities as he is able to easily take on multiple Flag Smashers. The episode’s final moments following Lemar’s accidental death are some of the most brutal in the MCU and have proved a topic of discussion. Walker killing a Flag Smasher with Captain America’s shield and the blood stained final shot of him holding the shield will live long in the memory.
This episode has been labelled by many as the best in the series and it is not hard to see why, it balances many of the best elements of the first three episodes – putting Sam and Bucky to good use and further demonstrating Daniel Bruhl’s brilliance. The moral murkiness of the Flag Smashers is explored better, showing more of their motivations and John Walker is given far more development, setting him up to be a main antagonist for the final two episodes of the series’ run. The final two episodes have a lot to be resolved as we are given further teases about the Power Broker and with the Flag Smashers still at large and Walker now a loose canon, it remains to be seen if these will all be tied up in this series or whether some of the storylines will be continued in a subsequent film or series.