[Spoilers Abound!]

After the shocking and much discussed conclusion of last week’s episode with the new Captain America John Walker brutally murdering one of the Flag Smashers in revenge for Lemar’s death, this episode carries on in the immediate aftermath with Walker struggling to process what he has just done. Sam and Bucky are on hand to quickly confront him and try to calm him and encourage him to hand over the shield. Walker is reluctant to give up his new found role and so a three way fight ensues and one of this episodes action high points showing the strengths and weaknesses of the trio with Bucky and Sam ultimately prevailing over the newly enhanced Walker.

Walker is subsequently stripped of the title of Captain America and discharged from military duty, what follows his tribunal is one of the episodes biggest surprises as he is greeted by none other than comedy icon Julia Louis Dreyfus of Veep and Seinfeld fame, who appears to ally herself with his world views and offers him reassurance that his actions were the right ones.  While this is only a brief cameo her role is a very mysterious one and we can’t help but think there are big things planned for her character Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine whose comic counterpart has connections to The Thunderbolts and Hydra.

There are rumours abounding that her character has some links to Black Widow and was originally intended to be introduced in her upcoming solo film, whether she retains a role in that film remains to be seen.  While only a brief appearance Louis-Dreyfus makes the character fun and menacing, and it will be most intriguing to see where and how she fits in to the upcoming MCU projects and whether she might be the mysterious Power Broker, although this episode gave us another contender to answer that question.

Much of this episode focuses on the legacy of the shield, which has been a prominent theme throughout, but with a more sedate pace to this episode and less action, it is afforded more time for Sam and Bucky to properly dissect their purpose. Sam reacquaints himself with Isaiah from earlier on in the series, seeking to learn more about history’s discarded Captain America and trying to understand his disdain at the world.

This episode allows Bucky and Sam to interact outside conflict and this gives Stan and Mackie a chance to show some strong chemistry and to further develop their characters, as they help each other deal with difficulties in their lives. Bucky helps Sam to fix his family’s boat and Sam offers advice on how Bucky can escape his long-gestating Hydra demons. The latter half of the episode treats us to a series of training montages of Bucky and particularly Sam becoming more adept at wielding the shield, these are fun sequences and are perhaps reminiscent of the Rocky and Creed films famous montages.

While this episode is more centred on our titular duo, we do see glimpses at other players, with Sharon Carter throwing up a series of questions as to her motives, seemingly releasing Batroc the French mercenary audiences first encountered in The Winter Soldier and who resurfaced in the series premiere. Some have questioned if Sharon might be the Power Broker and this seemingly could be a major indicator. As the episode reaches its conclusion, Batroc joins with the Flag Smashers as they launch an attack on the GRC meeting on displaced individuals.

While this episode is lighter on action than the previous couple of episodes, it poses some interesting questions on heroism and race in America, its longer run-time allows the characters more time to interact in a meaningful way and for the episode to feel less frenetic than this series has at times.  With just one episode to go there are still many unanswered questions, will the Contessa appear next week or is her role for future films or series? Walker appears set to feature as a major antagonist next week and with the flag smashers given a new asset, they seem deadlier than ever, so it promises to be one of the most action-packed MCU projects to date. While the majority of these threads will likely be resolved next week, it wouldn’t be a stretch for some to overlap in further Marvel film and TV projects.