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Ah, remember the good old innocent days when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was all about Zemo’s dancing?
Well, the music was brought to an abrupt halt in episode 4 of Marvel's Disney+ show, as things finally got serious.
Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) are still on the trail of the super-soldier serum sipping Flag-Smashers, led by one Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), who either wants to save the post-Blip world or blow it to hell. No one’s really sure, not even her.
But the shady new (boo!) Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), and his sidekick Lemar Hoskins/Battlestar (Clé Bennett) are also along for the ride. And it is one that is about to get bumpy. And bloody.
*WARNING: This article contains spoilers for episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier*
1. Wakanda forever
Episode 3 ended with a super surprise all the way from Wakanda, when Ayo (Florence Kasumba), the second-in-command of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje female bodyguards, turned up in Riga to tell Bucky it was time for Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) to hand in his dance card.
Zemo remains a wanted man in Wakanda for murdering its King T'Chaka in Captain America: Civil War, and Ayo ain’t playing, telling Bucky he has eight hours before they come for him.
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Episode 4 kicks off with a really powerful flashback scene during Bucky’s time as the White Wolf in Wakanda, where Ayo tests him by reeling off his Winter Soldier programme codewords and he successfully remains a non-killing machine, complete with tears streaming down his face.
Back in real time, Bucky promises her that Zemo is merely “a means to an end” and that he is grateful for what she and tech genius Shuri, the sister of Black Panther, have done to aid his recovery.
What he didn’t know they’d done, however, is come up with a rather handy way to remove him of his mechanical arm, which leaves him a bit flummoxed in one of this episode’s many fight scenes later.
2. Good old Uncle Zemo
When he isn’t setting the internet on fire with his dancing, Zemo is running rings around anyone who dares pretend to have him in their custody.
Sam and Bucky are definitely hands-off when it comes to parenting, letting their alleged captive bribe some kids to find out the location of Karli’s mentor Mama Donya’s funeral. “Turkish delight… irresistible!”
He spends most of this episode trying to convince Sam not to see the good side in Karli, who is becoming a little more bloodthirsty in her plans to free the world from oppression.
3. Flag-Smashers smash!!
Despite the fact she killed three people in last week’s bombing of a Global Repatriation Council (GRC) medical supplies building, Sam wants to give Karli a chance, which seems like a rather foolhardy decision.
“It doesn’t have to be a war,” he tells her, even though everyone spends this episode fighting. Take a look around, Sam.
Karli grabs the remaining vials of the super-soldier serum the Flag-Smashers have pilfered from the mysterious Power Broker and talks global politics with fellow member Nico (Noah Mills), who claims he was a big Captain America fan when he was a kid. Uh-oh.
“That shield is a monument to a bygone era,” says Karli, as she hatches a plan to kill off the new Captain America, no doubt sparking cheers across mean meme-making social media.
4. O Captain! My Captain America!
The show hasn’t exactly been subtle in its treatment of Walker so far, which is kind of a pity because he could have been the most interesting thing about it, but the leap he takes at the end of this episode from cocksure bully to cold murderer is still shocking.
Having had his ass kicked since he became the new Cap (“They weren’t even super-soldiers,” he whines to Hopkins when discussing his beating at the hands of the Dora Milaje), Walker decides to change the odds after swiping the Flag-Smashers’ remaining vial of serum — Zemo destroyed the rest before taking a star-plated shield to the head.
So when Karli kills Hopkins in the final fight of the episode - there are so many I lost count - Walker seeks his own all-too public retribution, chasing down Nico and bloodying that shield in the most brutal way possible.
Episode 4 verdict: Unfortunately, after two rather intriguing episodes and the wonderful introduction to the shiny new dangerous world of Madripoor, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier returned to the shakier ground of its first episode, complete with by-the-numbers fight scenes (all caused by numerous characters' stupidity) and lots of blather about how the world has changed forever.
We’ve seen all this stuff before, so it’s a shame it was laid on so thickly again in this episode. But the shocking ending (the MCU doesn’t usually do blood) promises much for the remaining two episodes. For Karli and Cap, there surely is no going back.
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