Friday, March 19, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' - Sam and Bucky Try to Move On With Their Lives After the Blip in 'New World Order'

Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Episode 1.01 "New World Order"

Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes realize that their futures are anything but normal.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

"New World Order" was written by Malcolm Spellman and directed by Kari Skogland

Across the Marvel films, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes were defined through their relationships with Steve Rogers. They supported Captain America on the various missions. After the Blip though, Steve retired from life as a hero. He traveled back in time to embrace the life that was more fitting for him as a civilian. It's not the life Sam or Bucky chose. They have to find a way to move forward. Sam was given a path. Steve gifted him with his shield. It was a passing of the baton to the next generation in the hopes that more heroes can inspire this world. Steve wasn't leaving this world without any protection. He knew that the heroes existed to always keep it safe. But this premiere also suggests that the power of the Captain America imagery extends far beyond any of the other heroic identities. It's a statement on American culture. This hero exists as a form of national pride. He is a loyal soldier highlighting the best this country and the government have to offer. That image is powerful. It must be protected. Sam acts in some naive ways. Part of that comes from him not understanding the world as it currently exists after five years of being gone. Bucky also feels adrift because he too has peace for the first time in a century. He is no longer solely fighting wars on behalf of those who control his identity. He has agency for the first time. It's a thrilling prospective. And yet, he mourns and laments all the pain he has caused so many people. He isn't responsible for the damage done. That despair consumes him. That makes up his entire character arc. Sam and Bucky are friends. However, their friendship may extend solely from them both being close confidantes of Steve. Without him in their lives, it feels more performative. It's them going through the motions of what's expected of them instead of living how they genuinely want to. Of course, it makes it odd that the show's two title characters don't interact at all in the premiere. That means it drags along a little bit as well. They will more than likely come together soon because of the various conflicts brewing in this dangerous and uncertain new world. Those are just teased here though. Instead, the priority of the overall story comes from the two of them struggling to adjust to this new world. Sam can still be of service as the Falcon. He knows how to be heroic in that way. And yes, the opening sequence is a lot of fun and impressive to watch. It captures his precise skills. It also shows consideration for international borders in a way that this universe has rarely done in the past. In fact, the storytelling seems to suggest further examination of the government and the way in which it frequently squeezes out the poor and disenfranchised in this country. Sam doesn't believe Captain America's shield belongs to him. He wants to donate it to the Smithsonian exhibit honoring his friend. In reality though, the government takes possession in order to offer up its own version of the hero. Someone new steps into that role. It's someone completely new. No one knows if he can uphold the ideals that Steve lived his life by. The government took advantage of Sam. He can't even get a loan to save his family boat either. That was a reality his sister was willing to accept. In fact, it's easy to believe why this business is failing. The family is perfectly fine letting seafood sit out in the sun for an hour before delivery. Sam wants a connection to this world. He feels that burden. He believes his government contracts should be good enough. They aren't. He can't prove himself as someone dependable for this loan. He can risk his life to save this world and the people in it. He could step up as the symbol of hope and courage that America craves. He fears that responsibility. He knows all that it entails because he saw it up close. He wants to be with his family. The world may not let him. Instead, he will be of service to the military because various conspiracies threaten the way of life on Earth. That has a significant impact on everyone. The citizens and the government don't always appreciate that. Sure, it's curious how the Flag-Smashers associate the Blip with the desire to erase all international borders. Those two ideas don't seem all that related. That may muddy the overall examination of government accountability and responsibility. The character beats with Sam and Bucky still work though. The emotional heft of the storytelling is genuine. It simply needs a bit more cohesion and interaction of these various ideas. This slow start may not be indicative of anything moving forward. But the actions of this show will certainly establish what the audience can expect of this world and the mournful quality that radiates everywhere now as a result of the Blip. Those consequences can't be ignored. As such, the show itself has the responsibility to delve into those concepts. The action moments are still requisite and well-executed. The meaning behind it all has to be more potent now in order for the audience to actually remain engaged with these characters as they currently exist. That's a tall order that requires absolute confidence in all areas of the craft.