Friday, April 9, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' - Walker Lashes Out with More Senseless Violence in 'The Whole World Is Watching'

Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Episode 1.04 "The Whole World Is Watching"

John Walker loses patience with Sam and Bucky as they learn more about Karli Morgenthau.

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 next episode of Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

"The Whole World Is Watching" was written by Derek Kolstad and directed by Kari Skogland

John Walker has been told he is the best. He is the perfect embodiment of all that Captain America should strive to be. He was chosen to serve as the blatant American symbolism amongst a world of superheroes. The government felt the urgency to put its stamp of approval on this story. It needed to be represented and have a stake in this conflict. It's a necessity. It's a way to show dominance and legitimacy on the world stage. Walker embracing the dark and ugly sides of the American identity also promises to destroy all of that. That is the burden he carries. He doesn't particularly feel heroic for the actions he took on the battlefield. He was rewarded by his government for the valor. But he also been propped up as this authority figure that the entire world must now accept. When people don't buy into that idea, then he quickly grows frustrated. He doesn't want to share the stage with anyone. Sure, Lemar is his partner. They have a fun banter. However, Lemar is always treated as the sidekick. His actions only determine how Walker will react in any given situation. Apparently, he is the person holding back all of these twisted impulses. That's striking. But it also showcases how the show ends each episode on a powerful visual. It does that to entice the viewer to keep coming back for more. It's still a slog getting to that point each time. It feels designed in a perfunctory and fundamentally flawed way. Each episode is set up around whatever shocking twist will happen at its conclusion. Those moments are the bullet points that must be hit. Everything that happens before then is just a forced contortion to get to that point. It's obvious. And yes, it does quite visuals that mean something incredibly profound. It was shocking when a new Captain America showed up with the shield. It was a surprise when the Dora Milaje made their presence known in this conflict. And now, it's devastating to see Captain America's shield drenched in blood. These moments provide visceral reactions. But again, that's all that the show seems willing to explore. It's all style and no substance. Part of that is an extension of Sam's arc being so ill-defined. In this specific episode, he believes he can negotiate peacefully with Karli. He wants to strive for diplomacy even though lives have been lost in this escalating conflict. He acknowledges that the geopolitics of the world have been thrown into turmoil as a result of everything pertaining to the Blip. Karli fighting for the world to embrace a new order instead of going back to the hatred and discrimination that once dominated isn't inherently bad. Her tactics are simply heinous and cannot be condoned. Sam has faced similar pressure to conform and just accept that he can't change the fundamentally flawed systems of the world. He can't do so even though he is a superhero who is recognized everywhere. He is naive and optimistic. That's about it though. It's obvious that all of this is building to a conflict between Sam and Walker over the shield. They will represent different sides of the American identity. It's a fight between good and evil. The narrative tries to make it more complicated than that. And yet, it truly is that basic. Other characters come along to further disrupt this core narrative. Zemo is a much more charismatic and compelling antagonist than Karli. This is all a battle over people who believe they need the super soldier serum in order to fight back and prove the worthiness of their causes. Some people don't have fragile identities like that. And yet, there are plenty of reckless and hot-headed individuals who control the stakes of the world. That's a part of the way life operates. It has to be acceptable. It means people are astonished to see Captain America murder a man with his shield. It's striking. It means people can no longer live in the ignorance of believing this man to be fundamentally good. That's not his story. He may strive for that. He is a pompous individual who has no real understanding of the nature of the human condition across the world. He has been so insulated and propped up as good and noble. That's not true. Sam is more deserving. But again, that's a feeling the viewer is meant to have even though the show hasn't exactly done a good job showcasing the fundamental qualities that would be exemplified if Sam had this responsibility. It's empty in a way that leaves the show flawed no matter how exciting some moments of action actually are.