Friday, April 23, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' - Sam Finally Makes His Debut as the New Captain America in 'One World, One People'

Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Episode 1.06 "One World, One People"

As the Flag-Smashers escalate their efforts, Sam and Bucky take action.

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 season finale of Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

"One World, One People" was written by Malcolm Spellman & Josef Sawyer and directed by Kari Skogland

What does it mean for a Black man to be Captain America? That's not something Steve thought about when he gave the shield to Sam. It's not something Bucky thought about when he chastised Sam for giving the shield away. This entire season was about Sam feeling confident in taking over the mantle. It was a personal transformation for him. The show is titled The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. By the end of this finale, the title notably changes to Captain America and the Winter Soldier. Of course, that also feels like a slight to Bucky. The Winter Soldier program has been removed from his head. The action was very pointed about that. Zemo couldn't activate him once more. Ayo was involved in that deprogramming. And yet, that moniker still applies to his overall identity. People certainly view him more as a hero now. The Wakandans even gave him the name White Wolf. Bucky even thanks his therapist at the end of this story for how she helped him. And yet, that character arc doesn't make a whole lot of sense. No time is actually given to him dealing with the consequences of telling Yori what he did to his son. It was clear this season was all about Sam. Everyone else was basically thrown to the sidelines. It didn't matter if their stories made any sense at all. Many baffling creative decisions were made. Why did the Dora Milaje send Zemo to The Raft? That isn't a secure enough facility for him. That's evidenced by him still killing the remaining members of the Flag-Smashers. Val even recognizes him as being responsible for that attack. The Wakandans were motived to finally get justice for their fallen king. And then, this ending is baffling. The same applies to Walker. The peak of his story was obviously the fight with Sam and Bucky over the shield. He used it to commit murder. It was captured on camera. He was disavowed by the American government. He could no longer carry on the name of Captain America. He was immediately given a new opportunity from Val. She appreciated his skillset. He is right back in the battle with Karli though. He must avenge Lemar's death. He promised Lemar's family that the person responsible was killed. He lied to them. He enters this battle still cosplaying as Captain America. It's confusing. Moreover, the show suddenly wants to view him as being redeemed. It's such an odd creative choice. The narrative points out a decision he must make between going after Karli and saving the truckload of hostages. He tries to save the diplomats. He fails. Sam gets to fly in as the hero. This is his shiny entrance as the new Captain America. The one that the world needs right now. The one who can talk some common sense into the leaders deciding the fates of millions of people. But again, moments occur where Sam and Bucky are fighting alongside Walker. They help him out even when it comes at the expense of those they are trying to protect. It makes no sense whatsoever given everything that happened up to this point. Bucky and Walker even share a moment of banter after they use the Flag-Smasher app to lure them into a trap. It's weird. It's not an earned moment. Not a lot in this finale actually is though. That extends to the big reveal that Sharon is the Power Broker. That was always going to be disappointing. The show built up this title. It didn't mean anything. The Power Broker didn't have a meaningful impact on the story. It was just a name often alluded to. It suggests a significant heel turn for Sharon. That is potentially interesting character shading for her. She never gets to play into that moment though. Only the last few scenes of the season delve into that. That's just a waste of time for a mystery that had no stakes whatsoever. But again, the show was hoping all of this would be worth it for the big moment where Sam gets to share his experience with the world hoping they will approach life with a newfound understanding. It's a large goal. One that isn't likely to succeed. He still hopes to be persuasive. The show certainly creates a swelling moment being recorded where Sam hopefully changes hearts and minds. It's still going to take hard work to handle the humanitarian crisis as a result of the Blip. Those changes aren't just gone. Sam tells senators to figure it out. They are suppose to make the hard decisions and listen to the people living these difficult experiences. That's what they should do. It continues the trend of Sam being too optimistic and naive about the government. He hopes for the best. He is surprised when the worst impulses are rewarded. That is still very much the case. And again, Sam and Bucky contribute to that discourse. The show doesn't particularly seem to be aware of that. Instead, it opts for sentimentality as Isaiah Bradley's story is finally told. That's sweet and moving. This relationship fosters great conversations for Sam as he embarks on this journey. It's a necessary perspective. It doesn't highlight any strong quality that ensures the future for Captain America is just as nuanced and compelling as what the past always embodied. It's a tall order that mostly falls flat despite noble and genuine ambitions for a serious conversation on race.