When it came to watching ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ every week, the show proved to be an entertaining and thrilling ride. However once I had some time to really process that finale, it became clear to me just how big of a mess this show was. While the show does get its most crucial point across effectively, everything else concludes in a very questionable manner. This show is a classic case of a great premise with a deeply flawed ending.
The one concept this show nails on the head is the concept of ‘Captain America’ and how he is perceived by the different communities that live in the country. In my opinion, this show has done more that character than his MCU trilogy ever did. Those movies focused on Steve Rogers and while ‘Civil War’ delves into the freedom of the character, they never quite touch upon what it means to be a symbol of America, a country with an incredibly diverse population. Despite having a heart of gold, Steve Rogers never fully understood the struggles so many people of colour are constantly facing. He didn’t even understand the immense pressure Sam would be taking on as the new Captain America when he passed the shield onto him. A white guy with blond hair and blue eyes is easily accepted because it’s the type of person America rewards. It’s why John Walker was so favourable because he is quite literally another white man with blonde hair and blue eyes. His moral compass or war backstory wasn’t taken into account as much as his strength and appearance were. When a black man wears the stars and stripes, however, he gets bombarded with the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Having an African-American hero represent the country is obviously going to make some people uneasy because they are going to be reminded of the tribulations African-Americans face in their own country every single day. The country still looks at Sam as a man of the people despite literally being an Avenger. It’s one of the many reasons why that cop scene in Episode 2 is so infuriating to watch.
If there’s one thing these Marvel Disney Plus shows are doing, it’s that it’s taking these characters and exploring complex topics through them. Wanda going thru immense trauma is something the movies would’ve never done as successfully as ‘WandaVision’ and the commentary here wouldn’t have as much depth had it been done in a movie. The penultimate episode was fantastic at opening up the discussion of a black man being Captain America, it honestly blew me away because like Bucky, I too didn’t understand why he gave up the shield in the pilot. Isaiah Bradley’s inclusion was incredibly necessary and I would go so far as to say that he’s the heart of the series. While the show doesn’t correct America’s horrid past with people of colour, it does make an effort to highlight the impact people of colour have had on the country. That scene in the finale was arguably one of the best scenes in the entire series. All of this being said though, ‘Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ fumbles the bag quite a bit when it comes to the finale.
For a show so politically relevant, it is genuinely baffling to see how they turned John Walker into a quirky CW-level sidekick in the finale. The show’s fourth episode ends with what is one of the MCU’s darkest scenes yet with John Walker tainting the shield with blood in front of the entire world. It’s an excellent scene, that shot is imprinted in my brain. However, I still don’t understand why the show felt the need to redeem him after that. He was never particularly likeable and he rarely suffered the consequences and repercussions of doing something horrifying like that. It never sat right with me, the fact that in the finale he becomes the U.S. Agent and ends up gleefully cheering “I’m back!”, especially when he never left. He only got his costume and shield taken away and now he has a new one so what did he really lose? It’s also especially odd when Karli is the one who ends up dying in the finale and not him, I would say there’s an added layer of commentary where the white guy murders someone and gets away with it but the show never takes it seriously. The show wants to redeem him when he should be behind bars. His entire involvement in the finale is bizarre from start to finish and it’s a shame because he was really shaping up to be an interesting character.
It’s also bizarre for a show with such a low episode count to include this many unnecessary characters especially when the finale is essentially a huge action scene. While I understand and partly agree with Twitter’s love for Zemo, his involvement wasn’t really justified, I look back on the show and it feels like filler material whenever he was around which is a lot. Sharon Carter’s inclusion was easily the most unnecessary as not even this show could make her interesting. It was disappointing to see her end-credit scene and realizing she has a bigger role especially when I couldn’t care less. All of this runtime should’ve been further split between Sam and Bucky, the latter, especially since his arc, feels non-existent. He goes from being torn by PTSD to I guess not having PTSD. They never really made that big an effort to explore his character and his mental health which is pretty disappointing because there was plenty of room for it. The finale rushed in a couple of scenes and called it a day which is again, disappointing considering he’s the second lead.
Overall, ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ is a mixed bag. It has some excellent moments and Sam’s overall arc was definitely the highlight of the show. That being said, the utter disappointment in everything else results in a show which I honestly wouldn’t revisit. I am incredibly eager for Captain America 4 with Anthony Mackie though but I do hope the writers write a more cohesive story and actually stick to what they’re saying this time.