by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Episode 6
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Or, should I say, Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
The conclusion we’ve all been anticipating since the first moments of the series, with Sam finally taking up the mantle of Captain America, came to fruition in this week’s season finale, an action-packed and entertaining, yet somewhat predictable and underwhelming ending.
Going into the season finale, episode 6, titled One World, One People, had a lot to accomplish. Two of the five episodes that aired so far largely gave the central narrative a backseat and, as such, it was difficult to go into the finale without a feeling of: so, this is it? It just seems that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had so many different avenues to explore and, just when things started to get far more interesting in the last few episodes, the season is coming to a premature close.
And this season closer doesn’t waste any time as we’re thrown right into the mix of things from the start. This was a little jarring considering the meandering pace of the last episode, emphasizing a more systemic issue with this series’ pacing. That being said, the brisk pace affords a host of exciting opportunities for climatic action and suspense. It’s an action-packed episode with each and every sequence expertly crafted by director Kari Skogland.
Where this finale particularly struggles is how all of the different characters’ plot threads come to a conclusion. With John Walker joining Sam and Bucky, Karli becoming increasingly radical despite her good intentions, and the reveal of Sharon as the seemingly not so villainous Power Broker, it’s difficult to discern what we’re supposed to think of all these characters in the end. This season has played around extensively with themes of heroism and villainy, making us question who should we really be rooting for. But, come the end of the season, we’re left with unsatisfying answers to this question. Walker seemed to have become a villain, consumed by his rage that finally unveiled his true colors. So, it was confusing to see him be turned into a hero allying with our titular characters. Also confusing was where we’re supposed to land on Karli in the end. Her intentions to oppose the displacement of survivors of the Snap have been relatable since the introduction of the Flag Smashers. But, after teasing a redemption and an alliance with Sam, Karli becomes more and more merciless. Yes, we as an audience agree with her fight wholeheartedly, but not at all with the way she conducted this fight. What message were they going for exactly with their final alignment of Walker, Karli, and Sharon? Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell.
The episode triumphs, however, in spotlighting Sam Wilson as Captain America. The suit is incredible, as is Anthony Mackie’s stellar performance once again as the character. Previous conversations regarding what it would be like for a Black man to be Captain America are fully capitalized on and exploring in touching and emotionally resonant ways. This is hammered home in Sam’s conversation with Isaiah, highlighting one of the series’ brightest moments.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier comes to a somewhat abrupt and underwhelming conclusion after significant improving in recent episodes. Convoluted character values and jarring pacing, however, are offset by well-executed attention to relevant sociopolitical themes and a slew of enthralling action sequences.
Images courtesy of Marvel Studios and Disney+