Bucky and Sam try to find their place in the “New World Order”

© Disney+

I’m going to try to give a review of episode one of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier without doing a recap and avoiding plot spoilers until the end. This episode is a good opening act, establishing where are characters are emotionally and situationally since the end of Avengers: Edngame. The trailers I had seen had made this seem mostly like a action adventure not unlike one of the theatrical Avengers movies, with more than a bit of the buddy cop vibe that some of the solo MCU movies pulled off. That isn’t quite what we get in the first episode.

I have to admit, while I have been looking forward to this show, I was wondering really what the writers had in mind for these two characters. What do they have in common other than they were each, at different stages of Captain America’s life his best buddy and sidekick. Which doesn’t seem like enough to build a good character repartee.

The first episode acknowledges this by showing us that the two characters are not interacting with each other at all. Bucky his working with a psychiatrist to try to recover both from years of being a brainwashed assassin, and the trauma of being one of the people snapped out of existence by Thanos, only to suddenly come back into existence five years later, to find a world that has moved on.

Which is another thing that he and Falcon/Sam Wilson have in common. In Sam’s case, he’s come back from the blip to find his parents dead, and his sister struggling to keep the fishing business that has been in their family for generations afloat, on top of being a single mother.

Before I talk about any of more of the set up, I should pause here to talk about the opening. On certain parts of the fannish internet a lot of women are losing their minds over the very opening where Sam is seen using and iron and an ironing board to iron a button-down dress shirt. There are memes out there already about how sexy women find it when a man knows how to iron his own shirt. As a man who owns an iron and an ironing board and has been known to iron dress shirts and slacks and such before going to certain important social events where one is expected to dress up, the scene didn’t quite have that effect on me. It seemed, to me, perfectly in character based on how self-sufficient Sam had been shown to be in the first MCU we ever saw him in, Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Sam was ironing the shirt because he was attending a ceremony at the Smithsonian related to the Captain America exhibit there. The scene’s purpose in the story is to establish that, despite having Cap himself hand over his shield at the end of Avengers Endgame and telling Sam to take over the role of Captain America, Sam doesn’t believe that he—or anyone else—should take up that mantle.

We next see Sam in an incredible aerial battle, where he is working with U.S. government forces to try to rescue an US Air Force officer from terrorists. It is an incredible scene that looks good enough to appear in one of the theatrical MCU releases. It clearly establishes that despite his misgivings, Sam is more than capable of stepping into Captain America’s shoes. The sequence will remind you a lot of the opening of Winter Soldier, and not just because the leader of the badguys is Batroc, who was the leader of the bad guys in that fight, as well.

Bucky’s sequences with his psychiatrist and some people he has tried to befriend do a great job of showing you how much of a struggle it is for him to try to lead an ordinary life. He’s trying to make amends for as many of the bad things he did during the years he was brainwashed by Hydra as he can. And his scene include a couple of particular heart wrenching moments in that regard. While Sam is working for the government as a contract operative, Bucky is apparently just working under conditions of a pardon. Regularly meeting with his psychiatrist is one of those conditions.

The first episode also sets us up with at a terrorist organization and at least one antagonist that we can assume will be the source of conflict for the rest of the series.

I was a bit worried when we reached the end of the episode, because I had assumed this series was going to be eight to ten episodes long, and they had done a good enough job putting pieces on the board in this one that I was worried the middle episodes would drag. I have since learned that the series is only six episode long, and presuming more of them with be about 43-minutes long as the first episode was, that probably is just enough to tell the story without needing any filler.

I do have a few spoilery comments on this one, which will be behind the cut-tag below. Before we get into that: may I remind you that this show appears on Disney+, and the Disney corporation is refusing to pay Alan Dean Foster and other authors money they are owed for media tie-in novels.

Spoliers ahead!




Seriously, every single sentence below is full of spoilers…




Seriously, turn back now!!!




I warned you!!!




Seriously, spoilers ahead!




You’re on your own, now!

At the beginning of the episode, Sam donates Captain America’s shield to the Smithsonian, believing that no one should try to replace Cap. There is a nice scene between Sam and War Machine, who clearly thinks Sam is making a mistake. At the very end of the episode, the Department of Defense announces that there is now a new Captain America, and we see that this new guy is carrying Cap’s shield. His uniform is reminiscent of more than one version of Captain America’s costumes from the various previous movies.

The guy inside that uniform is being played by an actor named Wyatt Russell, who happens to be the son of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Even though I faithfully watched both seasons of the show Lodge 49 , I didn’t recognize him behind the mask. We already know from previous press releases that he is playing a character named John Walker. In the comic books John Walker is the alter ego of a super-soldier called USAgent who did, for a time, take over the Captain America identity at the behest of the U.S. government at a time when the Feds and Steve Rogers were not seeing eye-to-eye.

USAgent was a character with a very different moral compass than Captain America, so it is quite likely that he will be one of the villains in this series. Now, if I was Sam, the person I’d most be wanting to punch in the face after seeing that press conference is the government official, who was also present at the Smithsonian ceremony. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t another obstacle for our heroes to deal with in coming episodes.

The terrorist group/anarchist collective that Sam’s contact with the military is investigating, the Flag-Smashers, are named after another Captain America opponent from the comics. I think the name works much better for a group like the one portrayed here than a supervillain.

We know from the trailers and the press appearances of leading characters that another villain is going to be Baron Zemo. He was the character who framed Bucky for the bombing that killed Black Panther’s father in Captain America: Civil War. We last saw him in a high tech prison cell. He’s being played in this series by the same actor who played him in the movie. We didn’t see even a hint of him in this episode. Is suspect that means that he’s either secretly running the Flag-Smashers or is at least associated with them.

I really enjoyed the first episode. And I am looking forward to what happens next!

A couple of other reviews you might enjoy:

Cora Buhlert: Marvel’s “New World Order” – Some Thoughts on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.


3 thoughts on “Bucky and Sam try to find their place in the “New World Order”

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