Coming in hot, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Episode Two – “The Star Spangled Man”, opens with John Walker (Wyatt Russell) zipping down to reveal the new Captain America uniform. The suit hangs as he walks around his old high school’s locker room. He peels back a sticker to reveal his initials and number. “Reliving the glory days?” asks his wife (Gabrielle Byndloss). A cheering crowd is heard outside. “Everybody in the world expects me to be..something. And I don’t want to fail them,” Walker sighs.
Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett) enters the locker room, “Two weeks ago we’re prepping the team for a special ops mission in Chile, and now this.” Walker just wants to “do the job.” They look at the suit together. The Marvel Studios intro plays with marching band music, “The Star Spangled Man”. John Walker signs autographs and runs through the football field with the band dancing around him. Fireworks, trumpets, and the crowd roars as he sits on the “A” starred-stage for an interview.
“Ladies and gentlemen, your new Captain America,” the reporter introduces. He takes off his helmet and modestly answers questions about the publicity tour. We learn that John Walker “is the first person in American history to receive three Medals of Honor.” A montage shows him getting medals, combat training, and throwing the shield like a frisbee at several targets. The reporter continues to speak glowingly of his amazing credentials.
In his apartment, sitting on the floor, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) watches the interview with disgust and anger. We next see Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Torres (Danny Ramirez) in an Air Force hangar looking at “Cap Is Back” posters with John Walker. Torres is briefing him for a mission to Munich. “You shouldn’t have given up the shield,” Bucky yells upon entering. “Good to see you again Buck,” Sam replies.
Bucky and Sam argue about the shield. Sam acknowledges he should have seen this coming, is “heartbroken”, but can’t hear this now. Sam refuses to let Bucky chastise him. He shows Bucky an image of the Flag Smasher that attacked Torres, “Redwing traced him to a warehouse outside of Munich.” He may be a part of the Big Three, androids, aliens, and wizards. Sam argues that Dr. Strange is “a sorcerer, not a wizard.” Bucky read “The Hobbit” when it came out in 1937.
On the plane to Munich, Sam and Bucky sit silently across from each other. As they prepare to jump, Bucky again yells at Sam for not having a plan. The Falcon jumps out of the aircraft. It’s too “low for a chute.” Bucky rips off his sleeve, revealing his vibranium arm, and then leaps out. He tumbles through branches and falls flat on the ground.
“I have all of that on camera,” says Sam as Redwing hovers. They meet up in a burnt out warehouse. Redwing silently records Flag Smashers loading medical supplies into trucks. Bucky stalks ahead as Sam calls him “White Panther.” Bucky corrects him, “White Wolf.” Sam appears beside Bucky, who tells him to wait. Redwing images more Flag Smashers. A hostage looks to be locked in one of the trucks.
Bucky runs at super speed to catch up to the lead truck. He opens the back, “They’re stealing medicines, vaccines.” Bucky looks as Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) emerges. He thinks she’s a captive. She smiles and then kicks him out of the truck. He smashes into the front window of the rear semi. Karli puts on her Flag Smasher mask.
She leaps to the top of the truck as the Winter Soldier fights two Flag Smashers. Redwing shoots at her, but she grabs the drone and destroys it. Falcon lands and kicks her. She tosses him on top of the other truck. They drive side by side. Suddenly, she’s knocked down by Captain America’s shield. John Walker and Lemar Hoskins swing down from a helicopter.
Walker throws the shield like a bad-ass. He introduces himself and Hoskins, “Looks like you could use some help.” They engage fighters as Bucky jumps on the other truck to help. He’s tossed off, but hangs on the undercarriage. Sam flies away and tries to swoop down to help, but the trucks cut him off. He bobs over a car and then goes low to the undercarriage, “That little girl kicked your ass.”
Falcon zips under the car, grabs Bucky, and they tumble unto the roadside. “Those are all super soldiers,” Bucky observes. Karli kicks Hoskins off the truck. Walker throws the shield and it catches him as he falls. Walker tries to fight her, but she’s much stronger. She deflects his punches, and then tosses him unto the road. The trucks escape as he gingerly gets up.
Sam and Bucky walk together on the road. “We have to figure out after eighty years where eight super soldiers come from,” says Sam as a Jeep drives up. Walker and Hoskins offer them a ride. He brings up the Big Three. Walker wants to help. “Just because you wear that shield doesn’t mean you’re Captain America,” snarls Bucky. They finally jump in the vehicle.
Walker and Hoskins tracked Sam through Redwing. It’s government property Walker informs them, but Sam is not amused. Walker and Hoskins continue that the GRC, Global Repatriation Council, is doing everything to help after the Blip. Bucky refuses to work with them. Lemar Hoskins introduces himself as Battlestar, and “that you guys were getting your asses kicked before we showed up.” Bucky demands they “stop the car.” Walker wants “Cap’s wingman by his side.” Sam laughs and gets out to join Bucky.
Karli and the Flag Smashers reach a safe house. They are given food and rest “for the cause.” The Flag Smashers are viewed as “Robin Hood”. Karli gets a threatening text from an unknown number, ” You took what was mine. I’m going to find you and kill you.” She hides her phone, but her associates warn that the GRC and Interpol knows who they are. They chant, “One World, One People!”
On the plane back, Bucky wants “to take the shield and do this ourselves.” Sam brings up their life on the run after Captain America: Civil War. Bucky tells him, “There’s someone you should meet.” In Baltimore, Sam and Bucky are walking down a street. Kids call him “The Black Falcon.” But he reminds them it’s just “Falcon.”
They knock on the door of Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly). His grandson doesn’t want to let them in. Bucky tells him that “the guy from the bar in Goyang is here.” Sam wants to know “how Bucky knows this guy.” Bucky had a “skirmish with him during the Korean War.” Isaiah is not happy to see Bucky, who introduces him as “a hero, Hydra feared him the most, like Steve.” Isaiah “whooped his ass in ’51, the US military dropped me behind the line to deal with him [Bucky].” He took “half of his arm in Goyang.”
Isaiah is angry and bitter. Bucky tells him “there are more like you and me out there.” Isaiah throws a tin into the wall like a bullet. Sam is stunned. “You know what they did to me for being a hero? They put my ass in jail for thirty years. Running tests and taking my blood!” Isaiah fumes. He angrily tells them to get out.
Sam is stupefied, “You’re telling me that there was a black super soldier, decades ago, and nobody knew!” Bucky swears Steve didn’t know and he never told anyone. A police car pulls up. The cops shake down Sam, but he refuses to be intimidated. “Don’t you know who this is?” Bucky exclaims. The cops look at Sam and recognize he’s Falcon. But they arrest Bucky, there’s a warrant for him. He missed a therapy session.
At the police station, Sam is joined by Dr. Raynor (Amy Aquino). She didn’t get Bucky released. John Walker waves hello as he shakes hands and takes pictures with the cops. He stepped in to “authorize Bucky’s freedom, he’s too valuable an asset.” Sam looks on angrily as Walker wants to meet them outside after.
Dr. Raynor forces Sam and Bucky into an impromptu therapy session at the police station. Sam thinks “this is ridiculous.” Raynor does a couple’s exercise. “The Miracle” dictates a couple wakes up and finds something miraculous has happened to their partner. Both men scoff. Raynor then does the “Stargazing Exercise”. Sam and Bucky face each other, get close, and “have a staring contest.” Bucky wants to know why Sam gave up the shield, “Steve believed in you. Maybe he was wrong about you. Maybe he was wrong about me.” Sam responds, “You may never understand, but I did what I thought was right.” Sam wants to “squash this now.” They have “serious sh*t to deal with.” He promises they handle the problems at hand, and “never see each other again.” Bucky agrees, but Raynor sees his pain.
Outside the precinct, Sam and Bucky meet with Walker and Hoskins. They’ve identified Karli Morgenthau and the civilians that help her. Sam and Bucky turn to leave, “We are free agents, we don’t need any authorizations.” “A word of advice…stay the hell out of my way,” warns Walker.
In Bratislava, the Flag Smashers load an airplane with the looted medical supplies. They are found by the Power Broker’s men. One volunteers to “hold them off.” He kicks down a lightpost to block the road, but is gunned down. The plane escapes as Karli cries.
Back in Baltimore, Bucky has an idea. Walker doesn’t have any leads, but Hydra would. Sam doesn’t want to hear this, “But he knows all of Hydra’s secrets. Let’s go see Zemo.” Classical music plays as the scene cuts to a prison cell block. Zemo (Daniel Brühl) sits on his bed, looking at a chess board. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” returns next Friday on Disney+.
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