It’s here! The last episode of Falcon And The Winter Soldier has finally dropped. And is open for the whole world to see. This 6 episode journey took us through many highs and lows, but it’s always the finale that history remembers. So that begs the question, did Falcon And The Winter Solider live up to its star spangled hype? Well…
Yea! It pretty much did!
*SPOILERS FOR FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER AHEAD*
I want to start off by saying, this show had a near impossible task. It had to accomplish many things. A few being:
- Set up Sam Wilson as the Captain America going forward
- Navigate complicated political ideologies
- Accurately portray and represent black communities in America
- Balance the screen time of the characters involved, giving them well rounded arcs
- And be a fun action comedy romp that the MCU is known for
For myself, it wasn’t lost on me the massive expectations this show had. Especially considering the lukewarm response to the WandaVision finale. But I’m glad that this show pretty much exceeded my expectations and knocked it out of the park!
A BALANCING ACT
It was obvious from the beginning that this show was gonna be political. If you were expecting to go into a show about a black man becoming a symbol for a America to NOT be political, I don’t know to tell you. Especially considering todays climate, the inherent subject matter was always gonna be very reflective of our reality, whether we liked it or not. To avoid shining a light on our current issues would simply be dishonest. And in general, would rob the story of its impact and nuance. And in my opinion, the shows handling of that was really well done. I can’t comment on all aspects of the show given my limited perspective, but to me it all seemed tasteful and not overly ham-fisted.
An example of the show reflecting our reality is in episode 2 when Bucky and Sam are arguing and a cop intervenes, wrongfully accusing Sam for putting Bucky in harm.
This was met with mixed reactions, but for me personally, I didn’t have an issue with it because this is something that actually happens. The show wasn’t lying to you. It wasn’t trying to preach a false narrative. It was simply showcasing what actually happens in America. And if you felt uncomfortable during that scene, that was probably the point. And the great thing about the show is, these are things happening to our heroes, so it forces the audience to naturally take their sides, giving us a more empathetic perspective.
JOHN WALKER – AKA: US AGENT
Another aspect that shined a light on issues in America, was a character named John Walker. Going into the show, you might’ve assumed he was a villain or would eventually go down that route. But I never felt the show was telling me that. And that might be due to my prior comic book knowledge of the character, so I already knew beforehand that he was much more nuanced. But I was glad that the show didn’t take the easy road out, painting him in a black and white manner. They gave the character layers, and allowed us to sympathize with him, be mad at him, and overall just feel conflicted about him. And that’s a testament to great writing.
From the beginning, it was apparent that John Walker wasn’t a good fit to carry the Captain America mantle. Besides being unsure of himself and basically being forced into the position, he didn’t carry the attributes that made Captain America special. Which is, to quote Abraham Erksine:
“Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”
John Walker was a soldier first and foremost. The show made it clear that that is why he was chosen. And this is not only reflective of how our military can sometimes treat our soldiers; making them pawns to fight the governments war. But it also highlights the effects of PTSD on veterans and how they don’t get the proper care they need.
John Walker isn’t a villain. He’s a man who’s been stripped away of his conscience by fighting a forever war he barely believes in. He’s a perfect soldier because he takes orders. And one thing Captain America has never stood for, was blindly following orders.
THE FLAG SMASHERS
The point of the Flag Smashers was beautifully portrayed and can be summed up by a quote said in the final episode.
“These labels: ‘terrorist’, ‘refugee’, ‘thug’. They’re often used to get around the question, ‘why?'”
When Sam Wilson is asked about what he would call them, if they’re not terrorist. It simply holds up a mirror to the acts US troops commit and begs the question, “what do you think those people are gonna call you?”
The Flag Smashers are only the villains of the story because they pose in opposition to our heroes. But they’re beliefs and ideologies are sound. Or at the very least come from a good place. But it’s the way they go about it that makes them wrong. And it took a man like Sam Wilson to see that. A perfect soldier obeys orders, a good man cares to ask “why?”
SAM WILSON- AKA: CAPTAIN AMERICA
“You’re either brilliant or you’re hopelessly optimistic.”
This was a line said by Karli, the leader of the Flag Smashers, during her first confrontation with Sam Wilson. To which he replied, “Well can’t I be a little bit of both?”
This brief exchange in episode 4 showcased perfectly why Sam Wilson is the best fit for Captain America. At it’s core, the symbol of Captain America is a reflection of America at its best. It’s an ideal that America has to strive for. And that’s why it seems hokey. This world is so cynical, when it’s confronted by someone just trying to be good, its almost unrecognizable and even comical. And when you drop that kind of hopelessly optimistic character in our modern world, it becomes much more complicated. But its Sam’s struggles as a black man that make him a prime candidate.
When Steve Rogers was asked why he wanted to go to war, he didn’t say it was because he wanted to kill people. He said;
“I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.”
It’s simple, but that’s the overarching ideology of Captain America. Fighting against bullies. Fighting against those who abuse their power against the weak. And that is an experience Steve Rogers endured, and one that Sam Wilson did as well.
WHY IT WORKS
And it speaks to what the show does so well. It portrays the complex issues and simplifies it. It cares to ask “why?” It cares to show multiple perspectives, such as Isaiah Bradly. The show isn’t telling you to believe one thing. The show isn’t even saying anyone is inherently wrong. It’s a show about individualism and compassion. It’s telling you, your perspective and your feelings matter. Even if you don’t share the same experiences.
And that’s why this show resonated with me. It’s not perfect by any means. I feel Bucky got the short end of the stick, and I would’ve appreciated more development for Sharon Carter, and the Marvel comedy bits dont always land. But the show got it where it mattered. It was a thin line to ride. To explore these themes and not feel preachy or even partisan was a miracle in my opinion. Not once does the show draw a line in the sand against it’s diverse array of viewers. Instead it asks us to cross that line.
And that’s why Sam Wilson is a good Captain America, because he cares. And that’s the only thing the show is preaching. It’s asking us to care…
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