The Falcon and The Winter Soldier 1×04 “The Whole World Is Watching” Spoilers Ahead
I’m actually thrilled to report that four episodes in, and I’ve finally got a lot to highlight with this one. However, it doesn’t mean that I’m still not frustrated with the way this series is developing in the short amount of time we have. If this were a full-on series full of multiple seasons, then sure, give me characters I don’t necessarily care about, I’ll take it (begrudgingly), but I won’t be this hard on the show. It’s the fact that The Falcon and The Winter Solider is a mini-series that essentially gets to me because moments of vulnerability and developing the characters we know and love is what should have taken priority.
When we were told Sharon Carter would be featured, I didn’t expect to just be given crumbs of her character and less than five minutes of screen time per episode. (And maybe that’s on me for expecting too much, but seldom has the Marvel Cinematic Universe disappointed me with flushing storylines out inorganically.) Also, I’m all for new characters, during the first episode I mentioned being excited that we were getting to know Sam’s family and yet, still not enough of Sarah. Where is Yori? Where is Leah? These are the characters I care about. And as of today, I even care a tremendous amount about Erin Kellyman’s Karli. I also hate how much I’m interested in Zemo’s arc, but how does one not after last week’s episode and especially, the debut of the #ZemoCut? Iconic. Where is Torres? What’s he up to? I know I’m not the only one who also cares about him.
I can appreciate The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s commentary on the current state of America—credit goes where credit is due. But I’m tired of angry white men on my TV screen.
How many more angry white men on a nihilistic journey do we have to watch before editors start deeming it cliche and boring like they do happy endings/good characters? Just checking because I’m tired and I have a lot of opinions on the hypocrisy about how male and female characters in such scenarios are handled. I also have a lot of feelings about how good characters are presumably boring and villains are apparently better written. Nope.
That said, while I did not intend to get my frustrations out, apparently, it had to happen. Because by the end of the episode we were given one of the most vile, horrific scenes ever in Marvel’s history and not touching on how disturbing it was doesn’t sit well with me. At the expense of good characters, a terrible one gets this much screen time and with such a terrible moment, placing dark clouds on a symbol that represented hope in this universe. I don’t have the right words. It was disturbing in every way. Lock him up. Forever. I have nothing else to add to this.
Some highlights now, shall we? Because I’m done talking about how much I cannot stand this character.
THE DORA MILAJE SHOW ‘EM
This joke of a man really had the audacity to question the Dora Milaje, claim they have no authority here, and go against them. THE AUDACITY. But that scene was so explosively fascinating, jam-packed, and the very best kind of Marvel takedown because women. Women. Women. That’s it. If this show featured more moments like this, I would’ve been a screaming wreck tirelessly going on about why it’s so incredible.
Bucky is Free
I was not ready for this. I repeat, I was not ready. Sebastian Stan did not need to come for my heart this hard. I just … I’m a mere mortal. And while he is absolutely this week’s most noteworthy performer, let’s get into why this scene so matters so much, which is simultaneously where this show is actually succeeding.
This is also what made WandaVision so special because moments of vulnerability with the characters who are supposed to be our heroes grounds them so beautifully, it’s almost hard to bear. Bucky’s freedom has mattered exponentially—the torture, the darkness, the regrets, the burdens, the demons, he’s carried it all with him long after freedom was achieved, but even then, the transition from the Winter Soldier to the White Wolf was an extraordinary sight for us to see with Ayo and I’m thrilled the series gave it to us.
Bucky’s freedom in front of the fire, the release of his tears and the harrowing pain allows him a moment to truly find himself away from bondage. There are still ways to go for him to be able to forgive himself and allow what’s happened to fuel his growth as opposed to holding him back, but the tears were so telling of what’s so exquisite on this show.
This is a show that takes the superheroes we know, the ones who were once upon a time seen as unbreakable, stoic, and guarded and it allows them the chance to really cry. Which is what works here, Bucky isn’t just tearing up—he is actively crying and releasing all of the chains that have left him terrorized and an outsider in his own body and mind. Hydra took everything from Bucky Barnes when they turned him into the Winter Soldier, Ayo, Shuri and all that he went through in Wakanda brought him back to life. Steve’s unwavering belief in him brought him back. It all contributed to the return and freedom and, it was beautiful.
It’s a moment of unbridled, untainted, stunning catharsis that reveals just how deeply he has suffered when robbed of agency and just how much he has lost and taken with the years where he was imprisoned in his own mind. Scenes like this matter greatly because they’re proof of absolution and they’re evocative in illuminating that the demons within everyone can be silenced after hard work and perseverance.
Sam Confides in Karli
Here’s where I’m back to my rage writing because what could have been a gorgeous episode full of vulnerability and understanding turned into Faux America walking in and setting everything off. In this house, the second you ruin a moment of vulnerability between two characters who deserve to share it, you’re immediately (John-Ralphio voice) the woooooorst. Literally, no one asked you. Stay in your lane, fragile white man. Stay in your lane.
Otherwise, this was a fantastic moment of vulnerability where both Anthony Mackie and Erin Kellyman brought their a-game in playing off one another’s chops to exhibit the sincere desires within their characters. Sam could have gotten through to Karli because Sam understands entirely how she feels about displacement and negligence. He understands her frustrations, the aspirations, and even to a degree the extremities in her beliefs. The need to take matters into her own hands because the world isn’t helping.
A few more moments and they could have found common ground—a place to come to where both teams working together would have figured out the proper approach without animosity or distrust.
But this takes us to the fact that regardless, Karli can indeed see that with Sam, there is authenticity. Which is why it was interesting to see her calling Sarah because even though she threatened her, she still made it clear that she wanted to talk—to build something. But then, you know, Faux America ruined that as well and I’m just tired, friends. It was an hour long but it felt like too long. I just want my second favorite Avenger to keep talking and that’s that. Sam Wilson. He’s the one I care most about.
Sam Defends Bucky
The thing with a series like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is that it could have been an hour long banter between two characters and it would’ve been perfectly glorious. Since it isn’t that, we’ll take all the scraps we can get and Sam stepping next to Bucky in order to nudge him when he was getting too angry was everything.
Say it with me, vulnerability. It’s little moments like this between two reluctant partners who genuinely care deeply for each other’s well being and state of mind. Sam doesn’t want Bucky getting too angry. And Sam’s not going to step aside when he can potentially be a source of strength for his friend even without trying too hard. Sam Wilson is too good and too pure, and we don’t deserve him. We really don’t. I get we don’t. But, please can we have more?
It’s this partnership I want to see more of. Moments like this and moments with more vulnerability that touch on friendship along with the two of them finding a language that only they understand.
While I have a lot of frustrations towards the show and the episode, “The Whole World is Watching” wasn’t lacking with great moments. In fact, a number of moments were exemplary of what it could have been had certain elements been handled differently. I don’t want to get to the finale then see backstories glossed over in less than an hour. I want the stories to matter to take front and center as opposed to what we’re getting.
Sometimes thematically an episode jumps out at you, plus hits in all the right ways, other times, it doesn’t. It just doesn’t sit well. If Sam wants to take time and doesn’t feel he’s ready then I’m here for everything working on his timetable, if this show was longer than six episodes, this arc would have worked, but because it’s not, I’m dissatisfied with how little the characters who should be shining aren’t.
Now streaming on Disney Plus: What are your thoughts on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier 1×04″The Whole World is Watching”? Who do you want to see more of?