REVIEW: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,’ Episode 2- “The Star Spangled Man”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2

After laying down the building blocks of its plot in its pilot, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier hits the proverbial gas in Episode 2. “The Star Spangled Man” finds Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) reluctantly teaming up to track down the Flag-Smashers. However, they learn that the Flag-Smashers have been transformed into super soldiers, and run into newly minted Captain America John Walker (Wyatt Russell).

This episode finally brings Sam and Bucky together, and Mackie and Stan’s chemistry is electric to watch. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was born while watching Mackie and Stan interact on the set of Captain America: Civil War and that carries over to this episode. Sam and Bucky have a rather contentious relationship, peppered with hilarious bits including Sam discussing the “Big 3” of threats they’ve faced as Avengers or coming up with a hilarious nickname for Bucky due to his time in Wakanda. There’s even a scene where they go to therapy together, which has to be seen in all its glory.

The action continues to impress, courtesy of director Kari Skogland. She stages a fight on a pair of moving trucks and plays to the strengths and limitations of the two title characters. Bucky has pure strength on his side, but is outnumbered by the Flag-Smashers; Sam can’t face them head-on but is faster and able to maneuver in mid-air. And Walker and his partner Battlestar (Clé Bennett) also have their own way of fighting when they enter the battlefield.

On top of all the action and humor, “The Star Spangled Man” continues to touch on themes of race and trauma. A dark secret concerning the Super Soldier program brings a character from the Marvel comics canon into the fray-and is a sobering reminder of what war can cost, especially for Black men. Following that is a scene where Sam is stopped by police, who think he’s harassing Bucky during an argument. Even the therapy scene has an undercurrent of sadness to it, as Bucky reveals why he was upset with Sam giving away the Captain America shield. The Marvel Universe has always been about “The world outside our window,” and this episode reminded me of that.

“The Star Spangled Man” also gives viewers a look into the mindset of Walker, with Russell leaning into the corn-fed All-American soldier-and actually making it sincere. Walker was often abrasive in the comics, but Russell gives the character a bit more nuance while hinting at friction between Walker and Sam. Walker and Battlestar’s partnership also feels like the inverse to Sam and Bucky’s, which is fertile ground for exploration.

The only out-of-place element is the Flag-Smashers themselves. Although their super-soldier origins and their leader Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kelleyman) are revealed, their motives remain unclear. They claim to want a “world without borders” and believe life was better when half of life was gone, but I don’t feel like they’ve stepped into the antagonist role yet. Hopefully, as the series progresses, their goals will be made more clear.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2 mixes together action, humor, and pathos for a barn burner of an episode, with the chemistry between its leads being a major draw. With the next episode featuring Sam and Bucky coming face-to-face with an old adversary, the series shows no signs of letting up any time soon.

New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be available to watch on Disney+ on Fridays.

 

Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 2 - “The Star Spangled Man”
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2 mixes together action, humor, and pathos for a barn burner of an episode, with the chemistry between its leads being a major draw. With the next episode featuring Sam and Bucky coming face-to-face with an old adversary, the series shows no signs of letting up any time soon.