REVIEW: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,’ Episode 4 – “The Whole World Is Watching”

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier kicks off the second half of its run with Episode 4, titled “The Whole World Is Watching.” After their trip to Madripoor in “Power Broker,” Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) track down Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kelleyman) and her Flag-Smashers, with Sam intending to talk Karli out of causing more chaos. However, the duo encounters the Dora Milaje, who intend to bring Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) to justice, and an increasingly unstable John Walker (Wyatt Russell).

This episode finally brings the titular duo, Walker, Karli, and Zemo, into the same proximity. While this setup could have felt overpacked, director Kari Skogland and writer Derek Kolstad manage to find a steady pace. The action sequences are slowly built up in terms of story and tension, and there are emotionally charged moments that put the spotlight on both Sam and Bucky. A key example of the former features Sam, Bucky, and Walker going head to head with the Flag-Smashers’ super soldiers. Knives are drawn (and thrown), rubble is hurled, and once again, Sam and Bucky use their respective talents. Skogland also films a fight scene that features the return of the Dora Milaje, reminding viewers and Walker-why they are Wakanda’s greatest warriors. 

As for the latter, the episode begins with a flashback to Bucky’s time in Wakanda, while Sam has a heart to heart with Karli. Mackie and Kelleyman bounce off each other almost effortlessly; Sam feels that while Karli’s head is in the right place, her actions are not. Karli, on the other hand, is utterly relentless in her pursuit of “one world.” Superhero media rarely features a non-violent conversation between hero and antagonist, much less the hero agreeing with the antagonist’s point of view. This was a refreshing change of pace and shows that Karli is not totally far gone. Stan finally shows us Bucky’s relief and joy and overcoming his Hydra programming in the opening sequence, with tears literally streaming down his face. It makes the confrontation with Dora Milaje Ayo (Florence Kasumba) all the tenser because she was the one who helped him.

Bruhl continues to be a scene-stealer as Zemo. While he doesn’t entirely run away with this episode, which I’m thankful for given the events that transpire, he still proves to be a slippery snake of a character. He uses information as leverage, he breaks free from Sam and Bucky on multiple occasions, and he even slips out from under the Dora Milaje’s nose. I’m fairly sure that Zemo will wind up back in prison by the series’ end, but I do hope that we continue to see more of Bruhl down the line. He’s enjoying himself, and so is the audience, judging from the infamous “dance scene” in “Power Broker.”

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the work Wyatt Russell does throughout this episode. Russell plays Walker as impatient and grappling with his mortality in a world of gods and supersoldiers; he even laments the fact that he doesn’t have superpowers. Things change once he gets his hands on the Super Soldier Serum-and for the worse. A key part of the serum is that it amplifies one’s inherent traits: part of what made Steve Rogers a great super-soldier is that he was willing to do the right thing. With Walker’s mental state, giving him superpowers is like a ticking time bomb-and said bomb goes off at the episode’s end, with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4 waste no time setting up the back half of its season, with plenty of action and emotion centered on the two lead heroes. With only two episodes left in the series, it seems that Sam and Bucky will actually have to do what they talked about in “The Star-Spangled Man” and face off against Walker—and I say bring it on.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airs on Disney+ on Fridays.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4 - "The Whole World is Watching"
8/10

TL;DR

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4 waste no time setting up the back half of its season, with plenty of action and emotion centered on the two lead heroes. With only two episodes left in the series, it seems that Sam and Bucky will actually have to do what they talked about in “The Star-Spangled Man” and face off against Walker—and I say bring it on.