Plot summary: Sam at last accepts the mantle of Captain America as all parties converge on the GRC vote in New York.
Episode Title: ‘One World, One People’
Air Date: April 23rd 2021
Directed: Kari Skogland (6)
Written: Malcolm Spellman (2) & Josef Sawyer (1)
The show’s title card changes to Captain America and the Winter Soldier at the end… which is just confusing, if you actually think about it.
Sam and John’s new costumes are of course comic book accurate. John also gains his US Agent alias.
The GRC building is surrounded by armed forces as everybody prepares for whatever it is the Flag-Smashers intend to do. Bucky arrives on foot and meets up with Sharon, who pulls a Mission Impossible, disguised as some dude.
Sam swoops in, tossing his shield through a window to make his dramatic entrance, revealing the contents of the Wakandan crate: a dope Captain America suit with vibranium wings.
Realising Karli and co aren’t intending to come in, but rather force everybody out, Sam tries to warn them against an evacuation, but Batroc arrives for a spin-kick heavy fight, which Sam eventually bails on to go save hostages
Meanwhile one of Karli’s followers hands Bucky a phone to trade generic banter, distracting him from the GRC members being loaded into trucks driven by Flag-Smashers and driven away. Sharon melts a dude’s face. It’s gnarly.
Sam pursues the helicopter, learning from Red Wing that one of them has flight training, so that when he eventually takes out the pilot, she’s able to take over and safely land the chopper.
On the ground Bucky stops the trucks and saves some of the hostages, and John Walker rocks up with his D.I.Y. shield to brawl with Karli and the Flag-Smashers.
The last truck teeters over the edge of a construction site, with Bucky too far to help. Walker does his best to save it, but the Flag-Smashers tackle him over the edge. Luckily Sam makes the save as crowds erupt.
Batroc fires off smoke grenades, sending everyone scattering in a frenzy. Bucky and Walker easily catch the Flag-Smashers (minus Karli) thanks to the phone Bucky kept from earlier.
Sharon confronts Karli, confirming herself as The Power Broker. Batroc joins them, demanding more money or he’ll spill her secret, so she shoots him dead instead.
Following the gunshots, Sam arrives and refuses to fight Karli, infuriating her. Luckily Sharon has no problem murdering her too. She dies in Sam’s arms, apologising for everything.
Outside, the GRC members confirm they still plan to go ahead with their proposal. Sam gives them a five minute telling off, admonishing the use of words like refugee, terrorist and thug to rob people of their humanity and encourages them to do better and think about who wields the power and who it affects.
The surviving Flag-Smashers are put into a transport to The Raft, but Zemo’s butler (remember him?) blows it up, killing them!
John debuts a black version of his costume, with Valentina clumsily calling him US Agent, confirming that he will be called on for some underhanded shit in the future.
Bucky finally tells Yori the truth, crossing off the final name in his book, which he gifts to his therapist. He looks on at Leah from a distance but walks on by.
Sam visits Isaiah and his grandson, and they once again talk over his decision, with Isaiah at last praising him. He takes them to the Smithsonian, where at his insistence, Isaiah has been added to the Captain America exhibit.
In a mid-credits scene, Sharon is officially pardoned and offered a position, which she gladly accepts… and then phones one of her old criminal contracts to inform them government secrets are now for sale.
I’m going to try and refrain from commenting on the overall show here as all the questions have been answered and I’ve got a Series Review coming next week anyway.
I was a little higher on this than what I can gather of the general consensus, but that’s only to say that I thought it was Very Okay rather than pure garbage.
First and foremost, I loved the costume they made for Sam as the new Captain America, finding a way to make it comics accurate without the unorthodox headgear situation look too weird. Probably the biggest win is you can see Mackie’s eyes while he’s wearing it, hopefully saving us from the clichéd unmasking scene so the actor can emote. I was super into the creative ways they used his new vibranium wings, too, from digging them into the ground for extra support, and forming a little cocoon with the shield on top to make him invulnerable. They also did more of the cute jet-pack stuff from the last two weeks, and I like that he has two Red Wings, too. Honestly, the potential for action sequences for this character going forward is enormous.
That being said, I have to concede it was tricky to see what the heck was going on at times, with them using a night setting to make the wings easier to animate. I didn’t struggle with this TOO much, but it was noticeable. What I DID struggle with was the hilariously inept handling of all the villains. I have a whole section for that, so I’ll get into it properly below, but let’s just say NOT GOOD!
It was just overall one of the clunkier Marvel Endings we’ve had in a long time. They sure did try to stick the landing with Sam’s big speech, which I went back and forth on with every new sentence. I like that Sam finally grew a backbone and stood up to authorities. I liked his point that to the rest of the world America are terrorists, and that it’s reductive to refer to people by media buzzwords. But Spellman’s complete lack of elegance was exposed all the more by having it last so long, with every decent line followed by an embarrassing one. Moral lectures are part of the deal with Captain America, and while the whole point of the series if Sam doesn’t need to be Steve, this still fell too far short of the benchmark set by his predecessor.
I liked the bow they tied on Isaiah, the Smithsonian, and New Orleans, while it felt a little too late to bring back Leah, and they were probably wise to avoid showing the full conversation with Bucky and Yori as they clearly wouldn’t be up to that task. And speaking of things being too late, Zemo’s freakin’ butler killing the Flag-Smasher prisoners was a bizarre choice.
Most Marvellous Player
Honestly, I really don’t know. The last time I felt this way it was because everybody was bad in episode 3, but this time it was more that nobody put their best foot forward. Sebastian Stan, Wyatt Russell, and Erin Kellyman all took massive backseats as it was the Sam Wilson show, while Zemo only appeared for a few seconds. So by process of elimination, I guess it was Anthony Mackie again?
I had my doubts about their ability to put out a feature film with him as the headliner given how his career has gone, pessimistically believing they’re relegated him to a Disney Plus series instead for that very reason. But the last two weeks have shown the potential for Sam Wilson, Captain America. He’s always been good at cracking wise and delivering generic platitudes, but he’s demonstrated a degree of leading (action) man presence these last two weeks that make me think he may excel in the role after all. His speech was all over the map from a writing perspective, but he delivered it as best he could, and again, having his whole face visible while in full costume helps a great deal.
I thought pretty hard about Cal Lumbly for this too, as he’s consistently breathed gravitas into Isaiah Bradley, even when some of the material for him has been iffy. His reaction to getting added to the Captain America exhibit was legitimately heartwarming.
BOY did they bungle basically every single villain!
Let’s start with John Walker. For four weeks I’ve been singing his praises as one of the better villains Marvel have ever done. So imagine my surprise when he got a heroic redemption! I think saving the truck from going over the edge as one last good deed would have worked, or even a spontaneous heat of the moment team up with the heroes, but to spend five minutes running around with Bucky, and them being presented as a good guy trio was super gross. Heck, Sam gave him a nod! And while they’re theoretically teasing him as the top agent of a nefarious organisation, it had the energy of ‘check out our cool new hero!’ Disgusting, quite frankly. This wasn’t a good man who snapped and killed a ‘terrorist’. There was a pattern of anger, xenophobia, delusion, arrogance, deception and general assholery. He scolds Karli for saying Lemar’s life didn’t matter, when his entire deal was he murdered somebody he deemed a terrorist. Boo to all of this.
Disney owe Erin Kellyman an enormous apology for their treatment of Karli Morgenthau and The Flag-Smashers. After finally seeming to get on track following a rough start, they flipped the switch to random turn to pure evil. There’s a huge difference between her attempts at posturing by saying they’ll kill people if they have to and this ‘LET’S KILL THEM ALL!’ nonsense. None of that was aided by their specific plan of attack being incredibly unclear. Thanks for playing, Erin, you got to die in Sam’s arms in truly weird fashion.
Sharon Carter was revealed as The Power Broker, a decision I have to imagine somebody made as a ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’ without bothering to make sure it actually worked. She pointed Zemo directly at the serum! Bad! In theory, Emily VanCamp getting to play a villain going forward is infinitely more interesting than the total lack of personality her character has had up to now, though. I dug the Mission Impossible mask and voice changer, too, making a return from the end of Winter Soldier.
Finally, Batroc had a disappointing final fight with Sam and then got taken out like a chump, and Zemo got his last laugh from prison as his butler killed the Flag-Smashers… while Bucky and Walker are still running around no problem. Good for him?
The Superhero Pantheon will have their series review of the show tomorrow.
For podcast reviews of every film in the MCU, check out Ben & Matt’s Marvellous Journey.
Check out The Matt Signal, in which I recap episodes of Batman the Animated Series every weekend. This week we a disgruntled security guard takes the law into his own hands, and some stand-up comedians try their hand at crime.