The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Episode 2: Squabbling Super-Soldiers In Couples Therapy, What’s Not To Love?
After setting the stage last week, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier finally gets a chance to spread its wings by reuniting the titular Sam and Bucky for a fun second episode that continued to add depth to Captain America’s wingmen.
Picking up where we left off, the episode sees Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) bicker over the all-new, all-different Captain America (Wyatt Russell), throw down with the evil, globalist Flagsmashers, and go to couples therapy (it makes sense in context).
Not only that, episode two also gives us some idea as to what the overall plot of this mini-Marvel series will be. Needless to say, it’s a packed 45 minutes of television full of action, one-liners, and people in spandex throwing punches and shields at each other! What more could you want?
Episode two’s main strength though is that it finally gets the titular band back together. Ever since Sam and Bucky squabbled over legroom in the back of a Beetle, it’s been clear to Marvel fans that Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan have superb onscreen chemistry.
They play it like a strange combination of a squabbling married couple and petulant brothers; it’s a weird dynamic but a brilliantly funny one, and I’m glad to see that head writer Martin Spellman and his team have leant so heavily on the pair’s formidable comedic chops.
It’s not all sniping and macho jibes though; as mentioned last week, these Marvel shows (all one and a third of them we’ve seen) have been superb at adding some much-needed texture to the peripheral Avengers, and this episode is no exception.
We get a wonderful – if heartbreaking – reveal as to why Bucky is so irked by Sam’s decision to give away the shield, and it’s a brilliant piece of acting from Stan, who delivers the gut-punch line with the ferocity we’ve come to expect from the Winter Soldier while also making it clear how fundamentally broken this so-called super-soldier is.
Mackie similarly doesn’t hold back in this episode, effortlessly balancing the easy charisma he’s known for with the anger and confusion of a man who faces near-constant prejudice despite having saved the world twice.
The moment when he and Bucky are pulled over by police was particularly frightening – obviously drawing on recent real-world events – and Mackie played it perfectly, encapsulating the fury and frustration at being victim to an injustice that’s a daily reality for so many people.
Speaking honestly, I wish that Marvel had the courage of its convictions at that moment. The entire confrontation was uncomfortable but it played out in an idealised way, and while I appreciate why Disney chose not to go so heavy-handed with it, I do think it’s a missed opportunity to use this platform to educate people on stark reality of inequality.
Episode two also takes some time to make the new Captain America – aka John Walker – less of a meme and more of a character. They actually make him surprisingly likeable as well – he’s not quite Steve Rogers, but it’s clear he embodies some of America’s more noble traits in a corn-fed Clark Kent kind of way.
I put most of that down to Wyatt Russell, an actor I’ve always really liked (check him out in Table 19 if you’ve not seen it), who makes this new Cap earnest in a charming-if-slightly-hopeless kind of way.
It would have been easy to make him antagonistic from the start, but it’s clear he’s well-meaning enough, if a little out of his depth, and while that may eventually lead to him going out of his mind, for now he’s affable enough as a roadblock for Sam and Bucky.
Speaking of roadblocks (not my smoothest transition), it’d be remiss not to mention the truck scene, this episode’s big action set piece, which while not quite on the level of the ‘man on plane’ dogfight we got last week, was still very cinematic and got the old heart racing.
It’s still early days for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier but it’s been an enjoyable thrill ride so far, with some great character work while also skirting around the edges of some real social issues. Roll on next week and the return of… longing, rusted, 17, daybreak, furnace, nine, benign, homecoming, one, freight car.
New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stream exclusively on Disney+ every Friday.
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