The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Power Broker (Episode 3) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Power Broker, Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) enlist the help of an old enemy and friend to figure out how the Super Soldiers are still being made.
Now on the outs with John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and pretty much on their own, Sam and Bucky are forced to rely on the assistance of Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). Back when he was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, Zemo was an incredibly bland, powerless Marvel villain who was portrayed as a possibly intriguing mental threat that didn’t live up to his potential – at least in my opinion. That’s what made the news of his return here so promising, and this episode definitely makes his return live up to the hype. Zemo testing the code phrase that turned Bucky into a mindless killing machine the second he sees him is great and the entire sequence of Bucky helping him break out of prison is awesome.
Honestly, one of the most intriguing and endlessly entertaining aspects of the series is all in this episode with Zemo, Sam, and Bucky having to work together. There aren’t a lot of live-action superhero films or shows that have the heroes working right alongside the bad guys. With Bucky and Sam basically having to follow Zemo’s lead there’s a nice dash of villainy to everything they do. From Sam posing as a lookalike mob boss to them working within the glossy criminal underground, Zemo leading the way leads to a lot of fun moments. There’re even moments where many seedy bar patrons recognize Bucky as Winter Soldier and its great that we’re really seeing the impact he had on the world in his not so glory days. Zemo, as a whole, is improved by him taking charge since Bruhl feels more unleashed here and can deliver a performance full of likeable charm and villainous wit. Also, Zemo finally getting that awesome purple mask is amazing and the entire look of the character is just flawless.
Zemo’s reappearance also oddly brings more discussions and mentions on the African American experience that still just feel forced. Again, it’s cool when Zemo and Sam are talking about the impact Marvin Gaye’s Troubled Man has on expressing the African American experience and how Zemo calls out Americans for just seeing Sam as a stereotypical pimp. However, that’s all these moments are – moments. There’s no overarching narrative building on the surface or at least some kind of greater discussion coming into play. Moments like this are cool, but pale greatly in comparison to Sam and Bucky talking about the shield and how it can mean something people – especially with Sam or Bucky behind it. It’s great that the MCU is delving into more impactful social topics and creating a greater awareness, but it would be better if they were building to something bigger and hopefully, they are.
This episode also sees the reappearance of Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) after she’s gained strong notoriety after being barred from entering the U.S. It’s great to see VanCamp return in a greater light with the impact of helping Cap being more fleshed out and her having a seemingly greater role in the criminal underground. In my mind, she could even be this “power broker” everyone keeps talking about. VanCamp continues to have a great presence and even showcases Sharon to be an utter badass with her keeping bounty hunters away while the three of them interrogate a scientist. It’s a really cool action sequence that’s a lot of fun to cut back and forth to.
Speaking of that scientist, we do find out a little more about why Super Soldiers are back. Apparently, there’s a new serum that gives the strength and endurance enhancements without bulging up or has any real side-effects. That serum was stolen by the Flag Smashers’ leader Karli (Erin Kellyman) and thus that’s why they have become Super Soldiers. Karli and the Flag Smashers also continue to be made out to be sympathetic rebels with how they steal unused supplies to support camps while Walker is ready to operate outside the lines. Oh, and we also get one baller final reveal with Bucky still having some Wakandan connections as Ayo (Florence Kasumba) shows up for Zemo – which makes the whole situation much more complicated.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier blurs the lines between good and bad as Sam and Bucky operate outside their comfort zone with Zemo in charge. Zemo and Sharon’s return lived up to the hype incredibly well and it’ll be interesting to see where all these characters end up as Bucky’s Wakandan connections complicate things and they come head-to-head with the Flag Smashers and Walker.