The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season Finale Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, One World, One People, Karli (Erin Kellyman) and the Flag Smashers launch an all-out attack that forces Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) to take action.
The finale wastes no time in bringing us right into the action as everyone, and I mean everyone, converges on NYC to stop Karli and the Flag Smashers from killing innocent people and I absolutely love it. Last week’s episode was all the set up we needed for this final battle and its great that we just jump into things as Karli’s attitude and direction unfortunately makes Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) right. Karli is now radicalized to the point where her message outweighs the lives of the people she’s trying to help. Even her closest supporters are a little wary of her desires to die for the cause and she’s basically reached the point where she isn’t coming out of this alive. Even though throughout the episode there’s a part of it all where you feel Sam might be able to get her to see the error in her current actions, there’s a greater part that makes you realize that things likely aren’t going to end well for Karli.
As her and the remaining Flag Smashers round up senators to stop them from displacing refugees, Sam busts in to stop them, but not as The Falcon or Black Falcon – he is Captain America. My goodness his suit is immaculate with how it blends his old Falcon persona and his new one as Captain America. Sam’s not only got his wings back, but Red Wing also makes a grand return and his shield throwing while flying is just amazing to watch. He may not be a super soldier, but Sam is fast-moving, strong, and utilizes his tech abilities incredibly well to not only save others himself but empower others to do the same. However, it’s not his futuristic new suit or him bearing the shield or the stars and stripes that makes Sam truly Captain America – it’s his character.
Although he is unable to save Karli from living this ordeal as she’s shot by Sharon (Emily VanCamp), he doesn’t let her message die or be labeled as terroristic beliefs. In an incredibly powerful monologue that, in my opinion, should be considered award-worthy for Mackie’s performance, Sam openly confronts the senators about how they and everyone needs to step up, take action, and take note of other people’s struggles. He brings up an excellent point about everyone finally going through a common struggle because of The Snap and have the opportunity to gain a common understanding to help each other.
He also doesn’t forget what Isaiah (Carl Lumbly) said to him about donning the Captain America persona and openly acknowledges how some might not want to seem him as Captain America because he’s black but proclaims that it doesn’t matter and that he will become a new force for change. I frankly love how blunt and unapologetic he is in talking about all this and the message is perfectly clear and comes from the heart. It’s easily the most powerful moment in the entire MCU and is perfectly encapsulated into two moments that follow. The first being that Sam restores Isaiah’s history in getting his efforts displayed for the whole world to see and in the series ending title card fittingly calling the series “Captain America and the Winter Soldier.”
Sam isn’t the only one going through big changes in this finale as we actually see John Walker (Wyatt Russell) return in a slightly more heroic fashion. Sure, Walker comes in to kill Karli and the Flag Smashers with his homemade shield and suit but ends up being more heroic when people come into danger. Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely still not a perfect hero with him becoming US Agent at the end and getting his new digs from the still mysterious Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). However, it was cool to see him be inspired by the star on the back of his shield and let the Flag Smashers go to try and save people in danger. Maybe there’s a chance for him to be a little more heroic in the future.
Sharon probably has one of the bigger jaw-dropper moments and leaves the most questions for the series with her being revealed as the Power Broker. She was the number one suspect for being the Power Broker given her connections in the criminal underground, but what does it mean going forward? Well, now that she’s allowed back in the US and that Karli and anyone else that knew she was the Power Broker is now dead, so she’s kind of free to do whatever. There’re some rumors that she is a Skrull, but it’s tough to say where things are going for Sharon.
Bucky’s story is kind of the one area that I think doesn’t get as much depth, but still gets a satisfying conclusion, nevertheless. Although the series features both central superheroes’ names, it’s definitely been more about Falcon than the Winter Soldier and this episode is kind of a testament of that. It would’ve been nice to see him dealing with his past demons and working through his pain a little more throughout the season, but his story does get a nice wrap up. Him leaving the book of names in his therapist’s office feels like a weight being lifted off our shoulders and it’s great that the finale sees him revisiting the issues he faced back in the premiere. Maybe the series could’ve given Bucky’s story a little more focus, but they end up doing it justice in the finale so all’s well that ends well, I guess.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wraps up perfectly as it solidifies the impact and meaning of Sam becoming Captain America and delivers great conclusions for all its characters. Mackie should honestly be highly considered for awards when the next season rolls around because his performance is incredibly strong and pivotal in this series being as strong as it is. Frankly, that next Captain America movie can’t come soon enough.