tv TV Reviews

Marvel Enters a New Age: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Episode 1 Reviewed

“New World Order” does right by Wandavision hype, bringing characters we love into a world fully realized for them (and the only ones to defend it).

*Slight spoilers to follow

Right out of the gate, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gives us Saturday-morning TV action heightened by Star Wars style ala the speeder chase.

Falcon (Anthony Mackie) busts in during a 9-minute sequence of high-flying twists and turns marked by explosions, of course. Its blockbuster blitz transferred to the small screen without missing a beat – a great way to introduce Marvel’s second TV series and a hero overcome by seemingly impossible expectations.

Wandavision was a revolutionary experiment: interloping heightened pop culture fantasy and Avengers: Endgame fallout. With this one, Marvel is shifting the focus to tackle the socio-political fallout of the MCU and real topics outside of it.

Sam Wilson (Falcon) hasn’t accepted the mantle thrust upon him when Steve gave him the shield. He feels like “it’s someone elses” and gives it the Smithsonian Museum in a noble move to honor the legacy of Captain America. A fellow colleague offers some words that genuinely contradict the sweet sentiment.

Wilson’s been working for the Air Force the past six months. That big action sequence in the beginning came out of an effort to rescue a hostage taken by a new terrorist group by the moniker of LAF. It’s comfortable territory for Wilson, but big enough for him to feel like he’s doing something worthwhile.

Things aren’t going so well at home, though. His sister Sarah is struggling to keep their family crawfish business afloat and won’t expect his help, jaded by the past five years and his star status.

Outside the terrorist group, there’s also the threat of a group called Flag Smashers who want a world unified without borders; things back to how they were during the big blip.

Wilson is isolated. He’s trying to go back to what life was like before Steve so he doesn’t have to deal with what it is after.

Bucky Barnes can relate.

We find Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in therapy ordered by the government after a recent pardon. He’s batting nightmares induced from his previous life as the brainwashed Winter Soldier and has some new rules to follow: don’t do anything illegal, don’t hurt anyone and make amends with your former identity.

His over-the-line therapist tells him he’s free, he quips back: “to do what.”

Barnes is at a gray area in his life and he doesn’t have Steve to relate to; someone who knows what it’s like being out-of-time. He’s trying to reach out to others. He has one friend: an old restaurant owner reeling from the death of his son.

They have a connection, but Barnes tragically discovers its deeper than he thought.

How can he separate himself from what he’s done? Is part of him always going to be that Winter Soldier?

The episode ends with a re-birth for a fallen hero. A hero they’re telling us we need now more than ever. Its shocking and a bitter blow to Wilson and Barnes, and all those that thought they were doing right by his legacy.

And that’s why they’re just going to have to build their own.

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