*Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode three of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier*
We’re already at mid-season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier–and its latest episode, “Power Broker” is the series’ best one yet, as it not only further develops the story, but the character relationships between Sam (Anthony Mackie), Bucky (Sebastian Stan)…and now Zemo (Daniel Brühl) joins the mix.
The episode opens with John Walker (Wyatt Russell) in Munich, with Battlestar (Clé Bennett), as they are looking for Karli Morgenthau and the Flag-Smashers. Already, Walker’s “collaborative” attitude from the last episode starts to dissipate quickly, as he is slowly starting to show his true colors, bursting in a fit of rage when a man spits at him, yelling “Do you know who I am?”. He may have Cap’s shield and the suit, but Walker most certainly does not act like him. This one scene perfectly encapsulates what was set-up in last week’s episode, that Walker is only in it for himself and the clout of being Captain America instead of living up to not only Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)’ legacy, but to the mantle and responsibility of Cap as well. This is also Wyatt Russell’s best scene as John Walker, so far, and we can only anticipate what’s going to transpire in the following episodes.
After playing a game of will-they/won’t they, by introducing X-Men’s Quicksilver (Evan Peters) in WandaVision, only for him to be just some random Westview bystander, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could very well plant [for real, this time…or not] small seeds for the eventual appearance of Mutants, by introducing to audiences the corrupted world of Madripoor. In the comics, the island of Madripoor was popularized through X-Men stories–and the on-screen adaptation of the island’s Lowtown (minus the mutants) is very well realized in the show. In this episode, Sam and Bucky team up with Zemo and travel to Madripoor to acquire information on the super-soldier serum that has been used on Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the Flag-Smashers.
This unusual collaboration between the three makes Zemo the star of the episode, as Sam and Bucky have no more leads. In Captain America: Civil War, Zemo was arguably the worst part of the film–even though he was a somewhat compelling villain with a quasi-interesting motivation. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, his command of the episode makes him a much more interesting character than he was in Civil War. He is, of course, using Sam and Bucky for his own gain (though these motivations are still unclear right now), though the banter between the three makes for some great comedy and Zemo using the duo for his own agenda makes every sequence with him extremely unpredictable.
A couple of intense moments involving Bucky and Zemo are emotionally strong, particularly when he mentions Mr. Nakajima (Ken Takemoto), Bucky’s neighbor whose son was murdered by him. You can still feel the animosity between Bucky and Zemo, though they have to put their differences aside to get what they want. The trip to Madripoor also reunites Bucky and Sam with Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), who is now a fugitive from the government after the events of Civil War. It was great to see Sharon again, even though she is incredibly underused in the episode and most likely won’t show up until the finale. She does, however, share an impeccably choreographed fight sequence, holding off bounty hunters as the trio of Sam/Bucky/Zemo are looking for answers on the super-soldier serum.
And, by answers, you’ve got ‘em. What The Falcon and the Winter Soldier excels at, even better than WandaVision is that it slowly progresses at the next logical step–giving coherent answers to the lingering questions audiences had in the previous episode, while also teasing what’s to come in the next one–especially with the surprise appearance of Ayo (Florence Kasumba), a member of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje, the show’s most unexpected cameo by far. It’s a bit bittersweet to see any Wakandan appear in an MCU title after Chadwick Boseman’s passing, but it’s also great to see that T’Challa’s legacy will most (and should) certainly live on through other stories.
While the Flag-Smashers are still incredibly underdeveloped and uninteresting, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is slowly picking up steam with the brilliant addition of Zemo as an anti-hero (we also see him in action with his iconic purple mask!), rather than being the main antagonist of the series. He could very well be the main villain, we still have three episodes left, but it’s great to see that the series will still make him an unusual sidekick in the show’s fourth episode, which is now gearing up to be a great one, with Ayo who has come to reclaim Zemo. It’s still early to know who the Power Broker is, but it’s clear that whoever it is will certainly come into play soon and probably has been introduced already…though that’s just a wild guess. Let’s see what happens instead of making wild theories that probably won’t come true.