The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hits is halfway point with Episode 3, which marks the series’ longest installment yet. “Power Broker” sees Bucky (Sebastian Stan) liberate Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) from prison, much to the chagrin of Sam (Anthony Mackie). The trio travel to the island of Madripoor to gain information on who empowered Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kelleyman) and the Flag-Smashers with the super-soldier serum, encountering their former ally Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) along the way.
“Power Broker” is written by Derek Kolstad, who brings the same sense of pulse-pounding action that he did to the John Wick franchise and Nobody. Kolstad also delves deep into the flaws behind the legacy of Captain America; in helping Steve Rogers, Sharon gave up her connection with her family and the ability to go home, and Isiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) suffered unspeakable atrocities because the government thought a Black man was nothing more than an asset to be used and discarded. This only serves to further underline why Sam felt uncomfortable holding the Captain America shield and adds even more nuance to the series. In addition to the themes of race and trauma, legacy has been an underlying element of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and I’m glad it isn’t shying away from the fact that not every legacy is without blemish.
Kolstad’s script also goes hand in hand with director Kari Skogland’s style, particularly a pair of explosive shootouts in the city of Madripoor and a shipyard. Marvel Comics fans will recognize Madripoor as a frequent haunt of the X-Men, in particular a certain clawed Canadian, and Skogland uses the setting to throw everything she and Kolstad can think of at the title duo—heavily armored thugs, motorcyclists, and even an old-fashioned bar brawl. The shipyard sequence is the best action sequence in the episode, particularly when Sharon battles an army of mercenaries. She uses a pipe as a makeshift club to stun enemies, chokes out opponents with a well-placed leg lock, and makes effective use of a Bowie knife. These sequences reminded me a lot of the John Wick films, particularly the throwing knife sequence in Parabellum.
The episode continues to feature action/buddy comedy between Mackie and Stan, especially in the shipyard sequence. There, Sam and Bucky have a heated argument about taking direction from each other while in the middle of a firefight! Toward the end of the episode, there’s also a nifty callback to Captain America: Civil War. The duo also have relatively quiet moments, including a discussion about Steve Rogers’ legacy. VanCamp and Kelleyman also have their moments, with the latter slowly pushing Karli down a dark path as a Flag-Smasher mission leads to chaos. Though Karli has good intentions, the method in which she carries them out is gut-wrenching and I hope to see how our heroes deal with her down the line.
However, the standout of “Power Broker” is Bruhl. Baron Zemo is one of my favorite Marvel villains, and Bruhl perfectly captures his Machevillian tendencies as well as his obsessive drive. From trying to use Bucky’s brainwashing codes when the duo first meet to setting off the firefight at the shipyard, Bruhl’s Zemo is a slippery serpent and I can’t see him having Sam and Bucky’s best interests at heart. Marvel Comics fans will also love Zemo’s outfit and a revelation surrounding his heritage.
“Power Broker” is the longest and best episode of the series yet, hitting its midseason stride with pulse-pounding action and the return of a classic Captain America villain. With only three episodes left, Sam and Bucky are in for an uphill battle.
New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are available to watch on Disney+ on Fridays.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 3 - "Power Broker"
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 3, “Power Broker,” is the best episode of the series, hitting its midseason stride with pulse-pounding action.