‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ Episode 3 Review – ‘Power Broker’
Every week, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is embracing more and more the spy-thriller genre.
And this week, they have delivered again. Power Broker is once again raising the stakes for the series, and bringing it to new levels of quality. While the last episode was more concerned with philosophical dilemmas than action sequences, although it did have a fairly solid one, this episode changes the focus again.
Directed by Kari Skogland (who directed the last two episodes), and written by Derek Kolstad (from the John Wick movies), the third episode of the series is basically a near-one-hour spy-thriller movie. The inclusion of Daniel Brühl’s Zemo, from Captain America: Civil War, is everything I hoped it would be after last week. He enters the show to completely change the power balance and the dynamics between all the characters. As he entered the frame, John Walker, who was heavily featured in The Star-Spangled Man, takes the backseat, and barely shows up here.
One thing that this week managed to do is try to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, because, as fans of the MCU know, there are a lot of repercussions to what is going on in the show. I will leave this discussion for the spoiler talk, coming up in a moment, but I do want to say that it looks like Marvel is aware that Bucky is a very troubled man who creates problems wherever he goes and with whatever he does.
Erin Kellyman’s Karli Morgenthau is back as well, and it seems like every week she’s getting more screentime on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. She has a great talking scene towards the end of the episode that not only serves the purpose of giving the viewer some breathing room from what is going on elsewhere, but also is a display of her acting abilities, which are not limited.
Kari Skogland does a decent job with her directing as well. There are a couple of action scenes where she felt more confident in letting the actor and the stunt team sell what is going on, instead of cutting away whenever a punch is thrown, but even in those scenes, we as viewers are only able to partially see what is going on, because of how actors are blocked in relation to the camera. I have discussed before how the way the MCU handles hand-to-hand combat is not the best for me, but I am pleased to say that they did not rely on shootouts for all the action sequences, as most action movies do. There is one shootout scene in this episode, but it ended much earlier than I was expecting, to my pleasant surprise.
Before I move on to the spoiler discussion, I do want to share a big pet peeve of mine about action sequences. And they do this in the MCU, in the DC movies, in Star Wars movies, and pretty much in any action movie ever. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is no exception. Let me get this straight – explosions matter. If you throw, let’s say a grenade, inside a car, and there are people in there, they are dead. The grenade doesn’t have to land on your lap for you to die. If Thanos is piloting a ship the size of a small island and he fires on all cylinders on the Avengers base, they are dead too. It doesn’t matter that Ant-Man goes really small, or that Captain America has a shield made of vibranium. They are dead, not only because of the explosion itself, but also because an entire building just fell on their shoulders. The only one that would survive, maybe, is Thor, but that’s because he is literally a God. Hawkeye shoots arrows – he is dead. And if by any miracle any of them manage to survive, they have at least half of their bones broken, they are deaf, and probably blind too. Enough with this stuff already.
There is one scene in this episode which bothered me again with this, so I really needed to get it off my chest. Let’s delve into some spoilers for the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Spoilers ahead for Power Broker.
Let’s start talking about this Power Broker, because that’s one of the big takeaways from this episode. Most of us expected that there is indeed a man in charge above Karli Morgenthau, someone who is behind the whole super-soldier serum shenanigans. The way I see it there are two possibilities, with a third one being a character we haven’t been introduced to yet (I highly doubt this is the case). The first one is that Baron Zemo is actually, somehow, behind the whole operation. They do say that (and Civil War already laid the groundwork for this) this goes against his philosophy, but ultimately we don’t know what he wants to do with it.
To me, this is the possibility that the creators of the show want you to believe. He is very insistent on finding Karli, so much so that he could have run away at the end of the episode, but didn’t. I am also curious about why none of the main characters were surprised by that.
The other possibility, which I think is the one that is going to happen, is that the Power Broker is John Walker, the new Captain America. The motivation is clear – he wants that serum to fully be Captain America, not just a really good soldier. And his scene in the beginning really shows how much he wants it. He is already breaking several laws by taking a team of American soldiers, led by him, into German territory and harassing people there with no permission. This is bad news for me, because I was really hoping they would not go the comic book route, and actually make John Walker a good guy. Or maybe just one that is always on the edge, but whose intentions are always pure. That is the more interesting story for me, but I can already see the big twist in the series coming. I do hope I’m wrong.
Then again, the Power Broker could simply be a new character; that alias has been used by several characters that haven’t been introduced to the MCU yet.
Another highlight of the episode was Sharon Carter coming back, with Emily VanCamp kicking all sorts of ass once again. Her performance is by far the best part of the character for me. She was introduced in a very awkward way for me, because they really never explain why she was right there, or how she knew they were in Mandripoor. Also, speaking of awkwardness, there is something I really want to know but I’m pretty confident the show will not answer – what is Sharon Carter’s relation with Steve? Is Steve her grandfather?
The whole Endgame explanation of time travel circumvents the grandfather paradox – you know, if you go back in time and kill your grandfather, how were you ever born and had the ability to go back and kill him? Endgame says that you actually travel to a different reality that is exactly like yours, until the moment you go back in time and kill him. Now, your father was never born on that timeline, and neither were you, so there are not two of you running around. But by Steve being there at the end of the movie, that explanation is no longer valid, and now I really want to know how does Sharon Carter feel about kissing her great aunt’s husband when he was young, but after she knew him for many years (to be fair, it’s possible Steve always avoided meeting her to skip that awkward moment, but still).
Her action scene at the end of the second act/beginning of the third act was the best one in this episode for me. Like I said before, Kari Skogland really trusted her with the stunts and had longer shots than usual, allowing the viewer to see what is going on, instead of constantly cutting away.
But right after that, we have a guy shooting a bazooka and our main characters miraculously surviving, because, you know, they were not exactly on the spot where the missile landed. The smoke is just there as set decoration, and not to hurt their lungs, and the fire doesn’t cost any human damage beyond a very expendable scientist.
Before we move on to the end, let’s talk about Karli Morgenthau for a minute. As I said before, they give her more screentime once again, and they try to develop her motivations a bit more. We see her mourning next to a bed where Mama Donnya is apparently very sick, and then we learn that this character will be important moving forward. I’m guessing that her motivation will be that, because of everybody coming back, the medical attention Mama Donnya was receiving was suddenly cut out, and now she’s just dying because people are more concerned about the ones that came back.
So, let’s talk about that ending, because it was something that I was not expecting, honestly. It was something that had been set up perfectly at the beginning of the episode, with Sam having second thoughts partially because of the Wakandians. Bucky is now an ally of them, who even nicknamed him the White Wolf (a name that could very well be the title of the next episode, by the way), and by kicking Zemo out of prison now, a whole new conflict arises. This is what I was referring to when I said that the show was crossing all the t’s.
The appearance of Florence Kasumba’s Ayo at the end makes perfect sense for the story, raises the stakes of everything Bucky and Sam are doing, and also makes the MCU feel even more interconnected. After the events of the last Avengers movies, pretty much everybody knows everyone else, and has at least had an encounter with them, or, in the case of Sam, knows someone who has had an encounter with the rest. The MCU promised to be even more interconnected now, and this is the first delivery of that promise. I do not expect them to turn this series into an alliance between the Wakandians and the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but it really makes me happy they are considering everything.
It also poses the question – who else is showing up? The most likely bet, besides Ayo, is her immediate superior, Okoye. But could someone else show up? Could Shuri? Another likely possibility is a Wakandian super-spy, Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia. But let’s be honest here, because there is a big elephant in the room – what are the chances of Kevin Feige pulling the ultimate trick and giving us one last performance from Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa, aka the Black Panther? Remember, this show was supposed to debut in August of last year, when Boseman tragically left us. It was delayed due to the lockdown that happened in March, at which point The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had around eight days left of shooting. It is entirely possible that they called Boseman to shoot a one-day cameo. If this happens, not only will the Internet blow up, but also tears will fall down everybody’s face all over the globe.
However, let’s not set our expectations too high, because we will probably be disappointed if we do. What does not disappoint, so far, is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. We now have to wait another week to see what transpires after that ending. But let’s not rush things, because, before we know it, the show will be over. Let’s enjoy the ride, folks.
- Baron Zemo finally received his ultimate comics characterization – not only he put on the mask (and caused some havoc with it, by the way, he pretty much earned new powers with that thing on), but he also acknowledged the title of Baron, which I didn’t think would happen in the series. Fortunately, they used that to their advantage, because they needed a way to fly all over the globe without getting noticed, and having a rich man on their front was very helpful (and to the average viewer, very convenient as well).
- The episode opens with a very interesting commercial offering help for those who need it after the tremendous shock of people coming back five years later. It’s not hard to imagine a hundred different situations in which people’s lives were suddenly torn apart once again, so at least it is rewarding to see that the MCU is aware of that. I hope we see more of this going forward, because that one event and its consequences are worth exploring on a whole 22-episode series.
Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as authors like Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.