Martin Carr reviews the fourth episode of Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier…
There is no denying the chemistry between Bucky, Sam and Baron Zemo. Daniel Bruhl is having a blast adding humanising shades to his heinous creation. He may never to be trusted, but neither is Zemo likely to be dull. Theological conversations, cyclical debates and navel gazing may be happening around him, but he does his best to make The Falcon and the Winter Soldier interesting.
Negotiations between our central protagonists and the Flag Smashers might drive plot, but it does little to provide momentum. Despite the hand to hand set pieces, slick choreography and dynamic stunt sequences this show is still treading water. Wyatt Russell is doing his best with John Walker, but playing second fiddle to both The Falcon and The Winter Soldier continues to diminish any impact.
Having the Wakandan Dora Milaje in situ definitely adds a different dynamic, but their inclusion beyond a desire to off Zemo feels wasted. A bombastic soundtrack and exotic locales might give the impression of action, but events rarely get fraught or surprising. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier may possess solid performances and visual flair, but episode four’s only salvation comes in its closing moments.
As the gloves come off, some true colours are revealed and a genuine darkness invades this marvellous multiverse. It may feel blatant, come out of left field and dwell a little too long on the more unsavoury elements, but audiences will definitely sit up and take notice. Beyond the bloodshed, tonal shift and first honest to God cliff hanger moment, it promises so much more.
Not only that Marvel are prepared to get their hands dirty by tarnishing a beloved character, but also that this show really has a heartbeat. There is passion beyond the precision storytelling, glossy production design and polished dialogue. In those final moments Marvel unleashes a hornet’s nest of untapped aggression, social media backlash and fanbase fanaticism.
There is no sweetening the pill, no acquiescence with regard to audience reaction and this will have repercussions. If things continue on this trajectory and events take a darker turn, this may prove to be a saving grace. Because of one lapse in judgement audiences are guaranteed to tune in next week, just to witness the seismic aftermath. However, if that craziness is not forthcoming beyond episode four, then there will be a lot of people watching as the potential slips away.