NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, including multiple major character deaths, and the true identity of the Power Broker, are present in this review
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s sprawling, almost overwhelming narrative scope has left a ton for the series to try and wrap up with just its finale this week. Spanning only six episodes, the series’ commitment to a movie-worthy budget and scale also appears to have come at the expense of some of its wrap-up, resulting in a polished, action-packed conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s second Disney+ miniseries that nonetheless has to rush through some of its final story turns, presumably before handing its story arc off to some other MCU project in the years to come.
Where, “One World, One People” excels the most is through its introduction to Sam Wilson’s newly-crowned Captain America successor. Yes, as predicted, the Wakandans put together a brand new Captain America costume for Sam, one that carries his Falcon wings and their flight capability, along with multiple new Redwing drones that seemingly have even more hi-tech capabilities. Sam’s first mission as Captain America is also very exciting, as he must race to assist Bucky in stopping the Flag-Smashers, and saving the GRC from Karli’s lethal efforts to prevent the re-drawing of the world’s former borders.
From Sam’s perspective, the action in this finale is truly spectacular. Between a frustratingly brief duel with Batroc, an effort to save several airbound GRC hostages from one of the Flag-Smashers, and eventually a final encounter with Karli herself, every moment with Sam in this finale shines. The stunt work is excellent throughout though, plus the overall pacing is relentless for the entire first half of this episode, which serves to wrap up the battle against the Flag-Smashers in exciting fashion. Bucky assists on the ground as well, complete with Sharon making a surprise appearance in Manhattan, something that’s more than a little suspicious, even though Sharon does nonetheless prove to be a big help to Sam and Bucky.
If you were hoping for a clean redemption and return to glory for Sharon however, then this episode has a rude, very controversial awakening for you. As much as Sharon is indeed assisting the heroes by taking out the Flag-Smashers, it’s eventually revealed after she corners Karli, complete with Batroc present, that Sharon was the Power Broker the whole time. This is the MCU’s latest massive deviation from Marvel Comics lore, where the Power Broker is a man named Curtiss Jackson (there is a second male Power Broker in Marvel Comics lore as well, but his identity is unknown), though beyond that, the reveal that Sharon is the Power Broker doesn’t totally land with the shocking impact that one may have hoped. It somehow feels both obvious and frustratingly illogical, especially considering that Sharon’s former principles were so strong that she helped Steve Rogers defy the Sokovia Accords and the will of the government during the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. How did Sharon suddenly swing all the way around to becoming a self-serving criminal queenpin that no longer cares about anything but the almighty dollar?!
Perhaps the MCU will justify this big twist with Sharon’s identity in a future project, especially following a rather harrowing mid-credits scene, which reveals that Sharon gets the government pardon that Sam promised her. How does she respond to this? By calling a mysterious client and saying that, while she can no longer sell Super Soldier Serum, she will soon have access to a ton of prototype weapons and U.S. government secrets, after resuming her role with the CIA. This is likely going to serve as the basis for upcoming Disney+ series, Armor Wars, especially considering that Rhodey, the main protagonist of Armor Wars, already made a cameo at the start of this miniseries. Either way, it appears that I was correct about the Power Broker’s introduction to the MCU going far beyond the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Sharon clearly has no interest in abandoning her role as the Power Broker, despite her government pardon, and that’s about to make her one of the most dangerous earthbound forces in the MCU at this point!
As much as this feels like a huge stretch, the revelation of Sharon’s true colours is at least effectively executed in terms of pulling the wool over Sam’s and Bucky’s eyes. Despite Sam’s efforts to intervene, Sharon ultimately shoots Batroc dead, and mortally wounds Karli (with Sharon merely sustaining a non-lethal shot to the hip herself), leaving Sam to hold Karli as she apologizes with her dying breath, before Sam flies Karli’s body to government authorities, confirming that the leader of the Flag-Smashers is dead. At this point, this episode takes a breather from its lengthy climax to have Sam address both the government and the general public as the new Captain America, stating that the Flag-Smashers were misguided, but were not terrorists. They merely wished to oppose an oblivious government measure that’s too disconnected from the real plight of the public. A new system has to be put in place for those who survived Thanos’ Snap, and while Sam admits he doesn’t have the answer, and some will hate him on principle for being a Black man taking up the mantle of Captain America, he plans to work with world leaders to help make a better world, because everyone is in it together now. This big public introductory speech from Sam is a little saccharine, and it slows the pacing down a little too much, but it is nonetheless nice to see Sam being determined to rise to the principles of Steve Rogers before him, and doing it for all to see.
As for the would-be Captain America that most of the MCU will no doubt want to forget about, John Walker also sees a bit of a hasty resolution here, if not a totally bad one. Walker corners Karli before she’s killed by Sharon underground, assisting Bucky in battling what remains of the Flag-Smashers, though Walker’s homemade shield naturally doesn’t last long. Walker initially ignores civilians in peril as well, despite Bucky stepping in to save them, though he does eventually do the right thing when faced with the blatant choice of taking his revenge, or helping people that need him. This goes to show that Walker isn’t ultimately a bad person, just a bad Captain America. Even that appears to be rectified in the end though, as a now-disavowed Walker is put in the perfect position to join up with Val, who has some other mysterious plan for Walker, now having taken up his current Marvel Comics identity as ‘U.S. Agent’, complete with its familiar costume. Zemo also takes it upon himself (via his faithful butler), to detonate the rest of the super-powered Flag-Smashers, after Bucky and Walker exploit their own app to arrest them (this is actually pretty clever, even if it does beg the question of why the authorities couldn’t capture the Flag-Smashers before now), leaving Bucky and Walker as seemingly the MCU’s only surviving users of Super Soldier Serum. Oh, and I guess Steve too, if he really is hanging out on the moon, watching all this mayhem play out from a distance.
Thus, while some of the character wrap-ups are a little too hasty and unsatisfying, the battle against the Flag-Smashers is pretty definitively tied up regardless, even if one of their prison guards uses their mantra before Zemo’s butler kills them, suggesting that the Flag-Smasher ideal could still live on in the MCU, even after Karli’s death. It’s also admittedly heartwarming to see Sam face Isaiah after publicly taking up the mantle of Captain America, whereupon Sam shows Isaiah and Eli that one of his first orders as Captain America was to give Isaiah and his fallen compatriots their own wing in the Captain America Museum. Finally, the world will know the sacrifices of Isaiah and his fellow Black Super Soldiers, a gesture that Isaiah is legitimately moved by. It’s a little thing, but it further demonstrates that Sam is committed to following Steve’s example, always trying to earn the shield and using it to lift up the downtrodden, rather than becoming a power-mad U.S. government pawn with no other allegiance or higher virtues.
So, we end with Sharon enduring as the Power Broker, ironically being made more dangerous than ever by Sam following through on his promise to get her a government pardon, while Walker takes up a new cause with Val as U.S. Agent. Sam and Bucky also finally become friends that truly trust and respect each other in the epilogue, with Bucky being in attendance at Sam’s big homecoming party in Louisiana, after Bucky finally tells Yori the truth about killing his son as the Winter Soldier. We don’t see how Yori responds to this revelation, but we do at least get confirmation, thanks to a knowing smile from Leah, that Yori can finally move on, having learned the terrible truth about how his son died. As much as Bucky felt considerably overshadowed by Sam in this finale, Bucky’s storyline nonetheless saw a fitting resolution through his confession to Yori, leaving Bucky’s future in the MCU able to embrace any number of possibilities from here.
“One World, One People” is definitely not a perfect series finale for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Its pacing is all over the place, its hasty wrap-up of the Flag-Smasher storyline feels a bit too easy and clean-cut (for now at least), and the ultimate reveal of Sharon being the MCU’s Power Broker raises a ton of questions, but not necessarily in a good way. Again, how did Sharon’s character fall this far, this quickly, in the span of just a few years on the run? Like I said, I imagine that Sharon being the Power Broker sets the stage for upcoming Disney+ series, Armor Wars, which this finale’s post-credits scene all but bluntly spells out, though Sharon’s true identity will no doubt have ramifications across the entire earthbound MCU as well. Some are still holding out for a potential second season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to keep exploring Sharon’s dark turn, though if anything, the way that this series ends seemingly confirms once and for all that it is indeed a one-and-done miniseries, as Marvel Studios previously indicated. After all, Sam is no longer the Falcon, and Bucky is no longer the Winter Soldier, so it’s hard to have an enduring series called The Falcon and the Winter Soldier after both eponymous characters officially shed their former identities.
As you can no doubt determine, the intriguing questions regarding the earthbound MCU’s future are a bit more fun and satisfying than the events of this finale itself, though we do at least get to send off the Flag-Smashers (and Batroc) in style. If nothing else, Sam makes a fantastic first impression as the new Captain America here. Yeah, he’s a little cheesy and idealistic in the role, but then again, so was Steve. If anything, Sam following that example so closely is the ultimate proof that he was always destined to take up the shield all along.
- Sam's fantastic first impression as the new Captian America
- Action-packed climax against the Flag-Smashers
- Walker fittingly transitioning into a new role as U.S. Agent
- Sharon being the Power Broker feels frustrating and inexplicable
- Flag-Smashers are wrapped up and eliminated a bit too cleanly
- Uneven pacing can be annoying
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