FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIER Episode 4 Review; "Finds A Quintessential Balance Of Action And Character Moments"

Today's episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier focuses on Flag-Smasher and Captain America, but what does that result in? Well, it's definitely one of the strongest instalments of the series to date.

Last week's instalment of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier felt a little like filler as the characters were moved around the chessboard in preparation for the show's final three episodes. Our visit to Madripoor was all too brief, and while there was no faulting Daniel Brühl's performance as Baron Zemo, "Power Broker" ever so slightly underwhelmed. That's not to say it was bad (we gave it 4*) but writer Derek Kolstad definitely redeems himself with this week's action-packed, character-driven effort. 

Director Kari Skogland once again proves that she has a perfect handle on fight scenes, and while we won't spoil anything here, some unexpected characters come to blows throughout the course of "The Whole World Is Watching" with magnificent results. Marvel Studios continues to effortlessly bring the big screen experience to Disney+ with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but it's Skogland who manages to find the perfect balance and deliver the sort of moments that make the Marvel Cinematic Universe so special. The cold opening, for example, takes us to Wakanda six years ago as Bucky was overcoming his HYDRA programming. It's a beautiful, emotional moment performed perfectly by Sebastian Stan in a piece of acting that is worthy of any and every award you can think of. 

However, this episode really gives Erin Kellyman and Wyatt Russell the chance to shine. Karli Morgenthau's motivations are better explained here, and we now have a greater understanding of both her past and intentions for the Flag-Smashers. Their end goal still hasn't been revealed, but there's potential here, and we can only hope this doesn't lead to an underwhelming conclusion. Kellyman adds some depth to the character, and she no longer comes across as a one-note villain. 

Russell's John Walker is taken down a much darker path here, and beyond the memes, it's worth noting that this episode does an incredible job of exploring a very different Cap. Steve went into World War II fresh-faced and keen to help his country in much simpler times; Walker has been put through the wringer after fighting in Afghanistan, clearly has signs of PTSD which those he serves haven't picked up on, and proves a fascinating character to follow as a result. We're used to seeing comic book characters pass their identities around (how many spider-themed heroes are there?), and in a series that is essentially about exactly that, it's great to see Marvel Studios exploring what it means and the pressure that comes with wielding Captain America's shield. 

Also deserving of a special mention is Florence Kasumba as Ayo; her small, but pivotal role is a memorable one, and she effortlessly makes us believe in her bond with Bucky here. 

With only two episodes left, there's still a lot of dangling threads the series needs to pull together, so it'll hopefully have enough time to resolve them all satisfactorily. Will Sam choose to wield the shield? Will Bucky find forgiveness from the man whose son he killed? What's going to happen with Sam's sister, a character who has mostly been sidelined until this week's instalment? Throw in the Flag-Smashers, John Walker, Power Broker, Sharon Carter, and Zemo, and the pressure is now on Marvel Studios to hit all these beats over the next two weeks and tie things up in a way that makes fans happy. If this week's episode is any indication, the characters remain in safe, and very capable hands. 

"The Whole World Is Watching" finds a quintessential balance of action and character moments, putting the spotlight on the excellent Wyatt Russell's John Walker and what it means to be Captain America in today's world.

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