THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER Episode 3 Review; "Daniel Brühl Is Extraordinary As Baron Zemo"

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier's third episode took its title heroes to a well-known comic book location...with an unexpected "ally" in tow. Here's our verdict on how this latest instalment played out!

This week's episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier - titled "Power Broker" - wastes no time in teaming up its title heroes with Baron Zemo (yes, he's a Baron), and the results of that are spectacular. Daniel Brühl being an outstanding actor isn't new information, but he's clearly having a blast here and is the highlight of an otherwise very good - but not quite great - instalment of the Disney+ series. There's a slight "filler" feel to this chapter, with the stories of the Flag-Smashers and Captain America slowing down a little in order to allow Sam and Bucky's investigation into the Super Soldier Serum to continue. As a result, there are answers to be found, along with an astonishing cliffhanger ending, but things don't advance as much as some might hope.

There is, however, still more than enough action. After the blockbuster-style superhero fight scenes in the first couple of episodes, "Power Broker" plays out more like an espionage thriller with gunfights, explosions, and plenty of brutal hand-to-hand combat. Director Kari Skogland has a great handle on that side of things, and the episode really shines when it's Sharon Carter who is kicking ass and taking names. 

With most of the episode set in Madripoor, we get to see a very different side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Very much like its comic book counterpart, the island is a haven for criminals and is a real sight to behold. It's somewhere we're now anxious to see more of, though, especially as The Falcon and The Winter Soldier only really scratches the surface of what life there is like. Ultimately, this week's instalment is perhaps most satisfying when Zemo is on screen. As we mentioned, Brühl hits a home run here as the villain, adding lots more layers to the character, making him both charming and despicable in equal measure. He instantly became one of the MCU's best villains in Captain America: Civil War, and that continues to be the case on the small screen (honestly, it's never not satisfying watching him hold Earth's Mightiest Heroes accountable).

Emily VanCamp is also given the opportunity to do something new with Sharon; spending years on the run has hardened her, and she's definitely progressed into a different character since the last time we saw the former C.I.A. agent. That only serves to make her more interesting, and it feels like there's more to come on that front. 

One thing that is becoming noticeable as The Falcon and The Winter Soldier continues is how having different writers each week - this one was penned by John Wick's Derek Kolstad - means the quality of each episode varies. Malcolm Spellman's effort delivered a grounded, thoughtful look at the world of superheroes. Michael Kastelein's was heavy on strong character moments and humour, and this one ensures Zemo shines (and successfully takes the MCU to a new type of setting in the crime capital of Madripoor, while also delivering an expertly written - and shot - prison break sequence). Unlike WandaVision, this runs the risk of giving the series something of an inconsistent feel, because even though there are some great moments of humour in "Power Broker," the hilarious banter we saw from Sam and Bucky last week is sorely missed. Luckily, it appears Kolstad is writing next week's episode too, so that's likely to give these middle chapters a little more consistency before we head into what's sure to be an epic final two instalments.

Daniel Brühl is extraordinary as Baron Zemo, while Emily VanCamp delivers the tough-as-nails Sharon Carter we've been waiting for in this exhilarating episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

IF

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