Review: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series finale

Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

The series finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wastes no time showing us what we’ve been waiting to see since the show started. Within the first five minutes of “One World, One People,” we get to see Sam in the new Wakandan-made Captain America suit! Not only is it when of the best-looking comic-accurate suits, Sam looks incredible in it!

The most satisfying moment in the episode is right at the beginning when he doesn’t hesitate as he says “I’m Captain America” after saving someone. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier took its sweet time getting here, but now that we finally got this moment, it feels good.

In retrospect, I’m glad the show took its time to get Sam in the Captain America suit. His journey feels natural and allowed for deeper characterization and an analysis of the shield and what it means to be a black man in America. Now, as he finally takes up the mantle, Sam is Captain America. It isn’t forced or rushed.

Sam Wilson becomes the new Captain America

Action scenes with Sam flying around in red, white, and blue give us a clear contrast between his Captain America and Steve’s. Unlike Steve Rogers, Sam has weapons and gadgets to assist him in combat. He’s not being a super soldier, but Sam can take flight at any moment. Because he didn’t take the serum, his training and mastery of the shield make his accomplishments all the more distinctive and impressive.

Sam does take after Steve a bit as he doesn’t back down from his fight with Karli and delivers a speech pointing out the GRC’s hypocrisy at the end of the episode. If this show didn’t convince you that Sam was the right person to continue Steve’s legacy, this speech should. It’s inspirational while also discussing what America can be as it helps everyone cope with the Blip.

The smartest decision the show made was exploring the consequences of Thanos’ snap and how ordinary people reacted to it. This is why the Flag Smashers were so compelling initially, but unfortunately, they seemed to lose steam before the finish line.

The Flag Smashers and John Walker don’t get the attention they should

Despite the show trying to make Karli relatable, her death falls flat. While she starts the show with some understandable issues, she goes to too many extremes, losing herself in the process. That could’ve been an interesting character arc, but she comes off as cliche by the end. The show had the ability to develop her character with much more time than a film would’ve allowed, yet she still feels underdeveloped.

Walker suffers the same fate. Although there are a couple of moments where we feel his frustration and anger, we aren’t given enough time with him during this episode. Wyatt Russell was one of the best parts of the series and to sideline him after giving him great material earlier is such a waste.

He does get a heroic moment as he attempts to save a truck of hostages from falling into a pit. It was surprising and I would’ve liked to have seen more of it. However, given his last scene with Valentina (yes, she shows up again), I think they are saving more Walker moments for other shows or movies.

Sam and Bucky get satisfying conclusions to their arcs

The finale is very focused on Sam and Bucky, which makes sense. Sam, of course, became Captain America, but Bucky gets a satisfying emotional conclusion to his arc. He makes amends with the people on his list (off-screen) and finally tells Yori Nakajima what happened to his son. By the end of the episode, Bucky looks happy and is ready to move on from the Winter Soldier.

The final moments with Isaiah Bradley are powerful, as a statue of him is erected in the Captain America Smithsonian exhibit. Sam tells Isaiah the country will never forget what he did to get it. It’s an incredibly moving scene and one of the best in the series.

The episode’s emotional flow isn’t interrupted by any misplaced jokes, which is a plus. Marvel titles have notoriously struggled with inappropriately timed jokes, especially during dramatic or emotional scenes. Thankfully, there’s none of that here. The few jokes and quips in this episode are either placed before or after the action.

The one gripe I have with the ending is the reveal that Sharon Carter is the Power Broker. While many of us knew this was coming, the execution was poorly done, and it felt like a last-minute inclusion.

Overall, this was a fantastic conclusion to another fantastic entry in the MCU. While some of the storylines and characters had lackluster conclusions, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier did an excellent job of wrapping up Sam and Bucky’s stories. I’m excited to see where Sam Wilson’s journey takes him as the new Captain America!

Grade: A –

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