In episode two, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series teased that John Walker would start going down a darker path; episode three begins with proof of that. He thinks that because of the shield he’s wielding and the costume he’s wearing, people will both fear and respect him. Neither is the case. He’s beginning to get desperate, and we can only assume that will lead him to seek out the super-soldier serum that the Flag Smashers possess.
Bucky breaks Zemo out of prison without Sam’s permission. The three then form an unstable alliance to find and destroy the supply of super soldier serum. It’s a fun play on expectations, those being that he would be the primary antagonist of the show. While the alliance stands now, there are still three more episodes for Zemo to turn on his newfound allies.
The new allies head to Madripoor, a fictional Indonesian criminal sanctuary, in search of more information about the production of super soldier serum. This leads to the reintroduction of Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), still a fugitive and in hiding after stealing the shield for Steve Rogers in Captain America: Civil War. She agrees to work with them in exchange for the pardon she deserves.
They find the man producing the super soldier serum, Wilfred Nagel, and interrogate him. He reveals that Isaiah Bradley’s blood was used to make the new serum and that the Flag Smashers have stolen all the produced units of it. Zemo then kills him, triggering the action set piece of the episode, which is a massive improvement over the action scene from episode two.
Zemo and Sharon show off their combat skills in fight scenes that are very John Wick-esque, which makes sense considering this episode was written by Derek Kolstad, the writer of the first three films in the John Wick franchise. It’s some of the most violent and visceral action (though still very PG-13) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, and it’s just really fun to watch.
We then catch up with the Flag Smashers, while leader Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) mourns the loss of her mother in Latvia. They raid a facility run by the Global Repatriation Council (GRC) for materials. The GRC is led by John Walker, at least for the time being. After leaving the facility, Karli blows it up with civilians still inside, making the Flag Smashers clear villains instead of the morally gray group they were before.
The gang, without Sharon, staying put due to her fugitive status, then heads to Latvia for more leads on Karli and the rest of the Flag Smashers. After arriving, Bucky goes on a walk, separate from the group, noticing small devices all around. He then comes face-to-face with Ayo (Florence Kasumba) of Wakanda, one of the royal guards. She demands the location of Zemo. Her appearance is a fun and unexpected cameo guaranteed to spark conversation. She’s also pretty much required to return next week at the very least.
Ayo’s appearance makes this series feel larger, on par with the globe-trotting films in the franchise. If appearances like this become more common, the MCU is going to feel a whole lot bigger going forward.
All in all, this is a really solid episode with great action and interesting character reveals. Episode two was a step back for the series, but this week returned it to form. If the series can stay at this pace for the rest of its run, it’s almost guaranteed to be great.