The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's plan succeeds where The Boys have failed
It looks like the beginning of the end for You Know Who.
So! That fourth episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - ominously titled The Whole World is Watching - really took the training wheels off, didn't it?
After last week's re-introduction of the all-female Wakandan special forces, there was a sense that the plot could really go anywhere from there and it did indeed land us in some pretty unexpected places.
Well, not entirely unexpected, but definitely unexpectedly violent.
On the latest episode of TBR Spotlight: The Falcon and the Winter Solider [LISTEN from 10.50 below] Rory and Eoghan break down the return of John Walker, aka the new Captain America, and his very questionable actions.
Truth be told, the whole concept of the Flag Smashers felt a little underdeveloped in the first half of the series, so it is nice to see them all get a little more screen-time here, even if it is ultimately as little more than a catalyst for that final scene.
It isn't necessarily the fault of the Flag Smashers, but when compared to secret super soldiers, the return of Zemo, a new Captain America and tackling systemic racism, a group of people who don't like borders anymore just can't really compare.
Anyway, Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) gets some nice solo scenes with Sam (Anthony Mackie) in order to get a bit deeper into why they've suddenly taken to bombing government buildings, even if it does seem like Sam is being a little bit more patient with a killer of innocent people than he probably should be.
It is that same impatience that sets John Walker (Wyatt Russell) off, as he - arguably rightfully - wants to arrest these terrorists and bring them to justice ASAFP, thank you very much.
A line that Sam uses on Karli - "I agree with your fight, but I don't agree with how you're fighting it" - is something that can also be applied to the new Captain America, who seems to be constantly of the mindset to go in guns blazing first and then question any potential survivors afterwards.
It leads Karli to the idea that the best plan of action is to divide and conquer; distract Sam and Bucky with the offer of a truce, while the rest of her group closes in on Walker and takes him out.
Of course, she wasn't counting on Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) keeping tabs on everyone and she also wasn't expecting Walker to have dosed himself with super serum, meaning taking him out wasn't going to be as easy as she'd hoped.
However, the outcome ended up even better than she could've ever dreamed. If they'd just killed him, they may have turned him into a martyr. Instead, they've destroyed the entire idea of what Captain America is based on.
An earlier conversation foreshadowed things would take a severe turn, when Walker asks his partner Lemar Hoskins (Cle Bennett) about taking the super serum and how it doesn't change you, it just makes you more.... you. So when Karli accidentally (maybe?) kills Hoskins, it triggers something in Walker, who chases down one of Karli's accomplices and caves his head in with the Captain America shield, in broad daylight, in public, with dozens of people filming it on their phones.
It leads to the episode's second great image involving the shield (the other being when one of the Wakanda warriors kicked it up into her hand after beating Walker in a fight) and was a perfect way to end the episode.
And with that, the baddies (maybe?) in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have succeeded where the goodies (kinda?) in The Boys have failed so far.
The central conflict of that show is that Homelander (Anthony Starr) is America's superhero but is also, essentially, a psychopath having gone mad with power. But he's also completely consumed with how the world sees him, addicted to the legions of fans and strangers who love him for being a superhero, which is the only thing that is keeping him in check.
He hasn't been pushed to the edge to go full homicidal maniac in public. Yet. But the new Captain America has.
We'll see how the world reacts when the fifth - and penultimate - episode airs on Disney+ on Friday, 16 April.