After just a week off, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back with more pulse-pounding action. This time, instead of magic and sitcoms, it’s two of the MCU’s most legendary soldiers coping with the idea of being reintroduced to the world after the blip. That process is complicated by several new developments that are certainly going to warrant the attention of the two best friends of Steve Rogers.

Spoilers ahead!

The first episode opens up with Sam at home, preparing for some kind of formal affair. As he picks up Captain America’s shield, we hear the exchange between him and Cap from Avengers: Endgame, during which Cap passed the shield on to Sam.

After the title card, the show wastes little time throwing us right into the familiar action Marvel fans were so craving in the early episodes of WandaVision. Sam gets a briefing about a criminal organization known as LEF who is targeting a military captain by the name of Vasant. His job is to guide the captain’s plane before LAF can take it.

After a dramatic plane jump, Sam’s mission begins. We meet Torres, a lieutenant who serves as “boots on the ground” for the mission. Sam learns that LAF has already hijacked Vasant’s plane and we see that the boss calling the shots for the organization is none other than Batroc, with Georges St. Pierre reprising the role from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Sam uses Redwing, to cut open the door to the plane and move in. He quickly takes out a couple of the thugs before being attacked by Batroc, who hits him with a showtime kick, which UFC fans will appreciate. Batroc and the rest of LAF put on flying suits, with Vasant strapped to the back of one, and jump out of the plane before Sam pursues.

In a unique action sequence, Sam chases down LAF while having to deal with several helicopters firing at him as well. Redwing makes short work of one of the choppers. It’s nice to see Sam’s little assistant being used more in this new series, even if it’s not an actual falcon, like in the comics.

Torres lets Sam know that they’re about to reach Libyan airspace, putting a clock on the mission and our action sequence. After some more big explosions, Sam manages to take Vasant and blow up Batroc’s chopper, but not before the recurring villain seemingly escapes.

After the mission, Sam and Torres meet for drinks while Sam works on Redwing. Torres uses an app to locate what seems to be a meeting point for a group called the Flag Smashers, referencing a comic villain by the same name. He explains that they think the world was better during the blip and that they want a world without borders. Sam tells him to keep an eye on it and let him know if things get serious. Torres then asks about conspiracy theories saying that Steve Rogers is watching over them from a base on the moon. Sam quickly shoots down the theory.

Sam heads to Washington for a ceremony of some sort at the Smithsonian, somehow involving Captain America and his shield. In front of an audience, Sam explains that they need new heroes and that Steve is “gone.” He also provides us with a timeline, saying people reappeared “a few months ago.” We see that James Rhodes is in the audience for this media event. Sam relinquishes the shield, saying it belongs to Captain America. It is then put into a display.

A man thanks Sam for handing over the shield and Rhodes asks him to take a walk. The two Avengers explore the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian and catch up on life after the blip. Rhodes asks why Sam didn’t take up the mantle of Captain America. Sam more or less explains that the shield and the name of Captain America belonged to Steve and he couldn’t take that. Rhodes then essentially explains the premise of the show by saying, after the blip, the world’s a crazy place and “nobody’s stable.” We’ll have to see who can fix this broken, post-blip world.

We then cut to a luxury hotel where a group of young people leave a work meeting before the camera pans up and we see a shadow lurking on the roof. As a different group of more intimidating looking people make their way out, the Winter Soldier punches his way through a wall and makes short work of the whole group before saying “Hail Hydra.” One of the young men from the first group sees the whole thing and nervously tries to open the door to his room. The Winter Soldier approaches him and kills him. Once he pulls the trigger, Bucky wakes up from the nightmare.

Bucky then sits in a therapy session, a condition of his pardon after all of his crimes operating as the Winter Soldier for Hydra. Bucky tells the therapist about crossing another name off of his list of amends. We see how he went after Senator Atwood, who was a pawn for Hydra who he helped get in office. The therapist lays out three rules that Sam has to follow: he can’t do anything illegal, nobody gets hurt and he informs his target that he is no longer the Winter Soldier. He lies about following the first two, but hilariously follows the third. He tells the therapist for a second time that he hasn’t had any nightmares and that he trusts people. She takes his phone and says he’s been ignoring texts from Sam. Bucky explains that this is all new to him as he’s just been going from one fight to another for 90 years and the therapist tells him again that he is now free and needs to not be alone.

Bucky meets up with his elderly friend Yori just before he gets into a fight with his neighbor. He takes Yori out for lunch and the old man pushes Bucky into a date with the waitress. Bucky tells Yori he hasn’t danced since 1943 before adding “it feels like.” Clearly, Bucky is trying to conceal his identity and almost slipped up there. Yori stares into the distance before telling Bucky about his son, who was killed. Now we know why Bucky has befriended this man.

We then jump to Louisiana, where Sam returns home to his sister and nephews. He gets into an argument with his sister over her desire to seel their family’s boat. Sarah tries to explain the severity of their financial situation but Sam continues to argue in favor of not selling the boat. He tries to convince her that he can help her to get a loan.

Bucky arrives for his date with flowers in hand, which prompts the waitress to call him old-fashioned. The waitress asks Buck how old he is, to which he quickly answers “106,” earning a laugh from his date. She also asks why he’s wearing gloves. He tells her they’re for poor circulation when of course they’re really hiding the fact that he has a metal arm (that’s awesome, dude). As she finishes up work, Bucky tries to stop a moving cat figurine on the bar in a move very reminiscent of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 when he does the same with a sculpture on Pepper’s desk.

The two play Battleship while trying to get to know each other. Bucky blatantly disregards the rules of the game while his date tells him how hard it’s been for Yori since he lost his son. The conversation is too much for Bucky and he has to walk away from the date. He makes his way to Yori’s apartment, where we see a picture of the young man killed by the Winter Soldier in Bucky’s nightmare. He gives Yori money for their lunch and walks away. We see “Y. Nakajima” on his list of amends as he stares into his notebook.

After a quick scene in which Sam and Sarah prepare to head to the bank for a meeting about a loan, we jump to Switzerland, where Torres is tracking the Flag Smashers. He poses as one of them, using his phone to find their meeting place. A woman shows up with a bag and begins handing out black masks with a red handprint, the logo of this new group. As several people begin putting the masks on, an alarm sounds and a man breaks through a second story window with two large bags of money and jumps out, landing with no issue. Clearly, this is an enhanced individual. As everyone scrambles, the large man quickly dispatches of a police officer. Torres tries to arrest the man but is quickly overpowered and left for dead.

Sam and Sarah sit in their meeting for a loan. The banker recognizes Sam as Falcon and he tries to use his superhero status to secure the loan. The banker explains that they have no income over the past five years, which would make sense because they didn’t exist over that time. He denies them their loan and the Wilsons leave. Sam explain that he is going to get that loan and Sarah again urges him to stop.

Back home, Sam works on the boat before getting a message from Torres telling him to get to a secure line because he has something he needs to watch. Sam watches the video of the man in the Flag Smasher mask as Torres explains that he has a broken orbital but otherwise seems fine. Sam asks if anything else happened outside of the video and Torres questions him, saying “you don’t think he could be a…” before Sam cuts him off. Torres was going to ask about the possibility of this Flag Smasher being an enhanced, but what kind? Super Soldier? Alien? Mutant? We’ll have to wait to find that out.

Sam’s call is interrupted when Sarah enters and tells him he needs to watch something. She turns on the TV where we see the man who thanked Sam for handing over the shield at a press conference. The man explains the need for a hero who defends America and announces that there is a new Captain America. A man enters holding the shield and wearing an altered Cap uniform. This man is John Walker, played by Wyatt Russell, who briefly held the title of Captain America in the comics before taking up the name U.S. Agent.

This is a fantastic introduction to this new series that really sets the tone for something that can be great. However, with only a six-episode run, it seems as though there are still a lot of things that need to happen. We know Baron Zemo will be featured in this series, as well as Sharon Carter, and neither has been introduced as of yet. On top of that, Bucky and Sam haven’t even gotten together yet. That being said, Marvel has a long track record of making these things work, so it stands to reason it will happen again here. Let’s start counting down the minutes to next Friday.

You can watch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ now.

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