There’s little point in making amends if everything is just going to stay the same. If painful cycles are going to be broken, then certain behaviors have to change. This is why Sam Wilson is going with something new, and the world is just gonna have to follow along.
If The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been a bridge to a new status quo for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then the finale (for now), titled “One World, One People,” provides the final pieces of that bridge. All of our heroes, anti-heroes, and John Walker end the finale with new purpose… or by having their true purposes revealed. It’s time to embrace the new, because there’s no going back.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 6 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. If you have not watched yet, you know the deal. Get OUTTA here, Dewey! You do not want this! Get outta here.***
Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the Flag Smashers are making their move on the GRC, intent on disrupting the vote on relocation. The episode’s title is their catchphrase, which we’ve heard for weeks now: “One world, one people.” That’s an idea that most of the show’s characters believe in, but they all have very different ways of going about making it a reality.
Bucky (Sebastian Stan) is on the scene at the GRC, as is Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), who reveals herself through a techno-mask removal a la Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. No one is going to step on her moment! Gas is tossed into the GRC chamber, but worry not. The finale wastes no time in revealing (presumably) what was in the box from Wakanda that Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) opened at the end of the previous episode. He flies in wearing a completely new suit, and it doesn’t just come with new wings: It’s a full Captain America suit.
When one of the GRC members asks Sam who he is, he wastes no time in telling him: “I’m Captain America.”
Damn right he is. The new star-spangled man realizes that Karli’s plan is for the council to be evacuated and then kidnapped, but he then gets attacked by Batroc the Leaper (Georges St. Pierre) so he has to deal with him while Bucky calls Karli and tries talking sense into her. They’re both trying to fight for something bigger than themselves, and, as Bucky says, “That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and I failed twice.”
Karli doesn’t buy what Bucky is selling so he’s off on a motorcycle while Sharon tags a Flag Smasher with a gas bomb (it's mercury vapor, among other things), which neutralizes him and one of the escaping trucks. A chopper full of council members takes off from the roof, and Sam bids “au revoir” to Batroc. He busts a window with his shield, leaps out, spreads his wings, and then catches the shield. Oh, yes!
It’s time for us to make a change. When he wears this regalia, we will no longer refer to Sam as Sam. We will now be referring to him as Cap. No further questions.
Cap chases the chopper using a new Redwing drone, checking if anyone inside of it has pilot experience. Karli changes her plan, pivoting to murder, though her people don’t look like they love that idea. “It doesn’t matter if we die, the movement is strong enough to continue without us,” she says. All that matters is getting their message out. The commandeered chopper throws a NYPD chopper off course, so Sam (with help from Redwing) gets the pilot to safety as a bridge full of onlookers cheer and applaud for him. Their camera phones are out — the whole world is watching.
Bucky is going at it with the Flag Smashers so Karli decides they need a diversion. So they light a truck full of hostages on fire so Bucky will save them just as John Walker (Wyatt Russell) struts on in. We’ll never be free of him.
Karli tells Walker she didn’t mean to kill Lemar, adding, “I don’t want to hurt people who don’t matter.” Wow oh wow, was that the wrong thing to say. Walker throws his DIY shield (which Karli easily knocks away) as Bucky uses his arm to open the burning truck, bypassing a fancy Flag Smasher locking mechanism.
Karli and the other Flag Smashers are smashing Walker, who has his DIY shield back. He looks at the Medal of Honor he grafted to the back of it while he gets roughed up. Thankfully for him, Bucky joins the fight.
Cap gets in earbud contact with a hostage onboard the chopper who knows how to fly the thing, and after a series of brilliant moves, the Flag Smasher pilot is out of there and this woman is flying the chopper. As this happens, Karli drives off in a truck full of hostages. She’s about to drive it right off of a very high ledge, but Walker actually helps for once and tries to pull it back. The Flag Smashers get him away from it and the truck is gonna fall, but Cap flies in and pushes it to safety, using his fancy Wakandan-made wings. (This Cap's got a different kind of super strength.)
Once again, the whole world is watching. An old Black man exclaims, “That’s the Black Falcon there! I tell you!” A young man corrects him, saying, “No, that’s Captain America.”
Redwing busts open the truck and frees the hostages right as Karli throws a metal rod at Walker’s head. Bucky catches it and saves him, just as the shield comes flying in, followed by Cap.
“You of all people bought into that bullsh**?” Karli asks Cap. His quick response nicely sums up the theme of the episode, and possibly the show on the whole: “I’m trying something different. Maybe you should do the same.”
Smoke pellets are tossed down, which helps the Flag Smashers escape, so Cap pursues them with both Bucky and Walker in tow. They end up in yet another warehouse of doom, and somehow we find Sharon with a gun on Karli. What exactly is Sharon’s deal? We find out, and it’s not great, Bob.
Karli has been in league with Sharon. When Karli originally went to Madripoor, Sharon took her in before betraying her. Karli was not interested in power, though — she was interested in change.
Karli then confirms what many have already suspected: “Without us super-soldiers, how much power does the Power Broker really have?”
“More than you,” Sharon quips. First off, good retort Sharon. Second, Sharon Carter is the Power Broker. Peggy would weep if she saw this Sharon. She’d weep. Batroc arrives and tries to blackmail Sharon for four times as much money as she was going to pay him (making it clear he was working for her too, not a surprise), and if she doesn’t do this, he’ll reveal who she is to the world.
Not gonna happen.
“I don’t do blackmail,” Sharon says, and guns go off. Batroc is dead, and Sharon is down. Cap flies in and goes at Karli, and we get a classic Cap moment with a new, quicker spin: Karli tells Cap to stay down. He replies with a simple “No.” He doesn’t need to say that he can do this all day, we are aware of that. It was a Steve Rogers thing, and Steve Rogers is either gone or on the moon.
Bucky and Walker (a sitcom spin-off we do not want or need… or do we… unsure) nab the rest of the Flag Smashers using the Flag Smasher app, of all things. Walker tries to quote Abraham Lincoln in a truly cringe-worthy moment and Bucky, rightfully, makes fun of him for it.
At the same time, following more fisticuffs, Karli has Cap at gunpoint. Before she can fire, she gets plugged by Sharon.
Karli dies in Cap’s arms, saying that she’s sorry. He flies her body outside as reporters shout questions and cameras of every kind capture everything. The GRC members thank him, but the main senator refers to Karli and the Flag Smashers as "terrorists."Cap decides to take them, and everyone else, to school.
The GRC is still going forward with relocation. If the Flag Smashers are terrorists, what does that make them? Whether the label is terrorist, refugee, or thug, Cap says, “they’re often used to get around the question, 'Why?'”
The Senator tells him he has no idea how complicated it all is, and Cap says that he’s right. “That’s a good thing. We finally have a common struggle now,” he says. “Think about that. For once, all of the people who’ve been begging, and I mean literally begging for you to feel how hard any given day is, now you know. How did it feel to be helpless? If you can remember what it was like to be helpless, and face a force so powerful it could erase half the planet, you would know that you’re about to have the exact same impact. This isn’t about easy decisions, Senator.”
The senator tells him again that he just doesn’t understand, so Cap makes it even more real: “I’m a Black man carrying the stars and stripes. What don’t I understand? Every time I pick this thing up, I know there are millions of people out there who are gonna hate me for it. Even now, here, I feel it. The stares, the judgment, and there’s nothing I can do to change it. And I’m still here. No super serum — no blond hair or blue eyes. The only power I have is I believe we can do better.”
All of this has been caught on camera. The whole world is watching. Torres (Danny Ramirez) was watching, and so were Isaiah (Carl Lumbly) and Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson). Cap continues, telling them about the amount of power they have at their fingertips; they can’t demand that people step up if they don’t meet them halfway.
“The question is, who is in a room with you when you’re making those decisions? Is it the people you’re gonna impact, or is it just more people like you?” Cap asks. No one questioned why Karli was doing what she did, why she died for it, and this is the root of the issue.
“You’ve got to do better, Senator. You’ve got to step up,” he says. Cap told Bucky that he “had to do the work” in Episode 5, and now he’s pretty much telling everyone else the same thing. “You people have just as much power as an insane god or a misguided teenager. The question you have to ask yourself is, 'How are you gonna use it?'"
He walks off with Bucky, who jokes that he was texting and that all he heard was “Black guy, stars and stripes.” Good one, Buck! He also adds a heart-warming, “Nice job, Cap.”
Time for a happy ending, except not really. Cap goes off to rescue a Flag Smasher that ended up in the river while the rest of the group are loaded onto a truck bound for the Raft. An officer whispers, “One world, one people” to one of them, and then the truck blows up. Within the Raft, Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) hears news of this, and looks pleased.
We then meet back up with Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who tells Walker that Zemo got the last laugh before Walker enters in a new suit, a black spin on his Fake Cap outfit.
“Things are about to get weird,” Val says. "So, when they do, we’re not gonna need a Captain America. We’re gonna need a U.S. Agent.”
Bucky makes formal amends to Yori (Ken Takemoto) and leaves Steve’s book (now full of crossed-out names) and a thank you note for his therapist, Dr. Raynor (Amy Aquino). Cap goes to see Isaiah and Eli, and Eli asks, “What you want, Black Falcon?” Isaiah corrects him: “He ain’t a falcon anymore, but he’s still Black.”
“So, a Black Captain America, huh?” Isaiah asks Cap, who tells him, “Damn right.” Isaiah tells him it’s not gonna be easy, but Cap already knows this — and he's got a good response: “Yeah I might fail… s**t, I might die… but we built this country. Bled for it. I’m not gonna let anyone tell me I can’t fight for it. Not after what everybody before me went through. Including you."
Sam then takes the Bradleys to the Cap exhibit at the Smithsonian, where it is revealed that Isaiah Bradley has been added back into history. All is well for the moment, as Cap and Bucky celebrate back on the water with Sam’s family. When we cut to the titles, the name of the show has changed. It now reads: Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
All is well! No it isn’t, because of course there’s a mid-credits scene and damn it, Sharon, you’re breaking our hearts. She gets an apology from the GRC senator, a full pardon, and her old job back. After he gives her a “Welcome home, Agent Carter,” she walks out and gets on the phone and says that they don’t need super soldiers anymore; she’s gonna have plenty of secrets and weapons.
“Should be something for everyone,” she says. Damn it, Sharon.
With that, farewell to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Amends have been made all around, and we believe that Bucky at the very least will change for the better. Everyone else? We'll see. Whether Sam Wilson and Bucky Barners return for another televised adventure is unknown, but that’s not the name of the show anymore.
Captain America is back.
All episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier can be streamed on Disney+. Damn it, Sharon.