It is a truth universally acknowledged that John Walker, aka Fake Cap, sucks. Steve Rogers used his shield as a tool, but Walker (Wyatt Russell) hides behind it. On The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the only thing keeping Walker from being truly awful is Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett).
Both of them insert themselves into the drama of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Ayo (Florence Kasumba), Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), and Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) while fights and moral conversations abound. The results? Not great, Bob. It is most apt that Episode 4 is titled “The Whole World Is Watching.” You can't take some things back, especially not when you're surrounded by people with phones.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be huge spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode “The Whole World is Watching.” If you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t want this. It’s not habit-forming, but get outta here Dewey.***
Following last week’s reveal that Ayo is in Latvia, we flashback six years prior to Wakanda, where she says Bucky’s trigger words to him. They have no effect. Success! Cut back to the present, and she’s wondering how Bucky had the gall to free Zemo. He may be a means to an end for Bucky, but Ayo is only going to put up with that for so long.
Meanwhile, the Dancing Baron is lounging in a bathrobe while Sam and Bucky get word about Karli’s latest attack. He monologues at them, saying, “She’s a supremacist. The very concept of a super soldier will always trouble people. It’s that warped aspiration that led to Nazis. To Ultron. To the Avengers.” Sam Wilson lets his counselor's side shine because he thinks that Karli can be saved.
Zemo doesn’t care. If someone has the serum, they are bad. When Bucky points out that Steve Rogers was definitely not bad, Zemo counters with, “But there has never been another Steve Rogers, has there?”
The future Dancing with the Villains contestant (and Turkish Delight enthusiast) is certainly right about that. There will never be another Steve Rogers... but there is Sam Wilson. He. Is. Right. There.
The three of them follow the only lead left, which is Donya Madani, who we saw pass in the previous episode. Zemo goes full Narnian White Witch, bribing a kid with some Turkish Delight to lead them to her memorial. Sam continues to be the one who sees flaws all around: Going back to the status quo after five years of change is wrong, especially if that status quo was awful. A "return to normalcy" is not the way, not when (among other things) trying to do that creates characters like Fake Cap.
After Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) calls with an update on the Power Broker (keeping that story thread going, we guess), we see Karli in a graveyard with her collection of serum. To her, the shield of Captain America is nothing more than a symbol of a bygone era. Heroes cannot keep their hands clean anymore.
That’s when Fake Cap and Lemar make their unwanted entrance into Latvia. Walker gets seriously irritating and shoots down Sam’s plan to try and counsel Karli, but Lemar sees the wisdom in it. Enjoying all of the chaos, Zemo remarks, “I’m sure it will all come to an agreeable conclusion.” His own personal Edmund Pevensie arrives to lead them to Donya’s memorial, where Fake Cap gives Sam 10 minutes to get through to Karli.
Anthony Mackie is an incredible actor, and Sam is a very good counselor. He does get through to Karli. When she asks, “What if I’m making the world a better place?” he counters with, “It’s not a better place if you’re killing people, it’s just different.” She rejects Zemo’s notion that she’s a supremacist. The corporations and the “beasts” that run them, they are the true supremacists. Sam agrees with everything, except for her methods of fixing the problem.
Real progress is being made here. Sam is getting through to Karli with intelligence, compassion, and empathy. He’s almost there — until Bargain Bin Walker gets mean and chests on in. Karli thinks this was Sam’s plan, so she bolts. Zemo catches up with her, and after shooting her a few times, he sees her assortment of serum. He stomps on the vials before Walker knocks him out. One vial was left, and this POS pockets it with a look on his face that would make Gollum wince.
A recovering Zemo asks Sam if he would have taken the serum if he was offered it. Sam says no, and Zemo goes off again, saying, “Super soldiers cannot be allowed to exist.” Sam isn’t gonna let that hang out there, though, responding with, “Isn’t that how gods talk? And if that’s how you feel, what about Bucky? Blood isn’t always the solution.”
As if on cue, Bucky enters, concerned about Walker. “I know a crazy when I see one, because I am crazy," he says. We trust him implicitly on this, and not just because we love Bucky more than mountains love being made of rock.
Also on cue, Walker enters and makes things worse. He puts down the shield to have some kind of fair fight with Sam, but then Ayo and the Wakandan Dora Milaje arrive, ready to take Zemo away. Fake Cap decides to pull rank on them, and, oh... no man.
After Walker huffs and puffs like a 7-foot baby, Ayo says, “The Dora Milaje have jurisdiction wherever the Dora Milaje find themselves to be.” Walker makes the mistake of touching her shoulder in a condescending way, and it’s on. Ayo kicks his a** while two of Ayo’s company restrain Hoskins. Zemo has a drink while Bucky pretends to cheer Walker on. It’s only when Ayo has Walker at spearpoint that Bucky intercedes (why, man, why?) and then the whole room is at it.
Zemo, having pulled off his favorite trick, slips out. All of the heroes (and Walker) are fighting each other. Ayo flicks her hand around Bucky’s Wakanda-made arm and it falls right off, and Fake Cap generally just gets a beating. We hear a slight riff on composer Henry Jackman’s Captain America: Civil War theme, and Bucky puts his arm back on. Not as free as he was led to believe, perhaps.
Walker decompresses out of costume, where he’s slightly more bearable. He and Lemar have the “would you take the serum” talk, and Lemar says that he would. He also says that someone like Walker doesn’t need it, he’s good enough just being him. Ehhhh, OK. Get off this boat, Lemar. Please.
Sam’s sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye) then gets a call from Karli, who is trying to determine whether Sam is honestly trying to help, or is in league with Walker. Sarah cannot possibly disavow Fake Cap fast enough, saying that Sam doesn’t work for him. Sarah goes one further, giving one of the best lines in an episode already full of great lines: “My world doesn’t matter to America, so why should I care about its mascot?”
Karli has Sarah send Sam coordinates for a meeting, putting some threats in there for good measure. Sam’s supposed to go and see Karli alone, but Bucky’s not gonna let him. He goes to meet her in full Falcon garb and it’s time for Round 2. This round is much quicker, with Karli wanting him to either kill her or let her go.
The ever-helpful Sharon calls in to inform them that Walker is about to ruin the show again, so Karli runs and Sam flies. Walker enters cowering behind the shield. Sam runs into him right after he demonstrates a serious show of strength, and asks him what he did — it’s a good bet that "Shield Thief 4000" downed that serum that he pocketed earlier in the episode.
Everyone’s at it again, and Lemar saves Walker from getting killed by Karli. Oh, come on, but also, Lemar isn’t getting up. Lemar’s dead. Captain Roid-Rage-Privilege-America has lost the only person who could talk any sense into him.
What does he do? He chases down a Flag Smasher, and brutally beats him to death in the town square. He uses the shield to do it. There is a large crowd watching (including Karli and Sam), and naturally, they’ve all got camera phones in hand.
Afterward, Walker just stands there with the shield, which has blood all over the bottom half of it. Blood is not the solution here, but Walker didn't consult Sam. If the legacy of Captain America is going to mean anything to anyone anymore, then this guy has to go. We say it pretty much every week, but there’s only one man who is fit for the role.
Sam Wilson doesn’t need the serum. He has empathy and compassion, and most importantly he’s what Abraham Erskine always valued most: He's a good man.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streams every Friday on Disney+. Longing. Rusted. Seventeen. Daybreak. Furnace. Nine. Benign. Homecoming. One. Freight car.