Sam and Bucky go to a criminal safe haven to find information about the Super Soldier serum.
With all the talk of how Steve Rogers spectre looms large over The Falcon and The Winter Soldier it seems only fair that the series bring in two more ghosts from his past this week. After being teased at the conclusion of episode 2 (reviewed here) Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo returns this week in an unexpected capacity. He’s joined by Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), the grand-niece of Peggy, Steve’s one true love.
The Disney+ series has now moved enough pieces around the board to bring Sam (Anthony Mackie), Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and the aforementioned returnees together. In turn that kicks the show in to high gear after two episodes of relative setup. “Power Broker” feels action-packed from start to finish. Director Kari Skogland delivers a number of high spectacle set pieces without compromising on the series’ character development.
The episode quickly puts Bucky back in a cell with Zemo and we all remember what happened last time. The dynamic between the two is interestingly similar despite Zemo no longer having direct control over Bucky. There’s a still a level of influence which Bucky seems to fall under and its not long before he’s broken Zemo out of prison.
“Power Broker” pitches Zemo as someone who seemingly wants to help our duo. Sam isn’t on side and that gives us our latest layer of character conflict. If reflects well on the events of Civil War that both Sam and Bucky are left with little option but to do whatever it takes to try and resolve the developing situation. The story itself is now developed to a stage where the episode also doesn’t need to hang on the looming presence of John Walker (Wyatt Russell) as the new Captain America.
This new version of Zemo carries a lot more sass than when we last saw him. Bruhl looks to be enjoying his return and getting to play in a more mature version of the Marvel sandbox. He shoulders the narrative almost as much as our two leads this week which is unexpected but joyous to watch.
The action shifts to the comic book location of Madripoor, a safe haven for criminals and now home to Sharon Carter. We’ve glimpsed the city in the series’ trailers but it’s a sight to behold. It’s incredibly well realised on screen and feels like a real location throughout its time on screen. Rather than feel like a contrivance of the storytelling it seems like a location which could the hub of much more storytelling in the future.
The action in Madripoor leads the trio on a number of quests. Go here to find this person, complete this act to find this key piece of information etc. It’s a little generic but executed with some true Marvel flare by the production team. The unique relationships between the leads is the glue which holds the action together and it was great to see TFATWS flexing a little more of its dry humour this episode.
At this point the series folds Sharon back in to the mix. I hadn’t anticipated that she would be left in such a precarious position post Civil War and Endgame. Her absence from those films quickly defined by her wanted status. It adds another layer of conflict to the series to find that after being left on the run with Sam and Steve she was left alone to fend for herself whilst they were accepted back in to society. TFATWS could have kept this plot point in play for a while and explored how that would affect her relationship with Sam. Instead it chooses to swipe it aside somewhat to allow for more trademark Marvel action.
It all culminates in a huge action sequence at a ship yard. The action keeps stepping up with each scene and is all executed brilliantly. TFATWS just stepped up to a truly cinematic level and has proven that it isn’t simply an extension of what has come before. It’s interesting (and wholly satisfying that “Power Broker” bring some clarify to the Flag Smasher storyline this week. Rather than keep the secret of their powers hanging through to the series conclusion we now have a much clearer understanding of both their motives and their power source. From here it allows them to exist as a fully realised group of antagonists rather than as a curiosity to be explained.
“Power Broker” is TFATWS hurtling forwards at full speed. Unrelenting, action-packed and compelling from start to finish.
The six-part limited series is directed by Kari Skogland and stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes. Emily VanCamp returns as Sharon Carter alongside Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker/USAgent.
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