DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode “Power Broker” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, Marvel fans! It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the halfway point in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Sharon Carter and Zemo made their triumphant returns! Sam and Bucky teamed up with Zemo, their enemy from Captain America: Civil War, to get the lowdown on who’s doling out the super-soldier serum. John Walker and Lemar Hoskins continued their hunt for Karli Morgenthau, wherein we saw the former start to fray at the seams. “Power Broker” ended on a delightful cliffhanger — Ayo from Black Panther met with Bucky in Latvia. Her objective? Take out Zemo.
Ready to delve into “Power Broker”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with a commercial. It’s for GRC, also known as The Global Repatriation Council. The GRC’s mission is to help the formerly vanished folks re-assimilate into society. We see John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett) storm the hideout of Karli’s ally in Germany. They interrogate him regarding her whereabouts. Her ally refuses to give them even an inch. “Do you know who I am?” Walker asks in a rage. That’s not a very Cap move, dude. The pair leave said hideout without any intel. Nary a lead.
Meanwhile, Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) are also in Germany. They’re at a high-security prison to pay an old foe a visit. Bucky decides to see Zemo alone. They have a connection: HYDRA. Bucky finds Zemo (Daniel Brühl) sitting in solitude. Instantly, Zemo tries to draw out the former Winter Soldier by reciting his trigger words.
Of course, they fail to make an impression. He wanted to ensure that Bucky truly has changed. Bucky cuts to the chase. Someone has replicated the super-soldier serum. Sam and Bucky believe that HYDRA may be involved. They need Zemo’s vast knowledge and connections to find out who it is.
Next, Bucky leads Sam into what appears to be a garage. He poses a hypothetical situation. What if someone were to escape the high-security prison facility by provoking a fight between inmates, thereby distracting the guards. While Bucky describes said hypothetical scenario, we see Zemo make his exit. He disguises himself as a guard. Then, Zemo meets with Sam and Bucky in the garage. Hypothetical, meet literal.
Naturally, Sam isn’t a fan of breaking Zemo out of prison, but Bucky reminds our Falcon that they need him. The enemy of my enemy, right? Bucky asks Sam to do this for him, just as the latter covered his tail in Captain America: Civil War. Best buddies for life!
Later, Zemo and our boys hop on a plane for Madripoor, an island in Southeast Asia. Zemo has a private plane and his own Alfred! He is a baron, after all. The riches come with the title. Zemo knows folks in Madripoor that can aid them on their mission.
Meanwhile, we see Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) in Latvia with the Flag-Smashers. She learns that Mama Donya (Veronica Falcón) is dying of tuberculosis. Karli is encouraged to visit Donya for, presumably, the last time. We get a glimpse into why Karli advocates for people displaced by The Blip. That’s what I love about so many MCU “villains” — what they fight for is understandable. It’s the methods they utilize that give us pause.
Then, Zemo and the boys arrive in the congested metropolis of Madripoor. Zemo wants Bucky to reprise his role as the Winter Soldier for disguise purposes. Sam will be playing the role of “The Smiling Tiger.” Zemo gets to be himself. Must be nice.
Now, the trio winds up inside a seedy establishment called The Princess Bar. Zemo asks the bartender for access to someone named Selby. The bartender whips up The Smiling Tiger’s favorite libation — a shot of something mixed with the innards of a snake. He proceeds to carve up said snake in front of the boys. Of course, Sam’s in character, so he must feign approval of the drink. What a brave soul.
Suddenly, Zemo “triggers” Bucky into battling a bevy of dangerous folks to get to Selby. Sam worries about Bucky. He’s clearly trying to make amends for his past transgressions. On the plane, Zemo even takes a gander at Bucky’s book which boasts a list of names including Yori Nakajima, the father of RJ. It’s the same booklet that Steve had in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I love that Sam cares about Bucky’s wellbeing and mental health.
After Bucky’s impressive display of physical prowess (facilitated by a Vibranium arm), the trio finally meets Selby (Imelda Corcoran). Selby and Zemo have history. Not to mention, Selby is high on the Madripoor hierarchical chain. He asks Selby if she knows of anyone who’s distributing the super-soldier serum. She reveals that the Power Broker, someone higher on the chain than her, has a fellow named Dr. Nagel curating these serums.
Meanwhile, Sam receives a phone call from his sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye). Initially, he resists the urge to answer it. However, Selby not only demands Sam to receive said call but to put it on speaker. Sam maintains his stoic The Smiling Tiger faςade while talking to Sarah. Naturally, she’s bewildered by his behavior. She wants to discuss the family business situation. But her kids quickly pull her away from the conversation. Prior to hanging up, she refers to Sam by name. Selby immediately orders her lackeys to kill them.
Suddenly, a bullet whizzes through the window and punctures Selby in the chest. She’s dead as a doornail. Zemo, Sam and Bucky flee the scene. We see them running through the streets of Madripoor as hordes of armed people try to gun them down. Zemo notices that Sam and Bucky have a “guardian angel.” Someone keeps taking out the folks that actively pursue our boys.
We see it’s none other than Agent 13 a.k.a. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp). She’s a resident of Madripoor. Sharon had to go on the run after stealing Steve’s shield. She’s barred from entering the United States. She can’t even make contact with her family. Sam and Bucky reveal their current mission and reason for being in Madripoor. Sharon leads them to her opulent home.
Apparently, she sells legitimate, incredibly rare art for a living to some shady people willing to shell out the big bucks. Sam is incredulous that these paintings are the real deal. But Bucky informs him that most artwork you see in museums like the Louvre are fakes. The more you know. Sharon discloses that she has potential buyers coming over to take a peek at her wares. This meeting serves a twofold purpose — it’s also a lavish, upscale party. She urges the boys to change into the party attire they definitely brought with them.
Now, Sharon’s embittered by the course of events that led her to Madripoor. Superheroes and super-soldier serums got her into this mess in the first place. Sam persuades her to help them out. In return, he’ll clear her name. He’ll ensure that she’s pardoned. As a result, she’ll be free to return home. Sharon reluctantly acquiesces.
Meanwhile, we see our boys partying it up. Zemo even busts some moves. He’s been utilizing his time in prison to practice. Later, the quartet makes its way into a shipyard that houses a plethora of shipping containers. Breeding grounds for seedy fights and covert deals. Sharon reveals that Dr. Nagel is locked away in the container they’re approaching. Zemo, Bucky and Sam head inside while Sharon stands guard.
However, the lengthy shipping container appears to be empty. Our boys notice that the wall in the back of the container is actually a door. We see an expansive lab is on the other side. A man (Olli Haaskivi) is hard at work mixing chemicals and being all science-y. It’s the elusive Dr. Nagel. Bucky resumes his former formidable persona for intimidation purposes. The trio captures Nagel and proceeds to interrogate him. Apparently, he was commissioned by the CIA pre-Snap to create a new super-soldier serum by extracting compounds from someone’s blood. Isaiah Bradley’s blood, to be exact.
But Nagel disappeared along with half the global population. Five years later, he was enlisted by the Power Broker to finish the work he started. Initially, Nagel had crafted 20 serums, but Karli Morgenthau and the Flag-Smashers stole them all. The Power Broker has something nefarious in store for her.
Meanwhile, we see Sharon is fighting off a slew of bounty hunters that clearly know where Sam, Bucky and Zemo are. Payback for their inadvertent role in getting Selby killed. She’s doling out punches left and right like the bona fide badass she is. Sharon runs inside the container to urge the boys to move it along. They’ve got company. Suddenly, Zemo shoots Nagel. A mysterious someone blows up the container while our quartet is still within.
Thankfully, they all escape unscathed. However, Zemo is missing in action. Sam and Bucky bicker over how to proceed. Sam’s decisions are purely fueled by extensively watching action movies. When in doubt, consult the Hollywood action textbook. Zemo swoops in while donning his purple mask. He saves their butts. Then, he pulls up in a swanky car. Sharon decides to leave the boys for the remainder of their mission.
Next, Sharon hops into a vehicle with her bodyguard (Meaghan Gillenwater). She divulges that they have much to discuss. Vague and mysterious!
Later, we see Karli and Dovich (Desmond Chiam) with the crew in Lithuania. The pair chat about what they’d be doing if the world was normal. Karli wants to be a teacher. Of course, the current predicament calls for action. If you think about it, stealing from the rich to give to the poor isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The execution is questionable, though.
Then, we see the trio on Zemo’s plane. Sam wonders if he should’ve destroyed Steve’s shield instead of putting it in a museum. Bucky counters that the shield means something to people. He would prevent Sam from destroying it. Zemo has another lead that’ll take them to Latvia, which is where Karli was initially stationed.
Meanwhile, Karli and Dovich are enmeshed in a mission in Lithuania. They’re ransacking a GRC bass. In order to ensure that no one gives them chase, Karli blows up the building. Dovich notes that innocent people were inside. Karli retorts that they must utilize the “language” these people know — violence.
Next, Zemo, Sam and Bucky arrive in Riga, Latvia. Zemo mentions that Sokovia was essentially wiped from the map. Totally razed to the ground. As they reach their destination, Bucky decides to go on a walk. He finds a series of miniature metal balls with sigils etched into them. Wakandan tech. Bucky calls out to the person who “dropped” them. “I was wondering when you were gonna show up,” he says. We see it’s Ayo (Florence Kasumba). She’s traveled from Wakanda to Latvia in search of Zemo.
“Power Broker” is the best episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier thus far. So many Marvel Easter eggs! I loved all the callbacks to previous MCU films. I’d be remiss if I left out my favorite callback of them all — “You’re not gonna move your seat up?” “No.”
Of course, the roles were reversed this time. Instead of Bucky being in the back seat with Sam in the front, Sam’s in the back and Bucky is the one refusing to move his seat. It’s perfection. I love all the intermittent moments of bickering between our two protagonists. That and Sam’s genuine worry about Bucky’s wellbeing is proof that these two really are buddies.
Now, I’m curious to see how Sharon’s role progresses in this narrative. What’s her objective? Since John Walker is aware that Zemo has escaped, will he track down the baron to Latvia and in turn reunite with Sam and Bucky?
Again, I love the morally gray baddies in the MCU like Zemo and Karli. Technically, their motives aren’t inherently villainous. But it’s all about execution. The ways in which they go about achieving their objectives aren’t morally sound.
Bucky’s road to redemption is such a vital one. I’m glad the Powers That Be aren’t brushing his trauma under the rug. I hope he makes amends with Yori at some point. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t go over well. Ayo’s appearance at the end of “Power Broker” is, undoubtedly, the highlight of the episode. I can’t wait to see her take on Zemo. The colliding of worlds is the best aspect of the MCU, both in TV and film.
Do you think our boys will track down Karli in the next episode? Will we see John Walker continue to slip down the unhinged slope? When will Sam snag the shield that should be his? Join me next week as I recap The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, only on Geek Girl Authority.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available to stream Fridays on Disney Plus.