DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode “The Whole World Is Watching” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, Marvel fans! Mere hours after the highly anticipated Zemo Cut, we were blessed with the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. “The Whole World Is Watching” completely changed the game as far as I’m concerned. Of course, there are only two episodes left. It’s understandable that the Powers That Be would kick it all into high gear. John Walker is officially on my sh*t list. He doesn’t deserve to carry that shield. Sam displayed more qualities of a “Captain America” in 47 minutes than Walker has in the series thus far.
But my god, that final shot. What a stunning, spine-chilling image. I could never imagine Steve Rogers standing stoic after unmercifully slaughtering someone with a blood-spattered shield. The imagery is the very antithesis of what Steve stood for. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it when Ayo and the Dora Milaje effortlessly handed Walker’s ass back to him.
Ready to delve into “The Whole World Is Watching”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with a flashback to six years ago in Wakanda. Bucky (Sebastian Stan) is with Ayo (Florence Kasumba) after the events in Captain America: Civil War. She, along with Shuri, played a vital role in “de-programming” Bucky, in shedding away his decades of HYDRA conditioning. Ayo begins to recite Bucky’s trigger words. He doesn’t think he’s ready. We see the tears roll down his face as he attempts to resist that conditioning. Flashbacks from Bucky’s journey as the Winter Soldier play out on screen, including when he killed Tony Stark’s parents.
Thankfully, Bucky passes the test. He’s free. Stan’s performance here is utterly captivating. His work is so raw and vulnerable. Not to mention, the relief that passes over his face when he realizes he’s free of HYDRA’s control is gratifying to witness.
Next, we’re in the present. Bucky has reunited with Ayo in Latvia. Zemo killed T’Chaka. Ergo, he must pay for his crime. She’s disappointed in Bucky for bringing Zemo into the fold. Bucky assures her that Zemo’s merely a means to an end. But that won’t impede Ayo’s objective in bringing Zemo to justice.
Later, Bucky finds Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and Sam (Anthony Mackie) relaxing and recharging for the work ahead. Zemo’s living in the lap of luxury after a nice, warm shower with a plethora of Turkish Delights. The man knows how to kick back. Bucky reveals that the Dora Milaje are in Latvia and they want Zemo’s head on a spike. Now, the trio learns about Karli’s latest attack on the GRC and her list of demands. The Flag-Smashers won’t stop until said demands are met in full.
Then, the boys decide to explore the refugee camp. They know that Mama Donya’s funeral is on the horizon. She was a pillar of the community, so chances are Karli will be present. Sam urges Bucky to keep watch over Zemo while he goes off to find answers. He tries to question some folks in the area, but they all flee from him. We can see the Flag-Smasher handprint symbol discreetly positioned on various objects.
Meanwhile, Zemo sings “Baa Baa Black Sheep” while doling out Turkish Delights to the local children. First that impeccable dance scene and now this? Is there anything this man can’t do? He elicits necessary info regarding Mama Donya’s funeral. Candy usually does the trick for me too.
Next, Sam calls Sharon (Emily VanCamp), who’s still in Madripoor. He doesn’t trust Zemo and thinks the latter is withholding information as leverage. Sam asks Sharon to be his eyes and ears. Oh, and keep John Walker in her line of sight. Sharon discloses that the Power Broker’s not pleased that Zemo killed Dr. Nagel.
Later, we see Karli (Erin Kellyman) just chilling at the cemetery. She procures the cache of super-soldier serums that she has on retainer. Her plan is to continue building her “army.” She’s with a buddy. He regales her with a tale from his childhood involving Captain America. How he used to revere Steve Rogers. Now, he considers Karli to be his Cap. She talks about how if, given the chance, she would destroy the shield. It’s reminiscent of Sam’s conversation with Bucky in the previous episode. He too would decimate that shield.
Then, John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett) reunite with Sam and Bucky. Walker knows that our duo broke Zemo out of prison. He’s hellbent on reeling in Karli Morgenthau. Sam plans on approaching her at the funeral. He doesn’t want any backup. No “guns blazing” method. Just a gentle, empathetic conversation. Sam’s work with veterans will come in handy here. Walker reluctantly acquiesces to this plan.
Next, the funeral for Mama Donya is underway. Karli delivers a moving and eloquent eulogy. Sam silently watches from above. Karli catches his eye. After everyone clears out, the pair have a one-on-one convo. He understands where she’s coming from. The world was finally balanced after the Snap. Then an influx of people returned five years later and everything went down the toilet. So many folks were displaced by the returnees.
However, Sam believes there’s another way to go about obtaining justice that doesn’t require violence. Karli’s beliefs draw an interesting parallel to a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “A riot is the language of the unheard…” While the whole quote is about racial equality in America, it’s similar to what the Flag-Smashers are trying to accomplish. They feel unheard. Thus, they’re “rioting.” It almost looks as if Sam is getting through to Karli or at least forging a deeper connection.
Meanwhile, Walker arrests Zemo. He gives Sam 10 minutes to speak with Karli. But once those 10 minutes are up, it’s time to do things The Walker Way. Bucky attempts to stop Walker from disrupting Sam’s plan prior to the 10-minute mark, but to no avail. Walker barges in with Lemar in tow. Zemo breaks free from his restraints. Karli now believes that Sam set her up. She flees the scene with Bucky hot on her heels.
Later, Zemo corners Karli himself. He brandishes a pistol and shoots her. She ducks behind a table. We see her cache of super-soldier serums take a tumble. Zemo proceeds to stamp out every last one while Karli’s friend ushers her away to safety. Walker knocks Zemo unconscious. He spots one lone serum off to the side. Walker surreptitiously pockets it. What a weasel.
Next, Dovich (Desmond Chiam) reads a text that he received from the Power Broker. He wants Karli’s head. Karli vows to take care of the Power Broker herself, even though their serums are now destroyed.
Now, we see Zemo is recovering from his concussion. Sam is chatting with Sharon, urging her to track Walker’s location. Zemo asks Sam if he would take the super-soldier serum. Sam replies that he’d instantly reject it. Without hesitation. Then, Walker and Lemar burst into Zemo’s humble abode. Walker wants them to hand over the baron. Then, he challenges Sam to a brawl. This dude is unhinged, y’all.
Suddenly, Ayo and the Dora Milaje appear. They’re also here for Zemo. Walker asserts that the Dora Milaje have zero jurisdiction in this area of the world. Ayo retorts that they have jurisdiction wherever they damn well please. Like the badass she is. A fight erupts — Walker and Lemar versus the Dora Milaje. It’s brutal. Zemo utilizes their distraction as a means of escape.
Then, Ayo swiftly rips off Bucky’s Vibranium arm. Thankfully, he’s able to reattach it. Ayo learns that Zemo fled, so they take their mission onto the road. Walker and Lemar leave as well.
Next, Walker asks Lemar the same question Zemo posed to Sam: If offered, would you take the serum? Lemar would eagerly consume it without hesitation. He recalls the traumatic situation they endured as soldiers in Afghanistan. How being imbued with super strength would’ve solved all of their problems. I love that everyone’s debating this hot-button topic in this episode.
Meanwhile, Karli calls up Sam’s sister, Sarah (Adepero Oduye). Karli asks her whether Sam’s working in tandem with the new Cap. Sarah asserts up and down that Sam would never do such a thing. Sarah’s comment regarding America not caring for her (I’m paraphrasing) was a heartbreaking statement that really speaks to the racial disparities that still plague our country. Karli wants to talk to Sam without interruptions. She texts Sarah with the coordinates for the meeting location.
Then, Karli proceeds to not-so-subtly threaten Sarah and her sons. She could always meet Sarah instead at the dock. Not cool, Karli. Sam gets a frantic call from his sister after the frightening ordeal. He suits up as Falcon. Bucky vows to be his backup. Sam learns of Walker and Lemar’s location courtesy of Sharon. Our boys reunite with Karli at the refugee camp. Karli was hoping Sam would join her and the Flag-Smashers. She noticed that they shared similar views. But alas.
Suddenly, Walker and Lemar show up unannounced. Another brawl ensues. This time, Walker’s hopped up on the super-soldier serum. Lemar is taken hostage by the Flag-Smashers, so Walker goes on the hunt for his partner in crime. There are a lot of mesmerizing action sequences here, particularly anything that involves Sam and his Falcon wings. I loathe seeing Walker use the shield though. It feels … wrong.
Next, Lemar breaks free and takes on Karli himself. She delivers a blow so potent that it knocks him back onto a pillar and immediately kills him. You can hear his neck snap on impact. The room falls silent as Walker stoops over his pal. He checks for a pulse. Nothing. Karli and her lackeys flee the scene to avoid his inevitable wrath.
Then, Walker tracks down one of Karli’s buddies. He’s utterly volatile and brimming with rage. He demands to know where Karli is. Without really waiting for an answer, he proceeds to kill her friend with the shield. It’s violent and jaw-dropping. Bystanders flock to the area. They already have their phones out. The murder is being recorded.
Now, Karli is concealed within the throng, watching the killing unravel in abject horror. Even Sam and Bucky are present to bear witness. After Walker slaughters this man, he looks around to find the whole world is watching (Title of the episode!). The camera pans on the blood-splattered shield.
“The Whole World Is Watching” is the best episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier thus far. What a powerful, moving installment. I’ll challenge anyone that tries to tell me that Marvel can only do cotton candy fluff coupled with explosions and fight sequences. WandaVision is certainly proof positive that Marvel can get deep and philosophical.
Take this outing, for example. I really dug the conversations everyone had regarding the serum. How Sam and Karli shared a similar perspective. Of course, in this respect, both of them hail from marginalized/displaced groups. John Walker wasn’t going to see eye-to-eye with Karli because of his innate privilege. But I had hope for Lemar. And then they killed him!
Russell did an excellent job of really conveying Walker’s downward spiral in this episode. Power corrupts. Steve was the exception to that rule. It’s interesting watching how people handle power here. Not to mention, the morally gray villains that aren’t outright “evil.” Their reasoning is understandable. Sam’s inherent Cap traits shone through. I’m hoping Walker’s grievous act will motivate Sam to steal the shield from him.
Do you think Walker will go on the run now? Where’s Zemo? What’s Karli’s next move? Join me next week as I recap The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streams new episodes every Friday on Disney Plus.