Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson are back! Marvel’s latest hit series, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, is finally here. Join us weekly at Nerds and Beyond as we dive into detailed recaps of what went down in each episode.
Warning: Spoilers beyond this point!
The episode opens as Sam Wilson is in the midst of getting suited up (no, a real suit) and packing up Captain America’s shield. We hear a voiceover from the last conversation that was seen between Sam and Steve Rogers in the final moments of Avengers: Endgame. When a much older Steve passed on the iconic vibranium disk to the Falcon, Sam had looked down at it uncertainly and remarked that the shield felt like it was someone else’s. It’s clear that he’s still struggling with this now.
We cut to a different scene where Sam is in a plane being debriefed for a mission with the United States Air Force. A criminal organization, LAF, has targeted one of their military liaisons. Sam flies over to Colonel Vassant’s plane to find that it’s already been hijacked. And who’s inside of it? None other than Georges Batroc (aka Batroc the Leaper), who we first saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Sam eventually makes his way onto the plane with some help from Redwing, but the extraction is far from simple. LAF takes off by skydiving with their wingsuits, Captain Vassant unfortunately in tow. Several destroyed helicopters and a hell of a scuffle later, and Sam finally manages to rescue his target just before they cross into Libyan airspace. Batroc goes plummeting toward the ground as the last helicopter explodes.
Later, Sam and Lieutenant Torres sit outside of a café in Tunisia. We learn that Sam has been working with the Air Force for six months at this point. Torres explains to Sam that the LAF crews are attempting to take advantage of the current chaos and make money, but the Flag-Smashers are the real problem. They’re a group that believes the world was better during Thanos’ Blip. Torres asks Sam about Steve, since the general public seemingly doesn’t know the truth about what happened to him in Endgame.
Returning to the opening scene, it’s revealed that Sam had been preparing himself for a trip to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. He stands before a podium, a large banner of Steve Rogers behind him, and addresses the audience. He acknowledges the fact that the legacy of the shield and its symbolism are directly tied to Steve. To honor that, he’s made the decision to put the shield in the Captain America exhibit. Afterward, Sam takes a walk and catches up with James Rhodes, who feels that it’s crazy that nobody will be carrying the shield now. Sam explains that he chose not to take up the mantle of Captain America because he feels that the shield belongs to Steve. Rhodes reminds Sam how broken the world currently is in the aftermath of the Blip.
Elsewhere, a group of people walks into a grand hotel. Guards are stationed inside the building, and a group of them are escorting a man. Without warning the Winter Soldier comes bursting through a wall and attacks. He takes out the guards one by one and then says, “Hail Hydra,” before killing his target. A young man, uninvolved and simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, is terrified as he tries to get into his room. The Winter Soldier kills him. Bucky Barnes wakes up from the nightmare, shaken and lying on the floor in the living room of his apartment.
Later, Bucky is at one of his regular therapy sessions and his therapist asks if he’s been having nightmares. He lies, but she quickly sees right through him. The therapist reminds him that ensuring he’s not going to become a risk to others again is a condition of his government pardon. Based on Bucky’s snarky attitude, it’s clear that he’s not the easiest patient. He then proceeds to tell her that he crossed a name off of his list of amends the other day by turning in Senator Atwood, a Hydra pawn that he helped get into office when he was the Winter Soldier. His therapist has three strict rules for him, which are to do nothing illegal, nobody gets hurt, and the whole point of making amends … “I am no longer the Winter Soldier, I am James ‘Bucky’ Barnes, and you’re part of my efforts to make amends.” Cue the forced smile. He may or may not have followed a very loose interpretation of the rules.
Bucky refutes his therapist’s claim about his inability to trust people, which she only further proves when she takes his phone (his FLIP PHONE) and points out that he has less than 10 contacts, he’s been ignoring Sam’s texts, and he hasn’t called anyone other than her all week. Bucky is very much alone, but things have been difficult for him. Besides his brief respite in Wakanda, he’s been bouncing back and forth between battles for 90 years.
In Brooklyn, Bucky takes an older man that he’s befriended — Yori Nakajima — out for lunch. Despite his protests, Bucky ends up scoring a date with the waitress. Yori is soon distracted from their conversation as he laments over his son. He had a job with a consulting company, and he was killed while he was working abroad.
Sam returns home to Delacroix, Louisiana, which is where his sister Sarah has been running the Wilson family seafood business. He’s upset to learn that his sister has decided she needs to sell the family boat in order to keep the business afloat. Sam doesn’t want her to get rid of it though, because he thinks she could fix it up and use it as a charter boat if they can get a loan.
Bucky arrives at the restaurant for his date, a chivalrous bouquet of flowers in hand. His date asks him if he’s tried this since the Blip was reversed, but it sounds like the Winter Soldier and online dating don’t quite mix. He laughs nervously when he tells her that he’s 106 years old and blames his need to wear gloves on poor circulation. This is going great. They sit down for an old school round of the board game Battleship, drinking beers as they get to know one another. His date goes on to say that it’s sweet that he’s been spending time with Yori, because things have been difficult for the old man since his son died. Especially because he never found out why he was killed.
Bucky abruptly excuses himself from the conversation, leaves the restaurant, and shows up at Yori’s apartment. Yori asks Bucky how his date went, but Bucky can’t look away from the candle-lit altar that’s just within his view from the doorway. Yori’s son is the young man that the Winter Soldier killed, the one from Bucky’s nightmares. Bucky loses whatever steam he had gone over there with and simply tells Yori that he stopped by to pay him back for lunch. Y. Nakajima remains circled on his list of amends.
In Switzerland, Torres seems to have tracked down a gathering of the Flag-Smashers. Someone whistles in the distance, and a girl begins to hand out masks to the crowd that’s milling around. An alarm goes off in the building that they’re standing outside of, and someone throws two large duffel bags out of a window. They’re passed along through the crowd, where everyone is running around to create confusion as the police attempt to make arrests. Torres watches as the man who jumped out of the window effortlessly kicks a man and sends him flying. He tries to place him under arrest but the man knocks him out.
Sam and Sarah arrive at the bank for their appointment to apply for a loan. After mulling over it for a bit, the bank representative realizes that Sam is the Falcon. He excitedly pulls out his phone to take a selfie with him and then proceeds to ask how exactly the Avengers make a living. Is there a hero fund? Did Stark pay them? Sam explains that no, it’s really just based on goodwill when people are willing to help them. Although they would normally qualify for a small business loan in their current situation, things have tightened up since people returned from the Blip. And so, despite the fact that the Wilson family has banked with this place for generations, they can’t get the loan.
As Sam attempts to work on the boat himself, he receives a text message from Torres telling him to get to a secure line. Sam returns home and watches the video recording that Torres managed to discreetly capture during the Flag-Smashers meetup, which includes a masked shot of the leader (who’s overly strong). Sam appears to contemplate something for a moment, and Torres starts to guess about where he’s going with his silent thought, but Sam doesn’t elaborate.
Sarah rushes into the room and turns on the television, telling Sam that he needs to see what’s going on. In a shocking turn of events … the Department of Defense reveals the United States has chosen a new Captain America after all — John Walker aka U.S. Agent.
Episode 2 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will premiere exclusively on Disney+ Friday, March 26. Stay tuned and join us weekly for episodic recaps for the series, reviews, and more!