In last week’s episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Sam and Bucky finally reunited (and the snark was alive and well). They discovered that the Flag-Smashers have eight Super Soldiers somehow and also had the displeasure of meeting the new Captain America John Walker and his sidekick Lemar Hoskins aka Battlestar. They later paid a visit to a Black Super Soldier named Isaiah Bradley, who Sam was incredulous that he had never heard of. With the shield out of their reach and dangerous Super Soldiers on the loose, the duo decided to turn to their last resort: Zemo.
The episode opens with an ad from the Global Repatriation Council, an organization in charge of helping those who returned after the Blip. The comforting mood of the commercial contrasts with the armed GRC police van that pulls up outside of the building where Karli and the Flag-Smashers had temporarily taken refuge in Germany. Walker and Hoskins storm the building in search of them. Walker’s temper was hinted at in the previous episode, and it bubbles over to the surface when he aggressively uses his Captain America title to attempt to get information on the Flag-Smashers (to no avail). As they’re leaving, Hoskins notes how Karli has created loyalty to her cause because she’s giving displaced people shelter and medicine — looks like the GRC isn’t helping everyone.
Meanwhile, Bucky and Sam have arrived at the prison in Berlin that Zemo is being held at. Thinking Sam’s status as an Avenger might strike a raw nerve with Zemo, Bucky opts to speak to the man alone.
Longing … rusted … seventeen …
Zemo begins to recite the Winter Soldier’s trigger words as he stands and walks out from the shadows in his cell. Bucky tells him that those days are over, but Zemo remarks that “something is still in there” as he appraises him. Bucky cuts to chase fairly quickly as he informs Zemo that someone recreated the Super Soldier serum, which piques the man’s interest.
Later, Sam is baffled that Bucky wants to break Zemo out of jail as he reminds him of all the wrong that the man has done (and the fact that the Wakandans most definitely haven’t forgotten about King T’Chaka). Bucky begins to walk Sam through a “hypothetical” situation detailing just how they would free Zemo, which serves as a voiceover with those exact events playing out at the prison. After creating absolute chaos, Zemo disguises himself as a guard and makes his great escape … right to the room that Sam and Bucky are waiting in. Sam is initially furious, but Bucky is quick to remind him that he backed Steve when he refused to sign the Sokovia Accords. He broke the law and he stuck his neck out to rescue Bucky. Now he’s asking him to do it again.
Zemo takes them to a garage, which is full of an impressive collection of his family’s vehicles. He explains that he has no intention of letting his work to eradicate the Winter Soldier program and the Super Soldier serum go unfinished, and they’ll have to climb the ladder to get the information they need. The first stop? A woman named Selby. Sam is thrown off by Zemo’s private jet, and the other man explains that he’s a Baron. His family was royalty before the Avengers destroyed Sokovia.
On the jet, Bucky is furious to find that Zemo has swiped his notebook with his list of victims of the Winter Soldier that he needs to make amends with. And in a heartbreaking turn of events, we learn from Sam that not only does the tiny notebook resemble the one that Steve used when he came out of the ice … it is Steve’s. (Please excuse me while I cry.) Zemo discusses the danger of American Super Soldiers, because people put them on pedestals and then “cities fly, innocent people die.” He then informs them that their destination is Madripoor — an island nation in the Indonesian archipelago. It was a pirate sanctuary back in the 1800s, and it has kept its lawless ways.
At a GRC Resettlement Camp in Latvia, Karli cries at a dying woman’s side. Meanwhile, Bucky, Zemo, and Sam have arrived in Madripoor. While Bucky has to jump back into character as the brainwashed Winter Soldier so as not to rouse suspicion, Sam’s unfortunate disguise is that of Conrad Mack aka the Smiling Tiger (though he can’t deny that the resemblance is uncanny). They make their way through the seediness that is Lowtown to a bar, and people immediately begin whispering about the Winter Soldier’s arrival. As Zemo requests to speak with Selby, tensions rise and a man comes to tell them that they’re not welcome. Zemo casually tells him that he has no business with the Power Broker, who functions as judge, jury, and executioner over Madripoor.
A fight breaks out and Zemo “orders” Bucky to attack, so the Super Soldier puts on a Winter Soldier-esque show as requested. They then head into a back room to see Selby, who’s immediately suspicious of the fact that the so-called Smiling Tiger is taller than she expected. Zemo offers to give Selby the Winter Soldier in exchange for information about the Super Soldier serum. She tells them that the serum is in Madripoor thanks to Dr. Wilfred Nagel; the Power Broker had him working on the serum, but things didn’t go as planned. Suddenly, Sam’s phone begins to ring, and Selby orders him to answer it on speaker. He fumbles through a conversation with Sarah, and he’s almost successful until he says his name.
Selby orders her guards to kill them, and suddenly a sniper takes her out. Zemo tells them to follow his lead because they have a real problem now — within seconds there’s already a viral bounty on their heads across Madripoor. They take off, and just when it appears that they may be cornered, someone once again takes out their enemies. So who’s their guardian angel? It’s Sharon Carter. Bucky and Sam are confused as to why Sharon is in Madripoor, and she reminds them that she’s the one that stole Steve’s shield and Sam’s wings. And tragically, she didn’t have the Avengers to back her up, so she’s now living off the grid in Madripoor.
Sharon takes the three of them to her place in Hightown, a swanky home funded by her gallery of stolen artwork that she sells. Sam asks Sharon if she wants to come home, but she retorts that she’ll be locked up if she returns to the US. They make a deal, if Sharon helps them find Dr. Wilfred Nagel, they’ll get her name cleared. Sharon’s buyers are full of connections, so she quickly obtains the information they need at her party that evening. They find Nagel working out of a lab hidden in a container yard, which they head out to the next day.
As they begin to question Nagel, a hoard of bounty hunters begins to prowl the area outside. Sharon, able to hold her own and then some, takes them out one by one as she urges Sam, Bucky, and Zemo to hurry up. As Bucky holds a gun to his head, Nagel explains that he was brought into Hydra’s Winter Soldier program to pick up their work after the five “failed” test subjects in Siberia. The CIA recruited him after Hydra fell, and they gave him blood samples from an American test subject with the serum — Isaiah Bradley. And thus he accomplished something that no other scientist since Erskine was able to do, and he even did it without the need for machines and jacked up bodies. Nagel made an optimized version of the serum. He turned to dust during the Blip and the CIA abandoned the program, which is why his work remained unknown. Upon his return, the Power Broker began to fund his work.
Sam asks Nagel how many vials he made in total, and he confirms that there are 20, all of which were stolen by Karli. Though he doesn’t know where she is now, he tells them that Karli had called him recently and asked if he could help someone named Donya Madani, a woman dying from tuberculosis. Bucky asks if there’s any serum in the lab, and Nagel tells him that there’s not. As Sharon makes her way into the room, Zemo shoots and kills Nagel. One of the bounty hunters outside fires a missile at the lab, and they’re forced to evacuate because the unstable room is on the verge of exploding.
Finally donning his iconic mask from the comics, Baron Zemo causes another explosion, takes out the rest of the bounty hunters, and rolls up with a supercharged getaway vehicle shortly after. Bucky takes the passenger seat, and sorry Sam, but he’s not moving his seat up. Sharon parts ways with them, reminding Sam of the pardon he promised her.
Karli and Dovich are scoping out the GRC supply depot in Lithuania. Dovich urges her to take some time to mourn, but they have work to do. The two reflect on how they ended up where they are now, Super Soldiers fighting to take care of the kids suffering in the resettlement camps. And because Nagel was killed in Madripoor, they now have the last of the serum, which gives them the upper hand against the Power Broker.
Walker and Hoskins are following Sam and Bucky’s trail at the prison that Zemo escaped from. Meanwhile, Sam and Bucky lament over what Sharon and Isaiah have been through, and Sam expresses anger over how many people have been hurt for the shield. He says that he should have destroyed it instead of putting it in a museum. Bucky, however, reminds him that the shield represents a lot of things to a lot of people, himself included. And before Sam can go and destroy the shield, Bucky will take it from Walker himself.
The Flag-Smashers break into the GRC facility to steal supplies for the camps, and they set off a bomb to destroy the building as they’re leaving. Elsewhere, Sam, Bucky, and Zemo arrive in Riga, Latvia, the city where Madani died. As they arrive at the place that Zemo is taking them to, Bucky tells them that he’s taking a walk. He follows a trail picking up small beeping balls, and he’s not surprised at all when he’s met by the formidable Ayo from Wakanda in an alleyway.
“I’m here for Zemo.”
Catch the next episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier exclusively on Disney+ Friday, April 9.