Last week, Bucky broke Baron Zemo out of prison, much to Sam’s dismay, and the trio headed straight to the pirate town of Madripoor in search of the Super Soldier serum being used by the Flag Smashers. While they were there, they found the serum’s creator, Dr. Wilfred Nagel (who Zemo promptly killed) and met up with the former Agent 13 of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sharon Carter, who’s been hiding out there since the events of Captain America: Civil War. The unlikely partnership of Zemo, Sam, and Bucky is looking like it’s going to continue for now, but there’s a new problem — Wakanda has come for vengeance on Zemo for killing King T’Chaka all those years ago.
Six Years Ago, Wakanda
Ayo and Bucky are gathered around a fire. Bucky is unsure of what they’re about to do, but Ayo isn’t. She begins to recite the Winter Soldier’s activation code phrases, Bucky’s eyes filling with tears as he hears them. Crying in relief, he stays James “Bucky” Barnes. “You are free.” (You can read more about this scene here.)
Ayo and Bucky are on the streets of Latvia and Ayo is upset at Bucky for freeing the man who had brought so much pain and anguish to Wakanda, especially after what they had done to free him of HYDRA’s control. Bucky assures her Zemo is a means to an end, and she gives him eight hours to find that end before her and the Dora Milaje come for him.
Sam, Bucky, and Zemo are bickering (no surprise) until Bucky interrupts with the news that Karli and the Flag Smashers bombed a GRC supply depot, injuring 11 and killing three. Zemo knows what’s happening to Karli — the serum is warping her aspirations — but Sam is certain he can still reason with her. The trio agrees to try and find Karli at the funeral of Donya Madani.
Bucky: Maybe you’re wrong Zemo. The serum never corrupted Steve.
Zemo: Touché. But there has never been another Steve Rogers, has there?
Turns out the Flag Smashers bombing that GRC depot didn’t help their cause; new legislation is already being written to combat their antics. But the group is also gaining support among citizens.
Sam and Bucky separate, leaving Zemo with Bucky on the streets as Sam heads inside to try and find information on Karlie or Madani’s funeral. No one will even speak to him, save one man who gives him nothing. Bucky is also striking out on the streets. But Zemo isn’t.
Zemo coaxes the children of the camp to give him the info they’re after with some candy, Turkish Delights, but he knows if Sam and Bucky find out what he knows his free pass will expire — they won’t need him anymore. So he holds his intel tight and tells the children that Donya is their little secret.
Back at the hotel, Sam sympathizes with Karli’s cause. Zemo makes them some Cherry Blossom tea and tells Bucky the funeral is that night, but he won’t give any other details in self-preservation.
Sam makes a call to Sharon and recruits her help again. She’s got some satellites she can tap into. She tells him to play this out, don’t mess it up. They need Karli.
The stolen Super Soldier serum is stashed in a graveyard at the grave of Nico’s grandfather, Lukasz. He tells Karlie that he believes in her, that he’s never seen anyone else who could be Captain America besides her. She understands today’s world and what it needs. As they prepare for Donya’s funeral, Karli dons the pack with the serum and they head out.
Walker and Hoskins are in Latvia, they’ve found Sam, Bucky, and Zemo. Obviously, Walker is less than pleased that Bucky and Sam broke Zemo out (“He broke himself out technically”), but they have no choice but to keep him around, as he’s the only one who knows where Karli is.
Sam is still insistent on trying to talk to Karli, but just as Zemo didn’t, Walker and Hoskins don’t agree. They know it’s dangerous. But Sam insists his past counseling veterans with PTSD will work to his advantage, he can do this. Hoskins convinces his partner that this may be at least worth a shot.
The group is led to the memorial service by the little girl Zemo had been chatting with earlier, this time he hands her some cash for her help.
When they get inside, Walker handcuffs Zemo to the wall and gives Sam 10 minutes to talk to Karli before they do things his way. And we all know his way isn’t typically best …
Karli is speaking about the influence Donya had on her, how she’d saved her, but she spots Sam up on the second floor. She finishes the service, Sam allowing her this time to mourn and grieve. The two begin a constructive conversation — Sam understands her, her cause, her helplessness, but she can’t keep going on like she is.
Back with the other four members of the group, Walker has had enough. He doesn’t like this idea, and he’s ready to go in. Bucky stops him, but Walker tells him if things go wrong, Sam’s blood will be on Bucky’s hands … can Bucky deal with that?
Sam is getting somewhere with Karli. He’s breaking through, helping her understand how the world sees her. She needs to change her methods and keep her mission. Then, John Walker comes in, ruining all the work Sam had put in. She thinks Sam was stalling her, waiting for his backup to arrive, and a chase ensues. Oh, and Zemo escaped.
She manages to get away from Sam, Bucky, Walker, and Hoskins, but she meets Zemo head-on, who doesn’t hesitate to shoot her. He does hate Super Soldiers after all. He manages to land a shot, and as she tries to escape, all of the Super Soldier serum vials she had been carrying fall from her pack. Zemo continues to fire, recognizing exactly what he’s looking at on the ground at his feet.
Zemo destroys each and every bottle. His mission is complete.
A shield knocks Zemo unconscious and Walker strides in alone. Then, he spots one vial that had gotten away from Zemo. And he pockets it. But Karli got away.
The vials have been destroyed, and Karli is distraught. Dovich and Nico join her, assuring her that who they have is enough. They can still get the job done. Karli’s phone dings — it’s the Power Broker and he wants his serum back. Nico tells her there’s no way they can fight two wars and win. They’ll deal with the Power Broker when the time comes, but for now they deal with Sam. And she has a plan — separate them and kill Captain America.
Back at their Latvia hotel, Sam sends Sharon a message to follow John Walker and let him know if he moves on Karli while Zemo nurses his shield-battered head. Zemo presents Sam with a hypothetical — had Sam been offered the serum, would he have taken it? Quickly and without hesitation, Sam responds “No.” Zemo is impressed, and tells Sam that Karli is gone. He needs to accept that. Super Soldiers cannot exist. Sam retorts with the one big question, “Then what about Bucky?”
Before Zemo can give an answer, Bucky enters the room. He knows there’s something off about Walker, and he and Sam get into another argument about Sam giving up the shield. And speak of the devil, Walker kicks down the door, Hoskins on his heels. They want Zemo.
Shield or no shield. The only thing you’re running in here is your mouth. -Sam
Arrogant as ever, Walker offers to “put down the shield” to make it fair as he readies to fight Sam, but that fight never begins. The Dora Milaje is here. Walker tries to introduce himself, and he clearly does not know who he’s speaking to. Sam warns him to cool it, but shocker, Walker doesn’t listen. He pats Ayo on the shoulder, and of course that’s a terrible idea, and now a fight between Walker and Hoskins and the Dora Milaje begins.
Like all of us, Zemo watches on, sipping his drink. Sam tells Bucky they should do something, and Bucky gives John some words of encouragement. “Looking strong, John!” Meanwhile, John is getting his ass beat.
Bucky and Sam do end up getting involved, and Ayo isn’t having that either. As the Dora Milaje continues to ruin these men’s lives, Zemo slips into another room.
The Dora Milaje has no time for this. They trap Walker’s shield to a table with a spear, and with one swift motion Ayo detaches Bucky’s left arm from his shoulder. Something Bucky did not know could happen. They find Zemo gone, and leave the ruins of Bucky, Sam, Hoskins, and Walker in their wake as they go to search for him. John Walker is feeling a little pitiful, mumbling to himself how they weren’t even Super Soldiers that had kicked his ass. Womp womp.
Zemo had pulled an El Chapo, escaping through a drain in the bathroom.
Back on the pity train, Walker and Hoskins are having coffee and Hoskins is trying to reassure John that the serum and its creator are gone, something good came of this. Walker asks Hoskins if he’d have taken the Super Soldier serum given the chance, and Hoskins says “hell yeah.” Walker is well aware of what other changes come with taking the serum, and Hoskins knows whatever is enhanced in him will be great. He has the track record to prove it. (Does he, though?)
Sarah gets an unexpected call from Karli Morganthau. She’s using Sam’s sister as leverage against Sam. Sarah promises Karli that Sam is not working for the new Captain America, and Karli sends her a contact number to relay to Sam for her.
“She said come alone.” So Bucky obviously joins Sam as he meets Karli at the rendezvous site. Karli wants Sam to join her or let her go. Then, Sam gets a call from Sharon; Walker is closing in.
And indeed she was right, Walker and Hoskins are here to ruin everything again. It’s the Flag Smashers versus Sam and Bucky and Walker and Hoskins. On Walker and Hoskins’ end, Hoskins goes missing after heading up a flight of stairs ahead of Walker, and Walker heads to investigate. Something is visibly off about him …
The Flag Smashers have Hoskins as a hostage. Walker encounters a Flag Smasher on his search and uh … he sends the shield hurtling straight into a wall. He’s not supposed to be able to do that …
As Sam and Bucky get to the building Walker is infiltrating, Sam lands as Walker sends a Flag Smasher flying through the air through a door, into a wall. Then, he bends a lead pipe right in half. Sam knows what he’s done. He’s taken the Super Soldier serum.
The conversation about said enhancement is cut short as Walker tells Sam they have Lemar. Bucky finally catches up and comes in to fight as Walker and Sam are met by two Flag Smashers. The fight continues and Karli joins in, but before she can land her hit she’s tackled but Lemar, who’s freed himself from his zipties. Then, Karli lands a punch, and sends Lemar flying straight back into a cement pillar.
Lemar doesn’t move. And Karli knows what she’s done. Walker checks on him, and he’s gone.
The Flag Smashers run; now they’ve killed a prominent member of the US Government. And Walker is pissed. He, sigh, superhero lands out of a window and chases after the fleeing revolutionaries, catching Nico. He wants Karli, but at this point, he’ll take any of them.
Reminiscent of Steve Rogers in Captain America: Civil War, Walker raises the shield as if he’s about to bash Nico’s skull in. And unlike Steve, who merely used it to destroy Tony’s suit, Walker kills Nico bloody in the middle of a crowd as Karli watches on in horror in a crowd full of cameras. (You can read more about this scene here.)
Standing triumphantly over his victim, Walker dons his shield, stained with the blood of its victim for the first time in its history.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode 5 will premiere on Disney+ Friday, April 16.