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Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 2 Recap: Here's What You Need To Know

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 2, “The Star-Spangled Man” began streaming on Disney+ today, and with it came another hour’s worth of information about not only the new Captain America, but also the landscape of the post-Blip world. Turns out when half the population of the planet disappears for five years and then suddenly comes back, things get really, really messy.

But first, we have to deal with the elephant in the room. John Walker is the new Captain America, handpicked by the military for his impressive resume of medals and achievements. Comics readers will recognize the name as the man who is currently US Agent and formerly Super-Patriot, who briefly stepped in as Cap when Steve temporarily gave up the gig. We spent a considerable amount of time during this episode getting to know how Walker works–and frankly? He seems like kind of a jerk. A well-intentioned jerk, sure, but a jerk nonetheless.

The show went out of its way to draw some parallels between Walker’s early days as Cap and Steve’s time spent on the USO circuit back during World War II, while also subverting those parallels by giving Walker the sort of power and authority Steve never had back in the ’40s. It’s easy to get suckered into feeling sympathetic for someone like Walker who, by his own admission, just wants to “do the job” and be the best Captain America he can be, but time and time again across this episode he can be seen using his status and position as a cudgel to get what he wants–especially as he, Sam, and Bucky begin to clash. Steve’s earliest years as Captain America were spent breaking the rules set by his superiors rather than enforcing them.

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Walker also has his own partner in the mix, a man named Lemar Hoskins, AKA Battlestar, who is an incredibly obvious corollary to both Sam and Bucky’s relationship with Steve. That said, it is important to note that neither Walker nor Hoskins is enhanced in any way–they’re both just regular, very athletic guys, not super soldiers or cyborgs and they’re not outfitted with any cutting edge tech (beyond the shield, of course).

This is important because it relates to the plans of the Flag-Smashers, the terrorist group we first learned about last week from Sam’s friend Joaquin Torres. It turns out the Flag-Smashers are juicing themselves somehow with what looks like a version of the super soldier serum that created Steve and was famously lost back in The First Avenger when Dr. Erskine was killed. Remember, that’s why Steve was stuck as a USO performer for so long in the first place–the military didn’t want to risk their only super soldier.

But now there are plenty of super soldiers running around in secret–and their mission is still mostly unknown. The Flag-Smashers are rallying against an organization called the GRC, or the Global Repatriation Council, which was apparently formed in the wake of the Blip being reversed to help deal with people who suddenly found themselves completely displaced. As it turns out, vanishing from existence for five years really screws up your life. Who could have guessed? This has resulted in refugee camps of displaced returned people cropping up all over the world and the Flag-Smashers are, apparently, trying to help them while the GRC fails them. The mission they execute this week involves stealing vaccines–and someone, though we can’t be sure who, is less than thrilled with their meddling.

Honestly, the Flag-Smashers might be a little violent, but you have to admit it does seem like their hearts are in the right place. But that doesn’t answer the question about where they’re getting their super serum juice–a concern Bucky has some ideas about.

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Episode 2’s biggest reveal was a major Easter egg for Marvel comics fans–the introduction of Isaiah Bradley, the Black Captain America, to the MCU. It turns out that Bucky, during his time spent as the Winter Soldier, had been sent on a mission for the Korean War, which led him to encounter Bradley in action. Bradley, a Black soldier who had been forcibly experimented on in the name of trying to recreate the super soldier serum after Steve’s “death” in the ’40s, was used as a secret super soldier during the war and kept out of the public eye–then, when the war was over, Bradley was promptly disavowed by the government and imprisoned despite being a hero.

Isaiah comes from a limited comics series called Truth: Red, White, and Black where it was revealed that 300 Black Americans were forcibly experimented on in the name of creating the super soldier serum and only Isaiah ultimately survived, but was placed in jail and erased from history for his trouble. It seems that story is being mostly adapted here as Isaiah explains that not only was he jailed after the Korean War, he was subjected to even more experimentation by both the military and HYDRA–which likely explains the origins of the Flag-Smashers’ serum.

Of course, there are still more variables on the table to consider here–and Bucky realizes that the only way to know exactly what happened to that version of the serum is to go to the only man left alive with in-depth knowledge of HYDRA’s machinations: Zemo.

Some key things to remember about this episode:

  • Bucky reveals that his concern about Sam letting go of the shield revolves around a fear that maybe Steve was wrong to trust both of them.
  • Isaiah’s grandson isn’t named in the episode, but is in fact Eli Bradley, another Marvel Comics character who goes on to become Patriot, a Young Avenger.
  • Redwing, Sam’s robotic drone side-kick, was regrettably killed in action.
  • Walker and Hoskins explain that the government is able to track Sam’s actions through his tech and that it’s not technically “hacking” because Sam’s tech is government property.
  • Walker and Hoskins both feel pressure to perform but have been repeatedly out-classed by super soldiers. Expect to see one or both of them tracking down the super soldier serum for their own purposes soon.
  • Sharon Carter received a namedrop for the first time since Civil War, where it was revealed she was branded an enemy of the state for helping Steve betray the government. Her status is currently unknown.

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