The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 — out April 23 on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — was predictably high on action as it had the task of wrapping up the season-long narrative threads for the series. It put a bow on the Flag Smashers topic once and for all, killing their leader Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the rest of her Super Soldier buddies. It’s almost as if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is trying to contain how many Super Soldiers are running around at any point of time. There’s still John Walker (Wyatt Russell), now working for Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Valentina is one of two new trouble makers alongside Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) who was confirmed as the Power Broker in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6.
Curiously, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 — despite being the season and potential series finale — didn’t tell us anything about the future of its title characters. There was no post-credits scene here, unlike the hat we had with the previous MCU Disney+ series WandaVision, and so we are not any clearer about where we might see
Falcon Captain America/ Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) or Winter Soldier/ White Wolf/ Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) next. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and the creators and stars of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier all stayed mum prior to premiere because of spoilers — but where are those spoilers now? This was the final episode.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 — directed by Kari Skogland, and written by Malcolm Spellman and Josef Sawyer — began where we left off, with the Flag Smashers infiltrating the New York headquarters of the Global Repatriation Council (GRC). The GRC is basically like another version of the United Nations it seems except its headquarters are a bit further south (Lower Manhattan) than the UN’s (Midtown Manhattan). Both Sam and Bucky have arrived in New York as well, with the former calling on Sharon who’s flown in from Madripoor — located in the Indonesian archipelago, half a world away — in record time. Of course, neither of them is aware that Sharon has ties to the Flag Smashers via the mercenary Batroc (Georges St-Pierre), who is gunning for Sam.
Batroc confronts Sam as the new Captain America comes flying into the GRC building in his new suit and colours. Seeing Sam coming in, Karli tells her fellow Flag Smashers to launch a biological attack inside the GRC building, flushing out the leaders to the basement as per evacuation orders. Thanks to the wide support that the Flag Smashers enjoy, they have people working for them in virtually every corner, so the evacuation is really a kidnapping. Karli buys time for their operation by stalling Bucky on the phone. He thinks she’s trying to turn him, but she’s not actually bothered.
As the hostages — in New York Police Department vans — get away, Sharon kills one of the Flag Smashers’ supporters by planting a mercury vapour explosive on him. Given what we already know about her from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5, is she helping Sam and Bucky or just tying up loose ends? Well, to be fair, this works as both. Bucky gets on a motorbike and chases after the NYPD vans, while Sam, who’s been busy with Batroc all this while, finally decides to fly away because he has more important things to deal with. Namely a helicopter that has top GRC officials inside — that has been commandeered by the Flag Smashers.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 further pushes Karli into villainous territory as she discusses the hostage plan with her Flag Smasher buddies. The original plan was to only use them as a bargaining chip to negotiate and put an end to the Patch Act. But Karli is now showing a bloodier streak. She’s ready to kill the GRC officials and herself die for the cause if it comes to that — Karli has gone full martyr. This isn’t sitting well with the rest of the Flag Smashers, but they reluctantly agree to go along with that.
As the helicopter flies across the Hudson Bay in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6, Sam comes up with a rescue plan. He sends out his drone assistant Redwing to identify if anyone inside knows how to fly. He then contacts said person through her phone to time the plan exactly. Just as he takes out the Flag Smasher pilot and flies out with him, the woman takes over the chopper controls.
Meanwhile, Bucky has caught up with the two NYPD hostage vans that have been taken over by the Flag Smashers. Karli knows they don’t have time to waste so they give him some people to save by lighting fire to one of the vans. But just then, Walker turns up with his new “Captain America” shield and the old suit that he clearly has yet to return to the US government. Since the new shield isn’t made of vibranium, it can’t take a lot of damage—and the Flag Smashers prove to be too powerful for Walker. Bucky, who has managed to rescue the van hostages, turns around to save Walker. Karli briefly knocks out Walker and then rolls the other hostage van off a bridge, sending Bucky and Walker off on another distraction.
Bucky, who is already on the ground, can only stand and watch. It’s Walker who jumps in first and tries to prevent the van from falling to the ground, even as he’s being attacked by the Flag Smashers. They eventually overpower him and all of them fall to the ground alongside Bucky. Just as it seems the van might fall, Sam comes flying in and with the help of Redwing, manages to secure it in place. As the hostages get out, onlookers cheer for the new Captain America.
As Sam lands next to the rest of them, Karli expresses her disappointment over the fact that he embraced the shield and the suit. There’s not enough time for chit chat though as Batroc shows up and launches in a few smoke grenades, helping Flag Smashers get out of there. Sam, Bucky, and Walker chase after them through the tunnels, where they are forced to split up. But in fact it’s Sharon who first runs into Karli. She confirms that she is indeed the Power Broker, as she talks about their Madripoor days when Karli worked as Sharon’s muscle and sort of protégé. But they wanted different things, and Karli went on her way. Sharon wants her to come back but she is not interested. Just then, Batroc walks in, revealing that Sharon hired him to go to Karli.
Karli is upset that Sharon tried to spy on the Flag Smashers, but Batroc has his own agenda. Pointing a gun at Karli, he tries to blackmail Sharon into paying him more. Sharon doesn’t like that and shoots him dead, but Karli uses the opportunity to shoot Sharon. Amidst all the gunfire, Sam shows up and saves Sharon before Karli can shoot her again. That launches The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 into a fight between Karli and Sam, though really, it’s more Karli attacking and Sam defending as he is not interested in fighting her. Annoyed that he won’t fight her, she overpowers Sam, knocks him to the ground, and points a gun at him. But before she can pull the trigger, the injured Sharon gets up and kills Karli. It’s all very dramatic.
Bucky and Walker take a smarter approach, using the Flag Smashers app to lay a trap and lead them into the arms of a waiting NYPD.
Sam flies out with Karli and lays her down onto a stretcher. With the police, media and GRC officials around him, the new Captain America launches into a monologue. It begins as a conversation with the GRC top brass, who are still interested in going ahead with the Patch Act. It takes Sam to remind them — in front of reporters with cameras — that they must do the right thing or they will face Karli 2.0. There’s a reason that the Flag Smashers enjoyed so much support and that folks were willing to go against powerful governments. The GRC need to realise how hard it is for those who aren’t privileged like them. Like Sam, a Black man wearing the stars and stripes. Every time I pick the shield up, I know millions of people will hate me for it, Sam says.
As Sam implores the politicians to do better, even Walker stands and listens, almost as if he’s realising where he went wrong. But it doesn’t seem like he’s learnt the full lesson.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 cuts to the captured Flag Smashers, who are being taken to the Raft prison. But just as the van pulls away, it’s blown up. The camera turns to reveal an old man sitting in a car. Who is he? Turns out he was working with Valentina, who more or less admits to Walker’s wife Olivia (Gabrielle Byndloss) that she was behind it. They are waiting on Walker who is changing within. Valentina is upset about how long he’s taking and tells him to get done faster. Out walks Walker with the same suit we’ve seen him in before, except it’s now black. Walker says as much. Valentina says that the world doesn’t need a Captain America, but it can use a US Agent. This is a pointed reference to Walker’s identity from the Marvel comics.
Elsewhere, Bucky finally pays a visit to Yori (Ken Takemoto) — the father of the eyewitness he killed during his Winter Soldier days — and confesses to him about how he killed his son. He also leaves a package for his therapist Dr. Raynor (Amy Aquino). It’s the notebook with all names crossed. In a separate note, Bucky thanks her for all her help. He goes to the restaurant that he visited with Yori, where he sees him with the girl he had one date with. But he doesn’t go in and walks away.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 moves to Baltimore, with Sam paying Isaiah another visit. Isaiah acknowledges that the GRC put an end to their plans after listening to him and calls Sam special. They then address his Captain America situation. We fought and bled for this country, Sam says, so he’s not going to let anyone tell him that he can’t fight for it. Sam then takes Isaiah and his grandson Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson). They visit the Captain America section at Washington DC’s Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where Sam reveals that he had Isaiah recognised as a hero in his own right, with a golden statue and an exhibit.
We end back in Sam’s native Louisiana with a party. As Sam and Bucky look out onto the horizon, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 cuts to the title card “Captain America and the Winter Soldier”. (That is so close to a movie title we’ve already had.) Come on, Bucky now goes by White Wolf. Surely, it should have been Captain American and White Wolf. Marvel has no respect for Bucky, I tell you.
That’s not the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 though. There’s a scene during the credits that finds Sharon receiving a full pardon from the US government, just as Sam promised. Except no one knows that she’s the Power Broker. Outside, having got her Agent Carter job back — SHIELD is gone, so who does she work for? — she calls someone to line up buyers. Sharon now has access to all kinds of weapons, and she’s ready to sell them to the highest bidder.
Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, has a double bill this week: the OnePlus 9 series, and Justice League Snyder Cut (starting at 25:32). Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.