The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5: Filmnetic Review

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5 BREAKDOWN: Thoughts, Theories and MORE! Filmnetic Podcast

After weeks of globe trotting adventure and high octane action, Episode 5 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier returns to the grounded origins that made it so special in the first place. The episodes ability to contrast between these larger than life heroes and their uniquly human beginnings perfectly sets up the thrilling and emotionally charged finale the Marvel fans are hoping for.

Episode 5 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier follows the aftermath of John Walker’s turn to the dark side. After taking the shield by force, Sam Wilson goes on a physical and emotional journey to accept the responsibility of holding wielding shield. The episode uses the Captain America title to explore the Black communities painful past and their potential for the future, which culminates in Sam Wilson’s full acceptance of the shield for his own reasons.

This show started out as an exploration of the spectrum of morality and the grey zone that exists between the lines. While it still very much explores this spectrum, Episode 5 finally starts revealing some hard truths about morality and extremism on both sides. It establishes that selflessness is the ultimate test of a true hero – a hard yet potent lesson that Sam gives Bucky in a turning point scene for the show.

John Walker and Karli Morganthau are now fully defined as the dual villains of the with incredible performances by Wyatt Russell and Erin Kellyman respectively. Russell specifically had an incredible arc with an interesting tease that most likely expands far beyond the boundaries of this show. Their arcs are both beautifully set up for an epic showdown in the final episode, but keep an eye on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ mysterious villain and her new connection with Walker for future installments in the MCU.

This episode also does a lot to set up future possibilities for the Marvel Cinematic Universe overall. Ayo and Zemo’s departure for the Raft is an interesting set up for the Thunderbolts, a team of anti-heroes that is heavily hinted as coming to the MCU in the near future. Also, the new inclusion of Madam Hydra (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) points to an interesting future for the Dark Avengers in the MCU, which is a team full of villains from the Marvel comics. The final will give far more context for the direction of the MCU post-The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but remember to keep all of these pieces in mind while watching next week’s final to connect the dots for yourself.

Finally, it is important to mention the one glaring flaw with the structure of this episode. In a different context, this episode would have been perfect and flawless for what it needs to accomplish, but the issue is that this episode is not structured like the penultimate episode of a weekly-release show – it is structured for a binge watching format.

Let me explain:

Think back to the best weekly release shows in recent memory. WandaVision concluded its penultimate episode with its biggest reveals and most important plot developments (revealing the Scarlett Witch and Wanda’s past). Game of Thrones famously used its penultimate episodes to reveal the epic climax of the season (Daenerys’ turn to the dark side, White Walker Viserion, The Battle of the Bastards, etc.) Falcon and the Winter Soldier specifically left its climactic reveal (most likely Sam Wilson’s Captain America reveal) for the grand finale, which is more in line with a binge the binge watching structure of shows like Daredevil and Stranger Things.

To be clear: the more dramatic and grounded set-up for the penultimate is not a bad choice, but its a choice specficially designed for the binge-watching format that Marvel does not use for its Disney+ shows. Episode 4’s dramatic ending is a perfect example of the type of ending that this episode needed, so instead of being angry that its over and eager to see next weeks finale, this episode left me feeling satisfied and content to wait. I am interested to see how those who are waiting to binge watch this show feel about this episode and if the binge-watching format makes a difference, because this show has nailed the weekly release style up until this point.

This episode is still very good independently, but Marvel Studios still has some work to do to figure out the formula for weekly release – especially since these shows show no signs of slowing down (which none of us are complaining about).

Filmnetic Grade: A

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