Good becomes great; bad becomes worse. —Dr. Erskine to Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, talking about how the Super Soldier serum affects a person.
The unlikely trio of Falcon/Sam, former Winter Soldier Bucky, and prison-broke villain Baron Zemo continue their international hunt for the 20 vials of missing Super Soldier serum (SSs from now on), but now they are on an even tighter timetable. At the end of last episode, Bucky’s deep connections to Wakanda finally resurfaced as a member of the formidable Dora Milaje appeared and gave Bucky 8 hours to use Zemo to complete their mission, before he must be turned over to them. Zemo was responsible for the death of their King T’Chaka, and they don’t like the fact that he is out of prison with the possibility of escaping justice.
The Zemo family has done some serious evil over the generations, and though the latest Baron may be a sleazy, sly bastard, he’s got a personal code that makes some sense, if only when it comes to Super Soldiers. His philosophical discussion with Sam about Super Soldiers and ultimate Suprematicism is particularly surprising and compelling, considering his fascist, supremacist background. He saw the world-threatening danger caused when someone like the Red Skull gets his hands on the SSs, and knows that Super Soldiers are not a good idea. The SSs only works well for rare, inherently good individuals like Steve Rogers. The missing serums—along with anyone who can make more—need to be destroyed for the greater good.
There are also parallel discussions being had among characters about whether they would take the SSs if given the chance. Sam says no; John Walker’s sidekick Battlestar says hell-yeah. The separate decisions that are made by Zemo and John Walker about what to do with the remaining SSs vials are surprising and shocking. Getting his ass whupped by the Dora Milaje in an epic, awesomely choreographed and performed action sequence certainly had a lot to do with Walker’s poor decision-making. “They weren’t even Super Soldiers” is all he could say as he tried to pick himself up off the floor after his humiliation.
John Walker has been a divisive and controversial character since his very first, brief appearance, which generated both humorous and cruel viral memes. First, efforts were made by the writers to make us sympathize with his character. Since then, Walker’s scripted actions have been increasingly loud, impatient, and arrogant. Perhaps to remind us about Dr. Erskine’s talk with Steve Rogers, and to prepare us for the final scene of this episode.
The FlagSmashers, led by a handful of Super Soldiers of their own, decide that this new Cap must die to further their cause. They do manage to kill, but this death leads Walker to his third Really Bad Decision of the episode, where we realize the importance of the ep’s title “The Whole World Is Watching.”
Stay Tuned. The developments of this episode will no doubt be the focus of the final two. And it won’t be pretty. But it’ll be pretty damn entertaining.
Watch Falcon & Winter Soldier, airing Fridays on Disney+