The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Episode 3 – Power Broker Review

Like a hungry man at an all-you-can-eat buffet, THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER just can’t seem to stop piling up its plate, even though what’s already on there is probably more than the series will have time to digest before it goes cold and POWER BROKER is no exception, introducing not one but two new power players to its already overcrowded dish.

With no leads on the super-soldier serum currently in circulation, Sam and Bucky turn to Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) for help. Zemo guides them to Madripoor, a lawless nation state ruled by a criminal underworld which may be the source of the serum – and leads to an unexpected reunion.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier - Power Broker Review

POWER BROKER does little to mitigate the series’ ongoing tonal whiplash as goofy comedy beats sit uncomfortably cheek by jowl with the serious topics the series picks up and examines like an indecisive bargain hunter in a flea market. There’s more than a whiff of dark Spielberg to this third episode, with echoes of MUNICH and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM as Bucky, Sam and Zemo navigate the treacherous shores of Madripoor.

While it’s nice to see Zemo finally embrace his Baronial identity, the ease with which he reassumes his former life of luxury seems deeply unrealistic for a series that’s putting so much effort into picking at the scabs of the realpolitik of the MCU and his comedy butler Oeznik (Nicholas Pryor) seems like ARCHER’s valet Woodhouse brought to live-action life.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier - Power Broker Review

The episode does a creditable job of pushing its main plots forward, setting the Flag Smashers, Sam & Bucky and Captain Fauxmerica on converging paths but there’s still a lot of loose ends flapping around that feel underexplored or in need of closure. Sam’s family’s financial troubles do reassert themselves but in a crushingly inapporpaite comedy moment that blows therir cover during a tense negotiation with go-between and apparent EASTENDERS refugee Selby (Imelda Corcoran) leading to this episode’s extended action sequence which is the most unoriginal the series has mounted to date, an shoot-and-punch-out in a dockside full of cargo containers. Not that it’s not well-executed, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen a hundred times before in multiple movies and TV shows and time and time again POWER BROKER seems determined to hammer home one of the biggest issues with THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: the series doesn’t hold its title characters in very high esteem.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier - Power Broker Review

It seems content to keep Sam and Bucky firmly in the sidekick role only they’ve nobody’s side to kick anymore so they kick at each other. They’re sidekick ronin and as such, there are too many instances where their recklessness or incompetence causes more trouble than seems strictly necessary. Showing heroes’ vulnerabilities is all very well, but it’s better if you’ve demonstrated their strengths and competencies first. Their bickering is wearing thin because it doesn’t seem to be accompanied by a transition to a deeper understanding and rapport with each other and their ongoing ambivalence towards Captain America’s shield remains the series’ most underdeveloped yet pivotal issue.

We’re halfway through now and it still doesn’t feel like the story has finished starting yet, which is why we get yet more introductions in this episode; a welcome return for Agent 13, Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), although time will tell if this is a substantive return or a ‘pop by to say hello’ cameo akin to James Rhodes in NEW WORLD ORDER, and the emergence of a new threat in the form of the shadowy Power Broker, just as the scale of the threat from The Flag Smashers is starting to coalesce. As if that wasn’t enough, POWER BROKER piles on yet another tasty morsel with another twist in the closing moments as Zemo’s past catches up with him.

There’s ambition here, but it’s indentured to a solid if unspectacular thriller set-up that feels overstuffed and so far seems to have taken two Avengers with considerable potential and, instead of letting them soar, brought them back down to Earth with a bump.

Score 6

6/10

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