There’s a lot to talk about in the aftermath of this week’s episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. With the shocking events of the final moments and the masses of action, it might have been easy to miss some of the secrets of the show. But even though this was a little light on Easter eggs, we’ve still got you covered. So let’s strap in and get ready to explore what episode four, “The World is Watching,” had in store.
Starting where we left off
Like most episodes of the series so far, the beginning of the episode is less of an Easter egg and more of a call back. This time we begin directly after episode three. Bucky and Ayo are facing down and the Dora Milaje gives him an ultimatum. He has eight hours to use Zemo and hand him over to the Wakandan authorities. It’s honestly a fair request. We then get a new insight into Bucky’s connection to Ayo. We see that when Bucky broke the Winter Soldier programming in Wakanda it was Ayo who was with him. Honestly, this reveal makes it all the more hard to believe he’d break out Zemo. But it’s a powerful, never-before-seen moment and gives us greater insight into a lesser known time in the MCU.
The Patch Act
The Flag-Smasher’s violence last week inspired the Patch act. We hear over the radio that the GRC will have even more power. It’s not just a narrative moment, it’s also a reference to a famed X-Man. In the 80s and 90s, Wolverine was known as Patch during his time in Madripoor. We were hoping to see an eye-patch wearing warrior last week, but this will have to do! It’s likely nothing more than a reference in name, but still a cool one!
Let’s read some comics
There are three most likely comic book Easter eggs this week, so we’re putting ’em all together here. When Bucky re-enters the apartment, we see the house is 23. This could be Captain America vol 5 #23. It’s a Bucky featured issue in the massive Civil War event.
Later, there’s a license plate in Riga that reads 39-1635. This is likely a nod to Captain America vol 5 #39. It’s an issue where Bucky is Captain America and a part of the death of Captain America arc. We also get a mention of Nomad and a Sharon Carter appearance!
The most definitely intentional number nod here, however, is on Sam’s phone. In the final act of the episode, he texts Karli. We see the time is 3:12p.m. It is surely a nod to Captain America #312, the issue that introduces Flag-Smasher.
“Captain America was my childhood hero”
While the Flag-Smashers retrieve their super soldier serum from a gravestone, there’s an interesting—and, in the context of the final act, tragic—exchange about Captain America. Nico tells Karli that he was actually a fan of the hero as a kid. He believes she could be the next one to take up the mantle. So could Karli become Captain America / Nomad? Marvel’s upcoming United States of Captain America miniseries is about a world with multiple Captain Americas. Is it possible that this will be the endgame of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier? A Bucky Cap, a Sam Cap, and even a Nomad Cap in the form of Karli? While this would be cool, the final act makes this convo seem a little more about foreshadowing Nico’s fate than Karli’s.
“I agree with your fight, I just can’t agree with the way you’re fighting it”
During the best moment of the episode, Sam appealed to Karli’s humanity. It was powerful and felt right for the character. During the exchange he tells her, “I agree with your fight, I just can’t agree with the way you’re fighting it.” This is a direct reference to Captain America in the ’80s comics. While fighting Flag-Smasher, his recurring refrain is that he agrees with Flag-Smasher’s message but not his means of achieving it.
The serum is gone, except one for John
So thanks to Zemo, the serum is gone. He smashes most of the containers, but John Walker wants that serum and he’s going to take it. The new Cap manages to find a lone vial and pockets it. Something interesting here could be an inversion of his comic book history. In the comics, he got his super serum powers before becoming Captain America. Could he potentially become Super-Patriot here post being Cap? After taking the super soldier serum and becoming evil?
Who is Power Broker?
The big question to answer this season is still this one. Power Broker is still threatening Karli and now wants a serum she no longer has. With Sharon on board with this mission and probably aware the serum is now destroyed, that might cut her out of contention. But it could still be Thunderbolt Ross. Maybe it’s Curtiss Jackson, the comics’ Power Broker? Or with all the government involvement perhaps Power Broker is an arm of the military. In the comics, Power Broker Inc. is an organization rather than a person. Maybe here Power Broker is a code name for the USA’s super soldier program… only two more episodes to find out.
“Kill Captain America”
This fun and dramatically delivered line is likely a little reference to The Death of Captain America comic book arc. It’s where Bucky inherited the mantle. This has been a recurring series reference and it makes sense for where the show is headed. Plus, you could argue the iconography of Cap has been killed with John Walker’s actions.
“Gods among people”
Zemo is giving a lot of advice during this episode. Why anyone would actually take it, who knows? But he does use an interesting phrasing during one monologue. He talks about “gods among people.” While he is obviously talking about Super Soldiers, it’s a bit on the nose and very similar to the way DC talks about their Man of Steel. So this could have been more of a clever allusion/foreshadowing of the arrival of the Celestials in The Eternals.
After Bucky ignores their ultimatum, the Wakandans arrive to take Zemo. In a stunning fight scene, the Dora Milaje destroy all the men in the room, including John Walker. We get a nice little nod to the comics here as Ayo knows how to disable Bucky’s arm. While that is not something from the stories, this is based on the Wakandans always being in control of vibranium. That’s why, when one of the Dora takes Cap’s shield, we were expecting them to keep it. In the comics, Wakanda is regularly reclaiming vibranium and weapons made of it, so perhaps we’ll see an unexpected hero with the shield at the end of the season.
John Walker definitely took that serum
So while we don’t see him do it—how would he have? an injection? drinking it?—John definitely took that serum off screen. How do we know? Well, compared to his last fight with the Flag-Smashers, he’s doing very, very well. Plus, he throws the shield into a wall. He’s also very angry and it seems like the serum might change people’s moods for the worse. Alas, John’s rampage doesn’t end well when in the ensuing battle the show makes a drastic choice.
But there is another option… What if John had previously taken the serum? When he was announced as Cap, it seemed like he might have had some kind of superpowers. Did you see the way he threw that shield? But maybe the serum had worn off? And he needed a top-up? It would be a much more interesting reveal, and would put some of the blame for John’s behavior squarely on the shoulders of Power Broker or the government. But this is definitely the outlier option.
R.I.P. Battlestar, we hardly knew ye
In one of the worst choices this season so far, it looks like the series fridged Battlestar. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means when a marginalized character dies (usually violently) to further the story of male character. There’s a chance that it might be revealed that he didn’t actually die. But that seems unlikely after John’s brutal response to his friend’s death. Speaking of that response…
John Walker goes rogue
After seeing Karli hill his friend, John Walker loses it. He runs into the streets of Riga and publicly executes Nico. Yes, the Flag-Smasher who saw Cap as a hero was killed by the man holding that mantle. It’s all quite tragic and gnarly. We can also assume John will not be holding the mantle much longer. You can expect him to either be on the run or on trial next week. Because though the MCU US government is definitely okay with extrajudicial killings, you can’t just do it in public where anyone can see and record you on their phones!
J.M. DeMatteis, is that you?
There’s a JM on the window of the shop in the town square. Sure this is probably just what the shops look like in that town. But J.M. DeMatteis finally got his thanks this season for creating Arnie Roth last episode. So perhaps this is another little nod to the gay origins of Bucky.
Featured Image: Disney+