An old enemy attempts to become a frenemy and a familiar face stops in to kick some ass.
Episode three was written by John Wick’s Derek Kolstad and it shows. We have very much entered criminal underworld territory – on an island familiar to fans of Marvel’s mutants. Let’s jump in…
Spoilers below the GIF.
The episode starts with a short commercial that reminds us where on the timeline we are via a collection of stock videos and a pleasant voiceover. This shifts to Walker and Hoskins being very un-superhero like in a raid of a safe house where the Flagsmashers were spotted. This scene made it very clear that John Walker is a bad Captain America and his motives are suspect. The era of comics the series seems to be pulling from backs this idea up. Is he just a jerk who isn’t worthy of the mantle or is it something more? There are several threads that can be pulled.
Zemo joins Sam and Bucky after busting out of prison, which it looks like he could have done any time he felt like it but was biding his time for some reason. Sam hates this (Zemo doesn’t make it easy), but agrees to it after learning of the Baron’s connections to the underworld and resources that may lead to the source of the serum.
I’m taking a moment to mention how great Daniel Brühl is. He’s great as the evil, awkward rich kid.
Ok, moving on. The Principality of Madripoor! The multi-lingual island nation made its debut in 1985 in an issue of New Mutants and is based a bit on Singapore. It’s located just southwest of the real nation and has been a hang-out for members of the X-Men for decades. Captain American and Wolverine met there at one point. The fictional island has an economic disparity issue that allows for a criminal element to live below the surface – in Lowtown, where our two Avengers find themselves.
The Power Broker is the current boss of the area.
In a botched meeting with a contact of Zemo’s named Selby (who is in Marvel canon, but the person we saw on-screen doesn’t match the mutant on the page at all) they learn that there’s a doctor making super-soldier serum on the island that happens to work for the Power Broker.
On their escape from that meeting Sam, Bucky, and Zemo are confronted and saved by Sharon Carter (. They soon learn that she’s been laying low since the events of Civil War. While she’s made a tidy living for herself, she is not happy about having to leave her life behind it at all and is not shy about telling Sam and Bucky about how good they have it.
Even though it will bring trouble, she agrees to help them find the man behind the super-soldier serum – Dr. William Nagel formerly of HYDRA and the CIA. They find the doctor working in a cluster of modified shipping containers. After some convincing Nagel coughs up a name they can use to find the Flagsmashers. He also admits to making an updated version of the serum using a sample from an unnamed supersoldier (who is clearly Isiah Bradley). The new version creates a more subtle-looking result – strong, fast, quick to heal normal-looking people that can easily fade into a crowd. Like Karli Morgenthau and her crew.
Before they can get more out of him, Zemo takes Nagel out in order to ensure he doesn’t make more serum. The Baron’s core mission to destroy the existence of super-soldiers is alive and well.
Like Isiah, Nagel is from Truth: Red, White, and Black. He was a German scientist that was brought in to work on the serum project and was the one that requested hundreds of Black men to test on – including Isiah. Nagel was essentially Joseph Mengele. He had no regard for the men he tortured in his pursuit of creating an army of super-soldiers. The MCU shifts Nagel into another position, but he retains some of his source material by continuing to abuse Isiah via his stolen blood.
The undercurrent of the episode is the Flag Smashers. Their humanitarian mission becomes a bit more clear, though Karli has decided to step up the violence and body count to bring more attention to the group’s cause. And the boys are headed right toward them thanks to the name they got from the evil doctor.
Our cliffhanger of the week: Ayo, second in command of the Dora Milaje, enters the fray. She likely wants Zemo’s head on a spear after what he did to King T’Chaka – she was on his security detail that day, so it’s bound to be personal. One thing is for sure, Ayo is not pleased that Zemo is running around free.
Quick takes with three episodes left:
- When are we going to see Power Broker and is it Sharon Carter?
- Does John Walker have a connection to the Power Broker?
- What is Bucky’s current relationhip with Wakanda?
- Is Bucky taking the White Wolf storyline in the MCU?