As the trio of freelancers and the pair of government agents get close to the Flag Smashers things get dark. Fast.
There are spoilers after this extended cut of Zemo dancing.
Quick thing to start out with – this whole episode takes place in real-life Latvia, which could be a hat tip to Latveria the stronghold of Dr. Victor von Doom. Given that they used Madripoor (which now has an official tourism site), I’m a little surprised they didn’t just go for it. Especially since a new Fantastic Four movie has been announced. Moving on…
We open where the last episode fell off – Ayo and the Dora Milaje aren’t messing around. They have given Bucky a limited amount of time before they take Zemo back to Wakanda to face justice. No one will stand in their way, even Bucky.
As the bunch settles into their new surroundings tensions run high. Zemo has one mission in life (in the MCU, at least), to stop the super-soldier program at any cost. He killed Dr. Nagel last episode. He holds nothing back when telling Sam that Karli is not what she seems – that she is a supremacist like Hyrda before her and she has to die for this whole plot to end. His goal is to take her out. Working with Sam and Bucky is just a means to that end. This episode reminds us that he’s not to be entirely trusted. His agenda comes first, which is not sitting well with Sam and Bucky.
We get to see more of Karli’s motivations in this episode – and they’re not exactly just. The freedom fighter’s mission is under more scrutiny, especially after a violent attack that killed three people. This urgency shapes her character. Her discussion with Sam about super-soldier supremacy and the ability to create super beings has her leaning into Zemo’s opinion of her, and her phone call with Sarah shows her arrogance. She’s not just a young woman stealing medicine for refugees anymore. She’s falling in line with her namesake.
Circling back a little, the Flag-Smasher name is taken from a character seen in the mid-1980s. Karl Morgenthau ran ULTIMATUM aka The Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind, which was an anarchistic terrorist organization funded by Red Skull (they also counted Taskmaster as a member). You can see Karli Morgenthau (Karl reborn in the MCU) trying to build an elite army with the serum and a large movement to back it up – all in the name of removing borders.
Karli has gone from helping the displaced to trying to kill Captain America to make a statement.
This episode is just as much about the fall of John Walker as it is about Karli’s progression into violence. Walker’s breaking point has been coming from the start of the series. He’s a life-long overachiever that rarely fails, and is trying to fill shoes that are impossible for him to fill. Every brush off, every time he falls down, every loss pushes him more into rage and the need to prove himself. He cannot be allowed to fail. His inability to save his best friend breaks him entirely. He takes the serum, now he has super-soldier power behind that rage.
Cap has been like Superman nearly his entire existence (even outside of the MCU) – lawful good, super moral boy scout, he doesn’t kill people unless there’s no other solution available. It’s why this is shocking. The blood on the shield is an affront to what Steve Rogers stood for and who he was. Who Captain America should be.
Walker was never going to be able to live up to Steve Roger’s legacy or be worthy of his shield, and his failure is caught on dozens of cell phone cameras.
Now the two are on the same path – super-soldier serum powertrips fueled by anger and the need to dominate. There are two episodes left to see if Bucky and Sam can stop them both.
- The Power Broker has to be in the next episode.
- Are we getting links to this in Black Widow?
- What is Zemo’s next move?
- How will the Dora Milaje factor into this fight?
- How is the world going to react to Walker’s actions?