The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is promising, albeit not as fresh as other Disney+ efforts.
Marvel and Disney Plus are creating appointment viewing, buzz-worthy television events this past year. They are bringing nostalgia and contemporary entertainment together. The Mandalorian and WandaVision became appointment television… at midnight, mind you, crashing the Disney servers (this isn’t some chump organization). Now they are set to deliver The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a six-episode limited series, bringing some major characters from the film franchise to the small screen. The series delivers solid action, some much-needed humor, and an intriguing moral dilemma about a world without borders. Though, after one episode, it lacks a clear vision and has a wandering eye.
The series picks up a couple of months after Avengers: Endgame where Iron Man bit the dust, Captain America finally lived his life, and the great blip brought back thousands of people (around the same time as WandaVision). Sam/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) gives up the shield that Steve gave him so he could carry on the tradition. He is still working for the military, helping bring down the bad guys and help them track down terrorist organizations that have popped up after the great blip migration.
Meanwhile, Bucky/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) has been pardoned. Part of the deal is he has to see a psychiatrist (Played by Bosch‘s Amy Aquino). She is a former soldier as well (seems like a conflict of interest to me). She is making him make amends to the people he has hurt or bring down the ones he abetted.
The pilot episode was directed by Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale) and written by Malcolm Spellman (Empire). There is plenty of action, especially in the cinematic opening scene. While some of the action delivers some much-needed thrills, when you watch it, you may find yourself rolling eyes repeatedly at how outlandish it is. In fact, the episode’s best scenes are simple and effective, the ones that have the characters reflecting on the decisions that have gotten them to this moment.
The writing, the dialogue, in particular, is uneven. The words written for Mackie are just cheesy, like they’ve been lifted from a ‘90s sitcom (I was expecting it to come with a laugh track). Then, you watch Stan and Aquino’s characters have such snap, crackle, and pop banter, it stands out as the very best scene in the episode. It’s so good, I am hoping they make Aquino a regular and make her The Winter Soldier’s Dr. Melfi.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier touches lightly on the theme of tearing down global walls and make one unified world. This is timely, and after the year we have had, confronting organizations trying to change the system by burning it to the ground is ripe with rich possibilities. The problem is the first episode is practically a cliché of other series pilots. They waste time establishing the characters and premise. Why are we wasting time establishing characters that have been in comics and movies for decades?
Some of the much-documented returning characters from Captain America: Civil War, have yet to appear. So, things should be heating up quickly, but this limited series doesn’t have much time to get it right. Let’s hope when the show continues to develop the overall theme, the chemistry between its leads (and more Aquino). If it does that it will give these characters a much-needed rejoice in their return to the (small) screen.