The hunt is on in Episode 3 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, ‘Power Broker’, as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes enlist the help of a most unlikely ally, and with its amped-up action and exotic globe-trotting locales, it makes for the best episode yet!
Facing the threat of unstable super-soldiers in the form of global rebels The Flag Smashers, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) turn to former enemy Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). Breaking out Zemo and enlisting him in their global hunt for the Flag Smashers, the three men end up in the exotic island of Madripoor, and it’s on this fantastical island where things get interesting.
Episode by episode the intensity of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been building, and Episode Three ‘Power Broker’ is by far the best episode to date and really takes audiences into the spy genre like never before. Director Kari Skogland enlists the talents of John Wick creator, Derek Kolstad, to conceive this episode and Kolstad’s knack for exotic world-building and innovative character-driven action really shine through in this episode and there’s plenty to keep audiences engaged with here.
Of significant importance to ‘Power Broker’ is the re-appearance of Daniel Bruhl as Baron Helmut Zemo, a Sakovian terrorist who was responsible for the events of Captain America: Civil War and who now finds himself re-introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a very interesting way. Fans will be surprised to find out that Zemo is in fact ‘enlisted’ into Sam and Bucky’s hunt for The Flag Smashers, an interesting turn given Zemo’s villainous past, and this keeps things exciting for audiences. Skogland focuses on Zemo’s aristocratic heritage, and we finally get to see Bruhl pull on the mask and it’s fair to say that this Machiavellian character has his own objectives to meet.
In keeping with the genre expectations of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Skogland also takes things to a new level in this episode and audiences are introduced to the fantastical ‘pirate state’ of Madripoor. This island nation could best be described as a mix of Tokyo, Singapore and Macau on steroids, and with its extensive use of neon lighting and fusion techno-music, it makes for a wicked set piece for Bucky, Wilson and Zemo to explore. As a criminal sanctuary within the MCU there are plenty of bad guys hiding out here, and the resulting action is awesome to watch unfold. Skogland and her team apply some awesome creativity in bringing Madripoor to life and I hope we get to explore more of this location in future MCU narratives.
It’s also on Madripoor where we are re-introduced to Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Cater/Agent 13, and this former S.H.I.E.L.D operative has gone to ground and re-invented herself as a badass smuggler who is doing whatever she has to do to survive. Audiences will be shocked to see the change in Sharon, who has gone from noble crusader to bad girl thief, and she carries deep anger towards the sudden appearance of Sam and Bucky and is not at all welcome to their plans in the first instance. However she soon sees the opportunity in their plan and she goes to work and quickly showcases an array of lethal new combat skills, and put it this way, Sharon has no interest in fighting fair.
While the bulk of the action of ‘Power Broker’ is contained within Madripoor, we also lean more into the motivations of Erin Kellyman’s Karli Morgenthau, and her actions are moving from anti-patriotism to straight-up terrorism with The Flag Smashers. And it’s clear that a burning hurt is powering her in her fight to bring about radical change. Juxtaposed to this is Wyatt Russell’s John Walker, who is acting as the ultimate company man as the new Captain America and he’s clearly starting to show cracks at having to put up with the bureaucracy that is controlling him. And I’m pretty certain that we’ll see him walking off the board and engaging in his own hardline vigilante justice in future episodes.
‘Power Broker’ is without-a-doubt the best episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to date and to say that the episode ends on a strong cliffhanger would be an understatement. The action is intense, the character interactions complicated, and the worldbuilding exotic and exciting and it’s only going to get more interesting as this narrative continues.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available to stream on Disney+
Image: Walt Disney Pictures