Warning: This review contains spoilers for the previous three episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier but thoughts on episode four are spoiler-free
After the success of WandaVision earlier this year, Marvel promised to follow up their first series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with a compelling espionage drama and have executed that promise to perfection. Episode four is really where The Falcon and the Winter Soldier comes together by continuing the plotlines while starting to pay off character arcs that had been set up in the previous half of the series.
The episode has multiple plot threads that all intertwine. One follows Bucky and Sam who continue the search for Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) to try and hunt down the criminal organisation known as the Flag Smashers while the other follows the Dora Milaje as they hunt down Zemo. The other two plotlines follow John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and his partner, Lamar, who follow our two leads while the other storyline in the episode follows Karli dealing with the fallout of last week’s events.
Each episode is trying to juggle so many different plot threads and character arcs and I think we are starting to see the payoff to each one. The show knows it must balance many different ideas, so now that we can finally see every idea building up in the show it’s a joy to see on-screen.
Episode four starts off quite slow; being one of lengthiest episodes of the series, it felt like it was meandering quite a bit. The episode cut quickly between each character and did not feel as if it was going anywhere initially. However, once we get into the second half of the episode, the action is dialled up to eleven and the stakes ramp up within seconds. All of a sudden, the show takes a different turn and the episode ends on a note that is dark, bleak and extremely bloody. This is when we start to see some of the best content within Marvel’s Cinematic Universe yet.
The characters given the most time to develop are easily Karli Morgenthau and John Walker. The former character has never really been given any growth, so in this chapter we see her develop into the threat we have been told she is. For the first half of the series, we have been told that she is a threat who needs to be stopped, but Karli was never given the development for the audience to particularly care. She came off as a very generic villain and I have been waiting patiently to see Marvel finally give some backstory to her character which works perfectly with the story in this episode.
Walker is also being developed perfectly. We are starting to see his character come together and after the shocking end to the episode, I feel the aftermath of what took place will be crucial to his arc in the final two episodes. Wyatt Russell perfectly plays the self-absorbed figure meant to have all the attention on him. His flamboyant personality is really what makes his character work and he excels in this role.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier starts off quite slow but once it kicks into gear, it’s a wild ride until the credits start to roll. The action is the best in the MCU since Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the ending left my jaw on the floor. This is some of the best content that Marvel has ever released and I really hope we see more of these characters after the series has ended. These final two episodes couldn’t have been set up any better.