A commercial from the Global Repatriation Council states how they helped those who returned get jobs, homes, etc, in a changing world and help get things “back to the way they were.” In Munich, Germany, a police van that has the GRC logo on the side, pulls up and out comes John Walker with the shield, giving orders to the armed policemen. They walk into an internet cafe where they suspect the Flag Smashers are being harbored. John asks the cafe owner about Karli and the Flag Smashers but the guy only speaks German. After Lamar translates, the cafe owner states he doesn’t know what they are talking about then spits on John after John calls him out on his lie.
John immediately shoves the guy into a pole and yells, “Do you know who I am?” The cafe owner responds in English that he does know and doesn’t care. Lemar and John leave the cafe, discussing how their trail has run cold. Lemar points out that they have tried everything they have and Karli has the upper hand because she is providing food and medicine to people. John wants to bet on someone who has a better hand.
Over in Berlin, Germany — Bucky and Sam are in the jail Zemo is held in. Bucky insists that he goes in alone because Zemo has problems with the Avengers and has an obsession with HYDRA. Inside his cell, Zemo says the triggering words just to see how the new Bucky reacts to them. Bucky brings up the super serum and Zemo assumes correctly that Bucky thinks HYDRA is behind it all. Zemo states he knows exactly where to start. A little bit later, Sam and Bucky walk through a repair shop, arguing about whether they should break Zemo out. Sam points out all the wrong that Zemo did, including killing T’Chaka and framing Bucky for it.
Bucky gives Sam a hypothetical, which prompts Sam to question what Bucky did. While he talks about the hypothetical way they break Zemo out, we see the action take place. Zemo breaks out during a fight lockdown, taking out a policeman, wearing the gear, and walking out in the mayhem. Sam questions the whole idea and how casual Bucky is about it all, then is surprised by Zemo walking into the shop. Sam immediately wants Zemo to go back to jail, but Bucky points out that Sam backed Steve up when Steve didn’t sign the Sokovia Accords, broke the law for Bucky, and asked Sam to back him up again. Sam agrees as long as Zemo doesn’t make a move without their permission.
Look at them finally working together.
They start in Zemo’s family-owned car garage. Zemo explains that he spent years looking for the people that HYDRA used to create the serum so he can keep it from being used again. Inside one of the cars, he finds a duffel bag and mask that looks familiar, while he continues explaining how he still wants to end the Winter Soldier program. He tells them that they need to start with lowlifes then work their way up.
They are starting with a woman named Selby. The three hop onto a private jet, owned by Zemo. The man used to be a baron before his country was destroyed. I ain’t mad at the ride. On the plane ride, Zemo infuriates Bucky by asking him about a name in Bucky’s little notebook. Zemo understands what the names in the book mean to Bucky. How did he get the book? Sam recognizes the book from when he suggested Trouble Man to Steve (beginning of Captain America: Winter Soldier) then asks Bucky if he liked the album. Bucky states that he likes 40s music which shocks Sam and prompts Zemo to tell Bucky (he calls Bucky by his legal name James) that it is a completely wonderful experience then Sam interjects that Zemo is right and that Steve adored Marvin Gaye.
Poor Buck is getting ganged up on. Zemo notices that Sam looked up to Steve then states he saw the danger in Steve being put up on a pedestal and as a symbol for something, people forget their flaws; from there cities fly, innocent people die, and wars are fought. He asks the two if they want to live in a place where there are people like the Red Skull and points out that is why they are going to Madripoor. Madripoor is a lawless island and Bucky will need to act like the Winter Soldier when he arrives.
On a GRC resettlement camp in Riga, Latvia, Karli and her crew are giving food and medicine to the people when Karli is told to go upstairs and be next to a loved one who doesn’t have much time left. Karli holds her hand, tearful and she apologizes. In Madripoor, the three men walk to their pick up their car.
Back with Zemo and the crew, Sam isn’t happy with his look stating he looks like a pimp but Zemo states he is dressed like the man he is to be portraying, a charming African rake named Conrad Mack aka The Smiling Tiger. Bucky is in his Winter Soldier gear and Zemo wears turtlenecks and a leather coat well. Zemo reminds them that they must stay in character at all times. They will be going to Low Town which is a grimey spot. As they are driving to their destination, they are escorted by armed bikers with guns.
The club they arrive at has characters of all walks of life, while outside people hold their rifles like it is normal. Inside, Zemo speaks Russian asking the Winter Soldier if he is ready to comply, which someone overhears and questions if that is in fact the Winter Soldier. At the bar, Sam is recognized as The Smiling Tiger and asked if he wants the usual which is something cut out of a snake and put in a shot glass. As they wait to meet Selby, Zemo is visited by a person who works for the Power Broker and is informed that he isn’t welcome there but a quick look at Bucky has the effect they need. Shortly after, while Zemo explains who the Power Broker is, another man comes up to Zemo and puts his hand on his shoulder, which prompts Zemo to turn to Bucky and tell him to attack.
Bucky snatches the man’s hand off of Zemo’s shoulder then takes him down and every other person that tries him. The bartender makes a call as Sam and Zemo watch Bucky embody the Winter Soldier. When Bucky has a guy laid out on the bar, many guns are cocked, and Sam is reminded to stay in character. Zemo tells Bucky “well done” when they are informed by the bartender that Selby will see them. Sam, of course, checks if Bucky is good. Selby (Imelda Corcoran) isn’t fazed by why Zemo is there and is happy by his offer of the Winter Soldier and the code words to control. She informs the men that the serum is in Madripoor and they need to speak to Dr. Wilfred Nagel and he will need to be found but Selby needs more for that kind of info. Just then, Sam’s phone rings and it is his sister Sarah.
Selby demands Sam answers and to put the phone on speaker. Sam plays his role well and everything is going fine until Sarah yells to the kids about Cheerios then says Sam’s name. Just when Selby orders for them to be killed, she is shot and killed by someone outside of the room. Bucky and Sam fight to get weapons from guards but Zemo states that the murder will be pinned on them and to follow his lead. Outside, the three men are shot at after people are notified about their bounty. They are saved by Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) who is off the grid because she is still an enemy of the state, upset with all three men for all they put her through and that she didn’t have the Avengers to back her up, but allows them to stay in her place in High Town where she hustles stolen real art.
Sam apologizes for not calling, but Sharon states the whole hero thing is a hypocrisy and brings up the New Captain as well as how Bucky used to be “Cap’s Best Friend”. She warns them not to get into the trouble of what the serum brings. Sam asks for Sharon to help them find Dr. Nagel and he will clear her name. At first, she is hesitant but agrees to help. Later, the four of them are at a shipping dock filled with containers. The three men enter the container that Sharon says Dr. Nagel is in while Sharon is outside, waiting. Zemo finds a secret door that goes up to a lab that Dr. Nagel (Olli Haaskivi) is in. The good doctor is not happy to see them but wants an offer in order for him to talk. Sharon deals with bounty hunters looking for the three men. While Bucky has a gun pointed at his head, Dr. Nagel tells them he was brought on by HYDRA to work on a serum program but when it failed he was brought on to work with the CIA who had a test subject with traces of serum in his blood. That must be Isaiah. Dr. Nagel boasts that he was able to extract the serum, change it up to be more subtle, and much better. He didn’t continue the work due to being blipped and on his return, he didn’t have a job anymore.
The Power Broker was willing to fund his experiment and he had twenty vials but they were stolen by Karli. Karli called Dr. Nagel a few days back asked him to assist someone named Donya Madani (Veronica Falcon) who has TB. Sharon is killing everyone on sight. The guys find out that there is no serum in the lab and Sharon runs in and tells them they are out of time, then Zemo shoots and kills the doctor when someone blasts the container they’re in. Sam, Bucky, and Sharon get out of the container without Zemo. The two men argue about how they will get out while Zemo is on a container, putting on his mask. Zemo is able to clear out the way for them to run then Zemo grabs a car for the men to escape on. Sharon meets up with her bodyguard whom she tells that they have two big problems to deal with. Come on girl, who are you working for?
In Vilnius, Lithuania, Karli and Dovich (Desmond Chiam) are scouting a GRC supply depot. She questions him if he ever thought he would’ve ended up doing this. Karli thought she would’ve been a teacher like Donya Madani but when people returned, she ended up on the streets, went to Madipoor, then took the serum knowing it would be something to protect them. She wants them to use all of their strength to give the world to the kids in the GRC camps. Karli isn’t worried about the Power Broker because she knows Dr. Nagel is dead, and they have the last of the serum. John and Lamar visit the jail that Zemo was in and get information on Bucky and Sam. Lamar doubts that Sam and Bucky helped Zemo out but John thinks they did and wants him and Lamar to run their next move off the books, certain that they won’t get in trouble once they get the job done. Sam ends a call with Torres, after giving him the name of Donya Madani, with a big sigh. Sam tells Bucky what he has on his mind: what Sharon is going through and how Nagel talked about Isaiah is because of the shield. Bucky points out that the shield saved a lot of lives but even though Sam gets that he also thinks he made a mistake giving it to the museum and should have destroyed it. Bucky tells him that the shield means a lot to him and many others. So, even though the world is upside down and needs a new Cap, it ain’t gonna be John, and Bucky will take the shield from him. Sam gets a callback and finds out that Donya Madani was found dead in Riga. Zemo has a place near there for them to go and is looking forward to meeting Karli. That’s not exactly good.
At night, the Flag Smashers take a bounty of six months worth of supplies from the GRC depot. Karli surprises Dovich by blowing up her car and the building with people inside. Her reason is that this is the language that “they” understand. Their crusade just became violent. Zemo and the guys arrive at his spot in Riga but Bucky doesn’t go in stating that he’s going on a walk. On his “walk”, he picks up several mini trackers that he seems familiar with. In an alley he calls out to someone that they dropped something. A Wakandan warrior, Ayo (Florence Kasumba) arrives stating (in Wakandan) that she is there for Zemo.
Wakanda has entered the chat…
I feel like this was Bucky’s episode to shine in a way. The focus was on finding where the serum is being made and he had a great (illegal) idea by bringing Zemo in. He clearly had a plan long before they arrived at Zemo’s jail cell but knew that Sam is as good-natured as Steve is in a way — but not willing to break out a killer that has hurt so many, including the Wakandans. The dynamic of having the three of them work together despite not fully trusting each other plays off really well on the screen. Sam and Bucky regularly checked on each other’s well-being during the whole episode which has me thinking that they genuinely care for each other.
Zemo says he wants to end the super soldier serum program again but I’m not sure if he is going to kill Karli or join her crusade. The rich man look brings another element to Zemo that I somewhat enjoy. He knows underground places that his money and dirty ways can get them around. I’ll admit that I loved seeing him embody the Winter Soldier for a few minutes! I mean, he really was a ruthless fighter. Sharon was an interesting surprise, I can’t help but wonder what is she really doing other than hustling. On a second look, I realized that she was in the club in Madripoor when the three men walked in, just hiding under a hoodie. No wonder she was able to quickly help them.
Now, the real surprise was Ayo arriving. I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting Wakanda to send one of their own to handle the Zemo situation. I wonder if Bucky will be able to convince them to back off or work with them on this situation. I’m more agitated by John and Lemar following Bucky and Sam around because they can’t figure things out on their own. While Lemar doesn’t think badly of the duo, John clearly has a chip on his shoulder. He honestly expected to receive respect because he was named the new Cap but seeing him crack was a highlight for me.
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Lebo Malatse is a content creator and writer. She’s an avid reader, tv and film lover, and traveler. To read more of her work, check out her site: lbmalatse.wixsite.com/website and journey into the worlds that she creates.