Six years ago in Wakanda, Ayo and Bucky are isolated in a cave while Ayo says the triggering words that bring out the Winter Soldier. Bucky, tearfully fights against it as he remembers all he did. When he doesn’t transform, Ayo proudly states he is free. In Riga, Ayo questions Bucky for freeing Zemo and reminds him of all that she and Shuri did for him, as well as stating he knows very little of the Wakandan’s loss.
Didn’t Sam warn him about this?
Bucky responds in Wakandan (I’m screaming), that Zemo is a means to an end. Ayo gives White Wolf eight hours or else.
Bucky informs Sam and Zemo that the Wakandans have arrived. Zemo is grateful that Bucky defended him, but Sam informs him that no one is defending him after he shot Dr. Nagel. Bucky gets info that Karli bombed a GRC supply depot, has a list of demands, and promises there will be more attacks if demands aren’t met. Zemo states he has the will to do what needs to be done but Sam says that Karli is a child. Zemo points out that Sam is seeing something in her that isn’t there. Karli is a supremacist and her desire to be superhuman and that can’t be separated from supremacist ideals, anyone on the serum will be on that path — she won’t stop and will escalate until she is killed or she kills them.
Bucky points out that the serum never corrupted Steve Rogers. Zemo counters that there has never been another Steve Rogers. Bucky suggests they hand Zemo over now. Sam enlightens the guys of how when he lost his Titi, the neighborhood came together for a week-long ceremony to honor her, and maybe Karli and her people are going to do the same. Bucky is willing to try it out and Zemo says Sam’s Titi would be proud of him.
Karli and the Flag Smashers watch a news clip of the devastating bombing that happened at the GRC depot. They look shaken up from the news. The three men arrive at the GRC refuge spot and get some wary looks. Sam takes a look upstairs but when people see him they immediately walk away, but he finally finds a man that explains that they are not refugees and they don’t trust outsiders. The man isn’t willing to help Sam even though he knows who Sam is because the GRC had previously promised them the same but it has been six years of waiting.
Outside, Zemo sings a lullaby and takes out Turkish delights to give kids then asks a girl if she knows Donya and where her funeral will be. She tells him, then Zemo proceeds to tell the kids that Sam and Bucky are bad men and shouldn’t be trusted. Back at their hideout, Sam points out that Karli isn’t wrong for trying to help out the people who were displaced. Bucky thinks Karli is no different from Zemo then questions Zemo on what the little girl told him. Zemo admits that the funeral is that evening but wants to keep the rest of the info for leverage. Bucky, upset, gets up and smashes a teacup then asks Zemo if he wants to see what a person with real leverage can do. Sam stops Bucky then makes a call to Sharon asking for a favor. Sharon obliges then tells Sam that they need to find the serum soon and Power Broker is very upset about the loss of Nagel.
Karli pulls out the serum hidden in a cemetery. She asks one of her Smashers if she is crazy for wanting to make more of them. He tells her that if she is doing something that makes her scared, it is probably the right thing to do. He sees her as another Captain America, a leader that looks like them and knows their pain, who understands that today’s hero can’t keep their hands clean. They both think the shield is an old legacy that doesn’t uphold in current times. Karli wants it destroyed.
John and Lemar finally show up in Riga, demanding answers from Sam and Bucky. They don’t like the plan of walking to the memorial without a plan to take Karli out. John questions Bucky on letting his partner walk in a room with a super soldier alone. Bucky points out that Sam has dealt with worse (so true!) and is not his partner (lies). Sam points out that he has counseled soldiers with PTSD and this is up his alley.
Lemar thinks it is worth a try which John concedes to but promises to deal with Zemo after. Zemo points to the little girl ahead which they all meet. Zemo gives her money for her family then they all follow. At the location of the funeral, Sam goes in for the memorial, John handcuffs Zemo and warns Sam that he has ten minutes until they do things his way. Karli speaks sweet words about Mama Donya but when she spots Sam, her words are about how certain people pushed them into a struggle and label them as criminals for fighting back. Once everyone leaves, Sam joins Karli, telling her that he is there to talk and that he understands her frustration and helplessness.
She gets comfortable enough to question if Sam is brilliant or highly optimistic if he thinks that killing isn’t the way for a better place. John is struggling with waiting on Sam, pacing back and forth, breathing heavily, and voicing his thoughts. Bucky tells him to chill, it hasn’t been ten minutes yet. John snaps back at Bucky for patronizing him then decides he’s going in. Bucky stands in his way which John initially responds to by stating it’s easy for Bucky because he has serum in his veins then states that Bucky’s partner needs him, or his blood will be in Bucky’s hands. Sam sits near Karli and tells her that she is seen as a supremacist by a guy who knows a lot about Super Soldiers. She finds that crazy because she is trying to end the corporations that are the real supremacists but Sam points out that she has more serum and is killing innocent people but her response is they’re not innocent and just roadblocks that she would gladly kill again. She realizes how that sounds then retracts saying that they are people trying to take Sam’s home and why is he not stopping them. Sam tells her that he agrees with her fight just not the way she is going about it and doubts Mama Donya would agree too.
Then John’s ridiculous self walks in claiming Karli is under arrest which makes her think that Sam set her up. John states Sam had more than enough time to talk then attempts to go near Karli who just punches him out the way and runs. Bucky pushes Lemar out the way and goes after Karli but loses her along the way. However, Zemo got out of his handcuffs and finds Karli, shooting her on sight. While she is running and hiding from Zemo, Karli drops the serum vials. Zemo finds them and smashes them until John hits him with the shield. John finds one vial untouched, picks it up, and pockets it. He is joined by the other three men shortly after.
Karli is upset that the vials are destroyed and feels that she took too long to give it to others. Dovich states that they will have to deal with the men, including Sam. They receive a message from the Power Broker stating that he wants the serum back or she dies. Karli says she will deal with the Power Broker in due time but until then she knows how to deal with Sam without it being a fight: separate them then kill Captain America. At their hideout, Zemo questions Sam if he had ever been offered the serum and what he would take if he were offered it. Obviously, Sam wouldn’t have but Zemo is impressed by the answer. Zemo states that whatever Sam saw in Karli is gone and Super Soldiers aren’t meant to be alive. Sam questions Zemo if that is how he really feels and if so, what about Bucky? Zemo doesn’t answer.
Bucky comes in and declares that something isn’t right with John which Sam obviously knows then Bucky brings up the shield again but the old argument is interrupted rudely by John kicking open the door and ordering the guys to hand Zemo over. Sam ain’t about John telling him what to do, points out that he overstepped earlier resulting in them losing Karli, and they need Zemo. John asks Sam how he wants the rest of the conversation to go then proceeds to put down the shield (beat his ass Sam!). However, the Dora Milaje interrupts the two before they can throw hands. Ayo speaks to Bucky stating that time is up then tells them all to release Zemo to them.
John introduces himself to Ayo, pointing out he’s Captain America (eye roll) which she doesn’t respond to, so he stupidly says they should put down the pointy sticks (argh!) so they can talk. Sam points out that John will want to fight Bucky before he tries the Dora Milaje. John says that the Dora Milaje don’t have jurisdiction here. Ayo states that “The Dora Milaje have jurisdiction wherever the Dora Milaje find themselves to be.” (Now finish him girl!) John replies by placing his hand on her shoulder but she gets him off instantly, resulting with him on the floor. The Dora Milaje fight John and Lemar while Sam, Bucky, and Zemo watch. Sam thinks they should do something, Bucky responds by sarcastically telling John he is looking strong, but Sam doesn’t think it is enough. Just when Ayo is about to pierce John, Bucky intervenes and ends up fighting Ayo while Sam helps Lemar out, neither group realizing that Zemo has left the room and locked himself into the bathroom. Ayo surprises Bucky by literally taking his arm off with a few hand movements and letting it drop to the ground while another Dora Milaje releases John from his hold and masterfully kicks up the shield into her arm. Ayo goes into the bathroom and notices that Zemo is gone and tells the other Dora Milaje to leave the shield, which she does. Sam questions Bucky if he knew they could do that to him which Bucky admits he didn’t know. Lemar checks on John who is somewhat distraught that they weren’t even Super Soldiers but took him down. That’s what he gets!
Lemar and John drink coffee while Lemar points out that the serum and the source of it are gone; even though things didn’t work out the way John planned, it all isn’t bad. They are interrupted by a woman asking for John’s autograph then John asks Lemar if he had the chance to take the serum, would he. Lemar quickly states he would and that the power just makes a person more of themselves, pointing out Karli and Steve. When John asks about himself, Lemar points out that John has three medals of honor and consistently makes the right decisions in the heat of battle. John points out the medals were awarded to him to forget the wrong things they did in Afghanistan. Being Captain America gives him the chance to do something that actually feels right. Lemar expresses how many lives they could save if they had the serum. John agrees.
Karli makes a call to Sarah Wilson, telling her that she is trying to figure out if she should kill Sam because Sam tricked her and is working with the new Captain America. Sarah points out that she didn’t choose John as the new Cap, her world doesn’t matter to America so why should she care about its mascot then pleads for Karli to believe that Sam isn’t working for John.
Karli states she likes Sarah and hopes that Sarah is right. She wants to meet with Sam alone, so she will send Sarah coordinates to pass to Sam and prove to Sam that she is serious. If he doesn’t, Karli will meet Sarah and her sons out on the dock instead. Sam gets the message and tells Sarah to pack bags and hideout, promising that he will never let anything happen to her and the boys. Bucky and Sam meet up with Karli, in gear, and highly upset. Karli says that she would never hurt Sarah or Sam because Sam isn’t hiding behind a shield. Killing him would be meaningless, instead, she wants to ask him to join her or let her go. Sharon uses the satellite to track John and informs Sam that John is on the move and found them. The two go to find John but not before Karli tries to stop them. John and Lemar enter a building, guns up and ready. Lemar walks up the stairs and looks around. When John whispers for Lemar, he hears a gunshot. John runs up the stairs, finds a gun on the landing, then smashes through a glass door, searching for him. Lemar is getting tied up and knocked out by Super Soldiers in what looks like a shower room. While John is looking around dark rooms, he is snuck up on and attacked by one of the Smashers. Bucky is sprinting on foot to the location with Karli not far behind. Sam swoops into the building to see John stronger than ever, fighting a super soldier Smasher.
He questions John on what he did but John’s response is that they got Lemar. Lemar unsheathes a knife and works on cutting the ropes. Bucky arrives and is immediately attacked but takes the guy down easily. John and Sam enter a room and are met with more soldiers that pull out knives to fight with. Lemar finally gets out. Bucky finally joins John and Sam, successfully bringing down anyone with a knife and saving Sam in the process. Karli arrives just as one of the soldiers has John in a tight grip. She rushes to plunge a knife into him but Lemar pushes her out the way then gets up quickly to fight her. Karli punches Lemar so hard that he hits a pillar, breaking it, and dies on the spot. Damn. Everyone stops their actions. John is let go by the soldier and he rushes over to check Lemar. Lemar doesn’t get up. The soldiers run and Karli runs out the other way. Sam and Bucky chase after her. John jumps out the window instead then runs after one of the guys and they fight in a square, demanding to know where Karli is. He captures the guy then proceeds to use the shield to smash the soldier’s head multiple times. In public. People watch with their phones recording. Sam and Bucky arrive just as John puts the shield back on his arm, the soldier isn’t moving, Karli is in the crowd watching in shock, and all John does is look around at the people while blood is dripping from the bottom of the shield.
Whew chile, a lot happened in the end. First, let me point out that everything wrong that happened was John’s fault. He wanted to do things off the book, thinking that he could take on everything that would happen. If it wasn’t for his arrogance, I think more people would like him or be willing to work along with him. However, his arrogant and privileged mindset made him think that because he was given a title, people would bow to him. He is the reason Karli didn’t trust Sam, resulting in his family being threatened and the set up to kill John. I think that John knew he was messing up after the fight with Dora Milaje but he thought the serum would be the fix he needs. John, unfortunately, is a product of the government’s army. We don’t know what happened to him and Lemar in Afghanistan but I question if they did anything more for him after giving him medals. John has ticks that are visual and couldn’t wait ten minutes without pacing about. I suspect PTSD. Lemar stated that the serum enhances who the person is. So, what happens to a soldier who has had to do whatever it takes to their enemies then never dealt with that trauma after? To me, the ending isn’t surprising. It is the widening of cracks that were visibly there. Lemar was also a byproduct of it. It just so happens that he didn’t steal a vial of super serum. Unfortunately, he paid the price for his friend’s mistakes. Lemar seemed more reasonable.
Now, I won’t lie to ya’ll, I got excited when I saw Ayo and Bucky working through his transformation. It was a heartwarming moment. Then I proceeded to scream when Bucky responded to her in Xhosa. Baby, when the Dora Milaje showed up and basically taught John several lessons, I was screaming for them to finish him. He underestimated them even after Sam and warned him.
Sam is the voice of reason throughout the show even though he is the one who has quite a bit of loss to work through himself. Of course, he understands what Karli and many others are dealing with, he has to deal with it himself. Yet, no one is listening to the man who has the experience and resume to get solutions the right way! They should just listen to him! My predictions are that the government is gonna take the shield from John after seeing the footage of him brutally killing someone then try to give it back to Sam. However, the shield is now tainted. Zemo and Sharon are still suspicious. Don’t trust either of them.
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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.