John runs and hides into a factory while rethinking about what he just did.
Lemar’s words and death have him kneeling in regret. Sam and Bucky walk into the factory. John stands up and argues with the two about why he had to kill the man. Bucky tells him that the man John killed didn’t kill Lemar and John can’t go down that road. John says he isn’t like Bucky. Sam does his best to calm him down stating that John could explain what happened on record and then says John needs to give him the shield. John automatically assumes that that is the reason why they came for him. The three start to fight. John uses the shield multiple times against Bucky. He questions Bucky on why he is making him do this then takes Bucky out. Hard.
Sam tells John that this isn’t him, John responds stating that they could’ve been a team. John gets Sam on the ground, rips Sam’s wings off, yells that he is Captain America, then takes the shield to decapitate Sam with but Bucky pushes him off. Bucky and John get into a punching match and Sam hops back in. The two pull the shield off of John’s arm, breaking his arm in the process. John claims that the shield is his and attacks again but the two work together and knocks him out. Bucky picks up the shield, tosses it to Sam, then walks away. Sam picks it up and begins to rub the blood off of it.
Sam and Bucky are at a GRC refugee camp where police and the GRC are conducting raids, looking for Karli. Torres walks in just as Bucky leaves to search for Zemo. Sam asks Torres what their next step is. Torres explains that Captain America killing a foreigner is a huge international incident and their higher ups are taking jurisdiction. (Obviously that would happen). Torres notices the broken wings as talk. He mentions that Karli has gone underground and has people all over the world helping her. Sam asks Torres to keep him posted then leaves with the now clean shield but leaves the wings to Torres.
John arrives to court with his wife and two armed men escorting him. People boo and hiss at him as he walks in. The council orders him to no longer act as a representative of the US government or its military as well as stripping him of his title and authority as Captain America.
It wasn’t theirs to give in the first place but I digress.
John requests to speak about the circumstances of the incident but is told that the circumstance was considered and it is only because of his exemplary past that John isn’t being court-martialed. John, however, doesn’t think that they understand what he went through. He exclaims that he has lived by their mandates, done everything that they told him to be and trained to do, and did it well. The council informs him that he will be honorably discharged, (completely ignoring what he said), will hold no rank in retirement or receive benefits. His wife, Olivia, looks distraught by the news. John looks at the council and says that they built him (true) and that he is Captain America. He is informed that he isn’t Cap anymore and if he continues to degrade the council, John will spend the rest of his life in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and told to return the shield immediately.
While this is being said, John walks out of the court. A bit later John tells Olivia that they don’t know what it takes to be Captain America and it’s not like he’s just gonna disappear (I bet he does). Olivia tells him to focus on what he needs to do, beginning with visiting Lemar’s parents. They are interrupted by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who sits between the couple, then tells John that she would’ve killed the guy too and the people the guy rolls with, also that no one on the council is mad at him but the guys in ties have an image to protect.
Olivia questions Valentina on who she is which Valentina responds by handing her a card while continuing her talk with John. She thinks John was right on taking the serum and that has made him very valuable to many people. It was the second-best choice he made in his life, the first, tied to marrying Olivia, was picking up the phone when she called. Valentina knows that John doesn’t have the shield and tells him a “dirty state secret”: It really doesn’t belong to the government, it’s a bit of a legal gray area. (I could’ve told you all that without the expensive villainess look!). She walks away stating that she will be in touch. Olivia hands John Valentina’s card which is black and blank.
Karli and her super soldiers walk into the now empty refugee camp. Fliers on the camp state that those who were living there were accused by the GRC of harboring and abetting international fugitives, so they were raided and shut down. Karli emotionally states that their movement is ready and it is time. In Sokovia, Zemo is at the memorial statue put up for the families lost when he is joined by an upset Bucky. Zemo tells Bucky that he isn’t going to kill Bucky. Bucky responds sarcastically that is thankful. Zemo states that Karli is completely radicalized, he had warned Sam but Sam didn’t listen and is stubborn like Steve Rogers, but Bucky was programmed to kill and can do what needs to be done. Bucky would rather do things their own way. He clicks the gun in hand and raises it to Zemo’s face and pulls the trigger.
Zemo is surprised nothing happens. Bucky releases bullets from his other hand. The two are joined by Ayo and the Dora Milaje whom Zemo greets. Zemo informs Bucky that he crossed his own name off in Bucky’s book and that he doesn’t hold grudges for what Bucky had to do then says goodbye to James Bucky Barnes. Ayo informs Bucky that they are taking Zemo to “the Raft” where he will spend the rest of his days and it would be best that White Wolf is scarce in Wakanda for now. Bucky agrees then requests for another favor.
In Baltimore, Maryland, Sam walks toward Isaiah Bradley’s home but is stopped by his grandson Eli (Elijah Richardson) who was outside playing ball. Eli tells him that Isaiah is out back. Sam gathers up the courage then walks to the back of the house. Isaiah sees what Sam is carrying in a bag but requests that Sam keeps it closed. The stars and stripes don’t mean anything good to him. Sam tells Isaiah that he needs to understand what happened to him. Isaiah first says that Sam knows but then, after Sam prods him to tell him what happened, Isaiah explains that he used to be like Sam until he saw the Red Tails who fought in the war get burned crosses on their lawns when they returned.
Sam claims that he gets that but Isaiah was different and could have been the next Captain America. Isaiah, however, states that the entire world has been after the “great white hope” with blond hair and blue eyes ever since Steve got the serum. Sam points out that Steve didn’t put Isaiah in jail. The two go inside Isaiah’s home. Sam looks at pictures of Isaiah and his family. Isaiah tells Sam that his wife died while he was in jail. He wasn’t allowed any of her letters and they told her that Isaiah was dead. He tells Sam that a handful of them were given different types of the serum but was told it was a tetanus shot. They were sent on missions and some started dying off.
A couple of them were captured while on a mission. Isaiah heard the brass talking about blowing up the POW camp to hide the evidence. Isaiah busted out of the facility and brought those captured back because to him, they weren’t evidence. His heroics didn’t matter much and then later it was only Isaiah left. For saving their lives, Isaiah was severely scarred on his body. For the next 30 years, Isaiah was experimented on by people trying to figure out why the serum worked. A nurse took pity on him, wrote up fake reports then had Isaiah declared dead. The nurse was the one who gave him the box of letters from his wife. Sam urges that they do something, that they tell people Isaiah’s story. Isaiah wants to be left dead. He doesn’t think people have changed and he would be dead within a day if he came out of hiding. They were worried his story would get out so they erased his history but he pointed out they have been doing that for 500 years. According to Isaiah, they will never let a Black man be Captain America and even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever wanna be. (I am crying).
Sam leaves with the shield. Outside the house, he calls Sarah and tells her that he is coming home.
Sam and his nephews fix up a net while Sam talks about selling the boat. He is told that the boat is too messed up to be bought. He and Sarah have a talk about the boat and the parts, and a little bit of Isaiah Bradley. Sarah points out that he is supposed to be saving the world but Sam points out that the government benched him. Sam notices that Sarah is feeding the neighborhood kids just like his mom used to then gets the idea to call in favors from people his parents used to help, in order to fix the boat. A group of people come out to help the Wilson family on the dock. Sam is surprised by Bucky coming through. Bucky tells Sam that he is just dropping off something and needs Sam to sign off on it then he’ll leave. It’s his favor from the Wakandans.
Just then a pipe bursts and Bucky helps Sam fix it. Sam asks Bucky why he didn’t use the metal arm, Bucky tells Sam he’s right-handed. Bucky asks Sam if needs any help, then tells Sarah his name, with a smile. (Oooooo). The two men get to work on the boat all day. Bucky asks Sam for his ideas about Karli then tells him what Zemo said but Sam doesn’t look happy about it. Later, Bucky tells Sam he will get a flight for the next day and get a hotel for the night. Sam offers him a place to crash and tells Bucky not to flirt with his sister or else he is fish food. So cute.
John visits Mr. and Mrs. Hoskins, explaining to them what happened. Mr. Hoskins (Antonio Charity) asks if the guy John killed is the one that killed Lemar. John lies and says it was. Mrs. Hoskins (Tara Warren) gives John a picture of him and Lemar after their first tour. She tearfully states that Lemar knew the risk and is resting easy knowing that the man responsible for his death got his. Mrs. Hoskins also tells John that Lemar was so proud when they named John the new Captain America and would tell her every day what an honor it was to be his partner then gives him a hug.
Bald-faced lies will catch up to him.
John gives his last apologies then leaves. On his walk home he stops at a poster of him holding the shield, with big words saying, “CAP IS BACK” written on it.
Sharon is on the phone with Batroc about a job she has for him and he won’t regret it. Always suspicious. Bucky wakes up on Sam’s couch, to the sounds of Sam’s nephews playing around with the shield. When they notice he’s awake, they put it back in the bag and rush out. It’s nice to see him genuinely smile. Bucky takes a look at the shield and reflects a bit. Later, he joins Sam on the boat and the two get to work on the pipes. While on the dock messing with a pump, the two are joined by Sarah. Bucky lightly flirts with Sarah before she tells the two to leave the pump alone and go home. The two walk away and playfully bicker about their process. Back at the house, Sam and Bucky train with the shield.
Sam tells Bucky that it feels weird picking it up again, especially with its complicated legacy. Bucky says that when Steve told him what he was planning, they didn’t understand what it felt like for a Black man to be handed the shield and he owes Sam an apology. Bucky apologizes to Sam which Sam accepts. Bucky then informs Sam that whatever happened to Walker wasn’t Sam’s fault and the shield is the closest thing he has to a family so when Sam retired it, Bucky felt he had nothing left, made him question everything. Bucky has the little book because he figured if it worked for Steve, it would work for him.
Sam replies that he understands but Steve is gone, and it doesn’t matter what Steve thought; Bucky needs to stop looking to other people to tell him who he is. Sam then asks Bucky if he’s still having nightmares which Bucky responds he does and feels like there’s still a part of the Winter Soldier in him. Sam tells Bucky that he needs to do the work to get out of the hell hole he is in then points out that Bucky wasn’t making amends but avenging by stopping all the people he helped as the Winter Soldier.
Apologizing isn’t enough, Bucky needs to make people feel better by doing an act of service, giving them closure. All Bucky needs to do is start with one person in his book. Bucky thanks him for the “good talk”. Sam brings up Karli and Bucky tells him to call him when they get a lead but points out they are not a team but partners or two people who had a mutual friend. The two part ways. At the boat, Sam and Sarah prepare to paint the boat. Sarah stops him from painting their parents’ names because they can’t sell the boat. Sam is happy to hear that then tells her that the boat is a part of their history and they can’t lose this fight.
He could tell she thought he was running away but he just wanted to show the world what he can do. Sarah tells him she never thought he was running away, that she had missed him. She points out that he has taken on a fight out there and here at home then questions him if he’s going to let Isaiah Bradley let him decide what he’s going to do next. Sam responds that if he went through the same thing as Isaiah, he would’ve done the same but what would be the point of all the pain and sacrifice if he wasn’t willing to keep fighting. Sam gets to work. He trains, runs, flips with the shield until he successfully masters it. His nephews watch him daily with proud smiles on their faces.
Karli and Dovich meet with a man to help them. It’s someone whom Sam screwed out of a fortune a while back and wants payback. Georges Batroc (Georges St-Pierre) arrives with a case of weapons. Dovich isn’t pleased to be working with criminals but Karli points out that they are now labeled as criminals; Batroc will get his payback and they get a killer. Karli then messages the Flag Smashers to motion then states that they are going to make sure that the GRC vote never happens. Batroc interjects that he’s not there for a political movement, he wants to kill the Falcon. Karli tells Bartoc he will get the chance because tonight they are all going to battle. Dovich doesn’t look happy about that. Sam watches the news where in New York, the GRC is voting on the Patch Act. The Patch Act would move twenty million refugees back to their countries of origin. Sam gets a call from Torres who has results from scans that Sam asked for. They found that the pings are from places that the Flag Smashers hit and that there was a recent one in New York.
Sam thanks him for the info and tells him that he will take it from there. In New York, the GRC are debating on the Patch Act. Some of the international diplomats argue that the people have to believe in what they are doing to support them, however American diplomat questions why they even should bother with a vote, informs the group that they have troops in place to have the refugees move as soon as he makes a call.
Two diplomats are against moving refugees like cattle and point out that they don’t have sufficient supplies in the resettlement camps. He rebuttals with a question of what is sufficient and that the refugees can’t live there forever. While they are talking the place goes dark and they are locked in. Sam finally opens up the case that Bucky gave him. He takes a couple of deep breaths as he looks at the content.
Mid credit scene: John is taking tools and making a shield of his own, adding his medals to it.
I think we all needed this episode in regards to Sam and Isaiah. Sam having the very raw and honest discussion with Isaiah connects the history of Black men in the military. I teared up as Isaiah told Sam what he went through and how he would never have been accepted because he didn’t have the same look as Steve did. The government wanted and still wants blond-haired, blue-eyed representation. Isaiah went through so much and was treated horribly for something he never consented to.
I do believe that the government will try to hide him again or worse, try to test him again. It is best he is left alone for the time being. Sam, having gone through so many fights and hearing Isaiah’s story, went home to think things over and to take care of his family. They still have to deal with so much injustice but Sarah won’t allow Sam to not be who he is meant to be. Sam is compassionate and willing to do what is right to set the world straight. That will take him far. I’ll admit it was nice to see the community get together to help the siblings fix up the boat. Their little community is refreshing compared to the rest of the world’s mayhem. Sam putting in the work to get into top shape while his nephews watched, really set up for them to prepare for the first-ever Black Captain America.
I’m not surprised that Bucky didn’t kill Zemo and hand him over to Ayo or help out Sam with the boat. The two men just went through a hard journey and succeeded with getting the shield back but have a bigger battle to take on. Bucky needed the tough love conversation with Sam that he probably never had the chance to have with Steve. Sam was able to point out what it is he needed to do in order to feel at peace. I was surprised that Bucky did know what Steve had planned but loved that he acknowledged that he and Steve didn’t realize the heaviness the shield and title would mean to a Black man. That apology was sincere and needed. I enjoyed flirtatious Bucky on the dock. Bucky will certainly make amends.
Didn’t I tell ya’ll what would happen to John? John obviously had everything coming to him but the shield being ripped off was what was best. He is clearly radicalized and the government wants nothing to do with him now that he is no longer the “white hope” they had envisioned. I hate that John lied to Lemar’s family about killing the man who killed Lemar. What good is that lie for? Clearly, this man is deranged but with the serum running through his veins, no one human will be able to contain him. With the appearance of Valentia, it is clear people want the violent Captain America running loose. Karli being in New York will change the game because now they are on Sam and Bucky’s home turf. I can’t wait to see what Bucky gifted Sam and to see the look on the senator who is making life hard on everyone by being such a bigot. I noticed that the same senator who thanked Sam for giving up the shield, announcing John as the new Cap, and stripping John of his title is the same one who is ready to have refugees taken back to their home countries. He really symbolizes the American government to the letter. Marvel trying to be slick but I see it. I am still eyeing the mess out of Sharon.
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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.