The tension builds in episode 4, titled “The Whole World is Watching”, as the search for Flag-Smasher leader, Karli Morgenthau, closes in.
The episode starts with a flashback of Bucky (Sebastian Stan) living in Wakanda and being tested by Ayo (Florence Kasumba) with the words that were used to control him – but now cannot. Then, picking up from last week’s surprise ending, Bucky and Ayo discuss the turning over of Zemo (Daniel Brühl) to Wakanda.
Sam (Anthony Mackie), Zemo and Bucky, search for clues to find Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) in Latvia – Zemo is being especially shifty, evoking the White Witch of Narnia as he hands out Turkish delight to all around him in exchange fro information. Brühl, again, is such a delight to watch – his rendition of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” being a particular highlight. A successful chat between Sam and Morgenthau is interrupted by John Walker (Wyatt Russell) in full Captain America get-up, resulting in all out fight. Zemo, having broken off, finds Morgenthau salvaging the remainder of the stolen super serum and smashes all the vials – apart from one, which is found later by Walker.
The Dora Milaje come to take Zemo however Walker refuses to hand him over. Another fight breaks out and Zemo slips away.
The episode concludes with another unsuccessful meeting between Sam and Karli – again Walker turns up with his partner, Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett) and it becomes clear that Walker has taken the serum. Hoskins is accidentally killed by Morgenthau and Walker, in an act of revenge, pursues a flag-smasher out onto the streets and in a public square, violently kills him using his shield as the crowds around stop and film the whole thing.
A bit more of a serious in tone this episode, not as much of the entertaining banter that has been so enjoyable from the previous eps – although I did enjoy the part where Bucky goaded Walker as he got it butt handed to him by the Dora Milaje. However, the lack of humour wasn’t necessarily missed because the handling of heavy themes was very well done.
I’m really liking the direction the series is going. Marvel is seemingly being very self-reflective in a remarkably critical way. The questioning of what makes a super-soldier-Captain-America is especially interesting – it’s sometimes easy to forget amongst all the highly skilled fights that Steve Rogers was chosen for the role not because of his military ability but because of his personal spirit. Walker’s inferiority complex haunts this episode as he’s unable to view the world as anything another than a reflection of his own inability to live up to the name.
There are several moments in this episode where the symbolism of the Avengers is brought into question – Zemo makes parallels between the group of super heroes and the Nazis; Captain America’s shield is referred to as a “monument of a by-gone era”. The image of the blood-spattered shield is especially poignant – the horror of the murders laid bare.
I hope the series keeps up this critical look at the messages and symbols in MCU – it’s refreshing and illuminating.
Episode 4 | Disney+ | 9th April 2021