Three episodes in and the latest MCU show on Disney+ is already proving to be worth the hype.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up the story of Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan) a few months after the climatic battle of Avengers: Endgame. This super heroic odd couple find themselves at odds with an organization called the Flag Smashers; a group of revolutionaries who oppose the return to normal after the Snap united the human race in their grief and loss.
The pair must also come to terms with the US government’s decision to pass the Captain America mantle on to a different soldier and handle the friction that develops between them after they meet John Walker (played by Wyatt Russell).
However, the most crucial plot point (so far) is the reintroduction of Helmut Zemo (played by Daniel Bruhl), the man who masterminded the Avengers split in Captain America: Civil War.
But how exactly does Zemo work in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
HE IS AN ALLY…FOR NOW
The biggest surprise was the Zemo was going to be assisting Sam and Bucky in their mission to stop the Flag Smashers because they represent a loose end in his desire to rid the world of super powered individuals.
He is surprisingly friendly to Bucky, given that the Winter Soldier is an enhanced individual but that may be tempered by Bucky’s lack of agency as the assassin of Hydra.
His knowledge of the criminal underworld and resources as a baron prove valuable to the mission as they find a new lead that gets them closer to the Flag Smashers.
Of course, given his history in Marvel Comics and his introduction in Captain America: Civil War, his betrayal of the team seems inevitable.
HE FITS IN SEAMLESSLY WITH THE DUO
Despite their obvious reluctance to having Zemo onboard, the trio of Sam, Bucky and Zemo work very well together.
When Sam and Bucky are going off on each other, Zemo is the surprising but useful extra set of eyes on the situation, ready to dish out some realness that the pair might shrug off easily if it came from the other.
Zemo hasn’t automatically become the deciding vote on the team but he is a useful third option to have.
That said, he is still a wildcard and the trouble he sparks at the doctor’s lab is a prime example of that.
Speaking of trouble…
HE IS A LIABILITY
Despite the obvious and subtle benefits he brings to the mission, Zemo is a big problem for Sam and Bucky because of his actions during Captain America: Civil War.
The new Captain America, John Walker, and his companion, Lemar Hoskins aka Battlestar (played by Cle Bennett) are on their trail after Zemo broke out of prison. They might not know the exact specifics but the general idea and power they wield are a big threat to Sam and Bucky.
Even more worrisome, Wakanda sent Ayo (played by Florence Kasumba), one of the Dora Milaje to retrieve Zemo. This is a response to his bombing of the UN meeting, an action that killed T’Chaka, father of T’Challa and then ruler of Wakanda.
Going against the most advanced nation of Earth would be even worse for Sam and Bucky and there’s no telling how much sway Bucky has with the Wakandan government to prevent them from taking Zemo away.
Zemo’s return has elevated The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to more intriguing heights. Given that only three episodes have aired, there’s no telling where the show can go from here on.