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'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' (2021-) Finale REVIEW

Gunning from its get-go to pack punch after punch after punch, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's finale might be its most bold episode yet.

Filled with heroic fanfares and fantastic fistfights, Marvel Studios scrawls its signature proudly across the show's first season's conclusive episode. Even when the episode slows for a moment to catch its breath, each interlude between high-flying action is met by emotional beats. This review does contain explicit spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier S1:E6 - One World, One People.

Not withholding the surprise of Sam "Captain America" Wilson (Anthony Mackie)'s star-spangled suit paired with an impressive set of Falcon wings, the finale satisfies the previous cliffhanger with a generously comic-accurate new look for the new Captain America. There's no haste made in illustriously showing off Wilson's latest attire, and while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stumbles with its pacing, this hurried decision sets the tone for the tail end of the series.

Mackie delivers a praiseworthy performance, dispensing wholehearted and passionate monologues about race, politics, and the intersection between the two with wisdom and articulation. He speaks on the diversity of the world around him, and the multiple perspectives that people are to hold while living in it. He makes it clear to note that he is "a Black man in stars and stripes," acknowledging the backlash that he will be faced with and how he will be perceived by those around him, accepting that he is ready to bear what may come.

Stan Lee once said that "Marvel has always been and always will be a reflection of the world right outside our window. That world may change and evolve but the one thing that will never change is the way we tell our stories of heroism. Those stories have room for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or color of their skin. The only things we don’t have room for are hatred, intolerance, and bigotry." The Falcon and the Winter Soldier brings Lee's quote to life and fulfills the comic book behemoth's founding principle, illustrating the world around the studio that ties modern-day hardships into their own worlds.

Mackie isn't the only one due for a page-to-screen costume change, where just as Marvel Studios honors the new Captain America look, John "U.S. Agent" Walker (Wyatt Russell) takes on his signature red-and-black accoutre, teasing that this may not be the end of the line for him. Disappointingly, and contrary to prior belief as to where the show might have lead itself to, there is no final takedown between Wilson and Walker, and there is no spectacle of a definitive hand-to-hand battle between the two. The "U.S. Agent" actor may have stirred up internet buzz about Marvel alum Chris Evans making some sort of cameo, but it seems that his comments fall a bit flat, as Evans is nowhere to be seen as Steve "Captain America" Rogers or else wise.

As for the series' main protagonist, the death of Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) is a predictable maneuver for her character and hardly leaves a dent in the ideal emotional impact that it could have been aiming for. For being the central big-bad, Morganthau and her Flag Smashers are a less-than-fearsome threat. Without their reoccurrence, they are forgettable antagonists. At times it felt as if Marvel was unprepared in how to go about the Flag Smashers' relevancy, and stumbled when trying to place them, with the exclusion of a few pivotal moments.

The episode finds itself winding down, steadily marching itself to its close, but not without furthermore paying homage to Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumby) in a touching moment of recognition. Despite Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) revealing herself to be the Power Broker, the episode's end seems a bit too peaceful to sit right, leaving a lingering aftertaste that feels nearly incomplete, as if there should have been more. Pushing past its three-quarters-finished feel, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier holds its fingers on the pulse of the United States and feels the nation's true self that beats beneath it. There is a mid-credit scene, and the closing title card puffs out its chest and pleasedly presents the series' new title moving forward, which all-but-confirms more seasons to follow.

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