Ayo! The Winter Soldier theme! Jaded Sharon! Zemo claiming his Baron prefix from the comics! Steve’s Notebook™ from Captain America: The Winter Soldier!
We see John Walker’s Captain America wielding the shield with brute force to do the GRC’s (Global Repatriation Council) bidding, and being all “YOU KNOW WHO I AM???!!!”, something Steve would never do. (Also, Steve knows German, cause he fought in WWII.) We’re starting to see who he really is — he’s a company man, and he likes his “face”.
Bucky and Sam go to the prison where Zemo is kept. When Bucky goes in to see Zemo, Zemo immediately starts reciting the trigger words, like I wanted to see! And as expected, Bucky has no reaction to it, though he looks very uncomfortable being reminded of the past. And then he spontaneously breaks Zemo out of jail, to Sam’s dismay when he finds out much later. (Btw, for those who forgot, Zemo used to be part of Sokovian special forces, which is why he has no problem overcoming the guards.)
Zemo turns out to be a very rich Baron, which is convenient for funding secretive missions that take you halfway across the world, and helps him claim his Baron Zemo name in the comics.
Zemo also for some reason knows to zero in on Nakajima, the one innocent victim that Bucky remembers killing as the Winter Soldier. (I’m sure there are more since the Winter Soldier was involved in so many assassinations over 70 years, but for the interest of this limited series, it looks like there’s only one person who’s been collateral damage.)
Steve’s Notebook™ from Captain America: The Winter Soldier appears again! ? Now that Steve’s gone, Bucky has taken over his notebook to write down things he needs to remember. (Since, you know, Bucky lost his own notebooks of recollection in Captain America: Civil War after the SWAT team broke down his door in Bucharest and chased him through a tunnel.) And Marvin Gaye’s biggest fan Sam recommends “Trouble Man” to Bucky too, though to his displeasure, Bucky doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about it as Steve did.
They go to Madripoor to look for people who might know something about the serum. Apparently Madripoor is modelled after Singapore. The flag even has a merlion on it! I thought it was a real city in Indonesia at first, but it looked too modern and unreal. (It also had way too many white and Black people and not enough Asian people to be a city in Indonesia.)
They have to dress up and pretend to be some real big bad guys though to get into the correct lowlife places and get the info they’re looking for. Poor Sam has to drink some weird snake’s gall bladder cocktail while pretending to be some weird guy called Smiling Tiger (which actually sounds more like the name for an Asian character than a Black one).
What I find surprising is that these lowlifes can recognise Bucky as the Winter Soldier, but haven’t heard that the Winter Soldier is part of the Avengers now. Or is/was Cap’s best friend, seeing that Cap caused an international incident trying to prevent him from being arrested for supposedly bombing the UN, and then later the Avengers messed up an airport in Germany for the same reasons. ? Also, Bucky appears more autonomous than he did as the Winter Soldier, who had a look of intense concentration. But maybe those people haven’t really seen the Winter Soldier in person before, so they don’t know.
Bucky fights the lowlifes in the bar as the Winter Soldier and the Winter Soldier theme plays in the background! I love that theme! ? Sam looks very concerned for him.
They get information from Selby, a female mob boss, that a scientist called Wilfred Nagel has recreated the supersoldier serum. But before they can find out more, Sam’s sister calls and ruins the ruse. But some unknown person (I’m guessing Sharon?) kills Selby and gives Sam, Bucky and Zemo time to defend themselves and get out of the bar. A bounty is placed on Selby’s killers, and the three of them escape and is confronted with a hardened Sharon, who’s still on the run because the Avengers forgot to clear her name when clearing Sam, Steve, Bucky, Natasha and Wanda from their fugitive status. ?
Sharon is now a high-end art dealer on the black market and she manages to find out where Nagel is from her clients. She brings them to the container yard that Nagel is residing in, and while they interrogate Nagel about the supersoldier serum that he also successfully recreated (besides, you know, Arnim Zola, and whoever created the serum in Isaiah Bradley’s veins), she fights off the bounty hunters outside. Once Nagel gives up all the information that he has, Zemo kills him, to Sam, Bucky and Sharon’s consternation.
A bounty hunter sends an RPG into the container they’re in, which destroys all further samples of the supersoldier serum that could have been in there, which means that Karli Morgenthau and her Flag-Smashers have the last vials of the existing serum. Zemo disappears, and the rest are left to fight the deluge of bounty hunters (while bickering over who’s following who’s lead), but their bullets run out and they’re pinned down.
Zemo suddenly reappears and gets rid of the other bounty hunters. (Dramatic music plays as he puts on his purple mask before doing it. Why he needed to do that, I have no idea.) Sam, Bucky and Sharon run off into an open container and punch their way out the other side, where they’re met with Zemo in a supercar, that apparently Zemo found in another container? That part was kind of unclear.
Sam, Bucky and Zemo drive off to find Karli Morgenthau (though not before Bucky quips stone-faced that he isn’t going to move his seat up for Sam, since Sam didn’t do it for him in Civil War ?).
Sharon meets up with one of her associates in the container yard, while saying ominously that they have a big problem, or rather a couple of them. Please don’t tell me that Sharon went full-on supervillain and is the Power Broker of the series. I can’t stand the thought of Peggy’s niece going rogue like that, and not for a good cause.
The scene switches to a GRC supply depot in Lithuania where Karli and one of her Flag-Smashers are staking out the place, and they give us some backstory on how they ended up being Flag-Smashers and getting the supersoldier serum. Karli’s beloved teacher Mama Donya died of tuberculosis in a GRC refugee camp in Latvia a few days ago, showing that the GRC isn’t helping the refugees as much as they tout. The Flag-Smashers are thus stealing supplies from the GRC who are hoarding it, and distributing it to those who are displaced and in the refugee camps.
However, while Karli’s intentions are noble (“We’re fighting for our lives”), her means to do it are less so, since she blows up the GRC supply depot while the GRC soldiers are still inside. Her fellow Flag-Smasher looks shocked that she has resorted to killing their opponents to send a message.
Sam, Bucky and Zemo arrive in Latvia in their mission to find Karli. Zemo mentions in a throwaway line about how Sokovia is no more, and that there’s a memorial for the victims. When they reach Zemo’s hideout, Bucky says he’s going to take a walk, and then waits till Sam and Zemo have gone into the building before picking up a Kimoyo bead from the ground. He follows a trail of Kimoyo beads into an alley, and then waits for someone to appear. That someone is Ayo (one of the Dora Milaje), and she says she’s here for Zemo! ?
I don’t know why I didn’t think about the Wakandans being bothered about Zemo escaping from prison, since Sam mentioned earlier that they *would* be bothered, but a lot happened in the episode so I forgot about it. I just hope Bucky hasn’t ruined his relationship with Wakanda, after they’ve helped him so much by sheltering him after Civil War, getting rid of his trigger words and giving him his new arm. ?