ACTION: FIRST RATE! LEADS: WE LOVE THOSE GUYS. BUT..
So rumours are ‘there’ online that Disney algorithmic patterns are dictating a switch off mid to late episode in the latest Marvel effort. So what? That’s how streaming works. At least people still click on it to start with, which frankly is half the battle! That said, there are a few things Falcon and the Winter Soldier could so to counter-attack any depletion in ratings, which would otherwise be sky high given its lovely production values, music, cast etc..(SPOILER ALERT)..
- Homage Good, Copying Bad:
I mentioned Mission:Impossible in quality of the action. True. It is that good in its effects, editing, scope, scale. But what Ethan Hunt never quite did, even with Tom Cruise as his creator, was somehow make plot and character the strong suit. Those films are designed around one man and his stunts; with composite pastiche tropes nicked from other movies? That’s fine because it’s a high gloss big budget blockbuster throughout, be it the first or seventeenth ‘he goes rogue’ movie with Cruise running.
You cannot copy that on a streaming show throughout an episode. So the core ‘hook’ set piece burns out the whole ep, thereby leaving you with other tropes you too can copy. Fine. But make it the RIGHT ones! Episode 3 had Winter Soldier illustrate and execute a prison break. THAT is ‘mission’ at its best.
By contrast? Having Emily Van Camp trying to be sassy and sexy as a quasi arms dealer is as bad as the miscast Vanessa Kirby trying to be mysterious and complex in 2018’s ‘Fallout’ movie (love Kirby btw; just loathe her being miscast). Stop picking the WORST things to copy.
The whole show is basically filler; with computer game level plotting of one platform to another. But this would be less jarring if each ep were not so obviously a ‘go here and collect this for a final tease of a further final tease’ style structure. Ep 3 had some bizarre Tilda Swinton wannabe in a Jason Bourne looking bar location, also pose as some sort of arms dealer. Yawn. The speculation as to where the show is going is now in effect more compelling than the actual content in an episode. That tends to end in disappointment hence maybe some are switching off?
- WHERE’S THE BADDIE?
This is now half way through the run (ish). We have a kid with TB (Enfys Nest from SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, playing, basically..Enfys Nest for Marvel??). There is a new Captain America wannabe (Wyatt Russell: excellent, btw). Plus an unseen ‘power broker’ and faceless ‘flag smashers’. Without an antagonist, visible? It starts to get dull, fast. Speaking of which..
- BARON ZEMO IS JUST NOT TONY STARK!
Zemo is not a funny or charming anti-hero. He’s just a bit of a twat. Baron Geeko. Marvel went to great lengths in the cinematic universe to give the guy a grounded ‘realistic’ backstory so no purple hats or funny props. They had him blow up a building and pit the world’s heroes against each other. There is no comeback from that and no need to break him out of jail or have him redeemed through a team up with the goodies. Be comic book or not: there is really no fusion in between bit. This aint Tony Stark (Happy birthday, Downey, btw: you don’t look a day over 45). Heck it’s not even Dr Doom (please cast Claes Bang in that role if possible). Stop it now. Oh and Zemo’s not convincing as a killer / fighting machine, either. The whole character is just a bit rubbish and not even in an ‘ironic’ way.
- ENOUGH WITH THE FAUX SOCIAL POLITICS / RACE BAIT HUMOUR!
Falcon is a highly decorated military operative / air combat veteran, right? As in, the USA’s racist problem did not prevent his soaring to great heights, literally. So how about an off message but daring subtext of ‘actually, race does not define me or my humour or my worldview and di not hold me back’? In any event, if you ‘go there’: GO THERE, PROPERLY. Do not try and toss it away as a one liner /scene of a joke or mismanaged ‘serious’ moment regarding race relations. This is an escapist living cartoon set in a spy-fi world. It’s not A Time to Kill a Mocking Falcon, yeah? Corporatized use of sensitive issues such as these is part of the problem, rather than inspiring any meaningful solution. Matters made worse by an over-reliance on news broadcast as exposition and an unfortunate pandemic parallel which simply feels clumsy. STOP. IT. NOW!
In short? The show remains watchable and I hope it wins a second series. It has spectacular action, score and a talented cast. But it’s seriously missing a verisimilitude chip and needs a fix of Tony Stark or a credible counterpart.