CHECK : The Hawk and the Winter Soldier – Episode 5 The Truth

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The condescendingly titled Truth (which, since no major answers to anything are revealed, can only mean we’re going to tell you the truth) is an episode where Falcon and the Winter Soldier play self-righteous politics and make Captain America look completely racist. People who want to keep this out of superhero movies and other forms of entertainment will be able to cite this as a reason, because Truth is a joyless account of race and why we are bad no matter what we do, with the occasional interlude of boring scenes that add nothing to the plot or characters, and a good fight.

Sam and Bucky want John Walker to answer for his actions. The government is taking a more active role in Operation Flag Breakers. Bucky’s looking for Zemo. Sam is going back home to his boat. Carly is planning more terrorism. These short, direct sentences are more exciting than anything that happens after the five minutes.

Truth begins with a familiar scene: a fight between three people (you’re disappointed I said fight, right?) with Sam and Bucky on one side and John Walker on the other. It looks a lot like the last battle of the Civil War, and I think that was the intent. Of course, despite being one of the participants in this fight, the emotional impact of seeing Captain America and the Iron Man Winter Soldier is far from a shock. But it’s a good fight, it’s well choreographed, and it’s hard to say who’s going to win. It’s also interesting that Bucky is on the other side of this conflict. In the Civil War, he was an out-of-control super soldier fighting against someone who wanted to bring him to justice; this time, he’s trying to bring in someone who has been in his shoes. There are mitigating circumstances in both cases; Bucky didn’t have free will when he killed one of the Winter Soldier’s victims, but if Walker did, the man he killed was a terrorist, not someone like the Starks. It would be nice if the series showed interest in exploring this complexity, but at this point Walker is already considered a psychopath, so we don’t have to wonder who to cheer for or anything that could be compelling. (Honestly, I was for Walker because he helped the terrorist escape so she could kill more people.)

* SPORTS

No, the truth clearly indicates that the Falcon and the Winter Soldier are most interested in the race. After the battle is over and all three players are eliminated, Sam visits Isaiah Bradley, the super soldier to whom Bucky introduced him in The Star Man. Isaiah is bitter and angry – and rightly so, given what happened to him – and has no love or loyalty for his country or Captain America. But the significance of this scene contradicts Isaiah’s account. The government put him in jail and experimented on him because he was the only one, other than Steve Rogers (who was believed dead at the time), who could avoid the psychological damage the supersoldate serum caused to anyone who took it. But what he got out of it, and what we should get out of it, is that it was done to him because America is a racist country that would never allow a black man to be Captain America. What the government did to Isaiah was bad, but it had nothing to do with his race; if Steve had been around, they would have experimented on him too. The racial aspect feels like it was just inserted, and it makes the show feel like a rebuke (barely) disguised as entertainment.

And that’s not all. Sam and Bucky return to the discussion of accepting the mantle of Captain America and conclude that Steve was wrong to ask Sam because he never considered whether a black man would want to be Captain America. Bucky then apologized both for asking Sam to do it and for him and Steve (and, I guess, for white people in general). So in summary, the truth tells us that wanting a black man to be Captain America is racist, and not wanting a black man to be Captain America is racist, and that Steve Rogers was just a privileged white ignoramus who should have thought twice before refusing to reduce one of his best friends to the color of his skin. Are we having fun yet? I can’t tell you how much I hate that the MCU is becoming like this. It’s no longer about what makes a hero, or how hard it is to do the right thing, or how far a good person can go to protect others, or anything as universal and human as that. Today it’s the equivalent of a Twitter reaction stream where people get mad at someone for anything, before publicly coming to their senses. The only way to make it somewhat interesting is if this multi-vector path they insist on leads to an alternate universe where Steve picks Bucky as his successor, so we can shake our heads again and call him a racist. If they want to force this nonsense on us, we should at least laugh at their mockery.

The rest of Truth has a few nice moments and ideas that don’t really matter. Sam goes home and releases It’s a Wonderful Life, inviting all of his parents’ friends to help him fix their boat. It’s a nice sentiment, and I like the idea of people helping each other when the government and other agencies don’t, but it doesn’t relate to anything and gets boring fast. Bucky tracks down Zemo and delivers him to Dora Milaje, who, after a strong hint that Wakandan justice is above all else, decides to deliver him to the raft. What’s wrong with this show? I know it’s not that important to link characters to movies, but can they at least match what they said a week ago? And I think now that he’s in custody, Zemo’s wealth and resources will disappear and never be mentioned again, especially by him. Courting Walker and stripping him of his title would be a good way to show how uptight the government is about these issues – by linking him to the First Avenger – but they let Walker off the hook during his hearing and made it look like the men in suits did the right thing by throwing him under the bus. Julia Louis-Dreyfus turning up in such an awkward role and looking cool is certainly a good starting point for the future; let’s hope she turns up again in something with better writers. Sharon Carter is still at large and seems to have formed the Flag Wreckers along with Batrock Pezgun; imagine if they were the main villains and not Carly and her protesters. Both Sam and Walker seem to want to lay claim to the mantle of Captain America. Only one more week before we can have fun again.

Truth is a boring, tentative and controversial episode that takes the series – and perhaps the MCU as a whole – into the realm of identity politics. The legendary hero is tarnished, the audience is literally scolded for their attitude towards the new Captain America, and a final battle ensues that is as exciting as the Rumble in West Side Story. But there’s a good fight scene in the beginning, so I don’t think it’s a total loss.

Location – 6
Action – 6
Progression – 7
Production planning – 7
Topics – 4

6

No

Truth is a tedious, careful and controversial episode that takes the series – and perhaps the MCU as a whole – into the realm of identity politics. The legendary hero is tarnished, the audience is literally scolded for their attitude towards the new Captain America, and a final battle ensues that is as exciting as the Rumble in West Side Story. But there’s a good fight scene in the beginning, so I don’t think it’s a total loss.

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