After spending its first five episodes exploring both sides ideologies and philosophies, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier comes to a decisively centrist view point in the end. It’s not about left wing or right wing, both wings together are what makes things fly. The series had been critiqued as being “too woke” by some in its early episodes; however, this finale takes an ultimately anti-woke agenda in the end. Sam rejects the ideology of the Flag Smashers, but he also rejects the uber-nationalism of John Walker and the United States Government. Instead, he realises that both points of view are valid and—while he understands where people like Karli and Isaiah Bradley are coming from—he also believes that America is still a great country that is worth fighting for, despite its flaws.
The finale sees Sam Wilson finally taking up the shield and mantle of Captain America while rejecting the idea of being defined by his race. In an earlier episode, when he is referred to as Black Falcon he says, “No, I am just the Falcon.” He doesn’t believe that race should matter and that, much like the great Martin Luther King had once said, a person should be judged by the content of their character not the colour of their skin—and this is clearly a creed that Sam lives by. While people like Karli and Isaiah Bradley would have him believe that the “white man” is bad, Sam doesn’t believe it. He loved his friend Steve Rogers and knows that the colour of one’s skin is irrelevant in comparison to whether they are good person or not. This is something that Karli, for instance, has no concept of, as she devolves here into comically evil. A bit of a disappointing direction for the character but there is only so much time that we have here.
It’s clear that Marvel was wanting to say something with this series, and having John Walker ultimately redeemed in this final episode was a surprising choice to say the very least. Ultimately, Karli and the Flag Smashers served as the series stand-in for real world activism and violent riot movements like Antifa and some extreme sects of BLM. The idea of open borders in the world and the overthrowing of the government and rule of law is one that matches up in striking parallel to the real world counterparts and, much like the many who have lost their lives in the wake of these movements, the Flag Smashers ultimately resort to violence and killing in order to get their message out into the world. It makes it all the more curious that the uber-nationalist that is John Walker is portrayed in a heroic light in the end here, choosing to save innocents rather than get his revenge on Karli.
Ultimately, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is a show about accepting who you are. Just like Sam had to accept that he is Captain America now, Bucky had to accept that he was the Winter Soldier, and we have to accept that our world and our countries aren’t perfect places—there are countless issues that people of all walks of life face each and every day. These are complicated issues, but these problems and flaws aren’t what define us. There is still so much good in us and focusing on the good and using that to resolve what’s wrong: that is how we move forward united, rather than divided. It’s all about accepting our faults, our differences, yet choosing to rise above them, instead of simply choosing to be a victim. All in all, I found this to be a fantastic show despite the underdeveloped Flag Smashers characters, it was a great character study for Sam and Bucky and even John Walker. I, for one, look forward to what comes next for these characters as they continue to try to right the wrongs of the world one day at a time.