The third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “Power Broker”, opens with a commercial from the Global Repatriation Council. There are montages of families being reunited after the Blip. It ends with a motto, “Reset Restore Rebuild.” In Germany, John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett) lead a tactical unit’s raid on the civilians who helped the Flag Smashers. Walker knocks down the door. The police grab the computers and arrest the users.
John Walker is confronted in German by the owner. He asks Hoskins to translate. The owner denies knowing Karli Morgenthau, and then spits in John Walker’s face. “Do you know who I am!” Walker screams as he throws the man against a pillar. “Yes I do and don’t care,” the owner taunts in perfect English. Walker and Hoskins leave without a clue. They decide “to bet on someone who’s got a better hand.”
In Berlin, Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) are escorted through Zemo’s (Daniel Brühl) prison. Bucky asks to go in alone. He’s led through several secure doors to Zemo’s Hannibal Lecter-like cell. “Longing, Rusted, Seventeen,” Zemo speaks the Winter Soldier’s command phrases in Russian. “Those days are over,” replies Bucky. Zemo wanted to test “the new you.” Zemo apologizes for using Bucky, “It was never personal.” Bucky updates him on the new super soldier serum. “Lucky for you…I know where to begin,” offers Zemo.
Bucky leads a confused Sam through a dark auto shop. Sam is against working with Zemo. He’s too dangerous. Bucky reminds him that Zemo “hates super soldiers.” Sam brings up the assassination of King T’Chaka and how Zemo framed Bucky. Previously in the cell, Bucky asks Zemo what book he’s reading, “Machiavelli.” When Zemo opens the book, a code key is hidden inside. A montage follows with Bucky instigating a fight between two prisoners. He slips one a note that says the other is trying to kill him.
As the prisoners rumble, a lockdown procedure is initiated. Zemo uses the card to exit his cell. He beats up a guard and puts on his uniform. He trips the fire alarm, and then hides in a cell as guards run by. In the auto shop, Zemo walks in on a stunned Sam, “What did you do!” “We need him,” Bucky asks Sam to trust him like he did when Steve refused to sign the Sokovia Accords. Sam reluctantly agrees, but “Zemo does not make a move without their permission.”
The opening title rolls. Zemo leads Sam and Bucky to a warehouse where he has collectible cars. Zemo reaches into a backseat, he grabs his gear and a purple mask, “I ended the Winter Soldier program once before. I have no intention of leaving my work unfinished.” Zemo has a first stop, a woman named Selby.
Zemo takes them to a private jet on an airfield. “All this time you’ve been rich?” Sam asks incredulously. “I’m a baron, my family was royalty until your friends destroyed my country,” says Zemo as he greets Oeznik (Nicholas Pryor), his aged butler. On the flight, Zemo laments about his imprisonment. He reads a name off Bucky’s list, and is instantly throttled. “Touch that again and I’ll kill you,” Bucky warns. Zemo understands the meaning of the list. The men banter about the greatness of Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man”. Zemo and Sam are fans, Bucky Barnes likes “forties music.” Zemo warns them about people like Steve, who become symbols. Their flaws are forgotten. He tells them that they are going to the island nation of Madripoor, “We cannot go as ourselves. James, you must become someone you claim is gone.”
At a “GRC Resettlement Camp” in Riga, Latvia, Karli (Erin Kellyman) plays soccer with children. She’s taken upstairs to visit a dying woman. Karli weeps and holds her hand. Zemo, Steve, and Bucky walk across a bridge to the glistening nightlife of Madripoor. Sam comments “he’s the only one dressed like a pimp.” Zemo retorts that “only an American would think a fashion forward black man looks like a pimp.” Sam is impersonating “Conrad Mack aka the Smiling Tiger.” They are met by a sedan. Zemo tells them of “High Town” and “Low Town.” They must stay in character all the time.
The sedan is escorted by motorcycles into the rainy night of Madripoor. They walk through the bustling Low Town to the Princess Bar. The patrons are not happy to see them. Zemo asks the bartender for Selby. Who then asks the Smiling Tiger for “the usual?” Sam nods, and is then disgusted to see the bartender cut up a snake and put its organs in shot glasses. He forces it down while Zemo is challenged by one of the Power Broker’s men. Zemo explains in Madripoor he is “the judge, jury, and executioner.”
Zemo activates the Winter Soldier. Bucky grabs the power broker’s envoy. He beats him and his gang to a pulp in front of the crowd. They are surrounded by armed men. Zemo reminds Sam and Bucky “to stay in character.” The bartender responds that “Selby will see them now.” In slow motion, they are led upstairs past gambling and weapons to Selby’s lounge.
“I thought you were rotting away in a German prison?” remarks Shelby (Imelda Corcoran). Zemo wants to know her information about the super soldier serum. His payment is the Winter Soldier and the codes to control him. She tells them that the serum is in Madripoor, “Dr. Wilfred Nagel is the man you want to thank or condemn.” The Power Broker had him working on the serum, but “things didn’t go as planned.” Zemo asks for his location. Suddenly, Sam’s phone rings. Selby demands he answer it on speaker.
Sarah (Adepero Oduye) is calling about the situation with the bank. As Sam tries to deflect the conversation, she calls him by his real name. Selby screams,” Who’s Sam…kill them!” She’s shot dead by a sniper. Sam and Bucky disable the guards. “We have a real problem now. Leave your weapons and follow my lead,” Zemo orders. As they walk through Low Town, the scumbags around them are getting a text message. Selby is dead and there’s a bounty on their heads.
Sam and Bucky run as gunfire erupts around them. They are separated from Zemo and cornered by two motorcycles. Who are then killed by the sniper. Zemo rejoins them, “You seem to have a guardian angel.” The sniper reveals herself as Sharon Carter (Emily Van Camp). She’s about to kill Zemo when Sam updates her on the situation. Sharon has been on the run since helping them in Captain America: Civil War. She didn’t have the Avengers to “back her up.” Bucky begs for her help. She has a place in High Town.
Sam is impressed by her palatial penthouse. Sharon has become a stolen artwork dealer. She’s hosting clients and demands they change clothes. Sam is unnerved by her criminal enterprise, “Don’t you want to return home?” Sharon doesn’t believe in heroes, “That’s why you gave up the shield.” She warns them to steer clear. Sharon knows that Dr. Nagel works for the Power Broker. Sam offers to clear her name. Bucky was given a pardon. They shake on the deal.
Sharon hosts a raging party. Zemo drinks and dances while Sam and Bucky look awkward. Sharon finds Nagel’s location. She leads them unto a container dock. And serves as the lookout while they enter “container 4261.” They keep in radio contact. Zemo finds a hidden door at the back of the container wall. They hear singing.
Zemo, Sam, and Bucky enter Nagel’s laboratory as he listens to a record. Zemo stops the player. Sam confronts him. Nagel (Olli Haaskivi) recognizes Bucky, “Make me a better offer and maybe we can talk.” Sharon radios that “they have company.” Sharon takes out three men with guns. Bounty hunters are appearing out of nowhere. In the container lab, Bucky shoots near Nagel’s head. He was “brought into Hydra’s Winter Soldier program to pick up their work. When Hydra fell, he was “recruited by the CIA.” They had “stable traces of serum” from a soldier. “I was a god…I did what no other scientist since Erskine could do,” Nagel gloats.
He optimized the serum, but “turned to dust.” When he “returned 5 years later”, the program had been abandoned. He came to Madripoor and was funded by the Power Broker. He made “20 vials”, but Karli Morgenthau stole them. He doesn’t know her location, but she called for him to help someone called Donya Madani. Who caught tuberculosis in a GRC camp.
Outside the container entrance, Sharon continues to savagely fight off attackers. Nagel admits there’s no serum in the lab. Sharon enters, “We’re out of time.” Zemo shoots Dr. Nagel and kills him. The container is hit with an RPG. Everyone is blown down by the lab exploding. Nemo has vanished.
Sharon, Bucky, and Sam escape the container under a hail of bullets. They are pinned down. Zemo appears above them, dons his mask, and shoots a gas tube. He then jumps down and kills the remaining bounty hunters. Zemo finds a supercharged car in a container. Sam and Bucky jump inside, but Sharon doesn’t come, “Get me that pardon you promised.” Zemo drives away, but Sharon is met by a car and her assistant (Meaghan Gillenwater), “We have a big problem. Let’s go.”
In Vilnius, Lithuania, Karli surveils a GRC Supply Depot. She is taking “no time to mourn.” Karli talks with her colleague about being “mob security in Madripoor.” She wanted to be a teacher. They talk about taking the serum, “How their veins were on fire.” Karli knows that Nagel was killed. They have the last of the serum, “The Power Broker will come begging.”
At the prison in Germany, Walker and Hoskins review the tapes of Zemo’s escape. Walker believes that Sam and Bucky broke him out. On the plane, Sam radios Torres to investigate a refugee named Donya Madani. He feels guilty about what happened to Sharon and Isaiah Bradley. “Maybe I made a mistake, maybe I shouldn’t have put it in a museum, maybe I should have destroyed it,” Sam laments. Bucky disagrees, “That shield means a lot of things.”
Torres radios back to Sam. They found Madani. She died in Riga. Zemo orders his butler to change the plane’s course. He’s “looking forward to meeting Karli.” In Lithuania, Karli and the Flag Smashers raid the GRC supply depot. She leaves the soldiers tied up. As they drive away, Karli explodes a car bomb, killing everyone left inside, “This is the only language these people understand.”
In Riga, Zemo takes Sam and Bucky to his hideout. He wonders if any Avengers went to the Sokovia memorial. Bucky tells them he needs “a walk.” He picks up a Kimoyo bead. He sees another one on a wall. He grabs them and goes around a corner. Bucky comes face to face with Ayo (Florence Kasumba) of Wakanda’s elite Dora Milaje, “I’m here for Zemo.” The Falcon and the Winter Soldier returns next Friday on Disney+.
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