Why THE FALCON & THE WINTER SOLDIER Finale Dropped The Ball With John Walker - SPOILERS
The season finale of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+, and while it delivered a satisfying conclusion for most characters, John Walker's resolution left a lot to be desired...
The season finale of Marvel's The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, "One World, One People," brought the story to an exciting, emotional conclusion while leaving the door open for a second season, and although most of the main characters' arcs wrapped up satisfactorily, I can't help but feel they dropped the ball with John Walker.
Walker was introduced as a highly decorated former marine who'd been given the opportunity to take up the shield and mantle of Captain America. Though he did genuinely want to help people by fulfilling his role as a hero and living up to Steve Rogers' legacy, it soon became clear that he was suffering from PTSD, and may not be the most stable of individuals.
This was confirmed when he mercilessly beat one of the Flag Smashers to death.
Yes, Walker had just witnessed the murder of his best friend, but his actions were supposed to signify that he'd taken things too far and was unfit to serve as Captain America. Sam and Bucky clearly saw it this way, and took the shield away from him after a brutal battle. Then, when he's stripped of the shield and title at the hearing, we see how unhinged he's become.
Walker believes he did the right thing, and that nobody else understands what it takes to be Captain America, which is hammered home (literally) in the penultimate episode's post-credits scene when we see him constructing his own shield. In the finale, a rage-fuelled Walker confronts Kari and the Flag Smashers, determined to avenge Lemar's death by any means necessary. In a pivotal moment, he decides to let Kari go in order to rescue some hostages.
This act wasn't out of character (as far gone as he was, John still saw himself as a hero), but the fact that it's framed as a way of fully redeeming Walker and basically absolving him of everything that's transpired leaves a bad taste. This is a man who, mere hours before this episode takes place, was depicted as an unstable loose canon, and all of a sudden he's perfectly fine with Sam taking his place as Cap? Happy to work with Bucky, who pats him on the back for a job well done and laughs at his Lincoln quote? It just doesn't hold up.
Maybe it's simply a case of lazy writing, but the creative team behind the show really should have considered the optics of showing a law enforcer kill a man in cold blood before being welcomed back into the fold with a slap on the wrist. I'm not suggesting Walker is beyond redemption, but did it really need to happen in this episode? Surely such a compelling, multifaceted character is deserving of a more complex and thoughtful arc?
What do you guys think? Were you satisfied with how Walker's story was handled? What did you think of the finale overall?