The last time we saw Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) was 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. While working for the CIA, she violated the Sokovia Accords to help Captain America, Bucky (Sebastian Shaw), and Sam (Anthony Mackie). As various heroes got a welcome home after Endgame and previous charges with pardons, she didn’t. Having to retreat to the extradition-free and crime-ridden Madripoor, one can understand why she’s not exactly thrilled to see Bucky and Sam again. After all, Bucky killed people during his time as the Winter Soldier. Stealing Cap’s shield and Sam’s wings landed Sharon a life where she has to live off the grid and can’t speak to her family.
The interesting thing about ‘Power Broker’ is that the episode paints the world in shades of gray. Everybody has their motivations, but it’s not easily explainable to define who plays hero or villain. The ramifications of ‘the blip’ didn’t leave a happily ever after scenario for some of the world’s citizens. Hence, the rise of The Flag Smashers. However, as people materialized and repopulate the world. It’s only complicated one of the U.S.’s enduring symbols. Sam and Bucky need information in order to track down the location of the serum, In order for that to happen, they turn to one Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) in my enemy of my enemy is my friend way. Together, all three men go on an espionage mission to Madripoor to obtain information complete with funny disguises.
On the way there, a monologue from Zemo stuck on. He spoke about Steve Rodgers and how we put our heroes on pedestals and even see them as infallible. Rodgers was always looked upon as the unrelenting moral compass of the MCU. I always think back to the events of Civil War and how Steve Rodgers knew that the Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark’s parents. He kept that from him and even defended Bucky. Now, Bucky was under the influence of mind control, but still. That’s not right. At the conclusion of Endgame, he went back in time to set the stones in place, so that he could have his happy ending with Peggy Carter. For what he’s done, it’s well deserved. However, nobody checked on Sharon even though she was an integral part of getting the shield back.
If you look at WandaVision and the early parts of Falcon and The Winter Soldier, there are people that are left to their own devices. For those who didn’t get dusted in ‘the blip,’ life didn’t pass them by for five years. Those that did, what are they exactly coming back to? It circles back to what the shield means – there’s almost a curse to it. Sharon can’t go home yet. As shown in the early part of the episode, John Walker (Wyatt Russell) goes on a power trip with him yelling at a German worker. Bucky clings to it because it’s all he has of his friend and the shield is a fresh start.
With seeing Sharon for the first time, we discover that his rose-colored glasses viewpoint might be outdated. Possession of Captain America’s most prized possession either leads you to exile or corrupts you. Even the entire legitimacy of the super soldier program is murky. When they find scientist Dr. William Nagel (Olli Haaskivi), he explains to them that he was employed by the CIA. That through the experiments on Isaiah Bradley, he was making a serum that operates under the radar.
Speaking of shades of gray, we learn a bit more about Karli’s (Erin Kellyman) motivations. Contrary to the rosy commercial of the GRC that’s shown in the beginning, there are people living in resettlement camps. The mission that the Flag Smashers are on is to steal supplies to help the children there. Someone close to Karli passes away, and she expresses to a fellow member that she wanted to become a teacher. A future that is surely in peril given that she stole the remaining super-soldier serum and is on the run from the Power Broker. The MCU has a way of making some villain motivations somewhat relatable before revealing their cruelty. Think Killmonger in Black Panther. While the Flag Smashers are on this altruistic mission, Karli blows up the building with people in it.
‘Power Broker’ had the elements of heroes and villains working together that made for some funny banter. Zemo’s comments about Marvin Gaye and Sam’s disguise were funny with his added dry delivery. There was also a considerable amount of action as Sharon has become a considerable killing machine. How would the interaction between Zemo and Bucky go? Zemo speaks the commands, and they didn’t work this time around. But, in window dressing as The Winter Soldier, Bucky goes ballistic in a bar. Maybe the past that he is running from is still there a tad.
At the halfway point, the closer we get to finding the identity of the power broker, the more the past comes back into play. The bell tolls from Zemo as Dora Milaje’s second-in-command Ayo (Florence Kasumba) is hot on his trail. He still has to answer for the murder of King T’Chaka. Time is ticking where this truce is going to implode. That will add another layer of trouble to the powder keg that is this world.
Photo Credit: Disney+