The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Power Broker review S1 E3

Power Broker was yet another example of why the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best possible outcome after Avengers: Endgame was this focused and dedicated approach to TV series.

We’ve already seen how well the MCU machine is at creating mega successful blockbusters. Now we’re seeing the value of that film juggernaut has been in terms of building an incredibly captivating TV landscape capable of giving some undervalued film characters a spotlight better served in this environment. 

Last week, Sam and Bucky reached the conclusion that they needed to find the Flagsmashers via Zemo, the man who’d uncovered all of Hydra’s dirty secrets. What Sam did not agree to was busting Zemo out of prison. That was the most efficient move but it’s not the kind of thing Captain America would do. This escape sequence encapsulated why Steve chose Sam as Captain America and not Bucky. Sam would never cross that line while Bucky is just fine operating in shades of grey to get the job done. 

Daniel Brühl does such an outstanding job with his take on Zemo. He’s captured a Lex Luthor style dynamic where he’s incredibly dangerous yet is so silky smooth that it’s a little too easy to buy his explanations. And in this particular instance, his agendas of ensuring super soldiers aren’t running around creating chaos are completely in line with Sam and Bucky.

Then there was the bonus geek out factor of seeing Zemo grab his iconic comic book mask from the comic. It’s one of those situations where we don’t need some real world explanation for it — it’s just cool, let’s just go with it. Ditto for the casual mention that Zemo is rich because he’s a baron. I think we’re past the point where Marvel has to handhold non-comic readers and can just add in these core elements now on the fly.

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Saying all that, Sam and Bucky are clearly in bed with a snake and it’s just a matter of time before one of the greatest MCU villains bites them. In the meantime this dynamic provided some great bits of dialogue like Zemo agreeing about Trouble Man is awesome. 

“It really captures the African American experience…” Sam: “He’s out of line, but he’s right.” 

This unlikely trio heads to Madripoor, which looked amazing. Madripoor is basically the Marvel version of Mos Eisely so it’s a hive of scum and villainy making it one of Wolverine’s favorite joints. That location has been off-limits due to the X-Men licensing deal. I would have loved to have heard a random reference to Patch, Wolverine’s undercover identity in Madripoor, but that can wait for another time I suppose. 

Their undercover mission to get some intel works well enough as The Power Broker, the force running Madripoor, allows them access to one of their lieutenants, Shelby. Everything’s going fine until Sam’s sister calls. The second rule of going undercover Sam: always put your phone on vibrate. 

While they’re not ready for a full shoot out in Madripoor, they get some unexpected help from Agent 13 herself as Sharon Carter arrives. Sharon has been holed up here over the last seven years since aiding Cap and his outlaw crew. Clearly, Sharon needs Bucky’s lawyer’s number. She just stole some government property. He killed a rack of people and is walking around free. 

Understandably, Sharon’s a bit cynical about the whole hero deal now and scoffs at the idea of the new Captain America. With Sharon’s help, they track down a name — Wilfred Nagel — who’s working with the Power Broker and was responsible for creating this new batch of super serum. 

Nagel casually explains he used to work for Hydra and then the CIA, which offered him some of Isaiah’s blood as a sample. The coldness he describes using Isaiah isn’t lost on Sam. Before Nagel could make good on his success, he was wiped out from The Blip, but not before creating 20 vials of the serum. 


Marvel Studios has done a commendable job of making The Blip more than an event that just happened. Much in the same way that Civil War reiterated how devastating the events in Sokovia were, we’re getting an even greater account of how much that rocked the world. That just wouldn’t have been possible to do with any justice on just the movie front so the delays of Black Widow and The Eternals have worked out from a storytelling perspective. 

Sharon’s standing guard and has to deal with The Power Broker’s assassins coming to collect the bounty on Zemo, Sam and Bucky. I am a huge fan of Sharon and her fight scenes as she systematically breaks down her opponents viciously and swiftly. If there’s not a market for a Sharon series, hopefully she becomes a regular on a possible second season of Falcon and Winter Soldier. 

Zemo goes rogue and kills Nagel, but is otherwise still committed to the partnership, which was interesting. I assumed when he put the mask on that was the sign he was striking out on his own. Apparently not yet… And in a great Civil War callback, it’s Bucky this time who refuses to move his seat up for Sam. Adding a bit of intrigue, Sharon tells an accomplice that she’s got a problem. Sharon couldn’t be the Power Broker, right?

Sam is pissed that Isaiah was used as the conduit for the Flagsmashers and now he’s questioning if Captain America’s legacy is completely tarnished. If only he saw how John Walker was starting to get unhinged this episode…

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I always appreciate how the MCU manages to both humanize its villains while reinforcing that they’re doing bad things and need to be brought to justice. The Flagsmashers are at a relocation camp for folks who’ve returned from The Blip in Latvia (?!) making another supply drop and Karli makes it back in time to see her mother before she dies. 

This further seems to motivate Karli as the next Flagsmashers’ raid, she blows up the building with the guards protecting the resources still inside. 

Bucky, Sam and Zemo close in on the Flagsmashers when Bucky notices a very familiar orb and starts tracking the trail. He calls out to someone and Ayo (!) shows up saying she’s here for Zemo. This is why Marvel Studios is the absolute best at this serial storytelling. 

It makes perfect sense for a character from Black Panther to immediately go on the hunt for Baron Zemo. Ayo also made an immediate impression in Civil War and I love the idea that Bucky became familiar enough with the Wakandan way of life and inner circle that he would notice Ayo tracking him. 

This was a very unexpected and completely sensible cameo. How this plays out is definitely going to be interesting. 

Power Broker reinforces the consequences of events that occurred in both Civil War and Avengers: Endgame while advancing Sam and Bucky’s story further. 

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Disney+