The second episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, titled “The Star-Spangled Man”, offered viewers a clear look into how good the series can be once it actually grapples with the themes of legacy promised in its initial announcement.
If episode one marked a bland return to normality for the MCU, then the second provides a window into how much potential there is for the series to tell new and exciting stories, now that most of the previous generation of characters have been moved on.
Much of “The Star-Spangled Man” devoted itself to setting up wider conversations surrounding Captain America and what it means to inherit a legacy more generally. We see John Walker, the new Captain America played by Wyatt Russell, struggle to comfortably embody what it means to be the Sentinel of Liberty, while Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson also have trouble digesting what that means for their own respective journeys.
Potentially more important, though, isn’t what the episode does with the future of Captain America, but what it does with its past.
About midway through we’re introduced to an old man named Isaiah, who Bucky encountered during the Korean War back when he was under HYDRA control. Bucky takes Sam to Isaiah after they discover the Flag Smashers have enhanced their strength with a version of the super soldier serum, with the reveal being that the character was once a super soldier for the US Government, but who was then persecuted by them and effectively wiped from the history books.
It’s a pretty massive revelation, and one that holds massive implications for Captain America in the MCU.