Episode five of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus, how does it move their story forward, here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Walker in trouble
This episode picks up after John Walker’s brutal murder of a Flag-Smasher. A murder in full view of the public with Captain America’s shield at the end of episode four. We’re watching a man fully breaking down as he tries to understand who he is and what his purpose is. This is brought into even sharper relief as he faces the US Government’s punishment for his crimes. He is a broken man. He’s desperately searching for answers after taking the super-serum. That decision exacerbated his already pent up rage at the death of Lamar Hoskins. He loses the shield physically in an epic fight with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. This coming after already losing it metaphorically as a result of his actions. I thought the fight scene was beautifully choreographed and resembled a Kung-Fu film with the level of physical activity.
Julia Louis Dreyfus
Walker visits Battlestar’s family to try and bring them and himself some comfort after the awful events in Riga. But his solace appears in the form of the ever wonderful Julia Louis Dreyfus aka Madam Hydra. She sets in motion the plan to recruit Walker, leaves her blank business card and tells him to answer the phone when she calls. He is still convinced he is Captain America. In the post-credit scene, we see him fashioning his own shield, including his Medal of Honour. This is all done to continue in the role he believes is rightfully his.
The scene with Isaiah Bradley and Sam Wilson was the high point of the episode. It had a wonderful performance from Carl Lumbly. The whole scene was especially poignant given it is set against the backdrop of the George Floyd trial and the death last week of Daunte Wright. The back story of Bradley was lifted verbatim from the Marvel graphic novel Red, White and Black which explains its power. With Anthony Mackie having previously portrayed Martin Luther King in All The Way, this was an incredibly powerful moment. There will certainly be some sort of recognition for his service and sacrifice alongside that of Steve Rogers.
Who is the Power-Broker?
The mystery around Sharon Carter continues as well. Although she doesn’t feature much in this episode, her moment in it has got everyone talking and raises more questions than answers. Is she the mysterious Power-Broker? Is she working against The Falcon and The Winter Soldier by arming Batroc to assist Karli Morgenthau and The Flag-Smashers? Or is she playing a very dangerous game of 3D chess to enable her to return to the US from her enforced exile in Madripoor? How many of these questions will Marvel leave unanswered at the end of the series to pick up at some other time? Some, none or all these will be answered in the finale.
Batroc has teamed up with Karli Morgenthau to stage an attack on the GRC’s meeting in New York. That meeting is where the great and good are meeting to enact The Patch Act. That act will enforce repatriation for millions displaced as a result of the events in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. The Flag-Smashers have found their own Endgame with this attack. Meanwhile, Batroc is simply seeking revenge against The Falcon for the events on the plane in episode one of this series.
We had a classic montage as Sam Wilson became Captain America. Refusing to take any super-soldier serum, he embarked on a Rocky Balboa-esque training regime to improve his fitness and ability to handle Captain America’s shield. He did have a little help from the Wakandans as they fashioned him a new suit after his previous one was destroyed in the fight with John Walker. We’re all set up for a climactic battle between Sam, Bucky, Walker and The Flag-Smashers.
The Wakandans also finally got their hands on Zemo as Bucky handed him over after finding him at the memorial of the Sokovian bombing in Age of Ultron. Zemo made one final attempt to manipulate Bucky but he once again demonstrated he had truly broken Hydra’s power over him. Zemo accepted his fate but I can’t help feeling this isn’t the end of his story. He will be held on The Raft, the floating prison looked after by Thunderbolt Ross. But you can’t help thinking that he’ll reappear in the upcoming Thunderbolt series. He’s too good a character not to return at some point in the future.
I’ve been critical of some elements of this series. Although I enjoyed this episode, I found the pacing of it very peculiar. It felt like an epilogue or a prologue rather than the penultimate episode where you expect tension to be building towards an epic climax. The reappearance of relatively minor characters we’ve not seen since episode one was odd. I expect we will see more of this in the final episode as Bucky attempts to right some of his past wrongs, particularly the killing of Yori’s son. Those characters needed to have appeared more through the series. Otherwise, they appear to be nothing more than an afterthought or misused plot device. In spite of my frustrations with this series at times, you know Marvel will produce a fabulous finale.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 8/10
Thank you for reading our review of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode five. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode four review HERE.
Read IMDB information about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier HERE.
Squid Game – Review
The Players and Games
On 17 September 2021, South Korean, Netflix series Squid Game was released. Unbeknown to many including writer and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk, this nine-part drama quickly became the most talked about and watched show around the world.
The extremely well written, staged and thought-out show is a mix of ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Battel Royal’ all rolled into one. To make an intense and binge-able series from start to finish.
The series can be watched with subtitles or dubbed. We would suggest watching it subtitled as some of the dubbed voiceovers don’t quite match up to the characters and you can lose some of the intensity in the scenes. With both options, however, you will still be able to get a good handle of the story, as you follow hundreds of money-poor contestants take on the deadly childhood games.
SPOILERS: If you haven’t watched the whole of Squid Game yet. Stop reading here as we are about to review the players and the games, with some hefty spoilers added in.
All dressed in green tracksuits the players are the focus of the story, and the costuming made sure they did just that. In Screen Rants video Squid Game: 15 Things You Missed, we find out that Dong-hyuk wanted the players in school uniforms. But after realising they would have to wear shorts and skirts, he went with the PE style tracksuits in green, the opposite colour to red on the colour wheel… to make sure the blood stood out.
The game starts with 456 players, but there are eight main characters, who we are invited to find out more about within the story.
Seong Gi-hun (player 456)
The very first player we are introduced to is gambling addict Seong Gi-hun, Played by actor and successful model Lee Jung-jae. Gi-hun lives with his mother, bets all her money on horses, has a lot of debts, and gets his own daughter’s birthday gift from an arcade game. Which cleverly links to the boxes they use for coffins, within the game.
Gi-hun, is a great main character because through his lies and bad habits, his narrative is written to show that he has a compassionate side too, which you can relate to.
Kang Sae-byeok (player 067)
The next character we meet is Kang Sae-byeok, portrayed perfectly by model Jung Ho-yeon, in her first ever acting role. The character arc of the strong, independent, pickpocket, is so interesting and endearing to watch. She goes from depending on herself to becoming part of a team and putting her trust in others.
Her back story is of wanting money to help her brother leave an orphanage and to move her mother from North to South Korea. This puts her in a very sympathetic light which urges us the viewer to root for her.
Cho Sang-woo (Player 218)
The next player we are introduced to is Cho Sang-woo, this complex character played by popular TV actor Park Hae Soo. His own story and mannerisms are what make him such an interesting and confusing character who one minute you like, for example when he helps the team out in tug-of-war game or the other minute you despise especially after the stunt he pulled with Ali, in the marble arena. This makes him one of the best characters to have in a show like this as he is unpredictable, like we saw at the end of game six.
Oh il-Nam (player 001)
The heart and soul of the team… or so we thought! Was Oh il-Nam player 001- we should have known!
One of the smartest players in the game was expertly played by actor and writer, Oh Young-soothe. The likable old man had us going all the way to the end and even made some of us cry in the marble game making the twist at the end of the series even better.
Jang Deok-Su (Player 101)
All good games need a villain, luckily there were a lot within the 456 players, but none were as bad as actor Heo Sung-tae’s portrayal of tatted Jang Deok-su.
Player 101, comes in hitting one of the female players and leaves being dragged down by another one! His well-written character had us shouting at the screen and hoping for a worthy death, and after his betrayal to Han Mi-nyeo before tug of war, she served him the cruel departure from the game we had all hoped for.
Abdul Ali (Player 199)
After saving Gi-Hun in the red light, green light game. Abdul Ali showed not only his strength but his love and trust in others which unfortunately would also become his demise…Thanks to snaky Sang-woo.
Actor Anupam Tripathi took his first big TV role and ran with it becoming one of the most loved characters in the series. Even getting a barrage of meme’s made for the character following his wrongful and underhanded death.
Han Mi-nyeo (Player 212)
Due to the copious amounts of death and blood, it’s always wise to have a little comic relief. Han Mi-nyeo’s character was certainly that, with her frequently used catchphrase of ‘I’m good at everything, except for the things I’m not’. Portrayed by Californian born actress Kim Joo-ryeong, the loud and obnoxious character really gave the competitive edge to the game, especially in the honeycomb games when she cheated, using a lighter to melt the candy! Her character, however, did get a little grating at times.
Ji-yeong (Player 240)
Our biggest issue with this character was that there was simply not enough screen time! Played by Lee Yoo-mi in her first major role, the character of Ji-yeong captured our hearts in just three episodes. Particularly as we got to know more about her harrowing backstory if only there was a way that both Ji-yeong and Sae-byeok could have left the marble arena together!
The main part of the story of Squid Game, is the six schoolyard games, which the players must play and win to get their hands on the life-changing sum of money.
Game 1: Red Light, Green Light.
The aim of the game is not to move when the ‘creepiest doll in history’ is looking, otherwise you are eliminated, and in this game, this doesn’t just mean out! When the ‘creepy doll’ isn’t looking you need to run as quick as you can and try and cross the line within the time frame. Sounds easy right? Not when you realise if you move… you die!
Red Light, Green Light is where the players realise what kind of game they are involved in and where we lost over half to the players too!
The schoolyard set and creepy doll voice just add to the tension of this game, which is also amplified by the visuals of the game in play accompanied by the switch over to the Front Man as he watched the game through monitors whilst listening to the song ‘Fly me to the moon’.
Game 2: Honeycomb/Dalgano Candy
To be safe in this game you need to successfully cut out a shape from Honeycomb, without damaging or breaking the shape. The only tool you are given to help you is a needle.
At the beginning of this game, we truly see the back-stabbing side of Sang-woo, as he realises what game it is, as the players start to pick their shape, before knowing what they need to do.
In the know, Sang-woo goes for the easiest shape, a triangle, and neglects to warn the others as Gi-Hun walks over to pick the hardest shape, the umbrella. This game separates the cheaters from the thinkers as Mi-nyeo and Deok-su use a lighter and Gi-Hun uses his brain and licks the shape free.
The climbing frames, bright colours, childish music and gunshots provide the perfect setting to make this whole scene completely unnerving for the players and the viewers.
Game 3: Tug of War
In teams of ten, it’s time for the players to play Tug of War. The main basis of this game needs no introduction, but instead of being pulled into a pile of mud like the classic game… you get pulled to your death.
Due to the Dr, Player 111, and his extra gameplay with some of the guards. (That involved selling body parts) Deok-su and his team know what game was coming up and managed to put together a team of strongmen to win their heat. Unfortunately, Gi-hun and his team didn’t have the same knowledge and in turn looked to have a weaker team than others. Luckily Il-Nam and Sang-Woo had solid gameplay ideas which saved the team.
The setting for Tug of War, took a bit of a dark turn and away from the schoolyard setting. With yellow and grey platforms set in a pitch-black room. Within this game, we lost half the players.
Game 4: Marbles
With this series, we all had the fear that at one point out favourites would be pitted against each other but not this early! Asked to pair up the players thought they would be playing together in teams like the last game, but that was not the case.
In the game of Marbles, the pairs were left to decide for themselves what game they wanted to play, with the loser being eliminated!
Probably one of the hardest games to watch as most pairs were playing a game of chance. If you were anything like us, we were hoping there was going to be another twist where some of the characters would survive in pairs but instead, we lost some big players and learned who were not to be trusted.
Having two games back-to-back where we lost half the players each time really helped keep the momentum of the story.
Game 5: Glass Bridge
To start this horrifying game of chance, the players had to pick their order, before knowing what the game was which led to a very tense moment where Gi Hun, almost went first. His indecisiveness helping him hugely here.
The aim of this game is for the remaining players to make their way across the glass bridge hopping from glass square to glass square, hoping to land on the tempered glass, rather than the normal glass which would break instantly sending them plummeting to their death.
Again, set in a pitch-black room with a few lights this game was intense! But it did however whittled the players down to three and showed Sang-woo’s ‘do anything for the money’ character again.
The added glass blasts at the end of the game also added an extra twist of tension as front runner Sae-byeok got severely injured.
Game 6: The Squid Game
With only two players left after Sang-woo eliminated Sae-byeok with a dinner knife, it was on to the final game and namesake of the series, Squid Game.
This game is divided into attacker (Gi-hun) and defender (Sang-woo). The attackers’ objective is to reach the “home” square marked on the opposite side of the field, while the defender’s purpose is to block them and push them out to win.
However, let’s be honest we saw very little gameplay as it ended up in a fight between the two finalists. The end of the game was gripping to watch, particularly with the knives in play and Gi-huns indecisive personality. Just as we think it’s all over, rather than putting his foot in the home square Gi-hun tries to get an injured Sang-woo to walk away from the game so they can both survive, giving up on the money.
But it a massive twist Sang-woo picks up the knife from the floor and instead of killing Gi-hun, like we anticipated, he kills himself. This was a great call from writer Hwang Dong-hyuk as it was unexpected and gave us a little extra from Sang-woos character. However, we can’t help but think that maybe it would have been a bigger twist if Sang-woo did kill Gi-Hun and won the games as no one was routing for him.
What do you think about our thoughts on the players and games within Squid Game? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out book to movie adaptations coming soon HERE.
Read IMDB information about Squid Game HERE.
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