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The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Episode 2 – Review

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Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 2 image
Marvel Studios

Episode two 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.

Finding it’s feet

Episode Two of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was another establishing episode. We met more new characters and got our first real look at the angst and interplay between Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. We also got a clearer idea of who some key antagonists will be in the series. It looks very likely we’ll get a classic Marvel villain twist when the identity of The Powerbrokers is revealed later in the series.

I really like the obvious needle between The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Even though there is clear but grudging respect between the two, there are also major issues on which they disagree. Their relationship is like a superhero version of Ron Burgundy and Wes Mantooth in Anchorman – albeit without the funky suits. Their joint therapy session is like watching an argument between two siblings who wind each other up constantly. But you know deep down they can’t really live without each other.

After watching two episodes of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, there are marked differences between this series and WandaVision which preceded it. This show appears to be aimed at a more mature and more male audience. The swearing-in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is an obvious change of tone. This is also a much more straightforward action series in the vein of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than the strong dystopian and mystery elements of WandaVision. Those mystery elements also allowed Marvel to have some fun with the audience and embed some really oblique Easter Eggs in each episode. In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the cross-references are front and centre in the dialogue and action.

U.S. Agent Captain America

In Episode Two we get fully introduced to John Walker, the new custodian of Captain America’s Vibranium shield. On the face of it he seems exactly the type of all-American hero who is perfect to take over from Steve Rogers. Wyatt Russell, who plays John Walker, actually auditioned to be Captain America when Chris Evans was cast. He tries to work with Sam and Bucky as they unsuccessfully attempt to stop the Flag-Smashers convoy. They need his help as they are overpowered by Karli Morgenthau and her associates. But, Wilson and Barnes obviously resent his involvement.

By the end of the episode, Walker has lost patience with his offers to work with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier being rejected. He tells them to stay out of his way while he searches for the Flag-Smashers by the book. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s rationale for not working with him does make sense. They’re not bound by the same rules of engagement as Walker and his colleague Lemar Hoskins aka Battlestar.

Walker and Hoskins are faithful to their comic book alter-egos of US Agent and Battlestar. But the Flag-Smashers have morphed from one man in comics. They are now a vigilante group of soldiers apparently injected with the super-serum. This is a really smart move from Marvel. It brings a topical element to the series and is representative of similar groups around the world.

Isaiah

The most poignant scene in the episode is where Bucky and Sam visit Isaiah Bradley and his grandson Eli in Baltimore. Isaiah was the super soldier dispatched by the US during the Korean War. Dispatched to find and neutralise Bucky while he was working for Hydra. He was put in prison and experimented on for 30 years. Despite Bucky’s attempts to make amends, Isaiah is understandably not interested. Isaiah is accompanied by his grandson Eli, who is Patriot in the Young Avengers comics. With the appearance of Wiccan and Speed in WandaVision and now Patriot, is there a Young Avengers TV series in the pipeline? We can only hope so.

Sam’s unhappy at being duped into visiting Isaiah. He knows the story of what happened to Bradley and his comrades at the hands of the US Army and Hydra after WW2. This leads to a confrontation between Sam and Bucky in the street. The local police unnecessarily decide to involve themselves and completely misunderstand the situation.

There was a strong subtext of social commentary in this sequence. Especially given this was all set in Baltimore, which was the location for The Wire – one of the greatest TV series of all time. In fact there is a parallel to be drawn between Marvel and The Wire as they both have some of the most in-depth plot structures ever seen on screen.

Letting Hydra in?

This was another visually impacting, well-paced piece of TV. Again the stunts and action sequences were beautifully made. The interplay between the two title characters is growing nicely and we’ve now been introduced to a number of key secondary characters. But it’s the return of Hydra in the shape of Zemo that will most likely excite Marvel superfans. It’s another solid if unspectacular episode overall, but the groundwork has been laid for Marvel to really up the ante in Episode Three.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10


Thank you for reading our review of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode two. 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 one review HERE.

Read IMDB information about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier HERE.

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TV News

Squid Game – Review

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The Players and Games

Squid Game image
Netflix

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.

The Players

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 Games

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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