Quick-Thoughts: Neon Genesis Evangelion + The End of Evangelion (1995-1997)

It seems that only people with some serious daddy / mommy issues can save the face of humanity. Real?

In the end, every teen — the arguable beginning stage of substantial consciousness — or any age from there on forward has some form of a Neon Genesis Evangelion experience: that almost incomprehensible desire to piece together the surreal ambiguities that come then and again to attack your emotional stability, as if the entire world had suddenly become obliged to scrimmage against them, with nearly every observed analyses of human social rationale leading you to that (usually thought not done) conclusion of death being the only answer out of sheer failure to comprehend. Maybe the absurdly unreckonable dystopia of child-piloting mech suits, invasions from mysterious cataclysmic aliens, and a perilously fragile end of the world scenario are just the facade of the gargantuan size that can be felt just in the rather minute size of a human body: the never-ending search for understanding ourselves and the dominating sadness that comes with trying to control it in an environment where you are always seen.

Biggest pro though: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show allow its characters to become so vulnerable as it goes along; this series is just a total mood… or more like a total mission to have every mood ever felt put into one piece. Awe yes, cheers to my new unhealthy means of substituting therapy. 

Verdict: A-

“Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “The End of Evangelion” are now available to stream on Netflix.

Quick-Thoughts: The Sopranos Season 6 (2006-2007)

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

“Character & Relational Depth > Plot Depth” is my small sum-up of what differentiates The Sopranos from a lot of other TV shows I love. We are not here for revelation in these character’s journeys, but rather to be discomforted by their anchored, connected souls. 

The opening scene to the sixth season of The Sopranos with its “Seven Souls” song may be the most aesthetically pleasing choice the show has showcased thus far. The final scene of season six though, is pretty genius as well, encapsulating the entire point of the hours upon hours that we have witnessed of Tony’s life. And ughhh… the deaths are handled so well too, although, I don’t necessarily think this makes it the best season of the show still, but it definitely is a damn fitting ending in consistency with the show’s usual quality, even with some minor slip-ups in its extended pacing.

Let’s talk about where the family leaves off in the final season though. Broadly, AJ’s downfall seems to occur because he has a father who wants him to not do what he does yet overlooks the concept that his son genetically comes from the makeup of someone who indulged in a violent, criminal lifestyle since he was a teenager. His lack of support and ambiguity of good character confused AJ into the direction we see in those final episodes, showing the fragile nature of generational success or growth into other outlets that come from corrupt initiators. Carmela’s persona has revolved around her turning a blind eye towards everything, while Tony’s psychopathic lifestyle and furthermore deceitful persona violently clashed with Carmela’s ignorance, and to raise a kid under this and the natural anxiety pretenses that come of being a Soprano was hellstorm in the making. Like Meadow too, however, they sought rebellious natures that directly went against their parents’ professions; their innocence is dead yet what motivates them. Tony has always barely been able to handle this sort of family; he is living on the iceberg, from thereon onward, and forever till he is caught. 

The shows I respect the most are usually the ones that aren’t afraid to understand the most sociopathic kinds of people because while it is hard to watch, it’s important for us to rationalize the criminal environment we live in so we can learn to counteract it with a more knowledgeable approach, even in our day to day lives as a normal citizen, talking to strangers we can’t quite read. Nonetheless, inceptions are a good place to start tracking reasons for behavior. 

Verdict: B+

The Sopranos Season Rankings: 

#1 – Season 3

#2 – Season 1

#3 – Season 6

#4 – Season 2

#5 – Season 4

#6 – Season 5

“The Sopranos” is now streaming on HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: The Sopranos Season 5

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Occasionally, this season can seem like it’s just slowly cleaning up after the fourth season’s narrative foundations by delegating most of its time to binding together some scraps that were left unfinished, limiting focus for its own identity; a lot of the hateful dynamics between side characters from beforehand are also just suddenly cut off out of nowhere, since its deep focus is back on Tony again. There are also some new characters in the season that are oddly fleshed out, which leads to a few motivations and actions that don’t really feel justified from them. However, the psychology aspect of the show returns victoriously in season 5 with some of the best evaluations of Tony’s persona that we’ve experienced yet; the divorce has perpetuated an existential crisis in Anthony’s sense of place to a whole new level of delusion and thematic ambiguity that reminded me again why The Sopranos is such an unlikely program; the isolation of our lead character has somehow swollen even further just when we thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, and sometimes, we don’t really know why, which makes it all the more fascinating. 

Verdict: B

“The Sopranos” is now streaming on HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: The Sopranos Season 4 (2002)

“You got too much time to think about yourselves.”

Jeez are these people truly falling apart now. Is it just that time of the year or is every character in this season deliberately depressed and absolutely fatigued of themselves and their lifestyle? Not to mention, the amount of bad-blood boiling between friends and family is fermented unlike any of the seasons beforehand; the gang has become unbelievably careless with the steps they’ve been taking to sustain their place in this mafia empire. I suppose it shouldn’t be a complete shock though that The Sopranos is really inching in on taking the “downward spiral” to new levels of persistency, but despite there being two seasons left of this show, it feels as if our characters’ demise could close in much sooner than that. I have not much else to say about this year of the show though — it’s probably my least favorite so far actually and by far the one that justifies its runtime the least, plus I think the psychology aspect of the show gets almost entirely shelved for the straightforward drama — but there’s no doubt that it still has my interest locked deeply into the story.

Verdict: B+

“The Sopranos” is now streaming on HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: The Sopranos Season 3 (2001)

To my memory, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a series so character dilated, let alone a mafia one. Almost every episode in this show is made to deliberately show a character facing a contradiction they practice and then barely act upon it in such a humanly realistic and relatable way despite most of them being crime lords. Christopher getting “made” becomes defined by tearing himself from family, devising a one-man, self-serving loner’s business just like what Tony has, in a sense, done. Livia Soprano’s death plays so well into the dramatic game that Tony paves for himself and out of an awareness of succumbing to why exactly his mind is so lethal in the first place. AJ is becoming more like his father in the presence of, ironically, a father who resents such an idea but can’t see that it’s actually coming. Jennifer temps giving herself directly to the luxurious world of Mafia support after facing some life-changing tragedy of her own. Pine Barrens works in its own rights as an hour long Fargo-esc mini-movie masterpiece, degrading these psychotic mobster characters with nonstop comical absurdities; it’s kind of like Breaking Bad’s The Fly of The Sopranos to me as of now, exposing people’s true colors unlike ever before because of a simple yet physically weakening conundrum that’s also cynically side-splitting.

Verdict: A-

“The Sopranos” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (2004)

“I call Garth the Orson Welles of horror. And that’s not just because of his weight.” 

There are literally fake actor names used for the fake characters who are being played by real actors in Richard Ayoade’s…umm… Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace: a cozy little retro TV show parody garnished by awkward, inflated dialogue and little background details that add to its intentionally terrible continuity. Demoralizing the inspiration of the artist by ego-stroking their incompetence, this is a satirical take on pseudo-intellectual complexes in the entertainment industry, as well as the media they put out about their supposed genius stars and creators. It does a pretty good job too at making 80s horror/sci-fi/drama aesthetics and tropes that were commonly taken seriously at the time into rather hilarious phenomenons. The concept here however leaves a lot more to be desired from me, but for what it’s worth, Ayoade and crew still did a decent job with the 6 episode limit.

Episode 4 in particular though sums up basically why I get so annoyed when writers treat their audiences like idiots. This show sees it as a joke to hack on classic media, yet it’s quite customary and noticeable in media still. Oh my, is me saying that an irony? Am I being a total pseudo-bitch now too? 

Paul W.S. Anderson better answer to the “techie” joke too. If you know, you know. Yikes to that bulls**t…

Verdict: B-

“Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Where Many Phase 4 Slates Failed, Loki However Triumphantly Rejuvenates New Life for the Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

WARNING: This is a spoiler-free review but it will be discussing some of the show’s plot-points vaguely and some of the shows key themes.

Professional time-romancer Christopher Nolan must be trembling in his little boarding school suit. 

I’m sure at some point in everybody’s life, we’ve both asked or been asked the eons-old question “if you knew exactly when you were going to die, what would you do?” but better yet, what would you do if you heard that you were always going to be a narcissistic little s**t and furthermore a failure to your purpose-driven conquests from your conception to your final days alive? How drastic could such knowledge change the course of how you as a person would evolve if there were some sort of way to theoretically reattempt said destiny?

Between Loki and this year’s challenging show Invincible, comic-book media seems to have reached a point of such emetic over-saturation that we’ve grown a keenness to look back on how insignificant, in the grander scheme of things, many of those conventional and tedious superhero stories were, which ironically demeans a lot of the MCU’s catalog. On Earth, air fryers may be the new zeitgeist of convenient home-meal cooking, but on another planet in the Marvel galaxy they could be using them as port-a-potty trash bins at a local fair, just like how the all-mighty “infinity stones” hyped-up as detrimentally urgent throughout the multi-billion dollar 4-part Avengers franchise, considering they are elements that could literally mutate universal laws as we know it, are inventively used in Loki as none other than paperweights in cutesy, collected office spaces for time-cops. Obviously though, that self-aware nuance is only there to give weight to Loki being this true “epic”, setting forth Phase 4 of the saga as a superior: a clever way of looking past the fact that we are just entering another era of facing new “bigger” villains for both our established and joining characters to defeat. While it does almost seem like this is some sort of twisted marketing ploy to make us feel as if what we saw beforehand wasn’t even close to the tip of the iceberg of what can happen in this already 24-film and 12-TV show universe, Loki for the most part pulls this cynicism off handsomely in spirit of the character’s own devious construction. All the way back to when the blockbuster hit The Avengers (2012) landed, we’ve known Loki to be maybe Marvel’s most big-headed character, someone so convinced of his importance unlike any other, but that’s all for the better with how the show sets-up his character to be demeaned by others yet at the aim of convincingly having him reshaped as he becomes unsettled by the truths of the universe, truths that eerily seem almost too comparable to his own controlling personality.

With the show’s open establishment of the “multiverse”, consisting of the idea that there are countless timelines of us all coexisting, it begs us to wonder what copies of ourselves could insinuate about the self in definition. Is it possible that individualism is so loose and flimsy that we could be anyone or anything depending on the circumstances of events? Could our countless paradox selves be so contrasting from one another that we couldn’t distinguish them as one of us unless we were directly told who they were? Or maybe if we had the chance to awkwardly sit down and talk with one of them, could we actually learn anything about ourselves from copies living in contrasting lives or are they too different to take personally? Would the slightest of similarities delight or dishearten us when learning about our distinctions? Of course though, the show takes this to mythical degrees with its so-called “variant” term — which I’ll keep secretive in definition for the sake of not ruining any big details for those who haven’t seen the show yet — but not at the expense of how entertaining it is to see the word leading to engaging possibilities in the Loki storyline. Suffice it to say, questions such as this may just be why this is the geekiest of the Marvel shows thanks to transferring company from the acclaimed cartoon phenomena Rick and Morty, working as the writers here. The 6-episode show though isn’t just fascinated by the thought-theories of identity, but timeless topics such as “chaos theory” often discussed between Loki and a new character Mobius, looped in the inner-workings of time travel which is used as their framework. Their dynamic is bouncy yet competitive, reminding me a bit of the anime Death Note (2006-2007) where two main characters feed off by playing mind games with one another to a point though of present ambiguity where even the audience can’t be too sure what these trickster characters are up to.

Unfortunately, these sort of bittersweet relationships dwindle a little away after those first two episodes. The show also begins relying more on the MCU franchise’s infamous last-second plot conveniences and lack of explanations of these said conveniences. A character named Sylvie to me is one of the few saving graces during all of this, however, who pops up as a primary in the following episodes, shadowing as maybe too much of a plot convenience herself, but not enough to diminish how empathetic her character motivation is and how it intriguingly plays into the arc of Loki’s. There seems to furthermore be a bit of Blade Runner (1982) influence in the way that the human and replicant juxtaposition connects to Loki’s time-cop and variant juxtaposition, but at least it’s not completely identical; I’m more upset with how the juxtaposition is introduced, feeling a bit like it was suddenly plopped from the sky. If there’s anything to wholly commend though, it’s how Loki’s character streamlines throughout all the episodes. His redemption arc, unlike so many other MCU ones, is actually convincing within just the first episode, justifying his change in character to a possible slight rise in moral grounds — plus Thor: Ragnarok (2017) has already proved he is capable of evolving. There’s another character in the show, who shall remain nameless for spoiler reasons, that I think added something interesting as well, to say the least. He/she is basically an allegory for being a blindly loyal religious-like fanatic who’s in denial, and the plot sort of ties into that emphasis arrestingly, but that development to him/her felt incomplete, leaving open ends for it to be probably expanded on another time

If I wanted to pick apart episodes separately, I think I had the most gripes with the 3rd and 5th ones. Episode 3 has a great concept of developing the dynamic between Loki and Sylvie, but I think if the conversations included here were written slightly more natural and with a little more devastation, it would’ve made the show from thereon stronger. The climax of the episode is also horridly executed, with some action sequences that seriously gave me flashbacks to Black Widow — yuck! Luckily, I do think the final scene of the episode does save it with this dire closure to crisis that you could imagine would bring any two individuals close together. Episode 5 hammers a little more on the subtle existential crisis for the Loki character regarding the topic of conquest being pointless when there’s nothing to be sought after it’s been completed, as he meets some informative and awakeningly endless amounts of “variants”. However, I don’t want to be that prude, but the climax of the episode feels suspiciously similar to the climax of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), which is a climax I’m not too keen on myself.

The final episode (episode 6) you could argue is just another familiar dive into the “concealed dictatorship vs. chaotic freedom” argument of which one is more peaceful, but I’m personally a fan of how it was done, since it felt surprisingly for Marvel standards, extremely nihilistic in its discourse of empty meaning in destinies. The show ends on a firm note in its conclusion with its drawn-out discussion of how time travel, in its ability to change the course of predetermined events, could be an answer to free will. It also poses the idea that it would make sense that someone as egotistical as Loki could rightfully be the one controlling what stays and what goes in this universe since it totally fits with life: a merciless, incalculable series of events. Wouldn’t it explain a lot if it were just some careless, heartless psycho who was pulling the strings all along, letting so many tragic disasters occur in the day to day scope of life? By that point, it seemed as if the final episode was really selling it for how serious these MCU creators still are about enriching this already branch-brimmed, decade-long franchise storyline while SHOCKINGLY paralleling it well to our own reality.

Among other things though, I must vaguely add something I found delightfully hilarious in this final episode; once you watch the show you’ll know what I’m talking about. The show takes a full swing at how far a person could take his or her ego with a never before seen occurrence to my eyes that perfectly captures the *sparkling* trademark of Loki’s persona. Believe me, my jaw dropped to the motherf**kin’ floor when it happened, but good on the show for getting… weird.

On the topic of “weird”, it sure feels like that after finally seeing a good MCU-related piece since an entire pandemic has passed by, initiating the end of its hiatus by crapping out two shows I didn’t like and one movie I REALLY didn’t like too, giving me the red flag that maybe the MCU was finally coming to a coda when it came to anticipation. Yet, Loki may have just saved it for me. I don’t think I’ve been this pleased by this franchise since Avengers: Infinity War (2018) or this excited for the future of Marvel since… also Avengers: Infinity War (2018). If you want me to pull out the big, chaddy word “philosophical”… well then… this show very much does feel like Marvel’s most “philosophical” but furthermore daring thematic project they’ve completed thus far, and that may be why it’s a top-tier addition in the canon for me. The lack of action also proves to me how real the risk-factor in creating this must’ve been as well, but I’m quite pleased to see how positive the reactions to this show have been despite all that. After WandaVision attempted to progress the franchise by failing to tonally unite creative ideas with conventional familiarities, and Falcon and the Winter Soldier felt like a desperate final shot in the dark to indulge in more of the tiresome MCU formula and see if fans would still support it, Loki coincidentally feels like the aftermath to all this failure, where the 13-year-long legacy has finally decided to say, “screw it, let’s just change everything up completely and let it run our fuel from here on out no matter what the people think; it may be a major risk, yeah, but let’s just see where it takes us.” And, to be honest, all I can say is, “thank you.” I wish you all the best of luck in developing what you have introduced with Loki.

Shoutout to Ms. Minutes though. When’s she getting a spin-off?

Loki Math: 

1. Glorious Purpose = B+

2. The Variant = B

3. Lamentis = B-

4. The Nexus Event = B-

5. Journey Into Mystery = B-

6. For All Time. Always = B+

Total Verdict: B

2021 Ranked, The Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked

“Loki” is now available to stream on Disney+.

Invincible Season 1 – A “How to” on Expanding Superhero Formula

The following review is spoiler-free.

Imagine a superhero origin story that exists in a sort of current MCU-like world where the guidelines of being a respected savior have become so set-and-stoned due to how expansive its population of superpowered beings is. Imagine a superhero origin story interested in a universe that’s heavily connected from planet to plant: a colossus network that stems back to back between both underdeveloped and overdeveloped societies. Earth then only seems smaller in this case, and this world-building that marginalizes our planet seems to intentionally be preparing us for a clashing of both nihilistic and optimistic intel. Invincible seems to be less so a parody of the comic-book genre like some of my favorites from the last decade, and more so just an intensification of it, inciting on what a generation of countless superheroes could awaken overtime.

In some cases does this debut season seem like simply a more intelligent way to work around the already redundant, goodie-two-shoe heroes and extremist villain stories? Sure, this goes over the classic Spider-Man arc of learning to live up to your superhero duties while balancing high school drama, yet it doesn’t mock it, but rather contextually affixes more to it, automatically hoisting its quality past even its inspirers. The show decides to further convince us more so than your average adaptation that what the protagonist and antagonists want are genuinely based on the experiences of their contrasting socialized communities, awakenings, and developed philosophies towards the weaker individuals that they essentially have control over. It’s not so much a “hero rising up to save the world cause nobody else can” tale, but more so a lineage-related one about a hero having to live up to another hero, to glorified legacies, or better yet, a son’s desire to live up to a father. Without spoilers, Invincible obviously explores not just that to which makes it great, but grander things that connect to controversial notions of foreign gods — how either the heart or minuteness of humanity could possibly change them — who also aren’t written as strictly fixed-minded and completely irrational elitists, but of those who follow any rationale to power, just like a human would to the rest of nature for which they have substantial control of. 

Where The Boys (2019-) was intrigued by modern-day media corruption but in a society of superheroes, and now to what Invincible will be to enhancing cliché superhero narratives with richer context, I think I’m starting to genuinely find more hope and fulfillment with companies who are forced to directly butt heads with this comic-book genre’s dominators: Disney and Warner Bros. Marvel and DC may be incarcerated in the hands of just those two studios, with less wiggle room for risky ideas, but that only gives others more of a reason to start adapting superheroes and villains outside of those stories, those that may even eclipse the most iconic legends one day.

Verdict: B+

“Invincible” season 1 is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Quick-Thoughts on Every Episode of Love, Death & Robots Season 2

1. Automated Customer Service

It has the classic yet boring fear perspective of the dystopia becoming technologically reliant on robots, but I think whenever it twists the slasher genre by using cleaning services as a manner of distraction, it can kind of be funny. I like the animation design of the characters though; it reminds me of Studio Ghibli’s drawings of elderly people but converted into admirable CGI reimaginings.

Verdict: 2.5/5

2. Ice

This surreal, off-putting, and marginally shape-warped style of sci-fi animation could make for one gnarly Gorillaz music video; that’s for sure. Sucks how it has to be accompanied by the most by-the-numbers coming of age story ever though.

Verdict: 2.5/5

3. Pop Squad

Jennifer Yuh Nelson found the solution to Children of Men, lol.

The future of ego: only our generation gets to experience life and nobody else; quite parallel to the state of how we’re treating the Earth for future successors don’t ya think? The short is a little preachy — kind of hard to say so much in such little time, so it’s gotta spew it out in chintzy phrases — but this dystopian concept is actually interesting enough to warrant an entire feature-length or video game.

Verdict: 3/5

4. Snow in the Desert

The Age of Adaline meets a Guardians of the Galaxy universe. In concept, it sounds cool, but in execution… eh. Someone definitely thought “Deadpool + A.I.” and then worked off of that.

Verdict: 2.5/5

5. The Tall Grass

At its core, this is a Signs (2003) fan film; let’s be real. The rugged texture in animation is neat though, making CGI look suspiciously like stop-motion. 

Verdict: 2.5/5

6. All Through the House

To be fair though, this would in theory make for a great fear tactic to scare your children into being good for the rest of their lives. Gonna have to try this one day. Santa’s evolved bitches. Better pray I never become a father.

Verdict: 3/5

7. Life Hutch

Okay, now hear me out: what if we made something in the realm of Ridley Scott’s Alien, except the dangerous entity at hand will be as clueless as a pet dog. Charming, right?

Verdict: 2.5/5

8. The Drowned Giant

I think the lesson here folks is that the narrator in this short desperately needs to get laid. This voiceover-reliant piece, while occasionally creative, tries way too hard to be poignant and meaningful with its excessively described stance on wonders never dying through memories and societal unity. Anyways, haha, nothing like making a giant, naked corpse a playground/tourist attraction. Umm…

Verdict: 2.5/5

Love, Death & Robots Ranked

“Love, Death & Robots” season 2 is now available to stream on Netflix.

An Episode by Episode Review of Marvel’s Falcon and the Winter Soldier

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Episode 1: New World Order

I’m glad to see that they’re FINALLY giving Bucky’s character the bare minimum of humanity, something that’s been almost entirely looked over even after the FIVE (yes, FIVE) Marvel movies he’s starred in. He’s got a checklist quest now to redeem those he had forcibly done wrong during his days as a soldier for Hydra by transpiring some pity friendships, trying to see if it’ll land his PTSD to the side for a change. As a weak spot though, the episode bounces mediocrely when it comes to commentating on the aftermath of Endgame: a five year disappearance that resulted in a graceful reappearance of half the population which then unfortunately counteracted an economical plumage, as one could imagine, is insinuated with Sam’s sister Sarah’s corny bank loan MacGuffin, but it is what it is. The episode ends off interestingly, however, with our introduction into the government capitalizing off of a hero’s legacy.

Verdict: C+

Episode 2: The Star-Spangled Man

I appreciate how, like WandaVision, the show sort of is working in the meta by having Sam and Bucky represent the point of view of the Marvel fans, opposing the new that has invaded their lives with this replacement of Captain America. This episode may be the funniest the MCU has ever been too next to Gunn and Waititis’s work, with that hilarious shot of the two walking and John Walker feeding to give them a lift, or the forced couples therapy Sam and Bucky encounter. The two’s hateful chemistry sort of craps itself based on loose strings a couple times, but it nonetheless is reverent enough to be contagiously funny, as well as reflective of each others current pothole life conditions, taking one another’s failures out on each other. The action in this episode also surpasses the previous; I really dug its re-inclusion of the super soldiers in a more down to earth way, relating itself back to the experience of Bucky that the show has chosen to follow. 

Verdict: B-

Episode 3: Power Broker

GRC, ay?

Good idea bringing back one of the MCU’s top villains, Zemo, who’s philosophy has always made more sense to me than his actions, fitting in appropriately with the show’s continuing theme of celebritization of Cap’s image/shield that ultimately overlooked other heroes through this twisted, singular idolization. I find it funny how Madripoor is just like the underground hitman environment from the John Wick movies; Sharon Carter’s return even featured her going full badass John-Wick-mode herself; she’s now hiding in a criminal underworld due to the Hydra reveal that left the company she once worked for under investigation. Anyways, the action sequences are beginning to remind me a lot of Winter Soldier now! I’m starting to feel a little something for the antagonists now too despite me wishing that they had a more in-depth background outside of just being terrorist Robin Hoods; their struggle of being swindled deeper and deeper into their poverty after the five year disappearance ended in Endgame is, however, actually something fairly hooking compared to what that treacherous “Sam’s sister can’t get a loan” side-plot tells us in those regards. GRC… damn you. 

Verdict: B-

Episode 4: The Whole World is Watching

“Isn’t that how gods talk?”

John Walker has officially hit a peak of desperation to live up to a god-like image such as Captain America — ahhh, hence a flaw with power glorification that the show is smartly sticking to. I admired how interested this particular episode was with the hypocrisy of fighting supremacy with supremacy; it has me now digging the tv show style for the MCU; it gives us more breathing room for thoughtful discussion, and also MORE quality action spectacle and decent side-plot quarrels that actually advance the characters empathetically or messages further way more than a movie’s length could. Oh yeah, and that final scene signifies a big departure from Steve Rogers: instead of killing in battle, Walker kills a defenseless man needlessly; the government is going to hopefully be out of their asses for once now that their ill-minded Captain America revival scheme has hit a dead end. Again, power glorification = flawed; Walker was already a hero to the nation before becoming Captain America, but the expectations that came with it ruined him. It’s so nice to see a superhero franchise (of all the franchises, one about powerful beings) become a little more self-aware with this kind of stuff! Some people have already said this, but the show is also beginning to fling off some Daredevil vibes with these themes. Anyways, this episode in particular though: easily one of the best pieces of media the MCU has ever put together. 

Verdict: B

Episode 5: Truth

A little too preachy at times for me, but this episode gives fans some safe moments of closure for our lead characters. Walker is thrown under the bus as we would expect from a government wanting to save their own asses, Zemo politely accepts submission to Wakanda, Sam and Bucky have some bro-time together by helping build Sarah’s ship, and we get further background on Isaiah’s time as a supersoldier hero and prisoner, leading to Sam’s revelation to take or to not take on the Captain America name? And, of course, the episode sets up for a big showdown to come in the finale — no surprises there. This is probably my least favorite episode thus far besides episode one, but it’s fine enough. That fight sequence at the beginning though was quite the hustle.

Verdict: B-

Episode 6: One World, One People

*sigh*

I really hate when a medium that’s been consistently somewhat poignant has to drop the ball by concluding itself with a classic “uhhh, the government is gonna change because ya fellas know now that it was actually YOU who created the bad guys all along” 50-minute preach ceremony. This final episode isn’t entirely hopeless though; I will admit, there’s admirable intention in how the show desires using a black Captain American to console the revival and recognition for past black heroes, but it’s all done so f***ing conveniently to wrap bows around every issue this show set up initially like it’d be that simple to accomplish to begin with. I’m fine with everybody having their happy ending conclusions here (Bucky’s is the best) but my golly is John’s and Sharon’s rushed to hell. It’s a chore trying to find ways to conclude like five different side-plots with happy endings in the blink of an episode after nearly five entire hours of proceeding struggles, and coincidentally enough, a couple of them just s**t themselves out of pretty thin air! You know, Marvel, that things can be left open-ended because you are a FRANCHISE, right? You can have time to think before doing something completely stupid, right???

Speaking of rushed, I can’t say the first half’s big-battle climax was any good, giving us a really cliché and unprepared heroes-work-together accumulation (like WandaVision) that leads to a villain’s death which the show insists we feel sympathy for, but at the same time it’s hard to given how vaguely they’ve monotoned these antagonists throughout beyond the GRC lore. To add more wood to the fire though, you KNOW how damn vague this show’s reach for a message was when Sam had to give his semi-inspirational speech to the government to stop being asshats with little to no specifics; it literally boiled down to a classic “y’all should like change, ya know? I don’t know specifically how you people will figure it out, but just listen to and enact my liberal demands from your conservative perspectives, okay?” speech. Who knew all you had to do to stop a corrupt country from making borders and creating injustices for heroes is to just ask them if they can on live television after almost dying at the HANDS of the people they were against in the first place? I know they now know that they caused the terrorists to terrorize in the first place but YEAH RIGHT these government officials would just flip all their coins immediately because of that! Marvel should only be able to seam into this far-fetched fantasy logic as long as it doesn’t try to integrate it with our real world, which it has embarrassingly done in this final episode unfortunately. 

I despised the acting direction for the final battle in this episode, as well; just really shoddy delivery which tonally conflicts with the great acting of the previous five episodes. The editing, choreography, and composition was a bit janky in the climax too; maybe stick to those tightly constructed combat fights in earlier episodes instead of having to blow your load with as much visual galore as your budget can handle, Marvel! Just a thought!

Verdict: D

Overall Show Verdict: C+

2021 Ranked, The Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked

“Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is now streaming on Disney+.