For those wanting high-adrenaline fights, the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier might be a disappointment. The central duo hasn’t joined up by the end credits. Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter hasn’t appeared. There’s only one action sequence, located at the episode’s start.
But that change of pace, to some, will be refreshing. A slower start gives the episode a welcome amount of breathing room to examine its characters and the issues they face. Sam, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie) turns down the mantle of Captain America and grapples with celebrity and racism in his Louisiana hometown, while Bucky (Sebastian Stan) tries to adjust to civilian life when his mind won’t let go of his past. Those are weighty themes for Marvel, and it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the series addresses them as it moves forward.