The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Episode 4 | Crimson Tide | Dragon Age: Origins, "Odds & Sods"
Tensions ramp up as opposing forces go head-to-head
TV review - The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Episode 4, "The Whole World is Watching"
Episode summary: John Walker loses patience with Sam and Bucky as they learn more about Karli Morgenthau. (IMDb)
It says something about how horribly eye-opening that final scene was in "The Whole World is Watching" that the fantastic opening scene in Wakanda between Ayo (Florence Kasumba) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) has been completely overshadowed despite being one of the series' best moments on its own. Then again, this episode has multiple scenes contending for that distinction.
There's a conversation between Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Karli (Erin Kellyman) where he sympathises with her goals, but not her methods, and she accidentally reveals that she might not be as different from those she's condemning as even she thinks. It's a quieter, less emotional scene, but it's great work from Mackie and Kellyman.
Then we get the Dora Milaje showing up and kicking the arses of everyone in sight as the new Captain America, Battlestar, Sam and Bucky are all taken down by three of Wakanda's elite fighting force. There's time for character moments in there - Ayo and Bucky feeling betrayed/let down by the other - and also some pretty great choreography making a seven person brawl in a single room pretty easy to follow.
But then there's that ending, which would've ranked as one of the most shocking moments in the MCU even if that hadn't been how "The Whole World is Watching" had ended. Having obtained a vial of super soldier serum thanks to Zemo, Walker's defeat at the hands of the Dora Milaje was apparently the final straw for his insecurity and it all ends in a very bloody fashion with two unexpected deaths.
One thing that amused me about the reaction to the first death is the number of people who couldn't understand why the fighting stopped when it happened. I get that a lot of people 'live online' and have done since even before the pandemic forced a lot more people to do the same, but it's still strange to see how little some people understand... other people.
There's a marked difference - at least, I bloody well hope there is - between saying you're going to kill someone and actually taking a life. Even by the end of this episode, Karli is still the only member of the Flag Smashers to have killed anyone, so why is it a surprise that the others might be shocked and/or disgusted at having seen her kill someone in front of them?
Especially when you take into account that the person who dies wasn't their target, but was important to them and the revolutionaries might also have more than a little fear in their reactions to the death. In fact, it felt a lot like the end of the airport fight in Captain America: Civil War when War Machine was brought crashing to earth and instantly ended the battle - some events are just shocking enough to bring everything to a halt when they happen.
Regardless, this was a brilliant piece of the story and, with two-thirds down, has really raised the stakes for the last two episodes. I don't think The Falcon and the Winter Soldier necessarily has the emotional depth of WandaVision, but it's dealing with so many more wide-ranging/reaching issues and doing so well to keep me invested that I think this is now just ahead when it comes to MCU TV shows.
I know that the Flag Smashers story isn't the strongest, but it should be remembered that the original plot for them was to cause a global pandemic and kill half the planet, returning the world to the state it was in during the Blip. The fact that they've managed to salvage anything at all from an understandably-cut story, never mind still making the antagonists relatable and humanising them, is just extraordinary.
"The Whole World is Watching" is a fantastic episode of television and up there with some of the MCU's best thanks to a truly shocking end to what was already an excellent show. This episode also marks the point where I think it has surpassed WandaVision for me, with the COVID-19 affected story-line for the Flag Smashers being the only 'weak' area, and that's still pretty good.
Movie review - Crimson Tide
Movie summary: On a U.S. nuclear missile sub, a young First Officer stages a mutiny to prevent his trigger happy Captain from launching his missiles before confirming his orders to do so. (IMDb)
I do think that Crimson Tide marks a first - I don't really agree with that summary of the story above. I wouldn't say that Denzel Washington's Hunter is committing a 'mutiny' exactly, as he does properly relieve Ramsey (Gene Hackman) of command in line with procedure. If you want to argue whether the reason for taking command was legitimate or not? That's another thing entirely.
You see, Crimson Tide is one of those movies filled with characters who are technically correct, yet also still wrong - at least, in my opinion. Without spoiling anything, I feel that Hunter was entirely correct in removing Ramsey from command, but understand why Ramsey feels aggrieved as he was only following his orders and Navy protocols. Then again, "I was only following orders" isn't a great defence for any military officer.
The problem is that Ramsey isn't written brilliantly, relying on Hackman's immense talent as a performer to make any point of view he has seem viable. He flat out says that he's not some attack dog mindlessly seeking out conflict - quite correct for someone in charge of a nuclear submarine - yet goes on to fit that description perfectly as the story plays out.
Ramsey is the more antagonistic, adversarial and aggressive of the two men, pretty much forcing the audience into siding with Hunter, but common sense would've been enough to do this in the first place. How does someone smart enough to run a nuclear sub, denying he's trigger-happy, just decide to completely ignore the most sensible course of action to blindly follow orders and worry about the consequences later?
Crimson Tide isn't really about this though, it's about the tension coming from regulations in the service that conflict with each other creating the drama on the submarine. As the rules were at the time, Ramsey was entirely correct to proceed as he was, while Hunter was also correct in taking over. It's only when the Ramsey-supporting crew decide to actually mutiny that the shit really hits the fan.
I really do love Crimson Tide, but the leaps in logic made by Ramsey and his supporters puncture the balloon somewhat, dragging it down from what was approaching true greatness. Considering the confined spaces, the movie looks amazing with some excellent lighting adding to the atmosphere, and the score is great too, really amping up the atmosphere in what could've been a very sterile environment.
The cast, led by Hackman and Washington, are all superb too and I'm sure plenty of people will have their favourites and the guys they hate by the end of it. If only the script could find a more convincing rationale for Ramsey to take the actions he does other than ignoring common sense and then replacing that failing with simple wounded pride being his main reason to strike back.
Crimson Tide is a great let down only by otherwise intelligent and brilliantly-performed characters suddenly deciding to ignore common sense and even their own declarations of who they are in order to keep the plot moving forward. Apart from those moments, it's an excellent, claustrophobic thriller that ratchets up the tension to 11 as soon as it can and keeps it there until it's all over.
Game play - Dragon Age: Origins, "Odds & Sods"
Just a quick update as a few side-quests were chalked off, including killing some wolves in one of the most uninteresting random events you can encounter on your travels; and dealing with (read: annihilating) maleficarum in the Brecilian Forest, annoying the hell out of me because you have to work your way back out of the forest all the way to the Dalish camp before you can travel to another area.
Elissa also took a group to retrieve her mother's grimoire, although my Grey Warden made a deal with the apostate mage, letting her live in exchange for the book rather than killing her and claiming it as Morrigan wanted. First off, it's easier than fighting Flemeth and secondly, having knowledge of what's to come in future games means killing her here is wasted time...
Next stop: the village of Haven!