The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Episode 2 | Frasier, Season 7
An odd couple of odd couples...
TV review - The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Episode 2, "The Star-Spangled Man"
Episode summary: John Walker is named Captain America, and Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes team up against the rebel group, the Flag Smashers. (IMDb)
The second episode of FAWS, "The Star-Spangled Man" effectively reframes the first episode as more of a prologue or recap bringing everyone up to date about where (most of) the major players are before everything really kicks off in this episode. Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) finally team up and set out to find out what's going on with the Flag Smashers.
The new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), is also properly introduced and there's something off about him from the start - he says and does all the right things (until near the end), but there's an underlying quality to him that makes Walker hard to like. It's a really great job from Russell in the role and I can't wait to see where the character goes, especially thanks to having a rough idea from the comics.
Also taken from the comics is a little bit of Marvel history involving the Bradley family, Isaiah in particular (played by Carl Lumbly), who was a black super soldier that Bucky faced off with as the Winter Soldier back in the Fifties. Despite 'whupping' Bucky, Isaiah was thrown in jail for three decades and experimented on, with Bucky revealing that this was a secret he kept even from Steve.
Naturally, Sam is pissed off after learning about this and an argument in the street with Bucky leads to a great scene showing how black people are singled out for double standards from law enforcement as the police show up and automatically assume Sam is causing a problem that warrants their involvement, even as Bucky can't believe they're getting involved at all.
Even those who steadfastly refused that the bank loan scene in the first episode had a racial undercurrent to it can't possibly deny now that FAWS is not shying away from showing how prevalent institutional racism is in America - as if passing over Steve Rogers own pick for the next Captain America to give the shield to a whit guy as soon as possible wasn't enough of a hint on its own.
This is a really good episode that not only moves the story forward while adding more to Sam and Bucky's backstory as they bicker, but also fleshes out more of the MCU's world and its history. With Zemo (Daniel Brühl) appearing at the end of the episode to signal his involvement, and the trailers revealing Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) still to show up, there's an opportunity to add some real depth to the world of Marvel.
"The Star-Spangled Man" is a great second episode, picking up the pace and yet sacrificing almost nothing from the first episode that truly matters to the characters. John Walker is brilliantly introduced as what feels like an inevitably antagonistic hero, while we also get to explore some of the darker aspects of Marvel history with the Bradley family making their MCU debut. And now Zemo is coming...
TV review - Frasier, Season 7
Season summary: As Daphne prepares for her wedding to Donny, the love life for Niles appears to take shape when he meets Melinda Karnofsky and begins a relationship with her. However, the love lives for both he and Daphne become very complicated when a heavily medicated Frasier inadvertently spills the beans to Daphne about Niles and his powerful infatuation for her. (Frasier Wiki)
Frasier's seventh season is another where the title character (Kelsey Grammer) takes a back seat, although this time he's joined by Roz (Peri Gilpin) and Martin (John Mahoney) on the sidelines when it comes to character development. Yep, this season was quite the momentous one thanks to the focus on Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Daphne (Jane Leeves), with an irrevocable change to their relationship.
Speaking of Daphne, it was really noticeable how much more outspoken she was than before, coming close to being not exactly an irritant, but making me wonder why the other characters weren't noticing the change in her. I have nothing against outspoken women either, as Roz is pretty much level with Niles as my favourite characters in the show and she's pretty blunt and speaks her mind constantly.
The biggest change for Daphne comes in a random episode, "Back Talk", where a heavily-medicated Frasier reveals Niles feelings for her without even realising it. The second half of the season shows her dealing with this revelation and having to come to terms with her own feelings for the 'other Doctor Crane' and gives Leeves some great dramatic moments to work through.
Unfortunately, the focus on Daphne and Niles means that her fiancé, Donny (Saul Rubinek), becomes extremely passive as a result of the show needing the regulars to have all the attention; Niles relationship with Mel (Jane Adams) seems to play out very similarly to the one with Maris, just that his partner actually appears this time; and Daphne's family show up....
Yeah, this was the end of an era for Frasier as a show, with a new sub-cast of characters introduced this season who will go on to ruin future episodes - her brother, Simon (Anthony LaPaglia), makes his presence felt to such an extent that it feels like he's outstayed his welcome after one episode. The season's still pretty great by any other show's standards, but there is a little bit of rot now starting to creep in.
Frasier's seventh season marks the end of the first part of the show and the culmination of the "will they/won't they" relationship of Niles and Daphne. Much like the previous season, the increased focus on longer-running stories means there aren't any truly outstanding episodes, but it still remains as funny to watch now as it did when first broadcast.