Falcons actually have very small genitalia, and winter is cold, which causes your junk to shrink, and my initial plan was to use that info to segue into how despite those facts, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has some gigantic dicks in it. But the joke wasn’t flowing right, so, instead, let’s kick off this piece by simply acknowledging that Marvel’s latest Phase 4 series has some truly unlikeable characters in it.

Chief among them is Sam Wilson, the titular Falcon, who was told by Isaiah Bradley about how he was unjustly imprisoned and tortured by the American government and how much it pains him to be reminded of all that anguish, betrayal, and horrible racism. Sam listened to it but for some reason only heard, “I want you to organize a museum exhibit dedicated to the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life.” His motives were, of course, good, but it honestly kind of shows a boneheaded lack of concern for a person’s trauma. But that’s apparently the running theme of this show.

We’ve actually seen an example of this kind of insensitivity early on in Episode 1 where Bucky Barnes, the ex-Winter Soldier, is attending his government-mandated therapy. He’s reluctant to open up, so his therapist, in a very deliberate and, some might say, performative way, opens her notebook and starts taking notes. This seems to really irritate Bucky, and he comments on how she does this a lot. 

When she does it a second time during their session, he seems to get angry, but what he should be doing is using his robot arm to flip his therapist off 100 times per second while yelling, “What the hell is wrong with you?!”

Here’s a quick reminder of Bucky’s history: in WWII, he was brainwashed and turned into an assassin by HYDRA, who’d occasionally take him out of cryo-sleep, strap him to H. R. Giger’s massage chair, and trigger his conditioning … by reading a set of codewords from a notebook. Now, this notebook was a big part of awakening the Winter Soldier personality in Bucky’s mind. Every time he was pulled out of the icebox, trying to hold on to his real identity, the notebook was usually the last thing he saw before falling into oblivion. 

The notebook was basically a symbol of the death of Bucky Barnes for him. SO MAYBE A TRAINED THERAPIST SHOULD NOT BE MANIPULATING HIM WITH YET ANOTHER NOTEBOOK, HOLY GODDAMN SHIT.

Look, I’ve been to therapy. It’s sometimes necessary for the therapist to confront and call out the patient on their bullshit. That’s fine. But there had to have been a better way to do it in Bucky’s case. You wouldn’t try to get the attention of, say, John Wick’s victims by throwing your goddamn pencil at them.

Notebooks obviously hold immense power in Bucky’s mind. He’s even inherited Captain America’s notebook listing all the things he missed while being on ice. So, at best, his therapist’s manipulative performance reminds him of the friend he lost. At worst, it takes him back to the time when he was manipulated into doing the worst things in his life, things that he won’t be able to fully atone for as long as he lives. But if you tried to explain that to his therapist, her reaction would probably be, “So what I’m hearing is that you want your picture in the local paper. Here, hold my notebook while I snap one for you.”

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Top Image: Marvel Studios

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