This week, the identity of the Winter Soldier is finally revealed as the Avengers try to stop Red Skull from destroying the Capitol.

So the episode begins with a bit of a recap of events – namely, going back to WWII, when Cap and Bucky were trying to take down HYDRA and Red Skull – you remember what happened – Red Skull blew up his plane and Cap was frozen in the ice, believing that Bucky had died. Turns out these memories are happening in the head of Winter Soldier, who, unsurprisingly (or not), is the resurrected, older Bucky Barnes, now sporting a bionic arm. He’s trying to bring down a giant HYDRA robot called a Sleeper, working against the Red Skull’s orders, as Cap arrives on the scene. He escapes before Cap can catch up with him, but Cap is more than certain of the Winter Soldier’s identity. The Avengers arrive on the scene to take down the Sleeper and bring it in. Examining it, they find that the robot is comprised of tech both modern and things that date back to the 1940’s.

Cap enlists Nick Fury’s help in tracking down the Winter Soldier, but Fury is reluctant: he and Winter Soldier have a history. Apparently Winter Soldier has been seen at every major American conflict from Vietnam to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and may or may not have been responsible (according to context clues) for Fury losing his eye in a firefight. (Okay, he was totally responsible.) So, naturally, Fury isn’t so hot on Cap’s idea to rehabilitate the Winter Soldier. “He’s a man without allegiances, without a country.” Winter Soldier shows up, meant to take out Cap, but Cap calls him by his real name- Bucky. “Who’s Bucky?” he asks before he goes after Fury. However, this seems to shake some of Bucky’s brainwashing. Bucky escapes.

But Cap can’t help but feel the guilt over what he feels as his failure to protect his partner. He manages, with Fury’s help, to track the Red Skull to DC. Red Skull is there to unleash an army of Sleepers and destroy the center of American government, since he failed to wipe out NYC with Code Red. Red Skull admits to brainwashing Doc Samson and Falcon, but says that the Winter Soldier was his best work. A brief flashback, to when Red Skull fished Bucky’s still-living body out of the ocean, attaching his bionic arm. He tells Cap that he kept Bucky in cryonic storage, taking him out whenever he had “use” for him while he infiltrated the government as Dell Rusk. He kidnaps Cap and Bucky and forces them to watch while the Sleepers destroy Washington. The rest of the  Avengers do their best to fight them off, while Cap and Bucky escape, after Bucky uses his bionic arm to fry Skull’s systems. The Sleepers are destroyed and Bucky escapes in the wreckage. “Come back. We can help you.” Cap says to Bucky in his earpiece. “When did I ever let you stop me from doing something I wanted to do.” Bucky says. Cap decides to let him go. “Good luck, soldier.” he says, to no one in particular. “10-4, Captain.” he hears, in return.

If you’re a Marvel fan and you’ve never read Ed Brubaker’s run of ‘Captain America’, which includes the Winter Soldier origin story, it’s highly recommended and one of the best things Marvel has published in recent years. This episode, which is a fine version of that story, altered for younger audiences, puts most of the loose ends with the Red Skull infiltration to rest- Red Skull is in custody after a solid face -punching, everyone is un-brainwashed, and so on, which doesn’t leave very many remaining story threads for the last five episodes (ever.) So what will EMH pull out of it’s hat in the next five weeks? Well, next week’s episode is called “The Deadliest Man Alive” and promises, FINALLY, the return of the Hulk. Readers, you all know how long I’ve been waiting for this. I don’t sleep, I wait.

Stray Observations:

  • This show is really good at matching comic book panels beat for beat, the exchange between Cap and Bucky with the ” Who’s Bucky” line is almost exactly as Brubaker wrote it.
  • Some really good fight scenes, and Carol’s ability to absorb power and redistribute it was put to profile.
  • ‘Castle’ actor John Curry voiced Bucky Barnes.
  • I’m assuming, going by leaked photos, that this is all culminating in some sort of massive collection of heroes that have shown up over the season? Folks like the Heroes for Hire, Yellowjacket, Doc Samson, Falcon, Winter Soldier, etc? Time will tell as EMH gets closer and closer to it’s final episodes ever.

Miss an episode? Check out our recap of last week’s ‘Code Red‘.