The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the second television series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is featured on Disney Plus and it very much focuses on the state of the world following the blip. The blip caused by Thanos changed life drastically for so many and has made things much more challenging and even depressing. The series lives in the same world that the Captain America trilogy did as it features great action sequences along with political intrigue. In this, it also in ways echoes real life. Much like the comics themselves had done back in the day. We find ourselves in a weird state as a society dealing with a pandemic, everyone is looking for something to be hopeful of, much like the world that lives inside the MCU in this show. We see our main characters dealing with systemic racism, economic issues following a pandemic/blip, loneliness and mental health issues. All these things echo our state in real life. People in this universe are in a state of disarray following the Blip and looking for a beacon of hope to restore things back to the way they were before. In doing this, we find the two main characters in a very different place then when we last left them.
Sam Wilson is found back in action, much like his old friend (not a pun) would do, as he has been working missions for the Air Force. We are treated to a rather impressive action sequence early on where Sam uses his flight suit to save a Captain that had been kidnapped by terrorists led by Batroc. This sequence, unlike the movies before, showcases that Sam isn't just a man in a special flight suit but actually an incredibly well trained fighter up close as well as in the air. It'll be fun to see how the creators continue to up the ante with his action sequences as the show moves forward. Beyond that, Sam is refusing to take up the mantle given to him by Steve Rogers as the next Captain America. He believes that no one is capable of filling in those big shoes and also knows that the shield is much more then just a weapon, it is a beacon of hope and something better then any one man. To his core, he doesn't believe he is capable of living up to the legacy that it has endured. So, it only comes natural to him to give it up and continue to try to be his own man. We then see him going back home to see his sister who had to endure a world that had seen half it's population disappear and in doing so had lost the ability to pay for bills and then the economic landscape get absolutely wrecked by the returning half of its population. Sam, being the heroic person he is, tries to help her settle her finances only to be shown the door. In his final scene, he and his sister sit in front of a television, devastated, to see the shield that Sam had given up has been passed on to another as the government has created a new Captain America. He feels shame as he has failed his old friend.
Bucky, on the other hand, we see is struggling just as well to move on in life. He is struggling with the nightmares of people that he has ruthlessly killed in his past as the Winter Soldier and trying desperately to make amends for that time. He is also seeing a psychiatrist to help him through his issues but due to his time as a hitman for HYDRA and being over a hundred years old, he has a hard time opening up. He explains to his psychiatrist the only time he felt peace was when he was in Wakanda, it was the only calm he had experienced in his long life to only then be thrown back into a universal war, it was his own personal hell. Much like his old friend Steve, he is a man out of time. Unlike Steve, he doesn't have a fight that he can bury his feelings into. Instead, he is largely a ghost walking through life with no real attachments to any one person or any thing. His psychiatrist urges him to create relationships when she looks at his phone she sees that he doesn't have more then ten numbers in his phone and has been ignoring messages from Sam Wilson. We then see him helping an elder Asian man who stirs up trouble with their neighbors. It becomes clear that this is another attempt for Bucky to make amends as we find out the older man is grieving for his son that had been killed by Bucky's hands some time ago when he was working for HYDRA. However, he doesn't have the heart to tell the man, and instead endures the shame rather then further hurt the man. You can even draw a direct parallel of Bucky's character to us in real life living in a world that is cut of from one another making everyone feel a bit lonely and struggling with mental health issues. Surprisingly making Bucky a rather sympathetic and relatable character.
The Flag Smasher terrorist group on the other hand is a good inclusion as a villain for this series in a post blip world. In the comics, they wanted to overthrow all of what Captain America stood for and wanted chaos and anarchy to reign supreme. In a similar fashion, that is what they stand for in this series. Instead, they are under the belief that the world was in a better place when half the population had been blipped out of existence. They embraced the chaos and let the strong survive. It'll be interesting to see where else the show takes them, and also their leader seeing as how he probably has some sort of super soldier serum considering his strength. Much like I stated in my preview written before the show aired, I expect that the Flag Smasher group isn't working independently and may have the backing of Baron Zemo. If Zemo isn't backing Flag Smasher, I am positive he will work to corrupt John Walker, the new Captain America. Zemo's distaste for heroes will extend to both Sam and Bucky somehow before this season is over.