After an extended wait due to the lockdown, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finally premieres with "New World Order". The episode begins with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) ironing his suit. He looks at Captain America's shield, then puts it back in the case. We hear Cap's voiceover from the close of Avengers: Endgame, "How does it feel?" Sam then says, "Like it's someone else's." Cap replies, "It isn't." The opening credits roll.
Sam is next seen in an Air Force troop carrier above Africa. He's debriefed that a terrorist organist, LAF, has kidnapped Colonel Vassant (Miles Brew), a military liaison. Vassant's plane has already entered "Tunisian airspace", the US military cannot be seen. "I got this," says Sam. The officer tells him that Lt. Torres (Danny Ramirez) will be his "boots on the ground."
The Falcon leaps out of the transport and deploys his wings. He swoops unto Vassant's hijacked plane and clutches unto the cockpit. The pilot has been killed. The LAF pilot is stunned to see someone looking at him. Falcon flies away. Batroc (Georges St-Pierre), an ass-kicking villain from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is summoned.
"Switching to plan b," says Falcon. He uses his imaging goggles to see Batroc's men torturing Vassant. "Redwing engage," Falcon's drone detaches from his back and flies along Vassant's plane. It uses a laser to cut a hole in the side. Falcon flies inside and starts pummeling the LAF baddies. His wings form a shield to deflect bullets. They bounce into the cockpit and kill the LAF pilot. The plane begins to plunge, but the autopilot engages.
Batroc attacks Falcon. His powerful kicks knock Falcon back. Batroc and his men don squirrel flight suits, grab Vassant, and glide out of the plane. Falcon is in hot pursuit as Torres watches in awe from the ground convoy. Falcon dodges bullets, sweeps around a terrorist, and pulls his parachute. He chases the remaining three into a canyon. The fliers duck through rock formations. Two LAF helicopters join the fight and open fire.
"Redwing, get them off my ass!" yells Falcon. The drone destroys the first chopper with a missile. It explodes spectacularly on the canyon wall. Falcon and Redwing fly in tandem to another chopper unleashing a torrent of bullets. Falcon fires his grappler, yanks out the shooter, and then drops him. Redwing shoots into the rotors and destroys the second chopper.
The drone attaches back to Falcon and they rocket towards Batroc, who now has Vassant in the lead chopper. Falcon is attacked from behind by an LAF terrorist in a squirrel suit. He spins in the air and throws him into a cliff. Batroc tells his pilot, "Keep going we're close! He's not going to follow us to the border." He turns around to see Falcon sitting across him in the chopper.
Batroc grabs Vassant and leaps out. Falcon tosses out a terrorist, and jumps as well. He shoots an explosive charge that blows up the chopper. His wings open and he's back in pursuit. Torres radios that he's about "to enter Libyan airspace." Batroc glides with Vassant into another LAF chopper. Suddenly Falcon dodges two missiles from behind. A huge gunship is now tailing him.
Missiles explode around him as Falcon zigzags through the canyon. He's glanced by an explosion and almost tumbles into Batroc's chopper blades. It fires three missiles. Falcon veers around and leads one right into the gunship. It explodes, and then he rockets towards Batroc again. "Sam, we gotta call this off," radios Torres from below.
Falcon reroutes his thruster for more power. He collapses his wings and sails into Batroc's helicopter, grabbing Vassant as he shoots out the other side. Batroc jumps out as the remaining missiles smash into his chopper. He escapes, but Falcon has Vassant. He spreads his wing and turns away from Libyan airspace in the nick of time. Torres hoots and hollers as Falcon comes into land.
In a Tunisian cafe, Torres brings Sam tea while he tries to fix Redwing. A civilian thanks "the Avenger" for bringing back his wife. Sam responds in Arabic, "Always happy to help, sir." Torres is impressed. He comments about LAF, then shows Sam a hidden image of a red hand painted on a wall nearby, "These are the guys we have to worry about. Flag Smashers, they think that the world was better during the Blip." Sam asks Torres to keep an eye out. Torres quotes online conspiracies that think "Steve is on a secret moon base." Sam laughs, then gets up to leave. He's heading to Washington DC for "moon stuff."
In Washington DC, Sam gives a speech about Steve Rogers at the Smithsonian. He comments that billions have reappeared with the Blip and the world is again in turmoil, "We need new heroes." James 'Rhodey' Rhodes (Don Cheadle), in his Air Force uniform, watches solemnly from the crowd. "Symbols are nothing without the woman and men that give them meaning," Sam picks up the shield. "Today we honor Steve's legacy, but look to the future. Thank you Captain America, but this belongs to you," Sam gives the shield to the curator. Who places it in a display case as cameras click loudly.
The Secretary of Defense (Alphie Hyorth) thanks Sam for returning the shield. Rhodey is not happy. They walk through the exhibit. Sam explains that his sister's children were babies when he vanished, "Now they are little men." "So you're gonna make me ask...why didn't you take up the mantle?" Rhodey asks. Sam doesn't believe the shield is his. They pause in front of the display of the shield and Captain America's uniform.
In a flashback, several people walk through a beautiful hotel laughing. On the level above, a cadre of guards protect a man. The Winter Soldier smashes through the walls. He stabs two guards to death. Then shoots several others. He leaps to the bottom stairwell, throwing knives, and shooting everyone in his path. His metallic arm grabs the throat of his target. "Hail Hydra," he whispers as he chokes the man to death. The Winter Soldier then turns to an Asian man who was in the group walking. He tries to open his room, but the killer approaches. He begs for his life, but the Winter Soldier raises his gun and fires.
Bucky (Sebastian Stan) awakens from the nightmare. He's sleeping on the floor of a sparse apartment. In therapy the next day, he refuses to acknowledge the nightmare. But his therapist, Dr. Raynor (Amy Aquino), knows he's lying. She reminds him that as a condition of his pardon, the government wants to know he is stable. He still refuses to speak, and she "starts to do the notebook thing." Bucky crossed a name off his "list of amends."
"Senator Atwood was a Hydra pawn for years," says Bucky. He's seen sabotaging her car as she speaks to a flunky. He bugs her car to record her misdeeds. The therapist lectures, "Rule number one, you can't do anything illegal." Bucky locks the car remotely, starts it, and jerks it to a stop. "Rule number two, nobody gets hurt," the therapist continues. Bucky winds down the window, and knocks out the flunky. "What about rule number three?" the therapist asks. Bucky speaks to the terrified Atwood (Rebecca Lines), "I am no longer the Winter Soldier. I am James 'Bucky' Barnes. You are part of my efforts to make amends." He walks away as sirens close in.
Dr. Raynor tells Bucky that one day, he'll have to realize that people want to help him. She takes his phone, "You don't have ten phone numbers on this thing, and you've ignored the texts from Sam." She starkly warns him that he is a hundred years old with no history or family. Bucky admits that "he's trying." He had "a little calm in Wakanda, but other than that, went from one fight to another for ninety years." She knows the quiet times are "a personal hell." She advises him that he's now free. Bucky replies, "To do what?"
In Brooklyn, Bucky meets the older Yori Nakajima (Ken Takemoto) for lunch. They order sushi at a restaurant. Yori notices the waitress, Leah (Miki Ishikawa), staring and asks her on a date for Bucky. He's embarrassed, but Leah agrees. She invites Bucky to meet after work the next night. Yori looks at the red bean cake and remembers his son. He worked in "consulting abroad, but was killed." Yori never knew what happened. Bucky closes his eyes with guilt.
In Louisiana, Sam Wilson drives his truck to an old fish boat at a dock. He greets his sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye) and two nephews. She wants to sell the dilapidated boat, but Sam refuses, "This boat is part of our family." Sarah counters that she took care of the family while he was gone. She had to take loans on their house to keep the boat running. Sarah punches Sam in the gut. He promises to "get the money to fix it up." Sam sets the appointment with the bank, "We can turn this sh*t around."
Bucky meets Leah at the restaurant after work. He brings her flowers. They drink beer and play the board game Battleship. Bucky admits to trying online dating. She asks him his age. He responds, "One hundred and six." She laughs, and then wonders why he wears a glove on his right arm, "I have poor circulation." She brings up Yori, and how it has been hard for him since his son died. Bucky gets up and walks out.
Bucky Barnes goes to Yori's apartment, who's surprised to see him. "How was your date?" Yori asks. Bucky looks at the Buddist shrine in Yori's living room. The man he killed at the hotel was Yori's son. Bucky gives Yori money for their lunch and walks away saddened. At their family home, Sam and Sarah prepare for the bank meeting. They also make food to give away.
Meanwhile in Switzerland, Torres follows his phone to a Flag Smashers rally. He walks with the gathered group and they are given masks. Suddenly a masked person (Karli Morgenthau) leaps from the adjacent building with two duffel bags. Alarms blare as the individual hands off the bags to two followers. The masked bandit then kicks a cop like a ball down the street. Torres, recording the incident on his phone, tries to arrest the masked villain. Who grabs Torres' gun, throws him down like a rag doll, and kicks him in the face.
At the bank, the loan officer (Vince Pisani) looks at Sam, "Did you use to play for LSU?" Sam laughs and flaps his hands. The banker recognizes him as Falcon, he quickly takes a selfie. Sam explains they need the loan to change their family business to "a fishing and charter model." The banker doesn't understand how Sam makes money. Sam explains he works for goodwill. "You have no income over the last five years," the banker says. He rejects their loan request, and then asks for another selfie. Sarah laughs in frustration, while Sam is furious. Outside at their truck, Sarah and Sam argue. She kept the family afloat, a widower with two children, when he was gone. Sam still refuses to sell.
At the boat, Sam looks at pictures of his family. He gets a text from Torres. Sam returns home and watches the video. The leader of the Flag Smashers is "strong." Torres is lucky to be alive. He tells Torres to keep the video between them. Sarah yells for Sam to watch the TV. Sam watches in disbelief as the Secretary of Defense has a shocking announcement, "On behalf of the Department of Defense, and our Commander in Chief, we announce a new hero. Join me in welcoming your new Captain America!" John Walker (Wyatt Russell) walks to the podium in a new uniform...holding the shield. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier returns next Friday on Disney+.