TFatWS’ Missing Scene in Episode Four
One of the many reasons I'm certain that the production and edit of TFatWS was an epic cluster-fuck is that they thought Sam could ask 'what about Bucky?' in response to Zemo's unwavering declaration of 'supersoldiers must not exist' and the next moment we see Zemo and Bucky confront each other, Zemo has already backed off killing him and they never give any explanation as to why.
So. I’m usually not one to say things with absolute certainty, but: There was a missing scene in this episode. There has to be a missing scene somewhere in episode four that should be all about confronting Zemo's bias towards Bucky. Sam's 'what about Bucky?' line just doesn't make any sense without it.
From the beginning of Episode 3 we know that there's an ideological battle going on between who Zemo thinks Bucky is and who Bucky (is trying/to be/figure out/etc.) actually is. Zemo thinks that the Winter Soldier is still a part of him; Bucky is trying to prove (to himself, mostly) that it isn’t. Zemo is trying to prove that Bucky/Winter Soldier should not exist just like the other supersoldiers that he's killed before; but by the end of the show he’s amended that. And that’s kind of a big thing for a character that, up until now, has shown himself to be fairly committed and absolute. We know by everything we’ve been told about him that Zemo doesn’t just change his mind once it’s been made up,,, and yet,,,
Zemo starts off committed to the mission of killing all supersoldiers and moves to try to prove Bucky’s ‘faulty character’ to Sam in Madripoor (re: that ‘fall into form’ bit, trying to prove Bucky is eventually going to fall back into becoming the Winter Soldier and to show how dangerous he is), and later tries to prove it to Bucky himself in Sokovia as a last-ditch effort in what has basically been all cases of not-so-secret tests of character. In all of them Bucky wins. Zemo loses the ideological battle about and TO Bucky. And while we might be able to see the final blow made by Bucky at the memorial (re: not killing Zemo) and Sam's disarming blow in Riga ('What about Bucky?') we never actually get to see The Turn. The moment when the doubt comes in and Zemo's ideological fight starts to crumble.
And it's so easy to know what this is supposed to look like! In The Dark Knight it's the moment the passengers on the ferry boats don't blow each other up. In Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory it's when Charlie gives back the Everlasting Gobstopper. You’ve seen it before. It's the moment when the 'villain', who has a conviction of understanding towards the 'protagonist', is upended in their conviction by an act, usually of heroism or nobility, shattering the antagonist's preconceived notions about them.
So where the hell is That Moment where Bucky is proved to be noble in the test of character to Zemo??
May I present, exhibit A:
Zemo is down, right next to Walker, and Hoskins has the exit behind them.
Bucky and Sam are up and farther away and looking down on them.
(Note: Sam and Bucky's eyeline is right where Zemo should be)
The scene cuts (jarringly) to Karli with her crew, planning to take out Walker before it cuts again to Sam and Zemo and the line of 'what about Bucky?' comes up.
And speak of the devil, Bucky barges in and talks about how crazy Walker is.
And let me just say, this is fucking weird.
I know the first thought is, ‘how did Zemo get to the Riga apartment and on the couch?’ but that's not (totally) what I'm thrown by.
Instead I’m wondering why the fuck is Bucky barging in talking about Walker? As in, not already with Sam and Zemo?
Last we've seen them, they were all together. Reasonably we are to assume at least Bucky, Sam, and Zemo should still be in the same place since they have been together for most of the episode. So, where has Bucky been? Why were they separated?
These are all questions your audience are going to have (at least subconsciously) when you cut from a scene where they were all together and then establish in the next one, that they’re not. This is screenplay/editing 101! The edit here is confusing as fuck and we're never given an answer for it. Since Bucky's first words are a roundabout, 'Walker is nuts bros' I don't think it's a stretch to assume Bucky was with Walker, right??? And then to add even more confusion:
Why? Why the fuck is Walker popping in this scene demanding Zemo??? WhY. When just five minutes prior he had him! There's so much basic logic missing here!!
Walker was literally standing over Zemo in the previous scene with all of them. There was Hoskins at his back and Sam and Bucky were far enough away that Walker obviously had the power over the situation. If he wanted Zemo why didn't he just take him then??
There isn't even an established reason as to why Bucky and Sam would defend him at that point since they had found Karli and lost her (on top of Zemo breaking free of his cuffs and shooting her, which is against Sam's mission to save Karli) so by now Zemo has outlived his usefulness in the mission. Or as Zemo would say, lost ‘his leverage’.
It’s obvious that, even to Zemo, he had thought once Karli was found at the funeral that he was going to be turned over.
They really don't have a good reason why they'd stand in Walker's way in that moment either. Walker is a person that is technically meant to be their ally at this point and it makes sense for him to arrest Zemo and for Sam and Bucky to stand aside for him to do so.
(Later in the scene in the Riga apartment where they do stand in between Walker and Zemo, there's a little more power in Sam and Bucky's hands since Walker is barging in on their turf and it’s then established that Bucky and Sam aren’t feeling Walker’s vibe over Zemo’s.)
The logic of the edit here is that:
Walker is in a prime position to take Zemo into custody but for some reason just doesn't.
Zemo and Sam end up back in the Riga apartment without Bucky.
Bucky comes in later complaining about Walker.
Walker and Hoskins follow, literally kicking down the down to now bring in Zemo.
There’s a missing scene here bros. And dollars to donuts that it’s the same missing piece that explains why Zemo changed his mind about Bucky.
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(For @yramesoruniverse, who requested future married Buck and Eddie as empty-nesters confronting a renovation of Christopher's room. Thanks for this. This one hurt.)
When Christopher left for college the first time around, Eddie was quietly inconsolable. Buck was devastated, yes, and spent his fair share of time clutching helplessly to a new item from Christopher’s room every night, but Eddie was a slow collapse, drawn out over four years, intermittently assuaged during summer and winter breaks when Chris returned home from his studies.
But Chris had graduated college two months ago, and was out of the house for good, renting an apartment with a couple other friends from school who worked in the same area.
“You gotta have a place to stay when you come home,” Eddie says to him one night over video call. Buck is at the sink washing dishes, a chore that doesn’t take nearly as long with just two people, but he lingers so he can listen to the conversation.
Chris sighs. “Dad, I get it, but I’m twenty-two now. I don’t need to sleep in a dinosaur bed with all that little kid stuff lying around.”
“Little kid stuff? Chris, you’re always gonna be my baby boy.”
“Dad, seriously, it’s okay. You can throw it all out if you want, I don’t need it anymore.”
Buck’s hands go still in the soapy dish water. He waits out the rest of the call as Eddie checks in, asking about the job, his roommates, if he likes San Francisco, does he feel safe, is his workplace accessible. Chris fields each question with practiced ease. Buck pops into the screen behind Eddie to say goodbye when Chris has to leave, and then Eddie snaps the laptop closed, and silence blankets the kitchen.
Buck sits beside Eddie at the table and takes his hand, twisting the gold wedding band on his finger like he always does when he needs to take the edge off the nervous energy fizzling in his system. “He looks good,” he says after a beat.
Eddie uses his free hand to scrub over his face, scratching at the stubble covering his cheeks. “Yeah.”
“He’s doing alright, Ed.”
Eddie doesn’t respond to that. He slips his hand out of Buck’s grasp and leaves the kitchen. Buck sighs, finishes the dishes, and then pads down the hallway. He finds Eddie standing outside Christopher’s room, hand gripping the doorframe. They hover together, gazing at the time capsule it has become.
It makes everything inside of him ache.
Eddie breaks the silence first with a murmured, “I just don’t know,” and escapes into their bedroom.
The weird haze encapsulating Eddie doesn’t lift over the next few days. Buck returns home from working a double one night and drops his stuff at the door, exhaustion etching further into his bones the longer he’s away from his California King bed. There’s a single light on in the kitchen and a plate with foil over it, the usual routine when one of them is home and the other is working late. He eats the chicken leg while he walks around the house checking the locks, making sure everything is secure, and pauses by the living room. There’s an empty bin sitting out, and a familiar white binder on the coffee table, and a stack of post-its right beside it.
He polishes off his dinner, tells himself he’ll shower in the morning, and all but falls into bed next to Eddie.
Eddie, who Buck knows is awake the minute his head hits the pillow. It’s a little after three in the morning.
“Ed,” he murmurs, crowding against him, nuzzling his face into the other man’s neck. “You gotten any sleep?”
He grunts. “Waiting for you to get home.”
“Okay. Loving the romantic gesture, but it’s unnecessary.” He prods Eddie’s arm until he rolls over onto his back, brown eyes dark in the soft moonlight streaming through the window. “Hey. What’s wrong? You’ve been off since that video call with Chris.”
Eddie shakes his head, and Buck pushes the initial frustration down, because even after years of marriage there is still this, Eddie’s instinctive urge to bottle up and stuff down and shove aside. He gives him a second, waits for an explanation. But all Eddie does is interlock their hands, press a kiss to the pulse point on Buck’s wrist, turn back on his side, wrap Buck’s arm around his waist.
So Buck waits.
A little over a week later and Buck returns home from hanging with Jee-Yun to Eddie on the living room couch, headphones in, pen scratching notes into his binder. There’s a home renovation show playing on mute on the TV. Buck grabs a beer from the kitchen and sets it on the coffee table, lies down on the couch with his head in Eddie’s lap. His eyes slip closed when fingers sift through his hair, steady and warm and reassuring, even now, always. But Eddie doesn’t speak, doesn’t do anything besides rake his fingers through Buck’s hair and continue scribbling in his binder
On a Sunday at 2:25am, Buck wakes to an empty bed and the sounds of shuffling down the hall. He jams the heels of his palms into his eyes, blinks some semblance of consciousness into his being, and wobbles out of the bedroom. Eddie is in Christopher’s room, taking things off the walls, putting objects into a bin.
Buck leans against the door frame. “Eddie,” he says.
Eddie ignores him, moving around the room with intention. Buck crosses the room and fists his hands in his T-shirt.
“Baby,” he whispers urgently, and Eddie stops, staring at the stack of books in his hands. “Come back to bed.”
“I will. In a little bit.”
“This can wait until tomorrow.”
But Eddie is already shaking his head. “No. No. if I stop now, I’ll never finish.”
He pulls away and Buck lets him go. He returns to the bed alone.
Buck jolts awake to his alarm hours later, still alone, but there’s a hot mug of coffee on the bedside table with a little post-it that says I love you in Eddie’s neat penmanship. He rolls out of bed and carries the coffee to the kitchen, where Eddie is leaning against the counter and staring at his phone.
“Hey,” Buck says. He sets the mug down and tucks his hands into the pouch on the front of Eddie’s hoodie. He rests his forehead on his shoulder, breathes him in. He hears the light thud of Eddie setting his phone down on the counter, and then feels his hands on his hips, his arms, his back.
“Buck,” Eddie whispers after a moment, and Buck feels his lips brush his neck as he speaks.
“Will you go to Target with me today?”
He snorts. “It’s Sunday.”
“I know. Will you go?”
“Obviously. Can we have Pizza Hut for lunch?”
“Perfect.” He leans back, presses their foreheads together. “It’s a date, Diaz.”
They go to Target, and Buck lets Eddie take his time, trails him through the aisles in as many loops as needed, as the cart steadily fills. They check out and drop their items in the car, eat lunch at Pizza Hut, and then drive home. When Eddie shuts off the engine, neither of them move. Their hands are linked across the center console.
Eddie says, “I’m thinking dark green, for Christopher’s room. Something adult, but it’s still his, you know?”
Buck smiles, nods, relieved. “I love it.”
And so for the rest of the day, Buck watches Eddie transition Christopher’s old room to something more accommodating to a young adult. The comforter matches the curtains. There’s a new desk, with a modern-looking lamp. A mostly-empty bookshelf waiting to be stocked with newer books for an older audience. There’s a new rug under the bed, which also got a size-upgrade. It takes Eddie most of the late afternoon, into the early evening. He calls Buck in when he’s finished. Buck already knows it’s going to look great, because Eddie has the eye for it, as he has reminded him constantly for years.
Buck wraps his arms around Eddie from behind. “Looks good, Ed.”
“And so humble, too.”
“Shut up.” He turns in Buck’s arms, cradles his face like he always does, like he’s something worth handling with care, and kisses him deeply.
“Thank you,” he murmurs when they pull apart. “I kind of shut down these last couple weeks.”
Buck shrugs. “We’ve been married for a while, Eddie. I knew you’d come around eventually.”
“Yeah.” They share one more kiss, bump foreheads, leave the room. “How about Thai food for dinner?”
Buck notices Eddie walk by Christopher’s room a little easier as the weeks go by. The ache in his own chest hurts a little less, too. When Christmas rolls around and Christopher bursts through the door, he nods approvingly at his childhood bedroom.
“I like it,” he says. “There’s still space for me.”
“There will always be space for you here,” Eddie returns.
Buck and Eddie leave him so he can unpack. They retire to the kitchen, and the sight of three place settings shouldn’t make Buck so damn giddy, but he can’t help it.
The familiar white binder is on the corner of the counter. Buck laughs. “Uh-oh. The binder’s back. What’s going on now?”
Eddie rolls his eyes. “I am not that transparent.”
“You’re not, but we’ve been together for literal eons, and I know you. Which existential crisis did I miss?”
“You think you’re funny, but you’re not.” He flips open the binder, taps the counter with his finger. “Remember that reading nook you wanted?”
“Um, you mean that thing I heavily hinted at, constantly, like five years ago? Not at all. I have no memory.”
“You’re sassy today. Why are you so sassy?” He snaps the binder closed and looks at him. “Let’s build it. I have the design all laid out.”
Buck laughs. “Wow. I don’t even know what to say. Maybe I changed my mind.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because we’ve been together for literal eons, remember? I guess that means I know you, too.” He walks over, pulls Buck into a warm embrace. And then, “What are your thoughts on accent walls?”
Buck hides his smile in Eddie’s shoulder.
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