Did Sharon Replace Shelby
A Falcon and the Winter Soldier Theory
Is it just me or did anyone else notice how clunky the scene with Selby from the Falcon and the Winter Soldier played out? In case you missed it obviously watch for spoilers. In the scene things are progressing smoothly until Sam gets an unexpected phone call from his sister. It is a great device to create tension but when Selby insists that Sam, in disguise as Smiling Tiger, answer on speaker it caught me off guard. Is it against the rules for him to receive phone calls? The scene could have had an equal amount of tension if she had just casually, instead of accusingly, told Sam he could answer. Sam would have still had to remain in character, and we could have had some more development between Sam and his sister as he verbally berates her over the phone to stay in character that could have been interesting for their subplot. If it was meant to be rude or inappropriate for Sam to get a call during the meeting, then it should have been hinted at beforehand in a previous scene. As it stands in the current cut there is no established precedence for Selby’s reaction.
So why did they do it? Was it just a poor call? Nope, it was definitely put in the story to derail the so far successful interaction between Selby and the group. They needed to get into trouble so that they would need a rescue which sets up Sharon’s intro but is this the only way they could have accomplished that? I think that is also a nope, so what happened? I have a theory, that the script was changed to include Sharon and here is why.
Zemo’s serves a lot of utility in the story, providing the transportation and funding so Bucky and Sam can go where they need to go and do what they need to do. But here is how I think the script originally worked. Zemo takes them to Mandripoor to meet with Selby. The episode progresses to the meeting and it plays out mostly like the episode final cut. Sam’s sister still calls but he handles it gracefully despite hurting his sister’s feelings (see previous reasons for inclusion). Selby takes Sam, Bucky and Zemo to Dr. Nagel but she and her subordinates are killed outside by the power broker’s men leading to the escape scene that unfolds in the film. In other words, in the original script Sharon was not present in Mandripoor. When she was added to the story for a later plot point, they retroactively inserted her into the scene and because of her late addition it comes across as clunky.
I do think there is some additional evidence for this. Selby is built up a lot in the previous scene but then is killed off quickly and unceremoniously. It’s clear that she is a villain, but her death comes across as to easy considering the power and influence she obviously has. A case can be made that Introducing Sharon instead of the scenario I painted above serves the story better and I agree. But it is important to introduce her in a natural way. The real person who suffers most from the change though is Zemo as Sharon’s inclusion steals some of his agency in the story. Sharon winds up solving their problems mostly for them instead of Zemo, which was clearly the original concept. That said if the change led to the inclusion of dancing Zemo then it was all worth it.
I cannot stress enough that my comments amount to little more than a nitpick of the material. I have enjoyed the show and when something a story maintains a high level of quality it makes it easier to spot when it deviates from it. Looking forward to more Falcon and the Winter Soldier.