Following decades of being an un-aging, HYDRA-controlled assassin and a recent disappearance due to The Blip, James "Bucky" Barnes is trying to get his life back together -- and, thanks to an immunity deal with the government, has been in court-mandated therapy to get his head on straight.
Playing his therapist, Dr. Raynor, is Aquino, someone who is no stranger to playing a doctor on TV during stints on "Felicity," "Picket Fences," "ER" and "Brothers & Sisters." Though last week's episode of the Disney+ series may have shown her last session with Barnes and special guest Sam Wilson, viewers also learned she did some "field ops back in the day" with the new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell).
When asked whether that's a connection that could be explored in future episodes, Aquino couldn't say much -- but told TooFab, "I sure hope so, and I mean that."
Her hesitation to say more makes sense, considering how much Marvel prioritizes secrecy from everyone within its ranks. It's something Aquino admitted took a little getting used to. "Oh my god! I had no idea how secretive it was going to be," she exclaimed. "I mean, the things I had to sign and it's like, 'Woah, woah, yeah, no, they can take my house, s-----."
"And what was most problematic -- because I'm not super young, I'm over 60 -- is I couldn't print out my words. I couldn't print them out, I couldn't download them, nothing," she continued. They had to be able to watch me [over computer]. I got there the day before I shot, down to Atlanta, and I was on the lot to get my costume fitting and I walked over to the production office ... and said, 'Hey, I'm working tomorrow, can I get my sides?' [The reaction was] 'Umm, I need to make a phone call, there's lunch over there.' Like, literally, after half an hour, I still hadn't gotten an answer. It's like, okay, I'll just go back to the hotel and get on WiFi and just get back on it. It was crazy."
While working in the MCU sets this project apart from some of Aquino's past doctor roles, at the end of the day, playing Dr. Raynor as a character wasn't much of a stretch.
"The experience of shooting it was different, obviously, because the room is filled with smoke, kind of eerie and the camera's over here with this crazy angle," she explained. "But I always start [by asking] 'Who is this person and what is she looking to do?' And this person is someone who was in the military and what she's dealing with is the person in front of her."
"She's not dealing with superheroes. She's dealing with this very, very wounded boy, young man who she wants to help and she really feels like she needs to help because she's been through PTSD herself," she continued. "She's lost all these comrades to it, and if anybody is going to be devoured by PTSD, it's an 106-year-old soldier who was forced to murder his friends. It's about him. She's not dealing with anybody with super powers. It's just the person and what his life has done to his psyche and how can she help him to be happy and healthy going forward."
The second episode of the series saw Raynor mediate an important conversation between Bucky and Sam, throwing some couples therapy drills at them to get them on the same page to foster a stronger bond going forward. The session went over very well with those who ship the two as a potential couple -- with Aquino saying that approach was in the script from the start.
"What they have is a partnership and when Raynor is told by John Walker that okay, 'You got 20 minutes, go fix him, and then you're done,' she respects him because she understands chain of command, and he's the general in this case -- but she's like, 'Alright. I gotta bring in the heavy artillery,'" she explained.
"And she knows that there's something, that Sam has got a history with him, and he doesn't have anybody else with history, right?" she continued. "So here is our one opportunity. This is our heavy artillery. If anyone can put a chink in this guy's armor, it's probably Sam. The writers brilliantly understood that, and went with it. She's gotta use everything she's got and the most powerful weapon she's got right now is Sam. If anybody can get through to him, it's gonna be him. And they wrote it brilliantly."
New episodes of "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" drop Fridays on Disney+