Not a solitary person involved with the Winter Soldier project is stupid enough to argue with Karpov when he decides to send his pet project to America for the first time. But there are whispers and rumors and bets placed, because the first one did not pass the test, and he had been so much easier to break than the new soldier.
But it is the first one that Karpov thinks about when he makes his decision. The first one was weak and unfinished, but this one - this one is a better achievement than the prototype. This one will pass the test. This one will not stumble when he is sent to America.
Karpov’s faith turns out to be correct. He sits back and he watches as the Soldier’s kills only grow more ruthless the longer he is in America.
But never more careless, and that tells Karpov everything he needs to know about the success level of the second Winter Soldier.
So pleased is Karpov that when the Soldier finds a 16-year-old playmate in Harlem after completing his task, Karpov decides to reward the Soldier and let him have his fun. The notes in the Soldier’s file admit that this is a test, too, because there had been another 16-year-old best friend once - one that the Soldier had helped mold into a killing machine.
"I think I could get him to join our cause," the Soldier tells Karpov when he returns and debriefs everything about the mission that Karpov wants to know. Samuel Wilson’s favorite sexual positions and previous romantic history do not need to go into the Soldier’s file, but Karpov takes delight in putting them there anyway.
"Leave his precious Harlem? Come to Russia to join you? You think you matter that much to him?"
"I want to make him choose," the Soldier explains.
“He’ll never come with you willingly as long as he has a family,” Karpov tells the Soldier, and he allows the rest of his implication to be a mere suggestion.
Officially, Samuel Wilson’s father dies trying to break up a neighborhood fight. Officially, his mother is killed by a mugger. Officially, his brother and sister die in the same tragic gang dispute.
None of these things are true, but it is true that all die by gunshot wounds.
What is also true is that the Winter Soldier never misses a shot, and is patient enough to play a long game in order to avoid arousing suspicion.
Samuel Wilson is 18 years old when he joins the Department of his own free will, and the Winter Soldier’s file reflects that he has passed yet another test.