This scene/the details of Bucky’s complete victimization (he’s not a villain, or even an antagonist, not any more than the guns HYDRA uses are antagonists. They’ve turned his mind to nothing and his body into a weapon) hits half the points on my list of Yikes (medical horror, compromised bodily integrity, compromised bodily autonomy, brainwashing, and then just a healthy slather of good old-fashioned physical abuse by authority), and it’s effective even if you don’t have this specific set of hangups. Even further, the visual of Bucky half-naked in a roomful of men in suits or tactical gear is important and very creepy, if you’re coming at it from the right direction. He could kill all of them, but Sebastian Stan has put no threat of that whatsoever into Bucky’s face or his body. His shoulders are slumped in and he’s dead behind the eyes. When you have thoroughly fucked someone out of knowing their own power, you are a Master Fucker and deserve a prize, like a new car falling on you from a great height or an all-expenses paid trip to the inside of an active volcano.
Pierce, annoyed, gets up and says “Prep him.” One of the techs warns that Bucky’s been out of cryostasis for too long, and Pierce just orders them to “Wipe him, and start over.” I imagine he does most of his healing when in cryostasis, so Pierce is such a monster that he’s having Bucky take his recently-beaten and tortured ass back out to fight again. It’s probably like when I sometimes get out of work at midnight and have to be back in at 6 am.
This process involves strapping him down into the chair he’s in and shoving a bite guard into his mouth, which he just accepts, despite clearly hating it. So he remembers this happening every time, but not what gets taken out of him? That’s the worst. He only starts really reacting to things now, and it’s not anger or defiance–it’s terrified helplessness, to the point where he squeezes his eyes shut like a child before two halves of a machine come down on either side of his head to secure themselves. The machine kicks up, and he’s howling in agony through the bite guard as Pierce leaves the room.
Even Rumlow watches this whole scene like “That was fucked up. That fucked me up.”