Through the previous four episodes of Marvel Studio’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it has become very clear that the mantle of Captain America comes with a price and few are able to wield that shield. This is what we learnt of in the shocking final moments of ‘Episode 4’ ‘The Whole World Is Watching’, and now in ‘Episode 5’ ‘Truth’, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes must determine whether deciding to bear the mantle of that shield and all it represents, is what they really want after all.
As John Walker (Wyatt Russell), the newly dubbed Captain America, is reprimanded for his actions, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) have to go back to basics and decide whether it is right for either of them to follow on from Steve Roger’s wishes. But while Sam and Bucky are deciding what their next actions are to be, Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) is ready to bring the fight to the GRC once and for all and she’s ready to make it personal.
‘Episode 4’ ‘The Whole World is Watching’ ended on one hell of a cliffhanger, and that’s exactly where director Kari Skogland picks up from as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes confront John Walker, demanding the shield from him, and in the process Skogland sets up one of the series’ most epic confrontations yet. This mano-o-mano fight between these three men is bone-crunchingly good, and action fans will be in for a treat as it’s a gnarly battle to determine who holds sway over the shield, and the very ideal of Captain America. To start this episode with such an intense piece of action was certainly a surprise for all, and it establishes a clear paradox between the action, ideas and beliefs that are held by John Walker compared to those of Sam and Bucky.
This confrontation also leads into the focus of ‘Truth’ where John Walker is stripped of his military rank and the mantle of Captain America and things are about to get very interesting for this American golden boy who has now fallen very low. From the very beginning, Walker has been an extremely complex character, an elite military professional, who bears his own defined moral code, Walker is at odds with a rapidly changing situation and has been unable to control what has happened. As the ultimate company man he has done everything his government has ever asked of him, and now having lost his rank and the respect of his country he’s a wounded dog who is capable of anything. Wyatt Russell’s performance is again flawless, and it’s about to get very interesting from here.
Walker’s fall from grace also introduces an incredible surprise to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, along with the greater MCU, that no one could have foreseen, in the presence of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine who is played by the fabulous Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Sporting slick femme fatale spy glam, and a killer attitude, JLD quickly owns the centre of the screen with her introduction and makes it clear that Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a character who is about to seriously switch up the MCU in a most unexpected way. Her appearance in the episode is a clear highlight, and even though her appearance is brief, I’m certain that this cult Marvel Comics character is going to be a fan favourite.
‘Truth’ is also a very important episode for the character of Bucky Barnes as he comes to a catharsis as to who he is now, and who he was before. And it’s a moment that has been building for some time. Ever since Captain America: Civil War we have seen this man fighting with his inner doubts and trying to be a better man after being a brainwashed killer for so long. And now in a final moment with Baron Helmut Zemo we see the full resolution of his character, and it’s a moment that I believe many fans did not see coming.
With so much uncertainty now surrounding them, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes also decide to lie low and it’s here where questions of the shield and the identity of Captain America are raised. Over the last 13 years, we’ve seen Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers/Captain America as the embodiment of the best virtues, values and aspirations of what America and its heroes can be. But he was a man from another time and place, and now in a complicated world, Skogland and showrunner Malcolm Spellman ask the questions about whether the idea of Captain America is still relevant?
The answer to these questions is communicated in the most unexpected of metaphors, the rebuilding of Sam Wilson’s family fishing boat, and the meaning that comes from seeing it rebuilt. As Sam, his sister Sarah, Bucky and the rest of the local community help to rebuild the boat, Sam also begins his training to pick up the shield. At first unwieldy and off-balance, Sam struggles with it, but through the strength of mind and focused discipline, he is able to put aside his doubts and master the shield. Having served his country numerous times he has already worn the red, white and blue, and now with the shield in hand, he’s ready for one final fight against the Flag Smashers. But he’s ready to do it his way, not by sheer brute force, but by trying to save Karli from herself before it’s too late.
As we go into the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Solder a new hero is about to rise in a Falcon who is now reborn, and it’s anyone’s guess as to just exactly what will go down next in the final episode. But I’m sure that it’s going to be a moment that long-time MCU fans will not want to miss out on.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available to stream on Disney+
Image: Walt Disney Pictures