Last week’s episode ended in a place where few ever thought we would be: Captain America just executed a citizen of another country, and he used the iconic shield to do it.
So, how will Bucky and Falcon take to that, especially as eyewitnesses? And will seeing one of their own executed in that fashion, will the Flagsmashers run and hide or will they become even more emboldened? And what will the US government do, now that their latest attempt at a super soldier seems to have failed? Is there redemption for John Walker?
Recap of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E5: “Truth”
The episode begins with John Walker on the run, still in his costume and with blood on his hands. He seems to be both chastising himself and convincing himself that the death he took was needed to avenge his friend and partner, Lamar. But he doesn’t get very long with his own thoughts and feelings because Sam and Bucky show up.
And the thing is, we all know where this is likely headed. But I was impressed by how Sam, who we know has done work with veterans in therapy and the like, and Bucky, who absolutely knows what regret is like, first approach Walker. They aren’t there to attack or arrest but instead, they seem to be encouraging him to make good decisions moving forward, in the hopes there will be leniency in Walker’s direction.
And it seems to be working, until Sam says “You got to give me the shield,” which Walker then escalates into a trio brawl.
The fight is pretty epic, as we see each fighter do what they do well. Winter Soldier is powerful, a brawler but also a tactician. Sam in his Falcon gear is both soldier but also flyer, using his wings to gain advantages when and where needed. And John is a super soldier, having gain strength from the serum to partner with his already formidable fighting skills.
The fight hinges on two things:
- At one point, with Bucky having taken possession of the shield, Walker slams him into an electrical pole, which mimics Lamar’s injury but also knocks Bucky out for a few minutes.
- And when it turns to Falcon versus Captain America, Walker gets the advantage, rips off Falcon’s wings and declares “I. AM. CAPTAIN. AMERICA” as he prepares to use the shield to attack Sam, the way he did the man at the end of last episode.
Thankfully, Bucky had come back from the electric jolt and they end in an epic finishing move, as Bucky knocks Walker down, picks him up and then slams him into Sam, who is flying in with the shield. They all lie there spent for a moment, Walker with a broken arm, when Bucky picks up the shield and lays it down beside Sam with a knowing look, before walking away. Sam tries to wipe the blood of the shield as he wrestles with all the things that he has been thinking about.
At the debrief, Torres – Sam’s sidekick from the first couple episode – shows up to tells us all how Karli has gone underground and how the GRC is having no luck capturing her. Bucky quickly leaves, with Sam asking if it is to get Zemo.
Torres sees how wrecked the wings are. At the end, they decide to just hold put, with Sam taking the shield but leaving his Falcon gear with Torres. “You can have it,” he says.
John Walker is then basically banished as Captain America. Walker tries to make his case but his anger overwhelms. He is going to be relieved of his duty, pension, benefits and he will no longer be a representative of America. Walker tries to proclaim to the assembled group “You made me” but all they ask for is the shield to be returned.
But outside the hearing, Walker and his wife are approached by a Contessa Valentina Allerga de Fontaine. And this “Val” comes in, affirms his taking of the serum and saying that he could be very useful to her and that he should take her calls because she will be in touch.
And we see the Flagsmashers and Karli, at a hideout that was recently raided. Karli says that it is time for them to claim their space as citizens of the planet.
We shift to Zemo, who has gone to the Sokovia Memorial, which shows a family together sculpted in rock. Zemo tells Bucky that he isn’t going to kill him, that Karli has become radicalized and that the only hope is for someone to kill her dead.
Zemo seems to think Sam doesn’t have it in him but that Bucky, the Winter Soldier, can still do the right thing. Bucky passes, threatens Zemo with a gun that he then shows as empty. And the Dora Milaje show up, taking Zemo into custody and telling Bucky that Zemo is being taken to The Raft. But when told that the White Wolf should make himself scarce for the time being, Bucky asks for one more favor.
Sam has taken the shield and goes to visit Isaiah Bradley. Isaiah tells the story of his service, of being captive and ultimately doing 30 years in prison and medical experiments because he heard his higher-ups declare their intentions to bomb a POW camp where his fellow soldiers were captive, to hide the evidence of what happened in their super soldier experiments.
Bradley broke out instead and led those men to freedom. And while they all slowly died off, he remained, a prisoner and a medical experiment until a woman on the inside helped him by faking his death.
Sam asks him to come forward now to tell his story but Isaiah is unmoved. He feels like if his story is known, then he would be a target and dead in a matter of days. The advice he leaves Sam is to not take up the shield, or to try to become Captain America, as Isaiah cannot see any way a self-respecting black man could do it, given our country’s history. With all that in his head, Sam decides to head home to Louisiana.
There, Sam realizes that something is wrong at home, as the family boat is now in too much disrepair to sell. So, he calls on his community, his parents’ history to get help. Sam works the phone, getting help to get the boat made right. When an engine shows up, and the debate on how to get it off the truck, Bucky shows up, one arms it and says he will help, as he also flirts with Falcon’s sister Sarah. He also brought along a gift from the Wakandans.
Meanwhile, Walker is visiting Lemar’s family and offers his best attempts at peace for them. His parents offer hope and relief, especially at knowing that Walker killed the man responsible, when the reality is that he hasn’t yet, as that person was Karli.
Then, we see as Sharon Carter hires Batroc the Leaper for a new gig, paying him double the usual fee.
After getting busted trying to repair the boat, Bucky and Sam are out in the yard, throwing the shield around. During the discussion, Bucky admits that he and Steve had no idea how complicated it would be for a black man to be given the shield and he apologizes for how he has been treating Sam.
Sam then coaches Bucky to do the work of recovery, of actually making amends to those he has hurt, not just avenging the bad people he put in power. Sam thinks that what Bucky needs to do is to be of service to those he needs to make amends with. So Bucky heads out, but tells Sam to call when he gets a lead on Karli.
After deciding to keep their boat, and the history that comes with it, Sam seems to be committed to becoming the next Captain America, as we see him hard at work, training with and without the shield, as his nephews look adoringly on.
Karli is then meeting with her new “help” as Batroc the Leaper shows up, delivering weapons. Batroc says that he only is there to get revenge, to kill the Falcon, as she starts to unleash her army in New York, where the GRC is preparing for an important vote.
But the sidekick Torres helps Sam see that the Flagsmashers may have given up their position: New York City.
Sam says that he is prepared to take on the challenge they present in New York, while opening for the first time his Wakandan present, a sweet new suit that is suited both for the Falcon and Captain America.
Thoughts on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, S1E5: “Truth”
Over the last several episodes of this show, there has been a small but vocal group who seem to think that this show is dealing with the realities of social justice and racial issues in a too honest way. The cries of “leave your politics out of my comic books” is silly, because comics have long been used to examine and reflect society. The infamous issue of Captain America punching Hitler? It was made BEFORE the US was engaged in World War 2.
As a creator of a show like this, I imagine it is a delicate line to dance. This week’s episode is especially interesting, as we see Sam and Isaiah have some really frank and honest conversations about what it is to be black in America, and even moreso, to have served America in her wars as a black man. Much of what they talk about in the fictional Marvel Universe has real world allegories and matches. For me, as a white man, this show challenges me to think and listen more and I am grateful for it.
Now, on to the lighter tones: The White Wolf is on the prowl and you better hide Sarah from him, Sam!
Julia Louis Dreyfuss showing up in the role of “Val” is an interesting one. For starters, the obvious next step in the show is that Val is the Power Broker, wanting Walker for his serum and his service. It would make sense for the show in some ways.
But the character also seems to be lifted from the character of Madame Hydra and an initiator for the steps that head into the Secret Wars storyline, that you could see Marvel using down the cinematic road. The fun part would be if they revisit the storyline that she and Nick Fury are long time lovers.
And if Val isn’t the Power Broker, what in the heck is Sharon Carter doing? Knowingly setting up the Falcon to be assassinated? Something feels real off for her and her character and I hope we get some kind of resolution by the end of the season!
The peaceful capture of Baron Zemo and his taking to The Raft is interesting. It moves him ever more towards the bad guy with well-honed values versus the complete crazy. The Raft is long been a Marvel Universe special prison – as seen at the end of Civil War – when Steve Rogers busted out some of his superhero friends caught on the wrong side of the conflict.
With an episode left, what comes next? There is a part of me that thinks Sam’s family boat is going to be a part of this carnage of war but it also seems like New York City is going to be the place to be. How awesome is Sam’s new fighting style going to be? And will it bring him into direct conflict with John Walker, who is seen in the post credits scene forging a new shield? A lot of pieces to wrap up in one episode next week but I am excited for it!