Warning - This article contains spoilers for the fifth episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is gearing up for an explosive finale, and the show's penultimate episode entitled "Truth" managed to set the stage for a thrilling conclusion.
Did the fifth installment of the hit Marvel series live up to the hype? The Direct breaks it all down in this review.
The episode didn't waste time to show the consequences of John Walker's public execution of Flag Smasher member Nico. Walker ran toward an abandoned warehouse to grapple with his surprising decision, but Sam and Bucky ultimately caught up to confront him with his recent actions. After an intense conversation about taking the shield back, a fight then ensued between the titular pair and Walker, a clear homage to the final battle of Captain America: Civil War between Iron Man, Captain America, and Bucky Barnes.
Throughout the fight, the government's Captain America didn't mince words when addressing the duo, telling them that he is indeed the Star-Spangled hero while also reminding them that they could've been a team. Walker, who is infused with Super Soldier Serum at this point, held his own against Sam and Bucky.
After hard-hitting blows, Bucky put an end to Walker's rampage by impaling his arm, thus regaining the iconic shield for Sam to take. It's clear that Bucky is still reeling from Sam's decision to give up the shield, as evidenced by the character's intense yet somber look at his partner after dropping the vibranium weapon.
The opening sequence served as a fitting endpoint for Sam and Bucky's mission to retrieve Steve's shield, but it also effectively completed the villainous transformation of Walker.
After spending the last three episodes together, "Truth" separated the titular pair again to resolve several plot threads. Sam, carrying the shield, went back o Isaiah Bradley to reassess his initial decision while also learning the truth behind the experiments that were done to him by the government.
The story behind the recreated Super Soldier Serum opens up new opportunities for the MCU, but the show effectively uses it to provide Sam a different perspective about the overarching legacy of the Captain America mantle.
Meanwhile, Bucky resolved the lingering plot thread about Zemo by letting the Dora Milaje handle the situation. It's like hitting two birds in one stone for the Winter Soldier, considering that he had some sort of closure with the Sokovian while also making amends to the Wakandans.
The episode cemented the fact that there is no turning back for Walker but also revealed genuine moments for the character during the time when he visited Lemar's family. Still, Walker is driven by rage and revenge, and it looks like he will stop at nothing to gain justice for his friend's death. The addition of a mysterious new ally in the form of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Contessa could hint at a dark future ahead for the troubled soldier.
Sam and Bucky's bond is the main highlight of the penultimate episode. In a way, it's fitting that they showcased it in the former's hometown of Louisiana, away from the fight and dangers of their mission. It gave the characters a chance to step back and evaluate the situation, thus leading to an honest conversation between the two partners.
All of these story beats will ultimately lead to an exciting conclusion, and the last shot of Sam opening Bucky's package from Wakanda should serve as a tease of what's to come.
“They will never let a Black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever wanna be.”
Anthony Mackie is the clear-cut MVP of "Truth," as evidenced by his character-driven scenes and way of finally accepting the responsibility of being Captain America. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is doing a good job in terms of adding layers to these heroes from the films, and Mackie's performance helps in achieving that feat.
The emotional exchange between Sam and Isaiah is a top-notch moment for the series. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier creator Malcolm Spellman didn't lie that the fifth episode will make fans cry, and it's clear that he is alluding to this conversation between the two heroes.
Carl Lumbly's acting while recalling the traumatic events of Isaiah's past is so captivating that there's a clear sense of sadness from fans during that scene.
Based on the story, there is an interesting parallel to Steve Rogers' first mission as Captain America when he saved a battalion of military forces from the Nazi all by himself, but it's unfortunate to hear that Isaiah's same actions weren't met by applause and cheers. Instead, he succumbed to the nefarious ways of the government, ultimately leading to him being erased from all records.
The fact that Isaiah laid it all out to Sam is powerful in itself while the utter silence between the two Black men serves as a fitting way to end the monumental moment.
During the aforementioned scene, Sam discovered a unique perspective when it comes to tackling the legacy of Captain America through the eyes of a Black man, and it's safe to say that he will carry this lesson moving forward.
Coming in at close second is Wyatt Russell, and this is mainly due to his performance in the opening moments of the episode. The complexity of the John Walker character is perfectly captured by Russell, with the actor proving that he is worthy of the role in every scene he is in. Whether fans love or hate him, Russell's bravado certainly makes his Captain America portrayal unique in every aspect, and it will be a shame if The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be his last hurrah in the MCU.
Sebastian Stan is still charming whenever he's on-screen. There is only a small amount of Bucky in the fifth episode, but Stan is no doubt a standout during the scenes where he is heavily involved.
“Truth” also gives Adepero Oduye's Sarah Wilson several moments to shine, and the actress didn't disappoint. Given that she is Sam's only family left, it's refreshing to see the dynamic between the two siblings since it opens up a new story opportunity for the winged Avenger down the line (or even a potential second season for the hit Marvel series).
Admittedly, though, Erin Kellyman and the Flag Smashers are the lowest points of the episode, considering the continued shift in the group's mission. From avenging Mama Donya to embracing their status as criminals, there is no solid plan for Karli's squad, but hopefully, the finale will show if they will be ultimately redeemed or eradicated by Walker or the Power Broker.
Despite only being featured in one scene, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, definitely left a mark through her charismatic performance. The award-winning actress gave a taste of what her character can bring to the franchise's future through her meaningful conversation with Walker, cementing her as a welcome addition to the MCU.
PRODUCTION — CINEMATOGRAPHY, MUSIC, EDITING, ETC.
After a mind-bending take in WandaVision, the grounded nature of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier continues to shine in the fifth installment. The look and feel of the Captain America franchise are quite evident throughout, but new elements such as the amazing score of Henry Jackman for the show provide an added boost.
One of the standout moments from the episode is the shot of John Walker kneeling down while holding a bloodied Captain America shield. Based on the image alone, it goes to show the downfall of the character while also establishing his villainous transformation.
As usual, the action scenes are top-notch, especially after the hard-hitting opening sequence where Sam and Bucky teamed up to stop Walker from causing further damage with Cap's shield. The battle between the three characters is no doubt a homage to Civil War. However, unlike the 2016 MCU blockbuster, there's a sense of satisfaction this time around since there is an actual enemy (Walker) for Sam and Bucky instead of emotional turmoil on who will prevail.
From minor speed bumps in training to successfully wielding the shield, the training montage of Sam is presented in a compelling manner to further solidify the idea that he is indeed the next Captain America.
A LARGER WORLD
An MCU project is not complete without Easter eggs to establish its interconnected nature with the rest of the franchise, and the latest installment of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier didn't disappoint in that department.
The anticipation surrounding the fifth episode of the hit Marvel series was at an all-time high, especially after the numerous teases of the show's creator Malcolm Spellman combined with comments of Marvel Studios Producer Nate Moore. Based on what's been revealed, it definitely delivered.
The brief yet intriguing appearance of Emmy award-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is one of the highlights of the episode, mainly due to the impact of the character on the future of the MCU. In Marvel Comics, Contessa is a SHIELD agent who is an expert in hand-to-hand combat, but it was later revealed that she is a HYDRA sleeper agent.
While some theories suggest that Contessa is the real Power Broker, there's a good chance that she isn't, and the character could make her return on the big screen after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. It was revealed in a separate report that Contessa was originally supposed to debut in Black Widow, and it would make perfect sense for the character to return in that MCU prequel to further establish her agenda.
During the start of Sam's training, a passing comment from the Avenger may have shed some light on the real status of Steve Rogers. Sam told Bucky that “Steve [Rogers] is gone,” and this could mean two different things.
For starters, this could confirm that Steve is dead in the prime timeline, and it's unfortunate that his actual death will not be shown on-screen if true. On the flip side, it's possible that the “gone” remark is Sam simply saying that Steve went back to the alternate timeline with Peggy to potentially spend his last days with her.
The Raft is mentioned in the episode, meaning that the super-prison from Civil War still exists in the post-Blip world. Given that this is Zemo's next destination (as per Ayo), there's a strong chance that he will encounter William Hurt's Thaddeus Ross, and this could be the first tease of a potential Thunderbolts team-up down the road.
After being literally ripped apart by Walker, Sam's wings are left with Joaquin Torres. In Marvel Comics, Torres is next in line for the Falcon mantle after Sam transitioned into the Star-Spangled role. This could be the first big hint of Torres' transformation into the winged Avenger, but evidence suggests that there will be more adventures for the future hero down the line before eventually living up to that title.
In true MCU fashion, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finally included its very own mid-credits scene, showcasing an in-depth look at John Walker's effort to build a new shield to fight the Flag Smashers and Sam and Bucky. Not much is known on how strong Walker's new shield will be, but the ruthless nature of the character should pose a major problem on its own.
After last week's shocking cliffhanger, the penultimate installment of the six-story showcase of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier delivered. The episode included a good amount of strong moments that propelled the narrative even further, thus hyping up fans for a major showdown in the much-anticipated finale.
At this stage, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has lived up to its promise of showcasing Sam's heroic transition into Captain America, and it will be interesting to see the final phase of the transformation next week. Bucky's resolution with Zemo cleared the path for the character to fully focus on the threat of the Flag Smashers, and the character's line of doing it his “own way” could hint at a solution anchored by Steve Rogers' past decisions.
If that is the case, then it will all come full circle for Sam and Bucky. Yes, punches will be thrown, but seeing the good in people is where Steve thrived during his tenure as Captain America. It looks like the titular duo will honor their friend's legacy by doing what is right, and fans should hope that it will not be too late when that happens in the finale, especially after the looming threat of Walker and the surprising return of Batroc.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+.