Series Review (With Spoilers): The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1, Episode 5


Image from Disney+

Bucky (Stan) talking to Ayo (Kasumba) after handing over Zemo (Brühl) to the Dora Milaje.

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 5 – Truth” was written by Dalan Musson and directed by Kari Skogland. John Walker (Wyatt Russell) faces the consequences for his actions and Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) return to the United States.

If I could describe this episode in a single word it would be “grounded.” While offering a deep dive into the emotions of the characters, specifically with Sam and Walker, it also goes back to the roots of the premiere episode. If the final shot of last week’s episode didn’t give enough clarity, John Walker isn’t fit to be the face of America. We open with a literal and figurative “fight for the shield” with Walker against Sam and Bucky. Walker leaves the fight with a broken arm, and is stripped of the title of Captain America.

Walker’s discharge once again leaves the world without a Captain America, and I see the opportunity of a big upgrade for Sam next week. The “what’s in the box?” moment we conclude with is all the less of a cliffhanger. I don’t see what else it could be other than a Captain American suit for Sam Wilson that is accurate to the comics. As a whole, this episode focused a lot on Sam and trying to figure out whether or not he, a Black man, has what it takes to be the new Captain America. This brings us back to Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) who we last saw in episode two, and the intricacy of the dialogue between the two is incredibly impactful and thematically timely in the real world; this may be the single best scene in the season yet. 

Image from Disney+

The ominousness of Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) in the past few episodes has been discussed as to whether or not she could be the Power Broker. I’m back to thinking that she is because of one small detail: her sole appearance in this episode is a phone call with Batroc (Georges St-Pierre) in which she offers him a job. We later see Batroc teaming up with Karli (Erin Kellyman) and the remainder of the Flag Smashers. Who has the Power Broker been in search of during the entirety of the series? The Flag Smashers, even though Batroc only wants to kill the Falcon, not to assist in their political statement. So far I feel no different about this group of antagonists since I did early on. They are without a doubt the weakest link in the show, and I don’t think next week will change my thoughts.

Showrunner Malcolm Spellman has teased a lot for episode five of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” including that this episode was the strongest in the series from both an acting and story standpoint. It doesn’t make sense why anyone would say that when there’s still another episode left, and hopefully this statement is not implying that next week’s episode may be a step below what we’ve seen so far. Spellman also said that this episode would include a cameo by an award-winning actor or actress who will be playing a character we have not seen yet, and they will also be appearing in future projects. Today we found out that this character is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (aka Madame Hydra) played by 11-time Emmy award-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Originally, she was meant to debut in “Black Widow,” but due to the swap of releases, she showed up for the first time here. This is perfect casting that I never would have thought of. I thought it was a nice nod to Garry Shandling by replacing one comedic legend with another, both in very similar roles.

This introduction leads me to believe that not only will the Thunderbolts be assembled in the near future, but the Dark Avengers will be as well. I see some sort of differentiation between these groups, and they could each work simultaneously because, unless we’re backtracking to the concept of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” HYDRA and the United States government have two very different ideologies. My guess would be that Thaddeus Ross assembles the Thunderbolts consisting of, at the very least, Zemo (Daniel Brühl). Both of these men also believe that superheroes should not be allowed to exist. In this episode, Zemo is brought by the Dora Milaje to The Raft, a prison run by Ross, so it makes sense that he would run the Thunderbolts in The Raft, just as Amanda Waller ran the Suicide Squad in Belle Reve in the DC universe. Conversely, Madame Hydra recruits John Walker to be shoo-in Captain America, who has otherwise gone by the alias U.S. Agent, as part of the Dark Avengers because nobody wants to root for a team that John Walker is on.

Image from Disney+

Once again, we’re at a point where time is of great value, and I am wondering if we have enough of it to wrap up “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” before moving onto “Loki.” Marvel taking their sweet time to unpack numerous details about their underdeveloped side characters may be frustrating when it comes to wanting more from the story, but they ultimately succeeded in their primary goal. There is a post-credits scene that shows Walker recreating a replica of the shield, although this would’ve been a lot more surprising had Marvel not released a mid-season promo trailer including this slightly different-looking shield. Will we know whether Karli was right and the GRC (Global Repatriation Council) is a villainous organization? Will Torres (Danny Ramirez) get a wingsuit of his own? Could Steve Rogers show up next week? With where we leave off, I see a high stakes finale where all sides of this conflict may converge.