The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1 Episode 5, “Truth,” is a strong penultimate episode because it finally delivers on what the other episodes touch on. It circles back and pulls the needle through loose threads to set up what will ideally be a cohesive and satisfying finale of this story. The issues of specifically the past two episodes don’t fade away due to the events of “Truth.” Episode 5 makes some of the show’s most prominent issues (like Lemar’s death and the underuse of Sam Wilson) more frustrating because we see what TFATWS can do.
Not Captain America Anymore
John Walker stays true to his terrible ways until the end of this episode, including the mid-credits scene. It’s a testament to Wyatt Russell’s talents that I continue to dislike Walker more and more with every episode. Seriously, what does Walker think he’s going to do with that dollar-store shield up against Vibranium? He still has super-soldier serum in his body, but that shield is going to crack under the slightest pressure.
The action sequence with Sam, Bucky, and Walker is my second favorite of the series, next to the one on top of the moving semi-trucks. Then again, it’s not the action that matters to me at this moment. It matters more to me that Sam and Bucky are fighting together to get the shield out of Walker’s hands finally. So much of the first half of TFATWS was spent on Bucky and Sam bickering and working together begrudgingly since they have since Captain America: Civil War. It’s exciting to see them enthusiastically on the same side of a fight.
Expectedly, Walker clings to the title and the shield for as long as he can. Unexpectedly, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier allows the Marvel Cinematic Universe to critique, albeit sparingly, the military through John Walker. People have been justifiably criticizing the MCU for its representation of the military for years, but nothing massive changes. There are moments with Walker in this episode that come across as critiques of the government and military that would never show up in the past. It gives me hope that maybe things will be different in the MCU now.
Walker looks at a panel of government officials and tells them, “You built me,” and he’s right. They strip him of his title and authority as Captain America, amongst other punishments, as a means to wash their hands of the situation. It’s not that easy, and Walker calls them on it. Walker cites many times that he followed orders as the perfect soldier (the opposite of Erskine’s intentions for Captain America), and they refuse to accept their accountability in that. The government plays a crucial role in Walker’s disillusionment. Walker as Captain America represents what America is but refuses to recognize itself as, and nothing will change until the powers that be take accountability for that toxicity.
What Could Be
Sam Wilson really is the best of us. “Truth” proves it over and over again. Not to mention, Anthony Mackie is an immense force Marvel Studios is lucky to have on their side. It’s near impossible for your heart not to shatter after Bucky drops the shield at Sam’s side and Sam attempts to wipe the blood off of it.
“Truth” also gives many fans, myself included, a scene that we’ve been clamoring for since Isaiah Bradley’s introduction to the MCU — a one-on-one scene with him and Sam. Carl Lumbly is an incredible performer, and Anthony Mackie steps up to match him during their interactions. This episode dedicates more time to Isaiah’s story, like it deserves. It also closes the door on Bradley’s story because he chooses to do so, and Sam respects that decision.
It’s worth mentioning that the title of this episode feels connected to Marvel Comics’ Truth: Red, White & Black, written by Robert Morales with art by Kyle Baker, in which Marvel retroactively introduces Isaiah Bradley.
In the same way that this feels like the last time we will see Isaiah Bradley on TFATWS, Sam shares a scene with Joaquín Torres that feels like the latter’s final scene. Although, it comes across like we’ll see Torres again in another property and, more likely than not, with a new set of wings. These Disney+ shows are putting in the work by introducing all of these younger heroes. It’s exciting to think how they all may come together in the somewhat near future (probably not that near, but it’s still nice to hope).
Ultimately, Sam takes the same advice that he gives his co-worker later on in the episode: he stops looking to other people for who he should be. Sam listens to and respects Isaiah’s perspective but makes the right decision for him at the end of the day. For Sam Wilson, that’s to pick the shield back up. He says, “But what would be the point of all the pain and suffering if I don’t stand up and keep fighting?”
Sam believes there’s something better to fight for and believe in, and that’s one of the main reasons why Steve gave him the shield. That’s what Steve fought for, too. Sam Wilson is the right person for the job, and it’s all the more moving and rewarding to see him come to that realization on his own time and his own way. It’s been a long and bumpy road to this point, but it is worth it. It gives me goosebumps to watch Sam practice with the shield as Henry Jackman’s “Louisiana Hero” melds with a very familiar Captain America theme. Sam’s already making it his own, thankfully.
Last week I wrote about how I didn’t want Sam to be burdened with repairing Captain America’s reputation so that he could don the same stars and stripes that Walker did. TFATWS doesn’t disappoint in that department because the look on Sam’s face (once again, expertly performed by Anthony Mackie) when he opens Bucky’s present for him from Wakanda tells me everything. He has a new suit! New Cap, new suit!
A New Path
In Louisiana, we get to see Bucky more relaxed than we have since probably the 1940s. We see him genuinely smile more times than he ever has in the past. Sam, Sarah, and her sons make Bucky feel at home, and it’s too much for my fragile heart to take. The joy on Bucky’s face when he sees Sam’s nephews playing with the shield makes my heart grow three sizes. Furthermore, since his failed date in Episode 1, Bucky’s learned a lot because Sam is acutely aware of Bucky flirting with Sarah.
It’s fun and well to watch Sam and Bucky grow closer as they fix Sam’s family’s boat. Those montages are a fun way to show that the walls are breaking down between them. It’s the scene where they’re both throwing around the shield and talking more honestly than they have all season that stops me in my tracks. Bucky gives a proper apology to Sam: for blaming him for things he can’t control and not understanding what it meant for Steve to give the shield to a Black man. It’s genuine, and it matters.
It is a little silly that Sam critiques Bucky’s means of making amends because TFATWS hasn’t shown us a lot of that process. We see it earlier on in the show, but that’s about it. It’s also a little funny that Sam is the one to tell Bucky that amends have to revolve around an apology that makes the people Bucky’s wronged feel better, not Bucky. Did Dr. Raynor never teach Bucky about proper apologies?
Regardless, this moment is so grounded that I forget about the Vibranium arm and shield and the more significant threats because it’s just two guys wanting to be and do better. The fact that they’re willing to help each other succeed is proof alone that they’re more than co-workers.
Personally, a highly significant part of this scene is when Bucky says, “When Steve told me what he was planning…” That reframes the end of Avengers: Endgame in a more positive light for this Bucky and Steve fan. Most of their final moments together on-screen hinge on, you guessed it, Sebastian Stan’s immense ability to express everything through his eyes. Along with some interviews where Stan says as much, I chose to believe that Steve and Bucky spoke off-camera before Steve went back with the stones. It’s a relief to know that is the truth.
I’m excited to see what Bucky does next now that he knows he can bring positive change to people’s lives and, in turn, start to find that peace that he so desperately craves. It bothers me that Dr. Raynor tells Bucky in Episode 1 that wanting peace is “bullshit” because it’s not. The people who have been wronged by the Winter Soldier, like Yori, look for closure that could guide them towards peace. Bucky can give them that.
Like Sam tells Bucky, it won’t be easy; hard work never is, but it’s worth fighting for that endgame. Peace is worth it.
- I refuse to believe Sharon is the Power Broker.
- I am still shocked that Sharon and Batroc are working together.
- Zemo has to come back to the MCU somehow. I’m attached now.
- There are another thousand words to be written about that cameo.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine aka Madame Hydra?! Marvel Studios knows what it’s doing.
- I hope they can stop Karli because I want her to stick around. Erin Kellyman is so good in the part that I want her to show up in future properties.
What did you think of this episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Let us know in the comments below!
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