After the shocking ending of Episode 4, in which John Walker (Wyatt Russell), the illegitimate, government-sponsored replacement Captain America, killed a Flag Smasher with the Captain America shield while being filmed, it was clear that his Captain America days were numbered. So numbered in fact, after Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) wrestle the shield away from him, fearing he would hurt more people with it, he is immediately discharged from the army and stripped of his Captain America title.
It was a bit faster than I expected — it would have been very easy for Marvel to emulate real life and have a pro-Walker MAGA-like crowd bolster him up for a while, with the help of their version of the GOP, before Sam inevitably gets the shield back — but I’m glad Marvel didn’t waste our time and did what needed to happen in a relatively efficient manner.
With the fall of Walker, Sam is left grappling with the consequences of his decision to turn the shield over to the government, and his ultimate destiny to don it, and what it means for a Black man to be Captain America. He visits Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), the first Black super soldier, whose reward for serving the country was an illegal 30 years of incarceration and experimentation. He then visits his family back home, and he rallies together his hometown, cashing in on favors his family accumulated over the years, to fix his family’s boat, and Bucky even comes by to help out and vibe with Sam.
Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) does get arrested by the Wakandans for his killing of their former leader, King T’Chaka, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him.
Everything is building up to a final confrontation between Sam — presumably as the new Captain America — and Bucky and the Flag Smashers. Episode 5 firmly makes “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” Sam’s superhero origin story, as well as a necessary chapter of development for Bucky (Sam confronts him about how he’s making amends wrong, and I have a feeling he’ll revisit the old man whose son he killed that he was hanging out with earlier in the show). It was never about Battlestar or John Walker; they were just roadblocks in Sam and Bucky’s journey.
The series’ penultimate episode lets our characters take a breather and reflect on recent events, while offering key character building moments that might have been rushed had this story been crammed into a 2-hour movie. ANd because of that, I’ve come to like Sam and Bucky even more.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the finale. I just wish this show was longer.
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” Season 1: Episode 5 “Truth” gets an 8/10