The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Ep. 5 – Truth
After weeks of international intrigue and John Walker doing a full heel turn into super villain territory, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier gets some home cooking in Truth. Before the action returns stateside, Sam and Bucky confront an emotionally disturbed John Walker who is seeking refuge after killing Nico in front of the world. Images of Lemar flash through Walker’s mind dulling the blind rage that consumes him until Sam and Bucky inform him that it’s time to give them the shield.
Bucky and Sam’s efforts to get through to Walker prove futile. While they are sympathetic to what he’s going through he refuses to take responsibility for his actions, incorrectly identifying Nico as Lemar’s killer and lashes out with the intent to add two more to his body count. The imagery of the blood-stained shield, combined with Walker’s savage fighting technique perfectly embodies Walker’s fall from grace as well as a sadness of what could have been.
An enraged Walker gives Sam and Bucky all that they can handle. He delivers a beating on both and what stands out the most is Walker’s fighting style. His use of the shield as a lethal offensive weapon is a departure from how we’re used to seeing others wield it. He doesn’t rely on the shield alone though and uses his formidable fighting skills and the super soldier serum to knock Bucky out. Sam takes his swings at Walker too and it’s clear that he’s learned a thing or two from Peter Parker over the years when he pulls off a very Spidey-like manoeuvre in a bid to separate Walker from the shield.
Speaking of Spider-Man, the phrase usually associated with him, “With great power comes great responsibility” applies to John Walker as well. Given Cap’s mantle was an honor, one that proved too much for him to bear. His potential to be the next great Captain America exists and his abilities in battle are without doubt, but it’s the intangibles needed to replace Steve that are missing. Losing Lemar, getting beaten by Ayo and the Dora Milajae and his own personal demons snowballed into the horror show he’s become. It’s a burden carried by Sam as well in a poignant moment when Bucky, teeming with disgust, throws the tarnished shield at him. The disgrace put upon the shield and Nico’s blood are on Sam’s hands as well. Sam’s regret is clear as he tries to wipe away the blood and it’s in this moment that he realizes it’s up to him to restore honor to the shield.
There is a load of soul searching in Truth. Sam’s struggles with the shield’s legacy are compounded with keeping his family business afloat. Bucky’s identity is tied to the shield, a link to what he was before he became the Winter Soldier. There’s also his unfinished business with Zemo and his betrayal of the Wakandans. The GRC’s sweep of the camps have rounded up Karli’s followers, further disillusioning her. Walker’s court martial does nothing to weaken his belief that he’s Captain America, but his rebuke of the senator prosecuting him exposes what is at the heart of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The casual way people are cast aside cuts across several characters. Karli’s whole raison d’etre is the fight for the GRC to give displaced people such as herself a home post blip. As a defiant John Walker argued, he was built by the government to do the very thing he’s on trial for. Murder and mayhem outside of the public’s glare might work in Afghanistan but when those same actions are perpetrated using the iconic stars and stripes then there’s an issue. Walker’s international incident shelves Bucky and Sam resulting in Torres confiscating Falcon’s clipped wings. Sam’s need to make sense of everything leads him back to Isaiah Bradley where the truth sets them both free.
Bradley, like Walker were just pawns of the government and when their usefulness reached its limit, they were cast aside. Bradley’s ire is justified, a life ruined where only faking his death brings him peace. Walker, still not honest with himself or the true nature surrounding Lemar’s death, finds himself courted by yet another powerful figure looking to use him for their benefit. Enter Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, played by none other than Julia Louis-Dreyfus. De Fontaine in the comics is a former member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Madame Hydra and in the Ultimate Universe is the chairperson of the powerful OXE Group. With that in mind she may even turn out to be the Power Broker, although Sharon might a possibility there as well. De Fontaine’s introduction into the MCU opens a myriad of possibilities and sets Walker up to eventually assume the role of U.S. Agent or Super Patriot.
Zemo’s storyline is wrapped up in his final confrontation with Bucky. Standing before the Sokovian memorial site he challenges Bucky to take care of Karli. Zemo reasons that Bucky, absent Steve, or Sam’s idealistic nature is the only one who can stop her. Bucky rejects Nemo’s advice and after pointing a gun in his face hands him over to Ayo and the Dora Milajae. Things are tense between Bucky and the Wakandans but not so much that he can’t call in one more favor.
The majority of the second half of Truth focuses on Sam and Bucky repairing their relationship, Sam accepting his legacy and Karli’s final gambit. Not only does Bucky help Sam and Sarah fix their boat he also delivers Sam a new set of wings, courtesy of Shuri. Wakanda is turning into the MCU’s version of Q Branch, particularly now that Stark is gone. After the fight filled opening things settle down setting the stage for the finale. Karli enlists Batroc’s help to bring down the GRC and he has his sights set on killing Falcon. There’s also the first post credit scene in the series with Walker forging a new shield. Truth is unafraid to explore sensitive subjects such as race, human rights, legacy, and justice. While it may be too woke for some, the series is surprisingly grounded in real world issues. The result is thought provoking and forces us to question who the real villains are.