The Marvel Cinematic Universe is back after a yearlong hiatus, and both WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on the Disney+ streaming service have been worth the wait. Episode 5 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier sees the shield changing hands and long grudges finally settled, but a new set of threats loom on the horizon.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier brings MCU actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan back, respectively, as Sam Wilson and James “Bucky” Barnes, who are better known as the high-flying Falcon and the deadly Winter Soldier. In order to make sure you stay fully up to date, we’ll take a deep dive into each episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and discuss some of the notable moments and MCU-relevant elements you might have missed.
(This article will discuss plot points from the latest episode, so consider this a spoiler warning if you haven’t watched it yet.)
More on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
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- The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: Episode 2 highlights and Easter eggs
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- The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: Episode 4 highlights and Easter eggs
Picking up immediately after the bloody events of the fourth episode, the latest chapter of the series — titled Truth — finds the new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), on the run after brutally killing a member of the Flag Smashers while the public looked on in horror. Sam and Bucky catch up to John and manage to take Captain America’s shield from him after a prolonged battle. John is later brought back to the U.S. in disgrace and stripped of his honors and position by the government, but is later approached by a mysterious new figure, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who tells him his decision to take the super-soldier serum has made him “very, very valuable to certain people.”
Meanwhile, Bucky locates Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and turns him over to the Wakandans after a tense standoff, and Sam attempts to give the shield to original supe- soldier Archie Bradley, but his offer is rejected. Archie tells Sam that the U.S. government’s cruel treatment has left him with no love for the stars and stripes — and that the country won’t tolerate a Black man as Captain America anyway. Sam heads home and fixes up his family’s boat with some help from Bucky, and the pair finally seem to bury their grudges. Sam begins to embrace the idea of becoming Captain America, and after the obligatory training montage, the episode ends with him opening a package he received from Wakanda that is almost certainly a new, winged suit to go with the shield.
However, the Flag Smashers appear to be planning a massive attack in New York City with some help from mercenary Georges Batroc (Georges St-Pierre) — and possibly Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), too. And a mid-credits scene reveals that John is also hard at work creating a new shield for himself.
She insists on not being called “Val,” but Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine will have to get accustomed to it if her MCU debut is as big as we suspect it might be. Louis-Dreyfus’ character has been a key player in the shadows of Marvel Comics lore for decades, and her introduction in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier likely hints at intriguing things to come in the next phase of the MCU.
First appearing in a 1967 issue of Strange Tales, she has always been deeply involved in the world of espionage, with constantly shifting allegiances. An agent of both SHIELD and HYDRA at various points, she was also SHIELD director Nicky Fury’s love interest for a while — a relationship that once led to a fight between Nick and Steve Rogers. We don’t know what she’s up to yet in the MCU, but one thing seems certain: She’s as difficult to trust in the MCU as she has been in Marvel’s comics.
New titles all around
While Sam’s transition to Captain America is at the heart of the episode — and arguably, the series as a whole — he’s not the only character who seems poised to take on a new role.
John Walker’s evolution to U.S. Agent, a powerful, more aggressive version of Captain America with a long history as both hero and villain in Marvel’s comics, has always been the anticipated narrative path for Russell’s character in the series. So far, the series has built up that transition by giving John a backstory filled with both heroism and heartache, adding plenty of depth to a character that could have easily been a hollow foil for the show’s protagonists. With this episode’s mid-credits scene, we finally see John taking the next step toward going solo as the nation that created him and celebrated him now turns its back on him when he’s at his lowest point. Sure, Sam and Bucky are the title characters, but the series has been as much about John’s journey as theirs.
John might not be the only character about to undergo a transition. U.S. Air Force officer Joaquin Torres (Danny Ramirez) returns in the new episode to catch Sam up on the Flag Smashers’ activities, but also becomes the owner of Sam’s cast-off wings, which John ripped apart during their battle and seemingly destroyed. In Marvel’s comics history, Torres actually becomes the new Falcon when Sam takes on the mantle of Captain America. While Torres’ backstory in the comics has him growing wings as the result of a mad scientist’s experimentation on undocumented immigrants, Marvel’s show has found a different way to give the character a pair of high-tech wings, so there’s a chance the end result of Torres as Falcon could indeed happen.
New suit, who dis?
We don’t get to see Sam’s new suit in this episode, but if it’s going to be anything like its comics counterpart (pictured below), it has a lot to live up to.
Sam made his official debut as Captain America in a 2014 issue of the Captain America series written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Stuart Immonen. He was then given his own solo series, Captain America: Sam Wilson, a few months later that ran for two years and chronicled his adventures as the new Captain America. The suit he wore for that series changed over time, but its original incarnation blended the traditional stars-and-stripes theme of Captain America’s uniform with the wings and goggles of Falcon’s long-standing uniform. It will be interesting to see how much of that merged costume makes the leap from page to screen in Marvel’s show.
It was just a brief mention, but when Ayo (Florence Kasumba) indicates that the Dora Milaje will take Baron Zemo to The Raft, it’s a line worth noting — and not just because it’s a little surprising that they’re not taking him back to Wakanda. In both Marvel’s comics and the MCU, The Raft is the high-security, underwater prison where high-profile criminals with superpowers or other abilities are locked up. We saw it briefly in Captain America: Civil War, as it’s the penitentiary where Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant-Man were briefly imprisoned after their battle with Iron Man and his allies, and it’s also where some of the MCU’s memorable villains have also ended up.
Among the noteworthy MCU characters currently imprisoned there are Willis Stryker, aka Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey), from the Luke Cage series, and Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) from Jessica Jones. Zemo will now join them there, putting one of Marvel’s most brilliant manipulators in a facility filled with some of the MCU’s most powerful villains. What could go wrong?
New episodes of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier premiere every Friday on the Disney+ streaming service.
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