In “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” recap, Sam and Bucky confront the new Captain America as Karli prepares to launch her biggest strike yet…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Heavy is the head that wears the crown or in the case of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” it’s whoever is holding Captain America’s shield.
Steve Rogers was a shining example of everything that was right about super-heroism because he truly always wanted to do the right thing — and judging by his actions throughout his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he really was the moral compass for every other character in the films or television shows.
But during the time Steve Rogers was frozen in ice, the United States government did everything possible to create another version of him with the Super Soldier program and the results were disastrous. Not only did they experiment on Black soldiers, treating them as nothing more than guinea pigs to see if their new serum worked or not but when the correct formula was finally discovered, they tortured and imprisoned the man who was given new powers because they wanted to give them to somebody else.
Now with Steve gone, the U.S. government is back to the same old tricks again by creating a new Captain America while all but ignoring the man he hand-picked to succeed him. Of course, Sam Wilson didn’t seem all that interested in accepting the role as a new Captain America, especially considering the horrific things done in the name of that shield he was supposed to carry.
That leads us to the penultimate episode this season, which featured the downfall of one Captain America and perhaps the rise of another. The episode also featured the introduction of a new character, who will almost certainly play a major part in the MCU moving forward, especially where John Walker is concerned because we definitely haven’t seen the last have him — and it appears a longstanding theory about the true identity of the Power Broker was nearly revealed.
With that said, let’s get to our recap for the latest episode of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” titled “Truth”….
The American Way
The penultimate episode picks up just moments after the last one ended after John Walker as Captain America — with Super Soldier serum coursing through his veins — used his shield to kill a member of the Flag Smashers after his own friend and partner Lemar Hoskins was murdered by Karli Morgenthau.
After fleeing the scene and running to a nearby warehouse, Walker is confronted by Sam and Bucky, who tell him that he needs to hand over the shield and face the consequences of his actions. Of course, Walker feels he was completely justified for reacting the way he did after Lemar was killed — and he’s not willingly handing over the shield or the mantle as Captain America to anybody.
As tensions finally boil over, the new Captain America — with a shield covered in blood — starts a fight against Sam and Bucky. With the Super Soldier serum and his years of training as a soldier, Walker more than holds his own in the two-on-one fight, at one point tossing Bucky across the room and actually destroying Sam’s falcon wings.
Just when it looks like Walker is about to take his second life that day with the shield raised up above his head about to come crashing back down on Sam, Bucky makes the save and gets the upper hand. Bucky eventually beats back Walker, snaps his arm and then with Sam jumping into the air with the shield, they sandwich the new Captain America and he’s finally subdued on the ground. Almost in disgust, Bucky looks at the shield that his best friend Steve Rogers so proudly carried and he just drops it on the ground next to Sam.
With Walker headed back to the United States, Bucky is leaving on a mission of his own while Sam meets with Torres, who arrives with news that Karli has gone far underground after the events in Latvia and she’s completely off the radar. Sam knows Karli is far from finished so finding her has to be a priority.
Back in the U.S., Walker arrives for a meeting with the Senate subcommittee that assigned him to become Captain America. He’s admonished for his actions, more likely because he chose to kill someone in the full view of like 100 people, all with cameras pointed directly at him. As a result, Walker is stripped of his title as Captain America as well as his rank in the military while receiving an other than honorable discharge as he is ordered to return to civilian life.
Walker lashes out that he only did what was asked of him and what the American military complex taught him to do. None of that matters to the Senators ready to be rid of him because Walker embarrassed the United States by murdering a person and getting caught doing it.
The general consensus all season long is that nobody likes John Walker and it’s understandable considering he was essentially created by the government as a new Captain America. While many opinions about Walker have been on the money, his reminder that this is what the military taught him to do and he only carried out the orders handed to him by the government should serve as a harsh reality check for anyone just hating this guy because he’s a Dollar Store version of Steve Rogers.
Following the hearing, Walker is lamenting about what his future holds now that he’s been discarded by the government he served for most of his adult life. His wife reminds him that right now all that matters is taking responsibility to tell Lemar’s parents about what happened to him in Latvia so they can receive some sort of closure following their son’s death.
At that moment, a woman arrives and introduces herself as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine — played by the great Julia Louis-Dreyfus — and she’s there to offer Walker sympathy for only doing his job. Val — as she prefers to be called, although she hopes no one calls her that either — tells Walker that he was justified in killing that member of the Flag Smashers and she agreed with his decision to take the Super Soldier serum as well.
Walker is obviously taken back by this woman who knows so much about him but Val promises that she’s going to be the best friend he could ever ask for now that he’s been bounced out of his role as Captain America. She tells him the greatest choice he could make would be answering her call when it comes.
She leaves but hand over a business card to Walker’s wife with one side in all white and the other in all black but no identifying markers of any kind.
Now comic book fans are probably frothing at the mouth for the introduction of this particular character, especially knowing that Marvel wouldn’t cast an acting heavyweight like Julia Louis-Dreyfus unless she was going to play a major part in the story moving forward. In the comics, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a Russian sleeper agent, who actually becomes a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. before her true identity is discovered. She eventually becomes known by another name — Madame Hydra — but that too was a rouse as she was really operating for a shadowy organization known as Leviathan. Valentina interacted with numerous characters throughout the Marvel Universe including Nick Fury as she was a master of spy work and espionage.
How she’s going to tie into the larger story in the MCU remains to be seen but there are rumors swirling that perhaps she will put together the group known as the Thunderbolts, which is a team comprised mostly of reformed supervillains.
Meanwhile after his escape in Latvia, we find that Baron Zemo didn’t try to start waging a new war against the Avengers or anybody else for that matter. He actually returned to his native Sokovia to pay respects to all of the people lost in the wake of the battle against Ultron. That’s exactly where Bucky tracks him down because he knew Zemo would return to his birthplace and the home that he once shared with his family before they died.
Zemo tries to tell Bucky that Karli has now crossed a line of no return and the only way to deal with her is with lethal force. Bucky promises they’ll deal with Karli soon enough but he’s no longer the killer known as The Winter Soldier.
As proof, Bucky refuses to shoot Zemo and instead hands him over to the Dora Milaje, who have arrived to take him into custody where he will serve out his prison sentence in Wakanda. Before leaving, Bucky asks Ayo for another favor, which we will see paid off later in the episode.
As for Sam Wilson, he returns home with the shield and he pays a visit to Isaiah Bradley, who wants nothing to do with the symbol of a country that not only abandoned him but imprisoned him for 30 years.
Isaiah then tells his story about how he was recruited along with other Black soldiers for the government to test out a new Super Soldier serum. Many of them died but the few who survived were thrown back into the war to fight for their country. When two of the soldiers were captured by the enemy, Isaiah couldn’t allow them to remain prisoner but the government refused to sanction a rescue mission.
So Isaiah went AWOL and rescued the men himself and as a reward he was punished with a prison sentence where he spent the next 30 years while constantly being poked and prodded as the government sought to reproduce the Super Soldier serum that worked in him but nobody else. His wife sent him letters while he was serving in the military but they were never delivered and after Isaiah went to prison, she was told that he was dead.
His wife eventually died as well and it wasn’t until a nurse in the prison where he was being held captive finally saw enough to set Isaiah free, return the letters to him and declare him dead so that he could live whatever life was left for him. When Sam suggests pulling some strings to help him regain his freedom, Isaiah tells him that he knows how the system works. He’d be dead inside a day if he was found alive because he was the government’s dirty secret.
The same goes for Sam or any other Black man taking up that shield as Captain America.
“They erased me. My history. But they’ve been doing that for 500 years. Pledge allegiance to that my brother. They will never let a Black man be Captain America and even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would want to be.”
~ Isaiah Bradley
Powerful words send Sam on his way as he returns home to Louisiana to be reunited with his sister Sarah and his nephews. He finds out after coming home that Sarah wasn’t able to sell their parents fishing boat because it wasn’t in good enough condition.
So Sam takes it upon himself to fix up the boat by calling in favors from anyone and everyone in the community who ever owed the Wilson family a favor. Sure enough, friends and loved ones show up in droves to lend a helping hand as they work to put the family boat back together again.
Even Bucky Barnes shows up to help out as they seek to return the Wilson family boat to good working order while giving Sam the box that he received from the Wakandans
Later after Sarah kicks them off repair duty, Sam and Bucky have a training session with Captain America’s shield while discussing the legacy that comes along with it. Bucky apologizes to Sam for being so hard on him for giving up the shield because he never fully understood the weight that came along with asking a Black man to become Captain America. Add to that, Bucky was dealing with his own trauma from losing Steve, who was the only person to really believe in him since he came out of his trance as the Winter Soldier.
Sam acknowledges that there’s no easy answers when it comes to the legacy of that shield but he also reminds Bucky that he needs to stop letting other people define him. Instead of trying to right the wrongs of the people he hurt or helped as the Winter Soldier, Sam suggests instead offering a sincere apology and hopefully giving some of those people closure — like his pal Mr. Nakajima, who is still left wondering what happened to his son when he died on that business trip several years earlier.
Before leaving, Bucky reminds Sam that when he gets a lead on Karli to give him a call and he’ll be there to back him up again. While they’re not ready to say they’re partners or even co-workers, they’re just two guys who shared a very close friend.
The next morning, Sam is preparing to paint over his parents’ names on the boat but Sarah can’t let him do it. The boat just means too much to their family to sell it to someone else so they decided to keep it. Sarah also reminds Sam that he needs to make his own choices and not allow Isaiah Bradley tell him how he should feel about the shield or possibly becoming Captain America.
Sam knows that he’s sacrificed so much and Steve had all the faith in the world in him to take over that role but what does it mean if he just gives up the shield again? So instead, Sam begins an intensive training session with the shield as he prepares to finally take up the mantle as the new Captain America.
Back in Madripoor, Sharon Carter makes a call to an operative to offer him another mission worth double the price that she paid him the last time. She reminds this mystery person that he owes her for keeping him out of an Algerian prison.
It doesn’t take much to figure out that Sharon is speaking to Georges Batroc — the French mercenary who Sam battled in the debut episode. The conversation also seems to confirm the longstanding rumors that Sharon Carter is in fact The Power Broker.
It’s the only explanation that makes any sense, especially considering her ties to the Super Soldier program through both S.H.I.E.L.D. and her own family connections with Peggy Carter. Remember, Sharon was declared an enemy of the state after the events in “Captain America: Civil War” and she didn’t get a presidential pardon after half of life in the universe returned from the Blip. Instead, she’s been forced to fend for herself while building a new business in Madripoor and it certainly seems like what she’s built is a criminal empire.
Further evidence of that comes later after we catch up with Karli Morgenthau and the remaining members of her Super Soldier Flag Smashers. They returned to Latvia to find the home they shared with Donya Madani has been shut down by the Global Repatriation Council in response to their attacks on GRC supply houses. The escalating war requires an even stronger statement so Karli plots a course for New York City where she hopes to stop a GRC meeting where they will vote to enact the PATCH Act, which will reinstate all borders across the globe and require people to return to their countries of origin before the Blip ever happened.
While sitting in Central Park, Karli tells Diego that in order to stop the GRC, they’re going to need back up and that’s when Georges Batroc arrives with a suitcase filled with weapons. He claims he wants revenge on The Falcon for shutting him down during his last mission and in exchange, he will help the Flag Smashers go after the GRC.
Of course this seems like a rather convenient set up for Batroc to betray Karli and the Flag Smashers to then reveal his true allegiance to the Power Broker, who we now believe to be Sharon Carter.
Finally at the GRC meeting, members of the council argue about passing the vote when all of the lights shut off in the building and the Flag Smasher rush inside to take all of them hostage.
Back in Louisiana, Sam gets word from Torres that he’s been able to track pings from communications between different members of the Flag Smashers and until now all of their activity has remained in Europe. But he just received another ping and it came from New York City and Sam knows that means it’s time to go to work.
He then grabs the case left for him by Bucky and he opens it, looks down at what is waiting for him inside and while we don’t see the contents, it’s safe to assume this is a new and improved outfit to transform Sam into Captain America 2.0 with technology provided by Wakanda.
Last but not least — John Walker does go tell Lemar Hoskins’ parents what happened to their son and how he got the man who killed him. Of course, Walker is lying because he knows that Karli was responsible for Lemar’s death and it doesn’t sit well with him at all that she’s still walking around free.
So in a post-credits scene, we find Walker constructing his own Captain America shield and this will undoubtedly end with the birth of his new character — the U.S. Agent.
The season finale of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” drops next Friday on Disney+!