The landscape in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has shifted after the fifth Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode titled “Truth” was released. The stakes have been raised, and the pieces on the board get set up for the finale. So, let’s take a closer look at where our protagonists are.
The journey for Sam has been about realizing why Steve Rogers gave him the shield. Through it all, Bucky questioned him, and he got confronted by John Walker. It got exacerbated by Walker’s actions in which he tainted the shield with blood. It was time to get it back. There was more to the lesson. His world view is similar to Barack Obama‘s when he said: “Yes we can.” He believes in his way of not only fighting but figuring things out. More importantly, he believes that there’s a better way to do so. It wasn’t until he speaks to Isaiah Bradley that the truth and the context push him forward. Isaiah is steadfast in his belief that:
They will never let a Black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever wanna be.
The heartbreaking tale of Bradley’s past would’ve deterred most men and maybe it should have, but Sam thought otherwise. He empathized with what he went through but understood that by avoiding the reality of things, he wouldn’t be able to make a change.
But what would be the point of all the pain and sacrifice, if I wasn’t willing to stand up and keep fighting?
It was time for Sam to become Captain America. He had to live his truth beyond what Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, or Isaiah Bradley thought. As Sam gets ready to take flight with an assist from Wakandan technology, he’s finally in a position to take on Karli and the Flag-Smashers. This time, he’ll do it his way on his terms.
Bucky has had to come to grips with his reality. Steve Rogers is no longer there to be his crutch to lean on. He’s not aimless, but he’s struggling to find his place in the world. Sam confronted him with the cold-heart truth to stop depending on others. Ultimately we’ve seen Bucky start to make his own decisions to varying results.
The moment he freed Zemo to locate the super-soldier serum as a means to an end ended up as a betrayal. Ayo and Wakanda took care of Bucky at a very vulnerable time in his life. He’ll have to live with that decision. There’s still a part of him that believes it was the right movie. It’s why, even though Zemo gets taken into custody, Bucky’s path is more open-ended than Sam’s. There’s a chance that these two will eventually cross paths again. It feels like those two are destined to work together in some capacity.
Finally, Bucky learned a bit about accountability. There was the ignorance that he had towards Sam’s plight and the complexity of becoming Captain America. There’s also the idea that just because you’re trying to make amends doesn’t mean you’re making them. As Sam advises: “Start with one.” We can surmise that in the finale, Bucky may try to give some closure to Yori. As Bucky promises to help Sam with Karli, we also know there’s always a bit of Winter Soldier inside of him.
John Walker started the season as the face of propaganda. Now he’s the symbolism of Captain America’s values. They’re tainted, like the blood on the shield. After losing the fight to Bucky and Sam, John immediately got shunned. He loses his rank, title, and pension. The same government who trotted him out as the savior has discarded him like trash.
After he met with the senate, what perhaps could be an important nod to his future, Walker is greeted by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) or “Val” for short. She offers him not only sympathy for what he’s done but a role in the future. In the comics, she’s known for a spell as Madame Hydra. In this iteration, she could be the Fury for a team of villains. So, we might finally get the Thunderbolts in the MCU. One has to think Walker will take her call.
Walker’s dishonorable discharge also led to him lying to Lemar’s parents about getting revenge for their son. His lying dishonors Lemar’s legacy and continues his denial of truth. Walker isn’t down for the count, as we see him mid-credits creating his shield. It looks like John is going to be an agent of chaos.
All roads lead toward Karli and the Flag Smashers in the finale. One can only wonder how our main characters handle their new personas as they try to live their truth.