This week’s episode of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” takes the scenic route after last week’s explosive episode and allows some great character development to our heroes.
The downside to this though is that the villains regressed and all ended up being pretty uninteresting by the end. This episode began to set the stage for an epic finale however for next week however, the central conflict feels a bit weak thanks to the poor handling of the series’ villains.
Contain Spoilers for ep. 5: “Truth”
Let’s Recap: Last week’s jam-packed episode saw Sam Wilson’s (Anthony Mackie) efforts to talk down the Flag Smashers foiled by John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and Lemar Hoskins (Cle Bennett) were more interested in silencing them, permanently. When Walker and Hoskins tried to take the group on, Hoskins was killed. Walker, who had taken the super-soldier serum flew into a rage and ended up publicly killing one of the Flag Smashers.
Episode 5 then kicks off with an exciting fight- the only one featured this week.
Wilson and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) take on Walker, who is refusing to turn himself in following his crime.
Viewers are then given quite the brutal sequence. Characters are tossed around, equipment gets destroyed and a few limbs are broken. Based on how Walker is fighting he is out for blood.
And this destructive side to Walker as a super-soldier is a nice foil to Rogers’ Captain America. Seeing how willing he is to abuse his power really drives home what made Rogers such a great Captain America and that is- Responsibility.
The pair eventually succeed in arresting Walker with Wilson taking the shield back from him. Wilson is now confronted with a fork in the road this week. To become to not to become Captain America, but doesn’t know if he should or not.
To help himself decide, Wilson revisits retired super soldier Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) to see why he didn’t take up the shield in the 1950s. This whole scene focuses greatly on racism and how embedded it is within America.
It’s revealed that not only did America’s racism prevent Bradley from becoming the next Captain America, but it also forced him to be tortured and experimented on. All for in hopes that those working on the serum could figure out what the serum worked on Bradley and pass it onto the next “great white hope.”
The two actors Lumbly and Mackie carry this emotional moment flawlessly. When Bradley talks of his past, Lumbly’s delivery is heartbreaking because you can really hear the hurt when he talks. This heavy conversation ends with a bleak conclusion however though by Bradley saying that America will never accept a Black Captain America.
Shaken by this conversation, Wilson returns home.
Barnes later catches up with Wilson at his home in Louisiana, seeking closure for Wilson’s choice to retire the shield early in the series. It’s revealed that Barnes was actually in on the plan with Rogers to make Wilson the next Captain America. After touching on Wilson’s conversation with Bradley the two squash their beef in a healthy & mature way.
With Barnes apologizing for not considering how Wilson would feel about being handed the shield before giving it to him.
Now the chemistry between Mackie and Stan is stronger than ever in episode 5.
It’s delightful to just watch them hang out and that’s what most of the episode is. For the first time, the two feel like friends.
It’s a shame though that there’s only one episode left because the pair share the screen quite well together.
Shield or No Shield, Wilson Decides
In the end, Wilson decides to take up the shield. Not because Rogers chose him, but of his own accord. He receives a gift from the Wakandan people- presumably a new, high-tech Captain America suit. It’s not shown in this episode, but it’ll most likely pop up in the finale.
Mackie’s performance this week was spectacular and it’ll be a treat to watch him suit up the next episode.
On the other hand, you have Walker who won’t be suiting up for a while. After killing a Flag Smasher he’s discharged from the military and loses the Captain America title. Throughout the episode, we see Walker struggle. He himself feels like he’s a victim of the United States and the claims the government “made” him into the person he is.
Much of Walker’s scenes feel designed to elicit empathy for him. However, considering we just watched him savagely murder a defenseless person, the writing this week doesn’t quite get the job done.
The show seemingly forgets what makes Walker interesting which is his capacity for evil.
Walker is at his best when he’s being a bad guy. He’s got a terrifying screen presence that few in the MCU can rival. He’s hateable and that’s a good thing. The show wastes time with its attempts to draw out empathy by trying to make him relatable.
This decision ends up making Walker one of the weaker parts of the episode, but not necessarily the weakest.
The Flag Smashers has taken a top spot in that category. The moral ambiguity of their actions makes them compelling foes, but things have become more black & white week.
Them being this “evil” has begun to feel slightly forced. Much of the tension these past weeks has stemmed from whether The Flag Smashers are truly bad not. This episode though just labels them as bad and strips the morally complex central conflict into a basic good vs. bad battle. Which is just like every other MCU movie.
“Truth” sets up some pretty exciting things for our heroes, but fails to do its villain’s justice. It’ll surely be thrilling to watch Wilson’s debut as Captain America against the Flag Smashers, but that’s just about the only reason to tune into the finale. If you’ve seen a Marvel movie before you’ll probably have a pretty good idea of what next week’s final fight between good and evil will look like.
Click Here to watch “the Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” on Disney+.