The penultimate episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier raises the stakes significantly.
While it was not as riveting as previous episodes, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Season 1 Episode 5 still provides jaw-dropping action and sets up the show for an epic season finale.
Just as the episode's title implies, our characters must reconcile with various truths, even if they are unpleasant. Bucky, Sam, Walker, and Dovich must reevaluate where they stand to figure out their next moves.
Let us begin with Walker. Boy, to say that he is in hot water would be the understatement of the century. We knew whatever happened would not be pretty, considering that he brutally murdered a Flag Smasher that had nothing to do with Lemar's death. It was just the first Flag Smasher Walker could get his hands on.
Now, we know the price he must pay. The United States stripped Walker of his military status, including his title as Captain America. He will not receive any benefits that veterans are eligible for.
I lived my life by your mandates! I dedicated my life to your mandates! I only ever did what you asked of me, what you told me to be and trained me to do, and I did it. And I did it well.John Walker
But Walker still has not faced Lemar's death with a clear mind. And the fact that he would kill the first person he could get his hands on in retaliation just goes to show he was never fit to be Captain America.
We understand Walker must be in unbearable pain. We can only imagine the kind of pain he must feel after the untimely murder of his partner, co-worker, and best friend.
But Walker's experience is not unique. Others have lost loved ones too, and they do not go on a killing spree just because Super Soldier serum now runs through their veins.
Honestly, even if he did not have the serum, Walker would have still gone after someone in the name of vengeance. Whether he would have been successful at killing them is questionable, but there is no doubt he would not have hesitated to try.
Now that the government has discharged Walker from all duties, he feels lost and heartbroken. We never liked him as Captain America, and we recognized earlier that he was not fit for the role. Still, it is somewhat sad to see him in this state.
And he is not properly grieving since he has no problem lying to Lemar's family about who killed Lemar.
Lemar may have believed in Walker more than anyone, but it is not far-fetched to say he would be disappointed in his best friend right now. Walker's pride is deeply hurt, and after losing his best friend, he does not know what to do with himself. It seems like he will wait for Val's phone call, but only time will tell for sure.
But Walker must get it together because otherwise, he will just keep spiraling. We hope he does not become Captain America again, but we also hope he learned from this experience.
Sam: The legacy of that shield is complicated, to say the least.
Bucky: When Steve told me what he was planning, I don't think either of us really understood what it felt like for a Black man to be handed the shield. How could we? I owe you an apology. I'm sorry.
Sam: Thank you.
"Truth" focused mainly on Bucky and Sam, whose careers are on pause after the American government forbids them from getting involved with the Flag Smashers.
It is a good time for them to take a break anyway since Karli went off the grid, and they both have serious reevaluating to do.
For Sam, he needs to get to the bottom of what Captain America's shield represents, especially after learning the extent of the brutal racist experiments Isaiah Bradley endured. Does the shield only represent white Americans? Can Sam reconcile his identity as a Black man and still carry the shield? What does the shield mean to him?
These are questions he wrestles with for most of the episode until he concludes that all he can do is fight for a better future. Otherwise, pain and suffering count for nothing.
We wonder if Sam plans to become Captain America on his own terms, considering that he began training with the shield. We would love to witness this outcome, but we also know whatever he decides, it will be for the best.
Sam has come a long way since he initially handed over the shield to the government. Now, he has had time to grieve Steve properly, evaluate his life circumstances, and figure out where to go from here.
And that means training to become Captain America. Not to represent the country as it is, but to represent what it could be. What America could look like in a society free of systemic racism.
Sam wants to be Captain America, not for himself, but for the ones the system had failed. Isaiah Bradley, who had accomplished what Steve had, only to be jailed and experimented on. Sam's family struggles to maintain their business while the banks mistreat them because of their skin color.
The millions of people displaced by the Blip. The GRC -- who also hoards critical resources -- treats these people ruthlessly. That also includes Karli and the Flag Smashers, even if Sam disagrees with their methods. He wants to fight for them because the system still wronged them.
We hope to see Sam embody what Captain America should symbolize -- anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, and anti-racism. Unity, love, and growth.
Bucky: Whatever happened with Walker, it wasn't your fault. I get it. It's just that shield's the closest thing I've got left to a family. So when you retired it, it made me feel like I had nothing left. Made me question everything: you, Steve, me. You know, I've got his, uh, I've got his book. And, uh, I just figured if it worked for him, then it'd work for me.
Sam: I understand, man. But Steve is gone. And this might be a surprise, but it doesn't matter what Steve thought. You gotta stop looking to other people to tell you who you are. Let me ask you. You still having those nightmares?
Bucky: All the time. It means I remember. It means a part of me is still there. Which means a part of the Winter Soldier is still in me.
Sam; You up for a little tough love? You want to climb out of the hell you're in, do the work. Do it.
Bucky: I've been making amends.
Sam: Nah. You weren't amending; you were avenging. You were stopping all the wrongdoers you enabled as the Winter Soldier because you thought it would bring you closure. You go to these people and say sorry because you think it'll make you feel better, right? But you gotta make them feel better. You gotta go to them and be of service. I'm sure there's at least one person in that book who needs closure about something, and you're the only person who can give it to 'em.
Bucky: Probably a dozen.
Sam: That's cool. Start with one.
Meanwhile, Bucky has a much different conflict. He has to come to terms with the fact that he has a unique lived experience, and he cannot become Steve or emulate him. That will not make him a good person, no matter how hard he tries.
Bucky realizes he was only making amends through avenging those he has wronged. Sure, avenging people he wronged is not necessarily a bad thing. He delivers Zemo, a mass murderer, and a Nazi, back to the Dora Milaje. But these actions do not mean accountability.
For Bucky to truly make amends, he must take accountability. That involves owning up to his past mistakes and doing something about them to give his victims closure.
We do not know what will be next for Bucky after the showdown, but we would love to see how he goes about life now that he has gained this new perspective.
Sam and Bucky's storylines show how "Truth" takes advantage of an excellent opportunity to portray their character development. The episode did that beautifully.
Sarah: There's a fight out there, and then there's our fight here, and bro, you have taken them both on. So you really gonna let Isaiah Bradley get in your head? You gonna let him decide what you do next?
Sam: Isaiah has been to hell and back. If I was in his shoes, I'd probably feel the exact same way. But what would be the point of all the pain and sacrifice if I wasn't willing to stand up and keep fighting?
Finally, Karli seems to have passed the point of no return, and Dovich is beginning to recognize that.
He was already skeptical of her decision-making skills on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Season 1 Episode 3 when she decides to bomb a building with innocent people. However, "Truth" definitely makes him doubt her even more.
Now, Karli is working with criminals such as Georges Batroc, a mercenary. Batroc is someone who will not hesitate to profit off of people suffering from systemic abuse, as long as he can get paid.
We understand desperate times call for desperate measures, but Batroc is the kind of person who will exploit those at their most vulnerable, including Flag Smashers and GRC refugees. He would betray the Flag Smashers in a heartbeat if he got a better deal somewhere else. This man, who profits off of suffering, is a criminal, a real bad guy.
But that does not phase Karli. Dovich understands that violence was necessary for their cause, but working with terrible people that would exploit them when the opportunity arises? That is not the cause Dovich signed up for.
The Flag Smashers are considered criminals because of a poorly designed criminal justice system. Batroc is a criminal in any system or situation.
Dovich seems to go along with the plan for now, but his hesitation raises some questions. Will he eventually turn on Karli, realizing that she was approaching their cause wrongly, which will only damage it? We will find out soon.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that I can't win every fight. And that's cool; I'm okay with that. But this, this is our history. We can't lose this fight. All our struggles as a people, I think about it, and I used to say, “Imma show them. Imma go out and change the world.” Yeah, silly, I know, but when I'd look in your eyes, I could tell you were always thinking that I was running away.Sam
Over to you, Fanatics!
What did you think about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Season 1 Episode 5? Do you think Dovich will stand up to Karli? After everything is over, what will the GRC decide?
You can watch The Falcon and The Winter Soldier online right here, at TV Fanatic!
Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.