The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5 Shows That John Walker Isn’t Shield-Worthy

Falcon and Winter Soldier episode 5 gives us the big fight we've been wanting since the start.

Falcon and Captain America's shield
Photo: Marvel Entertainment

This Falcon and the Winter Soldier review contains spoilers.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5

When we last left our patriotic heroes, Captain America’s replacement, John Walker, had just publicly chopped a man to death with his shield. Between this and the way Mysterio edited footage to make Spider-Man look like a mass murderer, it’s a really bad time for Avengers replacements. There’s probably footage of Valkyrie biting someone’s face off to fulfill the trifecta.

Recently, Marvel released a trailer to hype up the last two episodes, and the long-awaited fight between our titular protagonists and the unhinged Walker came off as some kind of climactic final battle. Instead, as a curve ball, that’s exactly where the penultimate episode begins. Before there can be any international fallout over Captain America publicly slaughtering a defeated enemy in front of dozens of recording cell phones, Falcon and Bucky track Walker down and insist he hand over the shield or else.

Much like the first episode, “Truth” starts strong with a major action sequence, and then takes it easy for the rest of the episode. Granted, the 2-on-1 slugfest has far more weight to it than Falcon taking on Batroc in the skies because, by this point, we care more about everyone involved. We also care more for what’s next and where the story will take this trio.

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Walker himself is fascinating throughout the episode. He refuses to accept any responsibility for his actions and only points fingers at others. To give the devil his due, there is some truth in his anger. It’s easy to be pissed at Falcon for refusing to cooperate and work together when Walker tried to make peace with him early on, even if it means dismissing Falcon’s issues with the situation.

The panel of old government guys dressing Walker down for his actions is the best representation of how cold, cruel, and emotionless the United States government can be, personifying the decisions to turn Isaiah Bradley’s life into a nightmare or betray Sam Wilson’s trust. When Walker calls them out for creating him – a man who played by their rules and did what they wanted until it didn’t suit them anymore – it’s understandable. He’s just the latest in a line of Captain Americas who have grown disillusioned with their handlers.

But he’s still not the good guy here. Part of his refusal to let things go is that Walker catches himself lying. He spends so much time claiming his victim was responsible for Battlestar’s death and that killing him was the right thing to do. Then why can’t he move on? Because he comes to realize it’s bullshit. The actual killer is out there and until Karli pays, his mission is unfinished.

Karli and the Flag-Smashers take a breather in this episode, allowing various plots to roll on while they plot for later. That’s part of what truly makes “Truth” feel so weird. Even though there is one more episode after this, “Truth” feels like the season finale for a show that’s getting at least one more season. There’s an overall feeling of quiet resolution that spreads through all of this, and most of the dangers feel like something that will be dealt with down the line.

Sam and Bucky work through their beef. Sam has a less tense meeting with Bradley. Zemo’s role in the story reaches a satisfying conclusion. The down-to-earth subplot about the Wilson family and their boat reaches a resolution that works well enough. Yes, Walker is still a ticking time bomb, the Flag-Smashers are licking their wounds, and Sharon Carter is…well, who knows, but we’re seeing the catharsis of Sam accepting his destiny. The looming terrors are merely looming.

Even the episode’s big cameo is reminiscent of one of the MCU’s most iconic post-credits scenes. That it happens so early in this episode just makes everything feel so out of whack.

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This all just makes me look forward to next week’s episode more. There’s a lot left in the air and we’ll see it all come to a head in the finale. But we got through so much of the non-action stuff this time around that the finale not only shouldn’t feel overstuffed but will probably allow for a lot more action.

Anyway, the real MVP of this episode is Anthony Mackie’s face whenever Bucky was in any way polite to Sarah Wilson. Good God, that said it all.


4 out of 5