Granted, The Comic Book Version Was Transformed

Falcon & Winter Soldier episode 5 is absolutely packed with MCU Easter eggs, including the introduction of a sinister new character from Marvel Comics. As good as Falcon & Winter Soldier may be, sometimes it hasn’t really felt as though it should have been a TV series; where it’s impossible to imagine WandaVision as anything other than a superhero sitcom, this show has felt very much like an MCU movie playing out in an episodic format. But all that changes in Falcon & Winter Soldier episode 5, which takes advantage of this format to give its characters time to breathe and reflect that they probably wouldn’t get in a film.

The previous episode ended on a cliffhanger, with John Walker snapping and brutally murdering one of the Flag-Smashers. In the wake of that killing, Sam and Bucky strip Walker of the Captain America shield – and he’s unwilling to go down without a fight. It’s a measure of how far Walker has gone that he clearly attempts the same killing blows against Sam and Bucky, but in the end even the super-soldier serum isn’t enough to help him beat two experienced Avengers. This action-packed opening then segues neatly into a more measured, reflective episode in which every character – hero and villain alike – struggles to deal with the consequences of what happened in Latvia.

 

The Episode Title “Truth”

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5’s title is itself an Easter egg, and anyone familiar with the comics would have immediately known it would feature the return of Isaiah Bradley. The forgotten super-soldier was originally created in Robert Morales’ ground-breaking miniseries Truth: Red, White and Black back in 2003, in a story inspired by the famous Tuskegee Study, in which Black men were secretly exposed to syphilis. Morales actually thought his pitch would be too dark for Marvel, but they went with it. The miniseries was initially controversial because it wove a thread of radical prejudice into the history of Captain America, but Morales’ smart writing won over the critics. As then Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso told CBR, “By the time the story was done, the dialog around the series had substantially changed. One high-profile reviewer even wrote a column admitting he’d unfairly pre-judged the series, that he now saw it was about building bridges between people, not burning them — which I deeply respected. It’s especially meaningful when you edit a story that functions as a little more than pure entertainment.”

 

Subtle Setup For The Next Falcon

It’s easy to miss, but one important detail in Falcon & Winter Soldier episode 5 is that Sam Wilson leaves his old Falcon wings with his friend First Lieutenant Joaquín Torres. This may well be an important setup because in the comics Torres became the second Falcon. Granted, the comic book version was transformed into a human-bird hybrid by the Power Broker and has actual wings growing out of his body, so this would be a more grounded Falcon II.

 

Introducing The Contessa

John Walker is stripped of the Captain America identity. Immediately after, he’s approached by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, a character lifted straight from the comics. The Contessa is a major figure in Marvel spy lore, the lover of Nick Fury, and it’s easy to imagine her becoming the MCU’s version of Amanda Waller and assembling a black-ops team of superhumans like the Thunderbolts. In the comics, the Contessa has been tied to organizations like Leviathan and Hydra, even becoming Madam Hydra for a while. She was ultimately revealed to have been a Russian sleeper agent all along and is currently in jail. She probably isn’t to be trusted, and if Walker gives her number a call he’ll be getting involved in some very shady business indeed.

 

The Sokovia Monument

Zemo may have escaped in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4, but it wasn’t difficult for Bucky to deduce where he would go: the Sokovia Monument. The MCU’s version of Zemo is motivated entirely by the destruction of Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and previous dialogue had established he wanted to go visit the memorial. The confrontation between Bucky and Zemo is a terse one, helping provide closure for both characters as Zemo tells him he’s crossed his name out in Bucky’s notebook.

 

Zemo Is Being Taken To The Raft

The Dora Milaje declare their intent to take Zemo to the Raft, the maximum-security prison for superhumans introduced in Captain America: Civil War. They are continuing Black Panther’s own policy of letting Zemo live, although it’s now clear they intend him to never escape again; the ease with which Bucky broke him out of his cell suggests only the Raft can possibly contain him.

 

The 332d Expeditionary Operations Group

The first two episodes of Falcon & Winter Soldier toyed with America’s history of racial prejudice and the question of whether the U.S. was ready for a Black Captain America, but they failed to commit. That particular narrative thread is finally picked up in Sam Wilson’s conversation with Isaiah Bradley, in which they reflect on America’s long history of racism. There’s a reference to the 332d Fighter Group, constituted in 1942 and predominantly manned with Black servicemen. They were based at Tuskegee, the infamous camp that conducted secret experiments on Black soldiers.

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