The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a show that gets better by the episode, introducing new stakes and elements with each new installment. Episode 5 provides some great scenes for Sam Wilson and Anthony Mackie really gets a chance to shine as an actor with some of the material he’s given.
The Flag Smashers storyline has proved to be a bit disappointing, becoming antagonists but not quite full-on villains. They’re sympathetically portrayed and the show wants you to know they’re fighting for good things and good people, but they just go about it the wrong way. It’s part of a lame trend in media to have “villains” who have progressive ideals but just like murder a little too much.
Wyatt Russell really deserves some credit for the performances he’s been churning out as John Walker, the character everyone loves to hate. The scenes with him are fantastic and the Bucky/Sam/Walker fight in the opening is nothing short of adrenaline pumping. Walker’s scenes also pave the way for an extremely exciting cameo — Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Some Marvel fans might recognize her name as she was once Madame Hydra in the comics.
Her appearance leaves room for an exciting future both for the show itself and the Marvel Universe as a whole.
Sam Wilson is the real star of episode 5 however, and Mackie gives several great performances this episode. Early on there’s a shot of Sam just absolutely disgusted as he’s holding the shield, struggling to wipe the blood off its exterior — Mackie absolutely kills this scene.
Episode 5 deals a lot with what it means to be a black man in America and what it’ll mean for Sam to be a black Captain America. Isaiah Bradley comes back and his scenes with Sam are quite good, giving Wilson much to think about in terms of the legacy he is in charge of and will be leaving behind. Carl Lumbly delivers an incredibly powerful performance as Isaiah Bradley here.
There’s a subplot about Sam trying to fix a broken, run-down boat for Sarah — and the intention of it isn’t subtle at all — that the boat is a metaphor for America. Sam says it himself, it’s their history — “all our struggles as a people” — and he doesn’t want to give up the boat.
There’s a great montage of Sam training to become Cap, featuring some of those shots of Sam with the shield from the promo. Seeing Sam embrace his destiny and actually like doing it is a treat. It’s extremely exciting knowing that by next episode, Sam Wilson will be Captain America and know what that title means to him specifically. It’s the moment this show was building up to — and let’s be honest, Sam Wilson is the best choice for the shield.
There are some great scenes with Sam and Bucky during the training sequences, in which Sam hones in on Bucky’s insecurities. How the show has handled Bucky’s Winter Soldier past and trauma has been great and it’s given fans a truly intriguing window into his character.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5 does a lot of things right, but it certainly sets the stage for an exciting finale and ultimate showdown. It also sets up an exciting future for the MCU as a whole between Madame Hydra’s appearance and Sam’s role as Captain America.
New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier come out Fridays on Disney+.
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