In what is, so far, the best episode of The Falcon and the Winter Solider (2021), “Truth” opens with an epic fight scene! This episode follows the aftermath of John Walker’s (Wyatt Russell) murder of a foreign national. In a three-way fight that echoes the famous scene in Captain American: Civil War (2016), Walker engages with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in a conflict that results in Sam’s wings being damaged. Sam and Bucky manage to take the Captain American Shield from Walker, who escapes back to the U.S. in disgrace. While back in the states, Walker is approached by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who offers him mysterious help, and visits Lamar Hoskins’s (Clé Bennett) family, to whom he lies about the circumstances of his partner’s death.
While soul-searching to decide on his relationship with the Shield, Sam visits Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) who shares the horrifying story of his imprisonment and torture by the U.S. government and, consequently, what the Shield symbolizes to him. Sam returns home to help his sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye) mend the family boat and restore the family business. Bucky comes to visit Sam, where he helps to repair the boat and gives Sam a mysterious suitcase. The pair sort out their differences, and Sam decides to accept the mantle of Captain America. Meanwhile, Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) leads the Flag Smashers as they continue to grow in strength and numbers. They threaten a GRC conference with the help of Batroc (Georges St.-Pierre), who has been hired by Agent Carter (Emily VanCamp).
This is an episode that focuses on identity in light of past wrongs. This theme is evident when Karli Morgenthau expresses her disgust at the Avengers for neglecting the victims left in the wake of their heroic endeavors. And it is most evident in the powerful scene in which Isaiah Bradley tells Sam that a Black man can never fill the role of Captain America. I believe Isaiah Bradley’s character is the most fascinating part of the show and adds a historical feel to the otherwise fantastical nature of the series. The imprisonment and forced experimentation that Bradley endured puts one in mind of historical experiments and unjust imprisonment of Black people in the last century. Like so many Black men, Isaiah’s story was erased from history. As such, he feels he cannot represent a country that has not represented him. By the end of the episode, however, Sam seems to have concluded that the symbolism of Captain American is worth redeeming and preserving. It is a decision that will perhaps be explored further in the final episode.
Finally, I enjoyed a conversation near the end of the show between Sam and Bucky. Sam tells Bucky that if he wants to climb out of his personal hell (i.e., trauma and guilt over his past life), he needs to put in the work of making things right – not just for himself, but for others as well. This is a true admonishment in the sense that redeeming the past is about more than making amends, which only goes far enough to make a person feel good about themselves and is a way of allowing the past to dictate both the present and future. In order to live a life that is truly free, it is necessary to face the parts that are not easy to face – and that’s a daily choice, not a quick fix.
The next episode is the conclusion of the series and looks promising! In the meantime, let us know what you think of the series so far.
- Director: Kari Skogland
- Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Carl Lumbly, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman
- Writer: Derek Kolstad
- Creator: Malcolm Spellman
- Producer: Marvel Studios
- Network: Disney+