‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’: An Unexpected Cameo Has Major Implications for the MCU (RECAP)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan
Spoiler Alert
Disney+/Marvel Studios

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1, Episode 5, “Truth.”]

A lot happens in “Truth,” the penultimate episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s first season. The shield changes hands again. Sam (Anthony Mackie) makes a decision about whether or not he wants to be Captain America. Bucky (Sebastian Stan) comes up with a new plan to make amends, courtesy of his pal Sam. Walker (Wyatt Russell) is stripped of the title of Captain. Sharon’s (Emily VanCamp) still being suspicious, and at this point, we’re 99% sure she’s the Power Broker.

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Sam, Bucky, and Zemo continue to search for Karli, and Walker proves he was a bad choice to be the next Captain America.

But the aspect of the episode people likely will be talking about isn’t any of those things, though they’re all important. A major figure from the Marvel universe shows up briefly in this episode, and her appearance could change everything as the movies and shows move forward. Here’s what happens — and who it is.

The Shield Changes Hands

As the episode opens, Walker has escaped to an abandoned warehouse and seems to be unstable; he keeps having flashbacks of Lamar (Cle Bennett) and the moment he killed the Flag-Smasher on the street. Sam and Bucky find him there, and Sam asks him to give up the shield. Predictably, that doesn’t go over well. They get into a fight, which Sam and Bucky (barely) win. Taking the shield, they leave with Walker unconscious.

From there, they make separate plans. Bucky’s determined to go after Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), who got away last episode. Sam, on the other hand, doesn’t have much to do: as Torres (Danny Ramirez) says, “Sometimes there’s nothing to do until there’s something to do.” Sam leaves his wings with Torres and takes the shield.

julia louis dreyfus valentina allegra de fontaine falcon and the winter soldier

Disney+/Marvel Studios

Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine

Meanwhile, Walker’s up and about and at a hearing, where he’s told that he’s no longer Captain America. He’s given an other-than-honorable discharge and will no longer receive benefits (and he has to return the shield — which is no longer in his possession). After, he and his wife sit on a bench and talk, but are interrupted by… holy moly! It’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus! Or rather, Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine. “Call me Val,” she says, “but don’t call me Val. Just keep it in your head.”

She tells him she knows he doesn’t have the shield and that taking the serum was the second-best decision he’ll ever make. The first? “Picking up the phone when I call you,” she says. She’ll be in touch.

Valentina is a huge figure in the Marvel universe with connections to important organizations like SHIELD and Hydra (she was Madame Hydra at one point), and she’s tied to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who she was romantically involved with for a time — so it’s extremely likely she continues to show up…maybe even in the season finale. (Could she be bringing together the Thunderbolts? Time will tell).

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Isaiah’s Story

Bucky finds Zemo at the memorial for the Sokovians who died during the Battle of Sokovia in Age of Ultron. Zemo tries to convince Bucky to kill Karli (Erin Kellyman), who is still mobilizing her movement — but Bucky refuses. He also refuses to kill Zemo, instead turning him over to the Wakandans, who say they will take him to The Raft, an underwater prison, where he will “live out his days.” Ayo (Florence Kasumba) tells Bucky he should come back to Wakanda, but he says he has one more favor to ask of her.

Sam goes to see Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) and brings him the shield (which Isaiah doesn’t even want to see). Sam wants to know what went wrong, and how Isaiah ended up in jail. He says the government gave several soldiers different versions of the serum, but they never told them what it was — they said it was tetanus. Some of the men were unstable, but they continued to go on missions. And then Isaiah’s men got captured in battle, and he went against orders to save them; then he spent the next 30 years of his life being experimented on by the government to determine why the serum worked.

There was a nurse who he said “took pity on him” and declared him dead, and she gave him all the letters his wife had written to him over the years that the government never let him have. Sam urges him to go to someone with the information, because “things are different” and “times are different” now. “You think I wouldn’t be dead in a day if you brought me out?” Isaiah asks. He says the government will never allow a Black man to be Captain America, and even if they did, “no self-respecting Black man would ever want to be.”

Helping, Instead of Avenging

Sam goes back to Louisiana and Sarah (Adepero Oduye), where he maintains that he will fix their family’s boat. He does this by calling in a few favors from the community. Bucky shows up to help, too, and he brings Sam a gift from Wakanda — which Sam doesn’t open yet.

Bucky sticks around to help fix things, and he stays with Sam’s family. He and Sam throw the shield around and talk about its legacy, and Bucky admits that he and Steve (Chris Evans) didn’t know what it would be like for a Black man to be handed the shield. He also comes clean about his anger regarding Sam giving up the shield — he says that shield felt like the closest thing to a family he had left and without it, he felt like he “had nothing left.” Sam gives him some good advice: Stop looking for other people to tell him who he is, and to help the people in his notebook rather than “making amends.” They part ways with plans to join forces again whenever Karli surfaces.

The Flag-Smashers’ New Plan

That day is coming sooner, rather than later. As Sam accepts the role of Cap and trains — and Sarah decides they won’t sell the boat (yay!) — Karli gathers her forces, including Batroc (Georges St-Pierre), who wants to kill Sam. They’re planning to “make sure the GRC vote never happens” in New York, and one can definitely assume they won’t be doing so by peaceful means. As the GRC council talks, the computers go down and the lights go red, and the Flag-Smashers’ plan is in action.

Sam, who got a tip from Torres about the group’s location, is getting ready to head to New York, and he opens the gift Bucky gave him from Wakanda (we don’t see what it is, but it seems safe to assume it’s a new suit). In a mid-credits scene, we see Walker making himself a new shield.

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