FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIER Episode 5 Review; "Sets The Stage For A Finale That Is Likely To Be A Game-Changer"

Today's episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is titled "The Truth," and that led to a lot of hard-hitting moments for certain characters as we head into next week's finale. Here's our verdict...

We've reached the penultimate episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and as the longest instalment to date, "The Truth" packs in plenty of story ahead of what promises to be a finale with major consequences for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Picking up with the aftermath of last week's bloody cliffhanger, characters are once again moved around the board in order to set the stage for what comes next; however, unlike "Power Broker" (episode 3), enough happens to ensure this doesn't feel too much like filler. 

There are a lot of powerful moments in this week's chapter of this six-part story, whether it's Sam Wilson's hard-hitting conversation with Isaiah Bradley or the bond which has now been formed between Sam and Bucky Barnes. The latter coming to understand why Sam gave up the shield feels like an important moment for him and those of us watching at home who aren't in Sam's shoes and can't truly imagine what it means to be a Black Captain America in today's world. As per usual, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are on top form, but this time, it's the former's chance to shine (particularly in that conversation with Bradley and a superb training montage near the end of the episode). It's in these moments where Dalan Musson's script for the episode is at its strongest, and it feels like he has a great handle on what makes both the leads tick. 

On a slightly less positive note, it no longer seems too harsh to say that Flag Smasher might be among the MCU's worst villains. While Erin Kellyman is okay as Karli Morgenthau (delivering lengthy speeches about the world doesn't equate to a great performance), the character remains as directionless as ever. Despite some sort of grand plan being teased early on, the mission of this terrorist group has never been fully formed. Those rumours about reshoots removing a pandemic storyline could go some way in explaining that, but it feels like these super soldiers have gone from wanting to steal medicine to wanting to attend a funeral to wanting to kill Captain America to wanting to stop an important vote from happening. We emphasise the word "want" there because they've not really been very good at anything thus far.

On the plus side, Wyatt Russell continues to be nothing short of excellent and is undeniably the best new addition to the MCU in a long time. This series may primarily be telling Sam and Bucky's story, but following the new Captain America has been every bit as compelling, and a future for John Walker in the MCU is a must. Daniel Brühl's Zemo is definitely short-changed to some extent here, however. It appears the villain donning the mask that one time is all we're going to get in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and even though the groundwork has been laid to take him in some exciting new directions moving forward, wrapping up his story arc so quickly feels a tad underwhelming (his conversation with Bucky is well-written, but it feels like he just needed to be taken off the table ahead of the final episode). The supporting cast continues to be a mixed bag; Karli's followers are pretty terrible, but Adepero Oduye's Sarah Wilson is someone we wish we'd have seen even more of in this series now. She's terrific.

This may not be the most action-packed episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but it certainly delivers more strong character moments, and as we head into a finale which is clearly setting the stage for the MCU to get a new Captain America, that was essential. Even if the series ended here, we'd have now been champing at the bit for a follow up which ditches "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" title and rebrands itself "Captain America and Bucky." The finale still has a lot of big questions to answer, and while we're not expecting to be blown away by that final showdown with the Flag Smashers, there are bound to be more big surprises in store if today's ending - and that big cameo - are any indication. We just hope too much time isn't devoted to Karli and her crew, because it's Sam, Bucky, and John's stories we're most invested in at this point. 

Flag Smasher and her crew continue to underwhelm, but another strong character-driven episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier nicely sets the stage for a finale that is likely to be a game-changer for the MCU.

IF

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