The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1: Explained

‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ deals with Captain America’s legacy and makes some strong political commentary from time to time. Over the course of its run, it has given audiences a detailed look into the lives and minds of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s two most trusted side-kicks and close friends. The finale is tasked with not only satisfyingly wrapping up the season-long arcs of Sam and Bucky but also addressing the future of Captain America’s legacy in the MCU.

It is safe to say that the spectacular final episode manages to deliver everything fans expected from it. As is always the case with MCU properties, some threads are intentionally left untied, and if you are looking for explanations about them, you have come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Finale Recap

The episode opens with the Flag Smashers launching their attack on the GRC building, where a vote is taking place on global relocation. Bucky is present outside the building, which is besieged by the military. Sam, dressed in the (comic accurate) Captain America costume, flies into the building. Sharon is also present outside since Sam has called her for backup. The Flag Smashers plan to abduct the GRC officials and hold them hostage to stop the vote. They release tear-gas in the building, forcing everyone inside to evacuate it.

Karli stalls Bucky and Batroc engages Sam in a battle so that the trucks carrying the officials can leave the premises. Another group of officials is airlifted by a helicopter whose pilot is also aligned with the Flag Smashers. The rest of the Flash Smashers intercept the trucks, but before they can kidnap the officials, Bucky catches up with them. As the Flag Smashers fight Bucky, one of them creates a diversion by setting a truck on fire.

Bucky is forced to save the officials inside the truck. Just as Karli is about to escape in the other truck, John Walker arrives (with his DIY Captain America Shield) and stops her. After a lengthy battle, the Flag Smashers are defeated. The ending deals with the consequences of Sam, Bucky, Sharon, and Walker’s actions in the wake of the Flag Smashers’ attack.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Ending: Is Sam the New Captain America?

In the aftermath of the Flag Smashers’ defeat, Sam carries Karli’s body to the meds, thus facing the public as Captain America for the first time. He reasons with the GRC officials, who still want to move forward with the relocation of people. Sam explains to them Karli’s side and convinces them to do a better job. He makes the GRC realize their power and the responsibility they have to the people.

Later, Bucky goes to see Mr. Nakajima and reveals the truth about his son’s death. He then leaves the notebook with all the names of the people he wronged as the Winter Soldier in Dr. Raynor’s office, indicating that he has completed making amends. The captured Flag Smashers are killed in a car explosion by Zemo’s butler before being transferred to the Raft. Valentina provides Walker with a new costume. Sam has a statue of Isaiah Bradley included in Captain America’s museum.

The series closes out with Sam and Bucky in Sam’s hometown overlooking the sea. In a post-credits scene, Sharon Carter is granted a full pardon by the government and rejoins her old division. The series grapples with the question of whether the world will accept a black man as Captain America. This question is finally put to rest in the final episode. Sam suits up as Captain America and saves the day. When he appears in public for the first time, a black man refers to him as the Black Falcon. However, another man disagrees and calls him Captain America.

Later, he is approached by a government official who requests his assistance in capturing the Flag Smasher who fell into the river. The man also refers to Sam as Captain America. The finale closes with the title card of the series with a notable change. It now reads ‘Captain America and The Winter Soldier.’ There will be millions of people who hate him for taking up the mantle, something Sam himself states. But by the end of the episode, it becomes obvious that people are warming up to the idea of Sam Wilson, a black man, becoming Captain America.

Why Does Sam Decide to Become Captain America?

The first five episodes of the series deal with Sam’s decision to give up the shield. Therefore, it is a pivotal moment in episode 5 when Sam decides to pick up the shield and the mantle of Captain America. In the finale, Sam is already suited up as Captain America, and viewers do not get much insight into the specifics of his decision until later in the episode. As Sam explains to the GRC officials, he understands people will judge him for his decision, and there is nothing he can do about it. But he believes that together, they can make the world a better place.

This belief makes Sam so powerful in his character and morality that it echoes the ideology of his friend and mentor, Steve Rogers. But that’s not the only reasoning behind his decision. He later explains to Isaiah that he decided to take on the mantle of Captain America because he refuses to let anyone stop him from fighting for his country just because he is a black man. Like Rogers, Sam knows when he must stand up and fight and when to stand down, as is evidenced when he refuses to fight Karli.

He acknowledges the fact that he may not be the ideal image of an American man, but he is as much as an American as a blonde man with blue eyes. Sam also wishes to honor Captain America’s legacy and all the black people who made sacrifices for the country. Sam Wilson carries the idea of Captain America and what he represents into a new world that desperately needs a hero to look up to. In the process, he begins to dismantle the racial stereotypes and prejudice against black people in the country. Ultimately, the reasons behind his decision prove his merit as Captain America’s rightful successor.

Sam’s Captain America Costume, Explained

Sam receives his Captain America suit from Bucky, who got it tailor-made from the Wakandans. His suit is a combination of his Falcon costume, complete with the wings and the colors of the American Flag. Among the three colors, blue, red, and white, the latter is most prominently featured in his suit. In the American flag, white stands for purity and innocence, two attributes that Wilson carries much more strongly than John Walker, whose costume comparatively lacks white. This can be seen as a way of visually and metaphorically differentiating between the successors of Cap.

While it is never stated in the episode, the costume’s wings are likely made of Vibranium, the same metal as Cap’s shield and one of the strongest metals on Earth. The new costume also has room for an upgraded version of Redwing, Sam’s drone birdy that serves as an extra pair of eyes and ears on the battlefield. It is worth mentioning that the costume is ripped right from the pages of Marvel Comics, making it even more significant to long-time fans of the character.

Who Are Valentina and the US Agent?

La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is introduced in the fifth episode and only appears in two scenes of the series. However, she plays an extremely crucial and understated role in the plot. The mysterious woman provides John Walker with a new costume and christens him as the US Agent. Walker’s new costume is a black version of his Captain America costume, and we suppose one can find some sense of poetic irony in it given the show’s themes. Valentina also expresses delight after learning that Zemo has killed the remaining Flag Smashers. She also hints at having some role in their deaths and possibly has some sort of an arrangement with Zemo.

Comic book fans will be well aware of the character’s history and immediately recognize Valentina as a version of Madame Hydra. Her close alignment with Walker and Zemo indicates that she is going to play a key role in assembling an anti-heroic/villainous team of superheroes. As for the US Agent, that is the exact same moniker Walker adopts after falling from grace and has the title of Captain America revoked from him in the comics. The finale sets up both characters to play a larger role in future MCU installments.

Post-Credits Scene Explained: What Happens to The Power Broker?

The finale at long last confirms that Sharon Carter is indeed the shady figure known as the Power Broker. Not much is explained about how she attains that status. What we do know is she is not going to give up her lecherous and scheming ways anytime soon. In the post-credits scene, after Sharon receives a full pardon from the government, she agrees to join her former division. She calls an associate of hers and tells her to call up all their buyers.

Sharon indicates that her new role with the government will allow her access to classified information and weapon prototypes to sell for profit. The scene also reiterates that as the Power Broker, Sharon has a criminal syndicate working for her. In the episode, she kills Batroc and Karli, who knew of her identity as the Power Broker. Therefore, her cover is still intact. This means she could be ready to spell out more trouble whenever and wherever she shows up next in the MCU.

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