MEGA-SPOILERS for ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ will be found below.
This season’s penultimate The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode gave us many notable moments. We saw a tear-producing follow-up conversation between Isaiah Bradley (the Black Captain America) and Sam Wilson. We learned that Bucky is persona non grata (at least for awhile) in Wakanda. We also learned that Zemo’s dancing days are over (although we’ll always have the Zemo Cut) after the Dora Milaje came to fetch him and settle the score for his crimes against King T’Chaka.
The show kept things light during moments, like when Sam wasn’t too happy when Bucky flirted with his sister, Sarah, although it’s easy to see where both guys are coming from here. No one would want their sister to date a formerly brainwashed, homicidal tool of HYDRA, yet Bucky is working hard on redemption and deserves some happiness. Few people would argue that point (or Sam’s weigh in), nor does anyone really dispute that the John Walker situation escalated at warp speed, and that last week’s development meant that an inevitable follow-up and consequences were coming.
Well, the new Captain America is dunzo. Walker got stripped of his duties after he flipped his lid and murdered a Flag Smasher (with the shield!) while the whole world was literally watching. That this happened in full public view and hurts the American image seems to be the biggest reason why the U.S. government’s pushing Walker out of his gig. And John suggested, chillingly, that he’s done what he was programmed to do as a soldier, which actually makes him an accurate representation of America.
That led to this week’s most stunning development, which I would argue qualifies as the most surprising cameo appearance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (obviously, Brad Pitt’s Deadpool 2 fly-in does not count, since that wasn’t MCU, and it was a Fox joint). It’s a truly surprising development — especially considering all of the speculation about some A-lister portraying Mephisto in WandaVision (which didn’t happen) and fans hoping that Chris Evans would (somehow?) cameo as Steve Rogers on this show — that no one would have seen coming. Keeping this one under wraps, even with Marvel Studios’ historic reputation for keeping things close to its sleeve, qualifies as an impressive accomplishment.
As John Walker attempted to process the loss of his Cap gig outside his no-good tribunal, a pair of boots approached, and it turned out to be the legendary Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. You can call her “Val.”
So, who is this Val person portrayed by the Veep and Seinfeld star? Vanity Fair reports that Marvel Studios originally wanted to debut the character in Black Widow, but those plans changed, even outside of any pandemic considerations.
In the comics, Val’s also been known as Madame Hydra, and she has a mysterious past with parents who were Leviathan sleeper agents. She’s been a leading S.H.I.E.L.D. member and once kicked Nick Fury’s ass during a training session. So, she’s probably telling the truth when she quips that those boots weren’t made for walking. One can imagine that we’ll be seeing more of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, whether that happens in next week’s season finale or further down the MCU line.
Val seems to slide right into the story here, as mysterious as she appears to be, because she’s very aware of how Walker managed to stuff some super-soldier serum into his veins before going on last week’s rampage. Val informs Walker that he did the right thing, and taking the serum was the second best thing he’s ever done (because it makes him very valuable to interested parties). Then she tells him that the better move would be to answer her phone calls (he can’t call her because Val’s business card is blank).
What is Val doing on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and might she actually be the mysterious Power Broker? If so, we should find out soon because next week is season finale time. In the alternative, it sure seems like Val could want to scoop up John because she’s very interested in his super-serum-infused ways. If that’s the case, she could be interested in recruiting some of Karli Morgenthau’s pals as well, although John and Karli would never be able to work together after the events of last week. Speaking of Karli, damn, she’s gathering her own forces via cell phone signal, so we will hopefully be able to see an are-they-good-or-bad conclusion for the Flag Smashers. And please, can we see Sharon Carter beating up more bad dudes, too (or doing anything besides mysteriously talk on the phone)? Then send Bucky to Aruba, please. It would be the greatest end to a TV season ever.
Disney+ streams new ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ episodes on Fridays.