With tonight’s The Falcon And The Winter Solider episode being the penultimate chapter of the Disney+ limited series, expectations were high. After all, it’s the job of the second-to-last show to provide a proper set up for the finale and ensure that all of the characters are exactly where they need to be in preparation for the exciting conclusion. Fortunately, the Marvel Cinematic Universe story didn’t disappoint, as it unleashed a number of big revelations that are both exciting for fans, and prepare us for some explosive action next week.

In the aftermath of John Walker decapitating a guy with Captain America’s shield, there was a lot of ground for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier to cover, and while the episode’s structure is a bit all over the place, it features some big developments. As I do every week in the wake of the latest chapter’s arrival, I’ll dig into it all below – and I’ll start with that enticing cameo that could wind up being a huge deal in the coming years…

Julia Louis Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

Valentina Allegra de Fontaine Has Arrived, And She's Making Moves

Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Julia Louis-Dreyfus! The Emmy-winning Seinfeld/Veep star made one hell of an entrance in tonight’s The Falcon And The Winter Soldier episode, and it’s hard to imagine anyone could have predicted either her arrival, or the role she is playing. As she so elegantly explains while approaching John Walker and his girlfriend in the wake of his disastrous hearing, she is Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Val for short), and she seems to be very interested in what John does.

In the comics, Val is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who worked side-by-side with Nick Fury for years, but ultimately took a sinister turn when she not only joined Hydra, but took on the mantle of Madame Hydra. In her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut, she approaches John Walker as a friend and extends a helping hand via what appears to be a blank business card and the promise of a phone call – but what is she planning? Clearly there isn’t a lot of information to go on right now, but for some reason there is a part of my brain that is screaming “Dark Avengers,” with Walker in the Captain America position. It’s pure speculation, but we’ll see what more we learn about what is going on in the finale (it seems incredibly unlikely that the show won’t provide us with at least a tad more to go on).

Sharon Carter in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

Sharon Carter Has Gone To The Dark Side

In the last few weeks, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier has been teasing a shadowy figure in Madripoor who goes by the name Power Broker and is pulling strings behind the scenes – and it seems that this week we got an answer regarding their true identity. Admittedly it’s an answer that more than a few fans guessed, what with there being very few possibilities on the table, but still it’s noteworthy that it’s now a mystery with an answer: it appears that Sharon Carter is Power Broker, and that her time as a Sokovia Accords fugitive has led her to become a full-blown criminal.

Sharon Carter is only featured in the episode briefly, shown on a phone call discussing getting somebody out of an Algerian prison, but that was all fans really needed to hear to figure out the score. When Batroc appeared a few scenes later with Karli Morgenthau and the Flag Smashers, any lingering questions were answered. What we don’t know is how Falcon and Winter Soldier will deal with it, as Sharon is definitely a friend, and her circumstances happen to be totally understandable.

Zemo with Dora Milaje in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

Baron Zemo Is Going To Wakanda, And May Never See Sunlight Again

After last week’s episode, one of the big plot threads left dangling was the status of Baron Zemo, as the villainous terrorist successfully escaped the custody of the titular heroes during a fight with the Dora Milaje and John Walker/ Lemar Hoskins. As it turns out, he not only didn’t go too far, but he also went to quite possibly the most obvious place possible.

Perhaps having no desire to live a life on the run (let’s not forget that he would have killed himself had T’Challa not stopped him), Baron Zemo departed Latvia to return to his home country of Sokovia… or at least what remains of it. Bucky confronts him at the memorial that has been erected to honor those who died, and while for a moment it appears that the man formally known as The Winter Soldier is going to kill him, he instead turns him over to the Dora Milaje. We don’t actually see Zemo go to his final destination (and it’s possible he will be back in the finale), but given that the Wakandan people have not forgotten about the murder of King T’Chaka, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll get to live a life of comfort while incarcerated.

Sam Wilson looks at new suit in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

Sam Wilson Is Ready To Take On The Captain America Mantle

Sam Wilson’s whole journey in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier has been about him coming to grips with whether or not he is worthy of taking Captain America’s shield – and he definitely gets some mixed advice in the episode “Truth.” Isaiah Bradley, for one, suggests that Sam would be a fool to become the new Cap, having lived a horrible life that has firmly justified that perspective. On the other hand, Bucky continues to urge him to take on the responsibility, even going as far as revealing that he and Steve Rogers had a conversation about Sam becoming America’s new Star-Spangled Man.

Ultimately it seems that the advice that Sam is taking is his own – namely the advice he gave to Bucky about his list of names. In deciding whether or not to become Captain America, he has to decide whether he wants to rage against history and refuse to support a dark lie, or he can “do the work” and try to make things better. We don’t actually get to see Falcon suit up in red, white and blue in the episode, but he has the shield and new gear from Wakanda, so we expect to see him in action nearly from start to finish in the finale.

John Walker builds his own shield The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

John Walker Isn’t Done Yet, And Is Making His Own Shield

Of course, Sam Wilson isn’t the only character who is preparing to suit up with some new gear. John Walker only has one scene in the main body of the episode after his encounter with Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, as he visits Lemar Hoskins’ family and lies to them about what happened in Latvia… but unlike all of the other Falcon And the Winter Solder chapters, this one features a post-credits scene. In it, John demonstrates that he isn’t quite prepared to give up the title that was given to him by the United States military, as he is constructing his very own shield – with one of his service medal welded on to the surface.

Unfortunately, we have no idea what his plan is. It’s likely that he is going to target Sam Wilson and/or Bucky Barnes, but how he will go about doing that is unclear, and we also don’t know what he’ll do even if he were to succeed. The set-up with Karli Morgenthau and the Flag Smashers suggests that the majority of the finale’s fireworks are going to center on the organization attacking the Global Repatriation Council, but having a rogue super soldier on the loose is never a good situation, so John will definitely continue to be a prime threat.

It seems like the last few weeks have gone by in a flash, but already we are getting prepared for the second series finale for a Disney+ original Marvel Cinematic Universe show. The grand conclusion of The Falcon And The Winter Soldier will be available for you to feast your eyes on in just a matter of days, arriving on the streaming service at midnight PST/3am EST on April 23.

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