Back in 2016, Captain America: Civil War introduced us to Florence Kasumba’s Ayo, second-in-command of Wakanda’s elite group of female special forces — the Dora Milaje.
Accompanying King T’Chaka and T’Challa to Vienna for the Sokovia Accords, she made an imposing first impression within the MCU when she walked up to Natasha Romanoff and said, “Move or you will be moved.”
She returned with a slightly larger role in the 2018 film Black Panther. We then saw her once more in Avengers: Infinity War during the Battle of Wakanda, protecting Shuri while she attempted to separate Vision from the Mind Stone.
So what does her appearance in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier mean?
Ayo appeared at the very end of the episode “Power Broker” when Bucky realized that he, Sam, and Zemo were being followed in Riga. As the Winter Soldier turned around to face her, he said, “I was wondering when you were gonna show up,” and she told him that she’s there for Zemo.
With the Black Panther sequel coming next year, it makes sense for the series to nudge viewers back toward the country of Wakanda, though we’ll have to wait and see if and how The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will lead into any storylines for the film. For what it’s worth, we were also blatantly reminded of Bucky Barnes’ alter ego as the White Wolf in the last episode.
As for Zemo, the comic version(s) of him have a complicated history, one that has been heavily modified for Daniel Brühl’s MCU portrayal of the character. Zemo’s MCU history is mixed with tragedy and violence, as he sent the Avengers spiraling into madness in Civil War in order to enact revenge for the loss of his family in Age of Ultron. Though T’Challa ultimately chose to spare him at the end of Civil War and left him to pay for his crimes (which include the bombing that killed his father) in prison, will Ayo feel the same?
We don’t yet know how the second Black Panther film is going to address the tragic and heartbreaking loss of Chadwick Boseman, beyond confirmation that he will not be recast. Depending on T’Challa’s narrative status in the MCU, the fact that the man responsible for the death of King T’Chaka is now on the run is likely striking a raw nerve with Wakanda either way (something that Sam blatantly pointed out in the episode as well).
We’ll have to wait and see just how Ayo will handle Zemo, because it’s important to remember T’Challa’s own words to him in Civil War: “Vengeance has consumed you. It’s consuming them. I am done letting it consume me.”
Catch next week’s episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier exclusively on Disney+ Friday, April 9.