After last week’s episode, questions about Steve Rogers’ status only grew, as Sam mentioned that Steve was “gone” and no mention of the Super Soldier’s whereabouts have been mentioned so far. Fans have been wondering ever since if that means he’s dead or just hiding out for the remainder of his days, and why the show is taking such an ambiguous stance on the matter. Is it for some kind of big reveal here in the finale? Possibly.
However, even if we do get a reveal in episode 6, we don’t think it will come bearing good news (and I’ll happily eat my words if I’m wrong). There have many little hints along the way that Steve is no longer with us, so let’s look back at the evidence we have so far.
It’s been confirmed by the creative team that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier takes place at least six months post-Avengers: Endgame. This was imperative for the narrative in both taking away the fantasy of everyone returning after the Blip and to give more credence to the Flag Smashers cause. But there’s one other important factor that this timeline feeds into.
What turns out to be Sam giving the shield to the Smithsonian at the beginning of episode 1 was highly theorized to have been the funeral of Steve Rogers in the weeks before the show aired. Obviously that wasn’t the case, but what if that was the catalyst to Sam giving the shield up?
Sam Giving Up the Shield
Sam loved and respected Steve, he was one of his best friends, and if Steve were still alive would he have handed his best friend’s legacy over to the U.S. Government? Probably not.
It took six months for Sam to come to the conclusion he wanted to give that shield up, for very valid and real reasons that he deserves a lot of respect for, but something had to have happened to make him feel okay with his decision. And Steve dying would certainly release any guilt that Sam may have been harboring in respect to making this decision. It made that decision easier not having to worry about Steve finding out.
Sam’s Texts to Bucky
These two didn’t like each other in the slightest before this series started and well into it. So why is Sam texting Bucky? Especially if he’s not answering.
Sam obviously is very equipped to deal with PTSD victims, we’ve known that since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but would Sam really put that much effort into helping someone a) he doesn’t really like and b) doesn’t want his help? Not unless there was a really good reason. Like, that person’s best friend, who is also a mutual friend, dying. And maybe that best friend made him promise to keep an eye on Bucky for him.
Bucky’s Friendship with Yori
First, this friendship is born of Bucky needing to make amends with Yori for the death of his son at the hands of the Winter Soldier. And also that he likely has more in common with Bucky than most due to Bucky’s true age. But, could a part of it be because Bucky has recently lost another elderly friend in Steve Rogers?
There is no way that Sam would not have told Steve about Isaiah Bradley after he found out about him. The impossible situation that Sam is left in after finding out about Isaiah, and how it’s affecting his own decision, would have been the first thing that Sam would have wanted Steve’s input on.
Along with that, it’s my firm belief that Sam would have wanted to clear Steve’s name with Isaiah as well. Had Steve still been around, it would have been a missed powerful moment to see Steve and Isaiah meet and for Steve to make the amends we know he’d see necessary for what happened to Isaiah (which happens in Isaiah’s comics). Isaiah is also presumed dead, as is Steve after the battle with Thanos, so that wouldn’t be hindering anything either.
Bucky and Sam’s Heart-to-Heart
Bucky and Sam’s heart-to-heart during Sam’s training session in episode 5 was the clearest information we’ve gotten on Steve so far, but it also caused the murky water we’re all wading through now.
Sam says Steve is gone, and of course one can assume that means he’s dead. But Marvel is usually fairly intentional with their words, so “gone” is an interesting choice to use (are they just trying to rile us up? Maybe). We get confirmation that Bucky and Steve had talked about the shield’s future, with both agreeing it should go to Sam, so again it’s not a long stretch to think that Bucky had contact with Steve after the events of Endgame.
Bucky also mentions that the shield is the closest thing he has left to a family. With that, paired with the above that Bucky likely didn’t just let Steve live out his days alone, means that Steve has passed and only his shield remains tethering Steve to the living.
The Overall Tone of the Show
This show is meant to showcase an evolution of Sam and Bucky in a world without Steve Rogers — Sam as the new Captain America and Bucky in his post-Winter Soldier identity which is likely his step into the White Wolf moniker.
Did Steve need to die for these two to accept their new fates? It’s certainly a fair argument to make. Steve preached the ability to move on in the beginning scenes of Avengers: Endgame, but in his words with Natasha later, “But not us.” And maybe not Bucky or Sam either.
We can only hope that episode 6 confirms Steve’s status, whichever way it goes. While Steve’s MCU story is definitively over, it still deserves a better close out than was given in Avengers: Endgame. If he’s dead, just say so.
The final episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier airs Friday, April 23 exclusively on Disney+.