Falcon and Winter Soldier episode 1 showed Bucky having nightmares about his time as the Winter Soldier. So is the Winter Soldier still alive?
The nightmare scene of Falcon and Winter Soldier proves that Bucky’s conscience is not clear yet. Let’s not forget working under Hydra’s mind control Winter Soldier’s work has ‘shaped a century’. Although T’Challa’s sister Shuri did fix his brainwashing, his stay in Wakanda was more like a vacation. This is because there are still parts of the Winter Soldier that haunts Bucky.
Watch: Bucky Barnes | The First Nightmare
Bucky’s Past and His Present Nightmares
Falcon and Winter Soldier takes place around 6 months after the events of Endgame. And thus half a decade has passed since he was in Wakanda. So it may be that not being under Shuri’s therapy is slowly taking a toll on his brain all over again.
He is not yet answering Sam’s messages which means they have not begun working together. Rather, he is driven by his attempts to amend his past actions. Bucky has befriended an elderly man, Yori. While this seems to be a nice gesture and instinctive, we soon realize that this is an outcome of guilt. Unknown to Yuri, the Winter Soldier killed his son, R.J. And what makes it worse is that R.J. was an innocent bystander.
There are two reasons why this particular event is a nightmare. First, he killed someone he wasn’t sent to kill. The second is where the incident fits in the MCU timeline. Considering this was his last mission as the winter soldier, it might have taken place before Captain America: Winter Soldier. It could have been during the events of Age of Ultron when Rogers and the other Avengers were busy dealing with Ultron.
We take it for granted that Bucky had just begun his recovery to a better mental state while in isolation at the beginning of the Civil War.
The events of Captain America: Winter Soldier took place in 2014. And as Natasha told Rogers, the last sighting of the Winter Soldier, and her encounter with him, was 5 years earlier. Since there was no apparent mention of him between that mission and those of Winter Soldier, it can also be that the nightmare incident took place before Natasha’s encounter. We also have to consider the amount of time for which is kept in the cryostasis chamber.
Is Winter Soldier Dead or Alive?
The final lingering question, for now, is this: Is Bucky fully healed? The flashback is a clean reminder of what Bucky used to be. It is also proof that even if in the mind, Captain America: Winter Soldier still exists. It might be that we will see Bucky as the winter soldier. After all, we do remember that Baron Zemo, someone whom we will see play a significant role in Falcon and Winter Soldier, was the one to initiate his programming in Captain America: Civil War. So, it might also be that he still has the codes or knows where they are.
Be that as it may, we will find out more about the Winter Soldier and his past. For the time being, we know that the nightmare is Bucky’s most immediate concern. And it is something that he needs to amend as much as he can.