The penultimate episode of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier may have secretly revealed that Bucky is already healing from his Winter Soldier past. The episode was a step back for Bucky from what he believes to be his underlying mission: to avenge those he was forced to kill, as Sam Wilson more properly addressed his PTSD. Judging by one overlooked detail, Sam managed to get through to Buck not only through his advice, but even before that, by inviting him into a "normal" life.
The Disney+ show has so far dealt with Bucky as a ghost haunted by his own sins. Bucky may have been “cured” in Wakanda, but he is still gripped by fears of his own potential for evil - expounded by Black Panther seemingly not trusting the Winter Soldier within him - but he can’t cure the memories of his past. Luckily, Sam Wilson’s introduction to the MCU came with the most useful tool to Bucky: experience working with veterans and soldiers suffering with PTSD. The pair may fight, but they are linked by past experience and they have an almost natural symbiotic relationship.
In The Falcon & The Winter Soldier episode 5, Bucky and Sam reconnected after John Walker’s public murder of a Flag Smasher freedom fighter, with Sam seemingly turning his back on his heroism to go home. After following him, Bucky seemed to find a peace in the community he hadn’t since Wakanda, even flirting with Sarah and fitting in more comfortably. Offered a place to sleep, Bucky accepted, notably sleeping on the couch rather than his customary floor arrangement, hinting at some personal growth beyond one of his biggest PTSD responses. And then, as he and Sam trained, the latter shared his advice on how to deal with his ghosts: suggesting he ought to atone for rather than to avenge his victims.
Earlier in the season, it was revealed that Bucky slept on the floor of his sparsely furnished apartment. And while there has been some exploration of financial issues for heroes, Bucky’s choice was more of a psychological one. The Winter Soldier has Sam and Steve bond over their issues with civilian beds, with Sam pointing out that his bed is unsettlingly soft in comparison to what he slept on while deployed. As a military man, the logic followed for Bucky too, particularly as his “bed” for decades was a Hydra cryostasis chamber. More broadly, Bucky’s sleeping arrangements spoke to his need to remain hyper-vigilant and alert, not to mention the self-punishment issues also no doubt tied in.
To see Bucky sleeping soundly enough only to be woken by Sam’s nephews playing with the shield and not waking up startled or with a jolt from a nightmare says a lot. The invitation to join Sam's family and to focus on something that wasn't his own vengeance and pain was clearly a big thing for Bucky and appear to have calmed him. And then later, Sam’s advice further humanized him, flying in the face of Bucky’s tragedy of his urge to remain a weapon - even in service of justice - and there’s a lot to be said for the restorative impact of reclamation.
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