Why the Surprise Guest in 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' Is So Important

Wakanda is here.

ayo winter soldier
Disney+
Disney+

Wakanada has arrived in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The series—which marks the second expedition of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+ following WandaVision earlier this year—has made a habit of revealing a new character at the end of each episode, first the debut of Wyatt Russell's John Walker as the new Captain America in Episode 1 and then the return of Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo in Episode 2. But Episode 3 held a bigger surprise: Florence Kasumba as Ayo, the imperious member of Dora Milaje, Wakanda's elite bodyguard unit. 

We've been waiting for Kasumba to get a chance to shine in the MCU ever since she made her debut in Captain America: Civil War, when she told Black Widow to "move." Now it finally looks like she's getting a chance to play a major role. Ayo has made her way to Riga, the city in Latvia where Bucky, Sam, and their enemy-turned-ally Zemo are looking for Flag Smasher Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and her stash of super soldier serum. But Ayo's not really interested in their mission. She wants Zemo.

Sebastian Stan's Bucky finds the Kimoyo beads Ayo has dropped around the cobblestone streets, which leads him to a back alley where she's been waiting. He doesn't seem all that surprised to see her. While they haven't shared much screen time, it's implied that these two know each other pretty well. After all, Bucky spent time in Wakanda healing from the events of Civil War. That's where he got his vibranium arm and became known as the White Wolf. 

The Wakandans have good reason to be pissed that Sam and Bucky would be teaming up with Zemo: He caused the explosion that was responsible for the death of T'Challa's father, T'Chaka. Now, clearly, Ayo is out for some sort of justice. Kasumba went on from her memorable bit part in Civil War to have a bigger impact in Black Panther. She had a smaller role in Avengers: Infinity War, but didn't get to show up for the big "all together now, ladies" fight sequence during the Endgame finale. Her presence here adds another wrinkle to an already complicated plot, but we sure are happy to see her.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.