Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3 ending explained: Who's following Bucky?

falcon winter solider episode 3 ending explained bucky
(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney Plus)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3 features several blasts from the pasts. Previously announced cast members Daniel Brühl and Emily VanCamp finally made their reappearances into the MCU as Baron Zemo and Sharon Carter, respectively. 

And then, another familiar face popped up in the ending. So, who is following Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and why? 

Spoilers for Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3 follow. You've been warned!

In the last scene, Bucky, Zemo and Sam (Anthony Mackie) travel to Riga, Latvia to investigate the deceased Mama Donya's connection to Karli Morgenthau. Bucky peels off from the other two to "take a walk," but really, he spied a small round metal sphere on the ground — some kind of high-tech tracking device. 

He finds another, and goes looking for whoever is tailing them. "You dropped something," Bucky calls out. That someone is right behind him. "I was wondering when you were going to show up," he says, turning around to see Ayo (Florence Kusumba). 

Ayo is the second-in-command of the Dora Milaje, the elite squad of Wakandan warriors tasked with protecting the royal family. She was introduced in Captain America: Civil War and last seen in Avengers: Infinity War.

Why does the Dora Milaje show up in Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

Ayo states her purpose pretty clearly: She's there for Zemo.

Falcon and Winter Solider episode 3 ending explained: Ayo is here for Zemo

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney Plus)

In case you need a refresher, Zemo is at the top of Wakanda's most wanted list. He is responsible for the bombing of the U.N. meeting to sign the Sokovia Accords, an event which killed Wakanda's King T'Chaka. And Wakanda clearly wants to hold Zemo accountable for his crimes.

It's not surprising that Ayo would approach Bucky first, since he spent a couple of years in Wakanda getting un-brainwashed as the Winter Soldier. During his rehab, he earned the nickname "White Wolf" and received the robotic arm he now bears.

So, Ayo wants to take Zemo back to Wakanda to get justice, but Bucky and Sam still need him to find Karli and the Flag Smashers (and destroy the remaining serum before it's used to create any more super soldiers). And we can't imagine Zemo will want to go to Wakanda or back to prison. 

Will Falcon and Winter Soldier lead into Black Panther 2?

Marvel was upfront that WandaVision would lead into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but boss Kevin Feige has been cagey about how Falcon and Winter Soldier ties into the greater MCU and whether there might be a second season (even though I think it would work perfectly as a serialized show). 

Ayo's inclusion indicates at least part of Falcon and Winter Soldier could be setting up a storyline for Black Panther 2. Not much is known about the sequel, including how it will address the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman. Marvel has said the role of T'Challa won't be recast, but everything else seems to be wide open. What happens with Ayo and Zemo in the next three episodes could be our first clue to Black Panther 2 and the future of the MCU.

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.