Yahoo Entertainment's editors are committed to independently selecting wonderful products at great prices for you. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.
I liked The Falcon and the Winter Soldier more than most, but there’s no denying that it was laden with issues. One of the biggest ones was that there was too much plot and not enough character.
Conversely, the best thing Hawkeye has going for it is that its central plot and stakes are simple – Clint Barton is just a man trying to get back home to his family in time for Christmas – and more room has been given to dig into multiple characters to find out what makes them tick. To that end, its penultimate episode roughly breaks down at 80% character / 10% action / 10% plot, and it works a treat.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
One of my favourite cold opens in WandaVision took place in episode four. It saw Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau return from being blipped, re-emerging at a hospital in chaos. The snaps of the Infinity Gauntlet by both Thanos and Professor Hulk are seismic events that had an impact on the entire universe, not just our heroes.
Being reminded of what that looked and felt like from different perspectives has yielded great results, and that proves to be the case once again in Hawkeye’s latest chapter.
The episode begins with Florence Pugh’s Yelena in 2018. She has been continuing the mission she and her sister Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) first began at the end of Black Widow – finding and freeing Widows from brainwashing. It looks like she’s found one such ally-in-waiting in Ana, but all is not what it seems.
Before she can get the full story she is blipped, re-emerging at the same spot five years later to an Ana who now has a family and news that her sister is dead. Though Yelena’s grand reintroduction in last week’s final minutes was fun, she never spoke. So this is an excellent, economical way to start the episode and get us into Yelena’s headspace.
Speaking of headspace, this chapter sees Kate doubt herself for the first time this series as she returns home to Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) after her fallout with Clint. We get a tender scene of a mother patching up her daughter’s wounds as Kate says she’s not a superhero and Eleanor gently encourages her to do something less reckless with her life.
Taking some hard knocks and being down on yourself before rising to the occasion is a well-worn superhero trope. What stops this from being a boring cliché is the script – the dialogue pertaining to finding the right path in life is particularly good – and the performances by Steinfeld and Farmiga. The love between the characters is felt, even though we’ve always suspected that Eleanor has been up to no good long before this episode’s final reveal (more on that later).
However, the best scene of this episode belongs to Steinfeld and Pugh, whose characters have an impromptu girl’s night when Kate returns to her apartment to collect the few things that haven’t been burned and finds that Yelena has made herself at home. The tête-à-tête that follows lasts 10 minutes and has everything from humour – Yelena laughing at Kate’s suggestion that she could have killed her on the roof is especially lol-worthy – to tension, as Natasha’s sister plainly states that she is in New York to kill Clint.
But more than that, I love this scene for finally getting into the big question mark I had going into this show. Yes, Clint Barton has helped save the world multiple times, but there is also a lot of blood on his hands. Last week’s “everyone deals with the blip in their own way” explanation – and Kate’s quick acceptance of it – didn’t quite cut it, and Yelena is absolutely right to say that Clint being an Avenger doesn’t absolve him of the things he’s done. Hawkeye has been very self-aware on that front since it began, but it’s especially explicit and impactful in this sequence. There may be a happy medium between Kate’s hero worship of Clint and Yelena’s hate for him that the characters will hopefully earn as the season comes to a close next week.
Speaking of Clint, while the new women in his life are debating his life choices, he tries to reason with Maya one last time, but not before fighting her in the Ronin suit. It’s a hard-hitting battle that reemphasises Hawkeye’s skill as a strategist – he takes out Maya’s sniper and goons without her noticing – as well as a combatant. When the bout is done, he reveals a critical bit of information – the night he killed Maya’s father, he was tipped off to his location by an informant working for her boss, who is also her Uncle, who is also… The Kingpin.
Wilson Fisk’s crime lord title is finally said out loud for the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as this episode concludes, when Yelena tracks Eleanor to their rendezvous and sends the info to Kate (these two are about to become best buds!).
It’s a reveal that’s no less exciting for the fact that it’s just a blurry photo of Vincent D’Onofrio, or that we’ve seen it coming for a while. I can’t wait for Fisk to come into greater focus in Hawkeye’s finale, and beyond. We’re in the endgame now.
From the quiver
So Jack is a patsy! Given how cute he and Eleanor were when they were dancing in last week’s episode, there’s something quite sad about that.
The MCU’s musical synergy is a beautiful thing. I love how Christophe Beck is deploying and manipulating themes from Black Widow and the last two Avengers movies.
Looks like that watch is connected to Laura (Linda Cardellini). Hope we find out exactly how next week.
Clint tells Maya that “we’re weapons. But when you’re filled with rage, it makes you blind. It can be used. It can be manipulated.” That’s exactly what Fisk has done to both of them, and he also did the same thing in Daredevil’s excellent third season with Bullseye.
Watch a new clip from Hawkeye