As we pass the halfway mark of the season, Hawkeye continues to do what the MCU does best: giving us amazing action balanced with equally amazing character moments.
Hawkeye Episode 4 SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Hawkeye Episode 4 is titled “Partners, Am I Right?”, and it focuses on that exact question…are Clint Barton and Kate Bishop truly partners? We pick up immediately where the last episode left off, with Jack Duquesne discovering Clint Barton snooping around the penthouse suite and pulling the Ronin sword on him. Kate then has to introduce Clint to Jack and her mother, Eleanor, and in doing so, she has to explain why they’re here and what they are partnering on… if they’re partners at all.
I thought this scene at the dining room table was phenomenal. It felt like the awkward moment of bringing your partner home to meet your parents, which is exactly what is going on here. Hailee Steinfeld continues to absolutely crush it as Kate Bishop, nailing the humor, quirkiness, and general likeability of the character from the comics while also maintaining the illusion to the audience that she can kick anyone’s ass at the flip of a hat.
This can be a difficult balancing act for an actor to do, and in the wrong hands it could easily come across as unbelievable to the audience (which is sort of what I felt about the first episode), but Steinfeld manages to fulfill all aspects of the role perfectly here. The conversation ends with Eleanor walking Clint to the door and getting in a villainous jab about the death of Natasha Romanoff, which sets up a lot of character introspection for the latter half of the episode.
THE SWORDSMAN AND THE FAMILY DRAMA
After this fun intro, we dive into more of the Bishop family drama, which I have to say has been the weakest part of the show for me. It’s not that Vera Farmiga and Tony Dalton are bad actors, it’s just that there’s no chemistry or sense of reality in most of these family scenes thus far. I know that the audience is supposed to distrust Jack and his motives in entering Kate and Eleanor’s lives, but all of his antics come across as one-note and over-the-top to me… which, of course, is maybe how the writers want us to feel. It’s become painfully obvious with each episode that Jack is a red herring and that Eleanor is the real villain, so this mustache-twirling distraction could be very intentional if a bit cheesy.
I’m almost certain that Eleanor is the one who actually killed Armand, and that she quite possibly killed Kate’s father as well for his insurance money. This leaves Jack as merely a distraction for the audience, for the time being, making everyone (including Kate) look at him as the obvious culprit, but all of this never feels as well-written as the rest of the show. It also doesn’t quite fit the context of the scene here.
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If Kate truly believes that Jack is a murderer and that her mother is an innocent woman in danger, then why does she laugh and joke around with Jack like he’s a stepdad that she’s beginning to bond with? The Hawkeye writers are shifting the focus of villainy from Jack to Eleanor, but balancing all of this with the rest of the show often feels a bit clunky.
Despite this clunky introduction for Jack, keep your eye on him because the character will almost certainly be around to stay. As many of you know, Jack is a character from the comics known as the Swordsman, though the series is departing from the source material with his backstory. In the comics, Jack Duquesne was the son of Armand Duquesne, and on his eighteenth birthday, Armand told him the story of his ancestor, the Crimson Cavalier, who was sort of a Zorro-type character who robbed from the rich to give to the poor.
Soon after this reveal, Armand was captured by gangsters and Jack takes on this mantle to rescue him. Later on, in the Matt Fraction comic run that this series is based on, Duquesne went full-on villain and fought with both Clint and Kate. So even if Jack is nothing more than a mustache-twirling red herring in the first half of this show, keep a lookout for him to become a bigger threat in the MCU’s future.
“THE SHOT I DIDN’T TAKE“
We then get some amazing moments between Clint and Kate as she tries to make him feel at home during Christmas. There are so many great nods to the Matt Fraction Hawkeye run here, including using frozen food to ice their wounds and the joke about the boomerang arrow (which will definitely come back before the show ends).
All of this leads to an amazing character moment as Clint opens up about his loss of Natasha Romanoff and their time together in Budapest. This PTSD is something Hawkeye has already referenced several times (Eleanor referenced it earlier in the episode), but none of it feels as real and emotional as it does in this moment.
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Jeremy Renner has always brought such a level of believability to this Clint/Hawkeye (even in a crazy comic-book world where arrows can become the size of buildings), and his relationship to Black Widow has always been a core part of who he is in the MCU. His acting is great here, and I thought having these flashbacks accompanied by an ear-ringing and deafly muted sound design was a great touch (we even get a few notes of the Vormir score from Endgame).
This scene is a great example of how well Marvel creates meaningful character moments within all the chaos and action of their comic-book universe I thought it was perfect. Fans know that all of this is paving the way for Natasha’s adopted sister Yelena Belova to enter Hawkeye and yet it builds to that moment in such a natural way that also adds a lot of depth and emotional weight to Clint’s character arc.
Kate and Clint also talk about how he lost his family in the Blip while watching the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. This is such a great nod by the writers, as that film deals with a man who thinks he loses his family (as Clint did with the Blip), but who ultimately gets them back in the end. Gotta love those little details.
THE MYSTERY OF THE WATCH… WAS LAURA BARTON A SECRET AGENT?!
One of the biggest surprises of this episode, and Hawkeye in general, was the reveal about the Rolex watch from the Avenger’s compound that the Tracksuit Mafia had stolen from the underground auction in the first episode. While many fans theorized that this watch might be a piece of Stark tech, this episode seems to pave the way for a totally different explanation… Laura Barton was a secret agent?!
Is she Mockingbird?! In this episode we see Laura help her husband Clint with his investigation into the Tracksuit Mafia and the mysterious Sloan LTD…something she seems suspiciously good at. Then she suddenly switches over to speaking in German to hide her conversation from the kids (which, you know, is just a typical suburban mom thing to do). All of this leads up to Clint and Kate breaking into Maya’s apartment where Clint reveals that the watch, quote:
“Belonged to someone I worked with. They’ve been out of the game a long time, but their identity is still attached to that watch.”– Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Hawkeye Episode 4
HOLD UP! Does this mean that Laura used to be an agent? Could she be Mockingbird (a character who was married to Clint Barton in the comics)?! This is a complete surprise and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next. Linda Cardellini is a phenomenal actress who hasn’t been given much to do in her MCU role thus far, but all of that might be about to change. I may be getting ahead of myself here, and it could be any number of other explanations, but I can’t really think of a better character for Clint to be referring to.
THE FIGHT SCENE AND YELENA BELOVA’S HAWKEYE INTRODUCTION
Finally, we get the fight scene at the end of the episode, which I thought was absolutely phenomenal! Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) shows up after her tease in the post-credits scene of Black Widow, where she was tasked by Val Contessa (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) to hunt down and kill Clint Barton. She arrives on the rooftop in her super-adaptoid costume from the comics, though I don’t know if she’s actually using this technology or if its just an Easter egg for the fans. In the comics, the super-adaptoid tech was essentially the same thing that the Taskmaster Protocol was in the Black Widow film; a piece of high-tech gear that allowed the user to mimic any fighting style they observe.
The last time we saw Taskmaster, and her suit, was when she was being flown away in a jet with Yelena and the other widows, so Yelena could very well be using that Taskmaster technology now. If that’s the case, that means Elaine -ahem- I mean Val Contessa… might have her hands on that technology as well, setting up some interesting plot threads for the future.
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Either way, Yelena believes that Clint is responsible for Natasha’s death on Vormir and wants revenge, adding a massive complication to Clint’s situation in New York. I love Florence Pugh and she was a huge standout in the Black Widow movie, so I’m excited to see her in this show.
Yelena’s arrival leads to an amazingly-choreographed 4-way fight between Clint, Kate, Maya, and Yelena. Each character displays their own unique fighting style and character moments within the action sequence (even if the lighting was a bit dark at times). But a standout moment is Kate Bishop getting thrown off the rooftop, mirroring Natasha Romanoff’s fall on the cliff in Vormir.
Renner’s acting and the camera movement are just perfect here. Subtle enough to not beat you over the head with it, but on-point enough to put you right back in that emotional moment from Endgame. Letting the viewers feel Clint’s trauma.
The fight ends with Maya getting shot and Yelena escaping, leaving Clint to evaluate the danger he’s exposed Kate to. The setup of the episode thus far has perfectly conveyed why Clint makes the decision he does next, and the episode ends as it began, with the question: “Are we partners?”
For now, Clint’s answer is “No”, but the audience knows Kate isn’t going anywhere. The pair will have to iron out their differences to take on the threats they’re facing, but for now, Hawkeye lets us feel the emotional weight of Clint’s decision, setting up an interesting dynamic for the back half of the series.
Overall, I thought this Hawkeye episode was really good! It picked up from the phenomenal 3rd episode and added some awesome character moments for both Clint and Kate. I loved the mystery of the watch and the potential reveal for Laura Barton. Plus, I thought the introduction of Yelena was done fantastically and was accompanied by an awesome fight sequence.
However, the Swordsman, Kate’s mom, and their family drama continue to be the weakest part of the show for me. I don’t really care about that drama, or about who killed Armand in the first place (since the audience never really got to know him anyway). Kate’s mom is clearly going to be a villain, but she is far less interesting than Maya Lopez, the Tracksuit Mafia, Yelena, or any of the other threats the Hawkeye duo are facing.
HAWKEYE EPISODE 4 RATING: 4 out of 5 trick arrows
What did you think of thIs week’s Hawkeye episode? What are your theories? Will Kate be glad she didn’t take the shot? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet at us!
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KEEP READING: Hawkeye Episodes 1-2 Review: A Fun Start To A Street Level Adventure