Hawkeye Episode 5 continues to deliver great cameos and character moments…even if it doesn’t always know where it’s going.
Heat up your boxed macaroni and let’s dive in!
Episode 5 of the Hawkeye series is titled “Ronin,” though it should be titled “Widow.” The episode very much centers around the fan-favorite character of Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), opening with a flashback to 2018 and showing us what Yelena has been doing since the events of Black Widow.
This opening sequence was great, and it delivers on some amazing crossover storytelling that I think too often gets taken for granted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because the MCU has been doing this so well for over a decade now, the audience can sometimes forget just how great these connective tissues really are. Pugh absolutely shines in this role, and she falls back into the character of Yelena seamlessly, making us remember exactly why we loved her in Black Widow.
HAWKEYE RAMPS IT UP
Yelena has been continuing her mission to free various widow agents from the mind-control of the Red Room, and we are introduced to Ana, a former widow who reveals that not all widows are mind controlled; some actually choose to work as contract-killers even after their liberation. This adds an intriguing nuance to the side-widows (one of whom we briefly saw in Shang-Chi), and it makes me wonder if Ana was working for Val Contessa. Perhaps she is the one introduced Yelena to Val in the first place, and that’s how Yelena began working for her?
Later on in the episode, we get an incredible scene between Yelena and Kate that solidifies the fact that Yelena has completely stolen this show. I could watch their conversation over a macaroni bowl for hours! There’s a thousand things about this conversation I loved, like Yelena’s excitement to tour New York, her discussion on how to cook a reindeer, and the brief reference to the “new and improved Statue of Liberty” (which can be seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home, releasing tomorrow, 12/16).
We even get a couple of deep cut nods to Yelena’s history in Black Widow, with Yelena talking about her love of dogs like she mentioned in that film, as well her obsession with American Christmases (which Yelena and Nat staged photos for as children in their undercover spy-family). The character work and cross-references are phenomenal here!! I need a Yelena series, like…yesterday.
But somehow in all these amazing moments, I’m still left wondering what all of this is leading towards in Hawkeye. There’s only one episode left! Spending this much time with Yelena is great, but it also feels distracting from the central plot of Hawkeye…which is what exactly?
HAWKEYE IS A SHOW WITH IDENTITY DISORDER
With only one episode left, Hawkeye still feels like three separate storylines that haven’t quite woven into a single narrative. The first is Kate’s investigation into Armand’s murder (which I believe has been forgotten by 90% of the audience), the second is Clint’s conflict with Maya Lopez during his time as the Ronin, and the third is Yelena’s mission to kill Clint. Each of these is intriguing in their own right, but none of them feel very cohesive to each other. To spice it up even further, we have a side plot about Clint’s wife possibly being a secret-agent, two fire-fighting larpers, one pizza dog, and a partridge in a pear tree. All of this adds up to one flavorful soup, but the ingredients don’t necessarily mix.
For example, we finally see Jack Duquesne getting arrested for the murder of Armand, and it’s easily the least interesting part of this episode. It’s not just because the viewers know that he’s innocent (and that Kate’s mother Eleanor is the real criminal), its simply that we don’t care anymore.
This show has given us a plethora of other amazing characters to follow (Clint Barton, Kate Bishop, Maya Lopez, Yelena Belova, and, of course, the BIG FELLA teased at the end of this episode) and all of them are more interesting than Jack and Eleanor. While I’m not complaining that we get to spend more time with great side-characters, every one of them is pulling the show in their own direction, leaving the show somewhat drawn-and-quartered by its own interesting elements.
As for the Ronin vs. Maya portion of the episode, we do get an interesting development in this episode, in that we find out Kingpin was somewhat responsible for the murder of Maya’s father. Clint was apparently tipped off by the Big Man himself, who wanted Maya’s father dead for some reason. This was a theory that many fans had, simply because it’s what happened in the comics, and it set’s up Maya’s upcoming spinoff show Echo, which will presumably be about her getting revenge on Kingpin for the death of her father. And since we’re on the subject of Kingpin, let’s talk about that reveal…
THE RETURN OF THE KING
Yes, that is Vincent D’onofrio back as the Kingpin! After countless rumors and speculation, Wilson Fisk is finally here…so why does it feel like such a letdown?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited for the the character to return, but this seems like a reallyyyyy anticlimactic way to introduce him. How much more impactful would it have been if we saw this moment live?! Instead of just a grainy sideways picture? Fisk is obviously going to be in next episode in more detail (and, let’s hope, clarity), but I felt that this was a very weak moment when it could have been massive! Comparing it to last week’s reveal of Yelena with all its badass-ery, this scene plays out like a blurry set photo leak that spoils the fun of a real reveal. I wish we could have gotten a true Kingpin reveal with all the gravitas that the character deserves.
So, now the big question…is he the Kingpin from Daredevil? While there isn’t much we can go off of in this scene, this very much looks like the Kingpin from the Netflix Daredevil show. We still don’t know if D’onofrio will be continuing that version of the character, or if he’s playing a brand-new version from the multiverse, but I’m leaning towards the latter. In other words, I think this will be a fresh take on Kingpin…played by the same actor, but without all the character history from the Netflix series.
However, if that’s the case, Hawkeye isn’t doing much to differentiate the two versions here, at least visually. This character wears the same signature white suit over a black dress shirt that was commonly worn by Fisk in Daredevil. He is holding a cane, however, which is new. So who knows? I’m hoping we find out next week if the MCU will be embracing the canon of the Netflix shows, or if it will be discarding them entirely. Those shows were a mixed-bag as far as quality goes, and they were produced by a rival streaming service to Disney+.
If Hawkeye embraces the continuity of those shows, it risks driving subscribers to Netflix to catch up on what they missed. Also, it opens a mixed bag of canon storylines, ranging from the amazing Daredevil stuff to the mind-numbingly awful first season of Iron Fist. It’ll be interesting to see what they decide to do.
Now that Kingpin has officially appeared in this show…I have a lot of questions about the org-chart of this criminal empire. To recap what we know:
- The tracksuit mafia reports to Maya Lopez, who reports to Kingpin.
- Maya Lopez’s father also reported to Kingpin, but Kingpin wanted him dead for some reason, and sold him out to the Ronin (Clint Barton). But…How do Clint and Kingpin know each other? If Clint has known about the Kingpin this entire time, then why has it only just now come up?
- The tracksuits seem to work for Trust A Bro Moving Company, but also for the Fat Man Repair Shop, but also for the holding company Sloan LTD.
- Sloan LTD looks to be run by Jack Duquesne, but this is probably just a set-up by Kate’s mother, Eleanor Bishop.
- Eleanor Bishop runs Bishop Security, but is also doing business with the Kingpin. Does she work for the Kingpin?
- Eleanor Bishop seemingly hired Yelena to kill Clint Barton, but the audience already knows that Yelena was assigned to kill Clint Barton by Val Contessa (as seen in the post-credits scene of Black Widow). So does this mean that Val runs a mercenary group? And why does Eleanor want to kill Clint? Did she hire an assassin in the last couple of days to kill Clint just for snooping around her estate? Or is it to keep her daughter safe? And if Eleanor wants Clint dead, then how does that relate to Kingpin and Clint apparently working together in the past? And if Kingpin worked with the Ronin in the past, does that mean that he knows that the Ronin was Clint? And if Kingpin knows that the Ronin was Clint, then why doesn’t Maya Lopez know that the Ronin was Clint?
If this hurts your head, don’t worry, it hurts mine too.
This week’s Hawkeye gives us some amazing character moments, while muddying an already-muddy plot. Yelena is incredible, and I would love to see her and Kate interact more in the future. The Kingpin reveal is intriguing, but is handled in the least-impactful way I could imagine. Overall, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, but that’s okay because I get to listen to Yelena Bolova talk about eating reindeer. I love this show because I love the characters, but I’m hoping that next week’s finale ultimately ties together these disparate plot points.
Hawkeye Episode 5 Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Trick Arrows