Previously on Hawkeye: After being suspended from school for using her archery skills to do a prank that results in the destruction of a clock tower/bell tower on campus, Kate Bishop goes back home to New York for Christmas. She attends a party with her mother, Eleanor, and her mother’s boyfriend, Jack, and after witnessing Eleanor get into a heated argument with one of the other partygoers, she ends up uncovering a secret auction that ends up getting ambushed by the Tracksuit Mafia, a group of Russian mobsters who use explosives to blow open a wall and make their way in so they can steal a watch that was once owned by The Avengers. In order to stop them and keep anyone from getting hurt or killed, Kate suits up in the outfit that was once worn by Ronin (which was also being auctioned off, along with his sword) and whoops their asses right before making her escape. Meanwhile, Clint is spending time in New York with his three kids, and when he sees news footage of Kate dressed as Ronin, he immediately tracks her down to find out what is going on and why she has adopted his former identity.
THE STORY SO FAR: After rescuing Kate from the Tracksuit Mafia, Clint demands to know where she got the Ronin suit from and whether anyone knows her true identity. After the suit goes missing due to another encounter with the Tracksuit Mafia that results in Kate’s apartment being severely damaged by Molotov cocktails, Clint needs to find out who took it and why. Meanwhile, Kate is still trying to discover the truth about Jack, since she doesn’t trust him and thinks he has something to hide.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Kate trying her hardest to play it cool and not go into total fangirl mode in Clint’s presence. Clint catching a Molotov cocktail thrown through Kate’s window and instantly throwing it back at the Tracksuit Mafia, setting a few of them ablaze. Kate’s black and orange suit that she borrows from her aunt’s wardrobe, which makes her look like David S. Pumpkins. Clint’s reaction to the rules for larping and how someone is actually killed and kicked out of the match: “So violent.” Clint finally confronting Grills, the firefighter who took his Ronin suit and who refuses to give it back unless Clint allows him to “kill” him and earn the respect of his fellow larpers. “And I fought Thanos.” Clint becoming slightly friendlier towards Grills after getting back the Ronin suit. Kate’s verbal fencing match with Jack during dinner, followed by their physical fencing match after dinner, in which she’s able to prove that his swordsmanship skills are far more impressive than he was willing to admit. (And let’s not forget that Jack stole the Ronin sword for himself when the Tracksuit Mafia made their way inside via plastic explosive and interrupted the secret auction) Clint calling his wife, Laura, to explain what he’s up to, and instead of him lying and making up some bullsh-t excuses so that she doesn’t have to worry, he’s upfront and honest with her since she’s the wife of a former black ops assassin-turned-Avenger who is fully aware of his time as Ronin and of all of the enemies that he’s made during that time. Kate trying and failing to rescue Clint from the Tracksuit Mafia. “Oh wow, didn’t realize we were supposed to bring guns.”
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Clint is given much more to say and do compared to the last episode, but Kate and her exploits continue to be more lively and interesting to watch in comparison. Too much time is spent with him trying to retrieve the Ronin suit, and him going on about how he’d rather be with his family instead. Despite how well Renner sells his complete irritation having to deal with the larping community to get it back, it would’ve been really effective at giving Clint more characterization if he was allowed some narration like his comic-book counterpart, particularly during his slo-mo battle with the other larpers before getting to Grills.
As a lifelong New Yorker, I should be happy and impressed by seeing Spectrum News NY 1 anchor Pat Kiernan making an appearance and reporting the news of what is happening in the MCU. But seeing as how he allegedly has quite the reputation for being a sexist f-ckboy who contributed to many of his female colleagues being fired and having to sue their former network as a result, all I can do is roll my eyes hard enough to get stuck in my forehead when he appears onscreen.
DO ANY OF THE AVENGERS APPEAR IN THIS EPISODE?: No, they don’t.
LUCKY THE PIZZA DOG?: Yes, he does. He’s still in Kate’s care and is eating nothing but pizza for sustenance.
YELENA BELOVA?: No.
COUNTESS VALENTINA?: No.
KINGPIN?: Also no.
THE BARTON FAMILY?: Yes. The Barton kids (Lila, Cooper, and Nathaniel) are sent back home from their hotel in New York, but not before Lila makes Clint promise that he’ll be back home to them in time for Christmas. Laura is seen during a phone call with Clint, as he informs of his plan to be caught on purpose by the Tracksuit Mafia so he can figure out who’s calling the shots and why, a plan that Laura instantly recognizes as “one of Nat’s old moves.”
DOES THIS EPISODE EXPLAIN HOW AND WHY CLINT HAS A HEARING AID?: Yes and no. Clint explains to Kate that he does have a hearing aid, but as to how he became deaf and needed a hearing aid in the first place, Clint’s answer (due to all of the gunfights and explosions that he’s been privy to throughout his entire career) is simply, “Oh, it’s too hard to tell.” Which (probably) silences any and all doubts and complaints that fans may have had about his deafness not being included as a part of Clint’s character, and the show not having any deaf representation whatsoever.
SPEAKING OF DEAF REPRESENTATION, WHO IS THE WOMAN WE SEE AT THE END OF THE EPISODE THAT WORKS WITH THE TRACKSUIT MAFIA?: The woman who we meet as she is listening to music via placing her hand on the speakers before she is informed by a Tracksuit that Clint and Kate are in captivity, is Maya Lopez, a.k.a. Echo. Introduced in the pages of Daredevil back in 1999 by writer David Mack and artist Joe Quesada, Maya is a deaf Native American woman who is not only intellectually gifted but also possesses photographic reflexes, which allow her to perfectly imitate the physical movements of anyone she witnesses. These reflexes have made it possible for her to master the piano, become a gymnast who could give Simone Biles a run for her money, perform as a ballerina, and master several martial-arts techniques. (Maya is portrayed by Alaqua Cox, who in real life is also deaf and Native American, and is an amputee with a prosthetic lower leg)
SO SHE HAS THE SAME ABILITIES AS TASKMASTER?: Yes, she does.
HOLD UP! SHE FIRST APPEARED AS A CHARACTER IN DAREDEVIL?: Yes. Maya was raised by Kingpin after her father was brutally murdered, though unknown to Maya, it was Kingpin who had actually killed him. Kingpin then manipulates her into trying to take down Matt Murdock, but the two of them end up falling in love, which is the only thing that stops her from killing Daredevil when they face off after she realizes that Daredevil and Matt are one and the same. When Maya realizes that Kingpin has been lying to her (about Matt and about who really killed her father), Maya confronts him and shoots him in the face, leaving him temporarily blinded.
IS THIS ANOTHER HINT THAT WE’RE GOING TO SEE KINGPIN AND MATT MURDOCK, AND THAT DAREDEVIL IS REALLY COMING BACK FOR ANOTHER SEASON? PLEASE SAY YES!: I wish I could, but I honestly have no idea. So far, all that’s been made known is that Marvel and Disney have given Echo her own spin-off, and that the series will air on Disney Plus in the next year or two.
ANY EASTER EGGS WE SHOULD WATCH OUT FOR?: The bullseye in Kate’s apartment that is set up for archery practice looks very similar to the bullseye that is seen in Clint’s barn in Avengers: Age Of Ultron and in Avengers: Endgame. Kate mentions that she and Clint could head over to Avengers Tower and use that as their safehouse to hide out from the Tracksuit Mafia, but Clint informs her that Tony Stark already sold the building before his death (which was shown in Spider-Man: Homecoming), since their new base of operations was the storage compound in upstate New York that would end up being destroyed by Thanos in Endgame (and was also where the Ronin suit and sword were found for the secret auction in the previous episode). When Kate brings Clint to her aunt’s apartment building and rings the bells of several tenants so she can be buzzed in, one of the many tenants listed is Moira Brandon, who in the comics was an actress whose mansion was purchased by the West Coast Avengers and used as their headquarters, and who was later named as an honorary Avenger by Hawkeye after one of The Avengers’ enemies killed her in battle. Grills, the African-American firefighter/LARPer who Clint is forced to battle for the Ronin suit, was one of the tenants in Clint’s apartment building in the Fraction/Aja comic-book series, and was originally white, middle-aged, and referred to “Hawkeye” as “Hawkguy.”
ANY FAN THEORIES SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE ACROSS THE INTERNET BECAUSE OF THIS EPISODE?: When Clint allows himself to be captured by the Tracksuit Mafia, one of the Tracksuits says, “Careful, she wants him alive.” Whether the “she” in question is Maya or possibly Eleanor because she is really Madame Masque is one theory that’s already being considered by fans.
ARE THERE ANY SCENES DURING THE CLOSING CREDITS?: No.
SO WHY EXACTLY DOES EVERYONE ON SOCIAL MEDIA THINK THAT HAWKEYE IS RACIST?: (sighs) Give me a moment…
All right. So to answer your question:
In Avengers: Endgame, we find out that when Thanos snapped half of the Earth’s population out of existence, Clint’s wife and children were also snapped as well, leaving Clint alone and consumed by grief. And much like Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher, Clint responds to the deaths of his family by using all of his skills as a master assassin to hunt down as many criminal organizations as possible and kill them all. He did so by abandoning his identity as Hawkeye and taking on the new identity of Ronin. When The Avengers were discussing what Clint has been up to during the past five years in their attempts to find him, they mentioned that two of the crime families he went after were the Mexican cartels and the Yakuza (which is sometimes referred to as the Japanese Mafia). And upon hearing that, there were several viewers who took this to mean that Ronin had been around the world like Lisa Stansfield (if you’re too young to recognize that name and that reference, Google is your friend) and was only killing minorities, and not doing anything about the White supremacists and domestic terrorists here in the U.S. (As we find out in this episode, the Tracksuit Mafia was one of the families that was hunted by Ronin) That, combined with many people not liking Hawkeye the character all that much (or at least, not liking the MCU version of Hawkeye all that much), and really not liking Jeremy Renner, became a snowball rolling down a mountain that kept growing in size and gaining even more momentum as the months went on. It didn’t take long for “Hawkeye is a racist who loves killing minorities” to become Internet fact, much like “Superman never smiles in the DCEU.” It also didn’t help that one of the people that we see Ronin kill onscreen is played by legendary character actor Hiroyuki Sanada, who is barely alive onscreen for five minutes before Ronin takes him out, and a lot of viewers were upset and disappointed that this was all he was really given to do in Endgame.
Granted, most of what Clint/Ronin did to the criminal underworld during his five-year hunting spree is very similar to what Deadpool did at the beginning of Deadpool 2, and what The Punisher does that has made him the scariest of scary stories for criminals everywhere (and I’ve already written about how people both real and fictional admire The Punisher and his methods for all of the wrong reasons), but with Hawkeye being a member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, his conduct as a superhero is held to a much higher standard.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: The banter and interaction between Clint and Kate is enjoyable, but this episode still suffers from the same issues as the last one, in that there isn’t much that’s happening to grab our interest, and there isn’t enough narrative momentum to keep it all from feeling somewhat slow-paced. With the introduction of Maya Lopez, and Clint and Kate having no choice but to work together to stay alive, Hawkeye needs to start giving viewers a reason to care about what’s happening during these remaining four episodes, other than simply wanting to see what seeds Marvel and Disney will plant for the next movie or television show to come afterward. It would also be great if the writers stepped their game up in terms of what they give Renner to do as Clint/Hawkeye/Hawkguy, as the show (and Hailee Steinfeld herself, who has been masterful as she goes from awkward and impetuous to prickly and angry, and vice versa) so far has already made me care more about Kate Bishop and her survival, and not so much about Clint and whether or not he’ll keep his promise to his kids to be with them for Christmas. And that goes double for Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop, who is too damn talented to do nothing on this show but make googly-eyes at her fiancée and lecture her daughter about her behavior.
This episode of Hawkeye has been brought to you by “Light My Fire” by Massive Attack…
And by “Song For The Deaf” by Queens Of The Stone Age.
Header Image Source: Marvel Studios