Previously on Hawkeye: Clint and Kate continue their attempts to stop the Tracksuit Mafia from coming after them. Kate is sent out on an assignment to retrieve their trick arrows from the NYPD, a phone conversation results in Clint realizing that his Ronin suit and sword weren’t the only things that were taken from the secret auction by the Tracksuit Mafia, and a rooftop confrontation between Clint, Kate, and Maya reveals the arrival of a Black Widow assassin: Yelena Belova, sister of Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow.
THE STORY SO FAR: Clint ends his partnership with Kate, and sends her home upon realizing that an actual Black Widow assassin has now shown up to make things more dangerous and complicated. Kate is confronted in her apartment by Yelena, who informs her that not only was Natasha her sister but that she’s been hired to kill Clint, whom she blames for Natasha’s death. In order to keep his family safe once and for all, Clint wears the Ronin costume once again to confront Maya, who is left wondering what really happened on the night that her father was murdered. Kate finds out the heartbreaking truth as to who actually hired Yelena to go after Clint.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Yelena and Sonya attempting to undo Ana’s brainwashing, only to realize that there is no brainwashing and that Ana willingly uses her skills as a Black Widow to kill people for lots of money. Yelena being snapped by Thanos, and seeing both her snap and her recovery entirely from her perspective, followed by her conversation with Ana (who is now married and raising a daughter that they both adopted) which ends right before Yelena discovers that her sister is gone. Kate being comforted by Eleanor after Clint ends their partnership and sends her home, as well as her entire “girls night” conversation with Yelena. (As wonderful as Kate is, she truly deserved to be called out by Yelena for only owning one fork) Jack remaining in good spirits even while he’s being taken into custody by the NYPD because of Kate and Eleanor, and promising to clear this all up in time for Eleanor’s holiday party. (Anyone and everyone on social media who said that he gives off so much Gomez Addams energy was not wrong) Tomas and Ivan of The Tracksuit Mafia discussing how no one really uses brass knuckles anymore, and famous people known for wearing tracksuits, such as Run DMC, Tony Soprano, Tommie Smith, and the Royal Tenenbaums. (Jason Sudeikis isn’t mentioned, but he’s also well-known for rocking the hell out of a tracksuit as well) Clint’s conversation with Natasha, in which he removes his hearing aid and shuts the rest of the world out to let her know how much he really misses her, and how much he regrets what he’s about to do next. Kate accepting that she’s not going to sit on the sidelines no matter what Clint tells her, and leaves so many messages on his voicemail that even Mike from Swingers would tell her that she’s doing too much. The fight between Clint/Ronin and Maya, in which he not only warns her what will happen if she keeps going after him and his family but tells her that someone in her own gang, someone who works for her boss, is who informed Clint/Ronin to go after her father and is also responsible for his death. (Followed by Clint/Ronin taking advantage of Kate saving him from Maya and disappearing like Waingro after Neil McCauley ambushed him outside of the diner in Heat) Clint’s friendship with Grills, who is more than happy to let him crash at his place, look after Pizza Dog, and show him the brand-new costume that his fellow larpers made for him (which Clint is too exhausted to look at, so we won’t be seeing him suit up until next week). Kate finding out that her own mother is not only the one who hired Yelena to kill Clint, but that she’s also working with Maya’s boss who runs the Tracksuit Mafia and nearly every other criminal enterprise in New York City: Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin.
Oh, and when Kate Bishop finds out that Yelena is Natasha’s sister, and says that it’s a good thing that she didn’t kill Yelena when they were fighting each other. Yelena’s response?
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Yelena and Sonya’s approach to confronting Ana and spraying her with the antidote would’ve been a lot smarter if one had distracted her at gunpoint and the other just sprayed her, but Clint constantly referring to Kingpin as “the big guy” and “your boss” instead of simply calling him “Fisk” or “Kingpin” makes little to no sense, and seems like it was only done to keep the audience in the dark about his eventual arrival. It also makes it sound as if Clint is talking about The Hulk whenever he refers to Kingpin as “the big guy” (especially since “the big guy” is what the other Avengers call him), and just reminds me of when none of the Avengers were referred to by name on the Marvel shows that aired on Netflix, and would only be described in vague terms like “the green monster” or “the big blond dude with the hammer,” “the old dude with the shield,” and the Battle of New York was simply referred to as “The Incident.” Kate not being taken into custody by the NYPD detectives who are arresting Jack, considering that they intended to question her about the Tracksuit Mafia burning up her apartment, and nothing ever happened with that since she didn’t arrive at the precinct like she said she would. Clint remaining worried about Maya being in possession of Laura’s watch, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure Kate found it in Maya’s apartment, put it in her pocket before her fight started, and we never really saw Maya get the watch back. Maya questioning Kazi for the first time ever as to why he wasn’t around when her father was killed by Clint/Ronin (and not doing so until Clint brings it up) is a bit of a stretch, especially since she knows full well that he was William Lopez’s right-hand man. As great as it was to see Kingpin and have his presence confirmed, some fans online were disappointed that we saw him via cell phone photo instead of actually seeing him in the flesh, and it reminded me of how there were similar complaints about how the Justice League were first seen in Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice via an e-mail sent to Wonder Woman by Batman.
As much as I do like this shot with Clint and Kate walking together as he hands her an arrow, Clint is not ever seen holding an arrow from the moment he and Kate exit their Uber, so…where exactly did this arrow come from that he’s even handing it to her?
DO ANY OF THE AVENGERS APPEAR IN THIS EPISODE?: No, but we do get to hear snippets of conversation between Natasha and Yelena from Black Widow, in which they discuss how all of the Widows were brainwashed by Dreykov, the antidote that is necessary to undo said brainwashing, and Yelena’s mission to travel around the world with antidotes in hand to find other Widows and help them regain their freedom.
We also get to see the plaque near Grand Central Terminal that is dedicated to the Avengers for their bravery against Loki and the Chitauri in the Battle Of New York.
LUCKY THE PIZZA DOG?: Yes, and his diet has not changed at all since he’s been introduced.
YELENA BELOVA?: Yes, and she spends the majority of her time in this episode bonding with Kate Bishop (not Kate, as she’s on a full-name basis with her). They talk about how Yelena tried to kill Kate Bishop (which Yelena instantly corrects, as she reminds her that she was hooked onto one of her grappling hooks to get her out of the way and also keep her from falling to her death), about all of the places that Yelena should check out in New York since this is her very first visit, and they eat an entire pot of boxed macaroni and cheese together (which Yelena happily adds hot sauce to once Kate Bishop is finished with her portion).
The conversation becomes much more serious when Yelena reveals that she’s in New York to kill Clint, and that she blames him for the death of her sister. Kate Bishop defends Clint and tells her that he’s an Avenger who saved the world, and who would never let anything happen to someone who he considered his best friend, but Yelena has no interest in hearing any of this. From her point of view, being an Avenger carries little to no weight; it doesn’t excuse all of the bloodshed that he’s responsible for during his time as Ronin, and in the words of Rachel Dawes: it’s not who he is underneath, but what he does that defines him.
KINGPIN?: Sort of. He finally does make an appearance, but we only see him via a cell phone photo taken by Yelena, in which he is conversing with Eleanor.
THE BARTON FAMILY?: We don’t see the kids, but Laura appears for another phone conversation with Clint. She assures him that she understands more than anyone else why he responded that way during The Snap, and that if he needs to become Ronin to end all of this and finally come home, then that’s what needs to be done.
ANY EASTER EGGS WE SHOULD WATCH OUT FOR?: When we finally see Kingpin, he is wearing his trademark white suit (which he is known for regularly wearing in the comics), and looks to be carrying his walking stick, which could be for stylistic reasons or for helping him with his mobility due to the severe ass-whooping he got from both Daredevil and Bullseye when we last saw him onscreen. Clint and Kate’s escape route via Uber was also done during the Fraction/Aja run of Hawkeye. Yelena’s love of macaroni and cheese goes all the way back to when she was little, as seen in Black Widow when she requests it for dinner right before she and the rest of the family end up having to go on the run. Natasha’s theme is heard while Yelena and Sonya sneak in to Ana’s house, and the same music that is heard in Avengers: Endgame when Clint is forced by Natasha to let her go is also heard when Clint is talking to Natasha at the Avengers plaque. Clint telling Maya that Kingpin is the one who wanted her father dead is similar to Maya’s actual origin story from the comics, in which William “Crazy Horse” Lopez was one of Kingpin’s enforcers who ended up being murdered by Kingpin himself, but not before William made him promise to look after Maya, who was a little girl at the time. Kingpin went on to raise Maya like she was his own child, and even sent her to an expensive school for child prodigies, due to her photographic reflexes.
ANY FAN THEORIES SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE ACROSS THE INTERNET BECAUSE OF THIS EPISODE?: One theory that’s been shared is that Laura was some kind of agent/operative back in the day, which is how she and Clint originally crossed paths, and that she’s actually Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, despite the fact that Bobbi was already introduced on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., and was played by Adrianne Palicki. But for reasons that only Kevin Feige can explain, that show isn’t considered to be official Marvel canon, so it is possible for Marvel/Disney to ignore that show and recast the role if they choose to do so. Another theory is that Laura was an agent/operative, but was actually the original Ronin, and when she and the kids disappeared because of The Snap, Clint adopted the Ronin persona in her memory. And there’s still hope by many fans that Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, will make an appearance by the end of the season.
ARE THERE ANY SCENES DURING THE CLOSING CREDITS?: No, but when the animated section of the closing credits ends, we get this image as part of the title card that has Kingpin’s silhouette filling up the screen, hinting at his presence and how it looms over all of New York.
Even the Kingpin himself, Mr. Vincent D’Onofrio, had some fun with this imagery as well.
When I was a boy… pic.twitter.com/3iRk6OO6c6— Vincent D'Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) December 15, 2021
For those of you wondering what the significance is of the “When I was a boy…” line, it’s in reference to one of Kingpin’s many, many long-ass anecdotes and monologues that he had a tendency to share with others, including FBI agent Benjamin Poindexter, a.k.a. Bullseye, on Daredevil. Not surprisingly, D’Onofrio knocked these out of the park, and certainly gave Joe Morton as Eli Pope on Scandal, who had his own tendency for long-ass anecdotes and monologues that he would deliver with both vigor and malevolence, a run for this money.
Two more things regarding Vincent D’Onofrio returning as Kingpin:
1) Please read this quote from a 2019 interview that the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg had with NPR.
“There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months,” she recalled. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I,” she added with a smile, “am very much alive.”
2) Turn the sound on for the tweet below, which is also from 2019.
Remember when RBG spoke about how some senator took a little too much delight in her announcement that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer?— hellresidentNY (@hellresidentNY) November 8, 2019
Vincent D'Onofrio actually read that entire statement in his Kingpin voice. That's how great he is. #Daredevil pic.twitter.com/iA5kKej8vR
TO SUM IT ALL UP: There is much to like and enjoy about this episode, but it’s crystal-clear that the MVP is Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, who reminded us all of how great she is in the role, and why she was one of the very best things about Black Widow. (As I said in the previous recap, Marvel stans have already begun losing their sh-t as a result of the two of them sharing scenes together, and the fact that there are now dozens of Kate/Yelena fancams all over Twitter should come as a surprise to no one) Her ‘girls night’ scene with Hailee Steinfeld has left fans wanting more interaction between the two of them in future Marvel films and television shows, and considering their chemistry and how well they bounce off each other, I don’t blame them. The other highlight of this episode was Jeremy Renner, and his scene where he talks to Natasha and makes it clear how emotionally shattered he is by losing her, is not only is one of Renner’s best acting moments in the MCU, but hammers home even more how important a character Natasha Romanoff was (to Clint, to Yelena, and to people around the world), and is a reminder of how fans were left feeling infuriated by her death in Avengers: Endgame. Those fans felt that Natasha wasn’t given the respect that she deserved (hence why they were also frustrated that it took so damn long for her to even get her solo film, and that it didn’t even happen until after she died), and that her death never should’ve happened in the first place.
Only one episode remains this season, and with so many things that need to be resolved (Clint and Kate vs. the Tracksuit Mafia; Kingpin showing up as the man behind the curtain; Maya learning the truth about how Kingpin and Kazi worked together to kill her father; Yelena hunting down Clint so she can kill him; Clint having to answer for his actions as Ronin; Eleanor being up to no good; whether or not Clint will make it home to his family in time for Christmas; whether or not Jack will be released from police custody in time for Eleanor’s holiday party; finding out the truth behind that Rolex watch), here’s hoping that the season finale not only leaves all of us feeling satisfied and entertained, but that the episode will actually run longer than forty-two minutes (which is how long these last couple of episodes have been, and that’s without the closing credits) in order to resolve everything.
Finally, a happy 39th birthday to Charlie Cox, who played Matt Murdock/Daredevil on Daredevil, and was officially confirmed by Kevin Feige that he will once again play The Man Without Fear if and when he makes any future appearances in the MCU. Will one of those future appearances be in Spider-Man: No Way Home, as the Internet rumors have been saying for months? Well, if you were able to get a ticket when they went on sale and not pay hundreds of dollars to scalpers in order to get them, you can find out for yourself when it opens in theaters later tonight.
Anyway, one of the people to wish him happy birthday on Twitter was his former Daredevil castmate, Deborah Ann Woll, who played Karen Page.
Happy birthday, Charlie Cox!!! Miss you! Hope it’s a great day!! ❤️🎄🎁🎉 pic.twitter.com/woUdXGZLtI— Deborah Ann Woll (@DeborahAnnWoll) December 15, 2021
This episode of Hawkeye has been brought to you by “Christmas In Hollis” by Run DMC…
“Gangsta Lean” by D.R.S…
And “The Payback” by James Brown.
Header Image Source: Marvel Studios