Hawkeye – Season 1 Episode 4

Dec 8, 2021 | Posted by in TV

“Partners, Am I Right?”

Hawkeye doubles down on the Clint/Kate partner dynamic when Clint lets her accompany him on his mission to retrieve stolen items.

This entire show is built on the emerging friendship/partnership between Clint and Kate. They each hold very different mentalities when it comes to working with one another and it creates and engaging dynamic that never fails to carry the show. Kate’s determination and enthusiasm to work with her personal hero is the perfect counter to Clint’s weariness. In a way his weariness allows the partnership to happen because he lacks the energy to put in the amount of effort required to dissuade her.


More than she appears

Added to that is that she’s useful to him because she has an extensive list of skills that he can make use of. She lacks the training or experience to use them properly but taking on the role of a guiding hand means he can make use of them in very particular ways. It’s clear this isn’t a deliberate intention on Clint’s part but it could be read as him using her as a weapon. He talks about being a weapon aimed at targets by those in charge and his manner when talking about it shows the toll this has taken on him. Years of feeling like something to be used by those in authority to further a particular agenda has deeply affected his well-being and sense of self. One of the ongoing themes of this show is Clint reclaiming his humanity though until this point it seemed to be specifically connected to his time as Ronin. His account of earlier points in his career and how they contributed to the loss of his humanity expands this theme and adds texture to the arc.

All of it makes sense within the parameters of what is known about the character. It’s known that he was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent before joining the Avengers and as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent he would be ordered to do questionable things in the name of a greater good. With HYDRA buried under S.H.I.E.L.D. many of those orders would be given under false pretences creating further uncertainty over whether he was actually doing any good. Being an Avenger allowed him to be part of something more transparent that he could be proud of but all those deeds can’t be wiped away by a change in career.

Kate asks him about his exploits like an excited fan getting to grill her favourite celebrity about highlights from her career. She sees it as a glamorous life of heroics and saving lives but Clint’s perception is far more real. He lived those events and understands the moral complexity associated with them. One question in particular is difficult for him as it is around his favourite shot that he ever took. Kate asking that contributes to her romanticised view of being an Avenger and a superhero but Clint actually favours the shot he didn’t take above all others. It’s his favourite because it was a time he didn’t take a life and he cherishes that one in particular because it resulted in his closest friendship. He talks about being sent to take someone out and deciding not to take the shot because he could sense that she wanted out of that life. His instinct paid off and he was able to help Natasha turn her life around.


Friends being friends at Christmas

Despite her hero worship, Kate can’t ignore the heaviness to Clint’s delivery of this story and immediately figures out who he’s talking about which also allows her to figure out that he was Ronin. She may be caught up in the thrill of what she is experiencing but her intelligence and empathy often shines through to allow her to realise when she has taken things too far. Her recognition that she has hit on a very particular nerve and subsequent shift in attitude shows that on some level she recognises the life she puts on a pedestal isn’t as idyllic as she has assumed. Being faced with someone dealing with years of built up trauma manifesting as PTSD combined with losses he is incapable of fully processing is a powerful motivator for her to think differently.

Such a shift in mentality won’t happen instantly as shown by the way she behaves when out on a mission with him. Clint’s distanced and calculated handling of the situation makes for a strong and amusing contrast to Kate’s far more bold approach. She is more personable than he is and uses her innate likeability to her advantage in order to gain access to the building by offering to help an old man with his shopping bags. Her altruistic offer is taken at face value and she easily gains access. Kate shows off a natural ability to connect with people which highlights that her approach to heroics will be very different yet equally valid. Clint is understandably concerned about her reckless attitude while finding the results undeniable. This makes for a great use of Kate’s well established personality as a counter to Clint’s and adds unpredictability to the evolving situation.

Enhancing their teamwork is the furthering of them as friends. Kate keeping him company to give him some semblance of his rapidly deteriorating Christmas is genuinely heart-warming. Combining eating, drinking and Christmas activities with their investigation moves the plot forward organically while furthering their character dynamic. There is a light touch to their interactions that allows Clint to relax around her with continued emphasis on a mystery to solve as well as a mission to complete. It’s a beautifully Human moment that they share and Clint teaching her some of his tricks is very endearing. He remains in the parental role though it’s starting to shift towards the realm of friend and mentor. It’s a subtle transition that allows him to remain believably protective of her.


On mission

Kate’s perception of Clint’s heroic exploits isn’t the only thing that is challenged. When spending time around Jack and her mother she notices how happy he makes her which encourages her to try seeing him in a different light. Clint makes her aware of questionable connections that he has and commends her for her instincts but Kate’s perception of Jack as a positive influence in her mother’s life adds to her perception opening to the world not being black and white. Clint isn’t simply the embodiment of heroism and Jack isn’t simply the embodiment of villainy but there are hidden depths that she needs to understand further to give her a more complete view of how the world works.

There are further clues that Eleanor may not be what she appears. Her conversation with Clint where she warns him not to put her daughter in danger presents as more than motherly concern. She tries to knock Clint off balance by mentioning Natasha as a reminder that skill alone isn’t enough to keep someone alive. She frames it in reference to Kate but subtext suggests she’s warning Clint. A later phone call strongly implies that she’s putting a hit out on Clint to get him out of the way. The beauty of this is that she is believably protective of Kate but also seems to have a wider agenda that compliments this.

The extended action sequence at the end of the episode where Clint is attacked by a masked assailant while Kate is attacked by Maya is brilliantly executed. There was a great mix between hand to hand combat, trick arrows and acrobatics. The assailant revealed to be Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is impressively skilled with Clint struggling to keep up with her relentless attack and Maya has a combat style distinct from Yelena’s that makes it easy to follow both of them.


The personal approach

It’s a chaotic yet coherent sequence with Kate’s inelegance allowing for natural shifts in the action. There is plenty of room for character within the combat such as when Yelena identifies that Clint is protective of Kate and throws her off the building while being attached to a cable. Clint’s panic when he sees Kate fall followed by the relief when he realises she’s safe was excellently performed by Jeremy Renner. Adding in flashbacks to Natasha’s death to highlight the unintended similarities was a great touch that ties into Clint’s PTSD and sets up his flat refusal to allow Kate to be involved in what he’s doing after this point. Yelena’s involvement complicates things massively as a Black Widow is in the mix meaning that things have escalated beyond Clint feeling able to protect her.

Another strong character beat in the midst of the action sequence was when Kate had an arrow trained on Yelena who shakes her head as if begging Kate not to take the shot. She quickly lowers her bow,, Clint’s description of letting Natasha live no doubt ringing in her ears. It’s an excellent mirroring of the choice Clint was faced with Kate’s understanding of her own version of that instinct being perfectly shown in Hailee Steinfeld’s wordless performance. It was a great depiction of a shared moment of clarity between Yelena and Kate with recognition from Kate that Yelena needs a chance to turn her life around. It’s a great start to something that is sure to receive greater attention in the final episodes and an excellent reintroduction to Yelena following Black Widow.

There is still a lot of ground to cover in the remaining episodes in terms of lingering questions. The watch that Clint is looking to retrieve runs the risk of compromising their identity. His wife Laura helping him with the investigation points to it belonging to her, or at least her background being colourful. It would make sense for her to be connected to his line of work in some way considering how understanding she is of all he gets involved in and her casual skill when it comes to involving herself in the investigative elements. supports the idea of her having a colourful history. Other questions exist around the true power behind the Tracksuit Mafia, where Jack fits into it and how it all links together. The lack of a strong antagonist is a minor weakness at this stage but it can still play out in a satisfying way and is unlikely to harm the poignant character stories.


It’s a Black Widow sort of day


An excellent episode that furthers both plot and character organically, makes great use of Clint and Kate’s personalities and contains an impressive action sequence. Kate and Clint’s dynamic shifting towards friendship while still containing shades of the parental concern from Clint works really well. Furthering the plot and character simultaneously by combining their investigation with fun Christmas themed activities works brilliantly. Kate’s inappropriate hero worship of Clint as he recounts painful experiences is an interesting way to highlight how wrong her perception of this life she idolises is. Her intelligence and empathy shine through when she notices how tortured Clint is by his past and her perception of the world begins to open up. This combines with her seeing Jack in a different light to begin teaching her an important life lesson. Clint’s trauma and PTSD is revealed to go back further than initially assumed and continues to showcase a long road for him to follow to reclaim his humanity. The differences between Clint and Kate’s approach to carrying out the mission are amusing and make great use of their distinct personalities. Kate’s approach proves to be equally valid and fits her easily.

The extended action sequence featuring Yelena and Maya taking on Clint and Kate was brilliantly executed with it being chaotic while also being easy to follow. There is plenty of room for character beats within it such as Yelena taking advantage of Clint’s protective streak and Kate not taking the shot when Yelena soundlessly begs her not to. It calls back to Clint’s story about sparing Natasha and showcases Kate’s strong instincts. With two episodes remaining there is still a lot of ground to cover and the lack of a strong antagonist at this point is a minor weakness. There is plenty of intrigue such as the owner of the watch, the power behind the Tracksuit Mafia and the suggestion that Eleanor is far more than she seems. It can all come together in a satisfying way though even if it doesn’t the character work is unlikely to suffer.

  • 9/10
    Partners, Am I Right? - 9/10


Kneel Before…

  • digging further into Clint’s trauma and PTSD around his past
  • Kate inappropriately romanticising Clint’s exploits
  • her intelligence and empathy shining through when she realises how painful Clint’s past is
  • the Clint/Kate dynamic gradually shifting towards friendship
  • fun Christmas activities combined with investigating furthering the plot and character organically
  • Kate’s perception of the world starting to widen beyond it being black and white
  • Kate’s different approach to the mission being different yet equally valid and coming from her established personality
  • hints at Eleanor being more than she appears
  • an excellent extended action sequence
  • strong character beats contained within the action sequence


Rise Against…

  • the lack of a strong antagonist


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User Review
9/10 (1 vote)

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