Hawkeye – Season 1 Episode 5
Hawkeye picks up the pieces from the recent confrontation as various characters realise that the situation is more complicated than they thought.
The beauty of this show is that the stakes feel high while the events themselves are low key. It’s all relative in a universe where half of all life can wink out of existence for five years but this show manages to make the plot impactful without the world or universe being at risk. It accomplishes this through everything being meaningful to the characters involved with strong emotional fallout from revelations. Information shatters the people it relates to so there is weight to what happens.
Much of this episode deals with the fallout of the previous one. There’s a strong sense that the situation has levelled up to a massive degree with the involvement of Yelena. Clint tries to bench Kate because having a Black Widow in the mix makes it infinitely more dangerous and he doesn’t want her death on his conscience. It also means things have escalated beyond the point that Clint can quietly manage. What started as a fetch quest for some items connected to Clint’s dark past has now become a bigger conspiracy involving different parties warring against each other. At this point the pieces don’t fit together fully but Clint at least has some idea of what he needs to do.
His conflict within this episode is over having to embrace a part of himself he has tried very hard to put behind him. The scene where he stands on the very spot where the Avengers first assembled and talks to Natasha is very powerfully performed by Jeremy Renner. Losing her has resonated throughout this entire season and dealing with it has been a believable ongoing struggle for him. Going to her for advice is something he would do when she was alive so him talking to her on a meaningful spot before going to do something that is deeply uncomfortable for him makes sense as a character choice. The detail of him turning off his hearing aid to shut out the world around him so that he can be alone in this vulnerable moment is excellent and the dialogue is elegantly simple to reinforce how much he misses her and to make his apology for what he’s about to do pack a punch. It’s especially poignant because she was the one who lifted him out of this life.
Clint’s conversation with Laura about having to take drastic and uncomfortable action reinforces his core motivation; the need to protect his family. The previous episode started to hint towards Laura having a more colourful past than was previously assumed that Clint is trying to keep buried. It isn’t explicitly detailed in this episode but the suggestion remains through Laura talking about the family being really far away. Clint’s fear is that nowhere is ever far enough and that people will come after them if he doesn’t resolve this situation once and for all.
His plan is to put on the Ronin costume and confront Maya to warn her to back down. He quickly takes down those around her before taking her on directly. It’s an impressively choreographed sequence that provides another strong showing of Maya’s skill and ferocity in combat. Clint is better trained and far more experienced so he eventually gains the upper hand but Maya is a challenge. Like Kate she has skills that need to be honed further before she can truly work at Clint’s level.
Once Clint gains the upper hand he warns Maya not to come after his family and tells her that it was an informant in her organisation that gave him the information he needed to go after her father. He points out that her boss was the one who wanted her father killed which tells her that those she works for aren’t being honest with her and she’s a pawn. This shatters her world-view and forces her to question everything she thought she knew about her life. This immediately manifests when she asks Kazi very specific questions indicating that her trust in him has been shaken. Maya now has no idea who she works for or what she stands for so she will have to reassess things before taking the next step.
Kate is shaken up following the events of the previous episode and starts to question her ability to handle situations like this. Her conversation with Eleanor early in the episode is a really strong mother/daughter moment that highlights Kate being in over her head. She tells Eleanor that Clint doesn’t consider her a superhero and she doesn’t see herself that way which is something that upsets her because she worked her entire life to live up to the example that Clint unknowingly set for her. The reality of knowing him and seeing what he deals with has proven to be far different to her romanticised assumptions of what such a life would involve but it transitions to her feeling bad that Clint has to shoulder the rest of the mission alone.
This isn’t something she’s prepared to accept especially after learning that she can’t simply remove herself from the situation. Yelena coming to her directly confirms that and allows her to gain more context around what’s going on. Yelena talks about being hired to kill Clint while also having a personal desire to do so because she blames him for Natasha’s death. She sees Natasha as the one who saved the world and everyone else taking credit for it as an insult to her memory. In her own way she’s mourning the loss of Natasha and acting out as a result but she is driven and focused on her goals. The opening flashback establishing that Yelena was blipped was likely intended to set up her reaction to that loss and provide context for her character within this show though it didn’t quite work.
Kate and Yelena’s interaction is excellent with the distinct personalities of both characters enhancing it massively. Yelena approaches the conversation with an outwardly pleasant demeanour with threatening undertones. Just beneath the surface is her being in full control of the conversation and being able to kill Kate with no effort. Kate is very much a prisoner though she realises that very early on and conducts herself well considering the circumstances. Yelena does make it clear very early on that she only wants to talk and Kate understands that she wouldn’t even know Yelena was there if she wanted her dead so allows it to play out.
Their conversation covers a wide range of topics including Yelena’s desire to see what New York has to offer, her feelings about the loss of Natasha and what the Avengers represent to the world. The latter is particularly interesting as it feeds into the ongoing theme of hero worship. It has been largely explored through Kate who has put Clint on a pedestal but it’s evident in background details of the world itself. The first episode had a Broadway musical built around the exploits of the Avengers, people dress as Avengers to take photographs with the public, Clint got a free meal because the restaurant were grateful for what he did, a plaque has been placed at the exact spot the Avengers first assembled and so on. The Avengers are celebrities in this world and people idolise them because of what they’ve done.
Kate’s perspective is that what Clint and the other Avengers do is unfortunately going to result in collateral damage. She sees that as an unfortunate yet necessary consequence of protecting people but Yelena sees the hero worship they enjoy as a terrible thing that hides the truth of what they do. Her perception is motivated by the belief that Clint is responsible for Natasha’s death which extends to her being disgusted by the status the Avengers enjoy in the world because to her it’s a fallacy. Much of this belief will be motivated by the life she was forced into which prompts her to see darkness everywhere she looks. Cynicism around the perception of superheroes by the people who share the world with them is a strong idea to work with that this show handles really well. Clint seeing first hand what the actions of the Avengers have done to the world around them when all he felt he was doing was doing a job is fascinating. Kate’s idealised view of Clint and the Avengers continues to prevent her from truly understanding the reality of the world she has entered into but it’s a realisation that will sink in eventually.
Yelena and Kate’s dynamic is great. They start to bond even though Kate is essentially a hostage in this scenario and Yelena is clearly starved for meaningful companionship. Making the Mac and Cheese is extending an olive branch of sorts and some of the conversation is geared around simply getting to know one another even though Yelena has done extensive research into Kate’s background. It creates a distinction between knowing the details of someone’s life and actually knowing them as a person which fuels the dynamic that Yelena is trying to create. Constantly referring to her as “Kate Bishop” as a reminder that Kate has reason to fear her is a nice touch along with Kate picking up on that. The main intent behind this scene is to set up that under different circumstances they could be friends and the suggestion is that those different circumstances will come sooner rather than later. The mutual respect is also established here which justifies Yelena informing Kate that it was her mother who hired her. This shatters Kate’s world-view and creates a further awareness of the situation becoming far more complicated.
The episode ends with a big reveal; Clint looks at a picture and identifies the man in it as “Kingpin”. In the picture is Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, last seen on the Netflix Daredevil series. A lot of speculation has been flying around as to whether the characters in the Netflix Marvel shows will be repurposed into the MCU in some way and now it has been confirmed with the return of Fisk in photographic form. He will likely appear in the final episode as he has been identified as the man in charge of the Tracksuit Mafia. Added to that is his connection to Maya and Clint having an awareness of him so he is positioned as an important player in the events depicted in this show. Reintroducing him in this way works well because it doesn’t rely on knowledge of the character from the Daredevil TV show. He has been set up in the story being told by this show so the reveal is meaningful because of the connections he has to the events and the characters involved in them. This is definitely the right way to go about it and as someone who enjoyed the character before it will be great to see him return. This entire episode was about building tension in advance of releasing it in the finale and it worked brilliantly.
An excellent episode that raises the stakes organically, challenges the characters involved in interesting ways and puts things in place for the final episode. Much of this episode deals with the fallout of the previous one with Clint benching Kate now that the situation has become too dangerous for her to be involved and Clint realising that things have escalated beyond what he could have imagined. His conflict within the episode is over having to embrace a part of himself that he wants to put behind him. He goes to the spot where the Avengers first assembled to talk to the absent Natasha and apologise for what he’s about to do. It’s poignant because she lifted him out of that life but it has become necessary to step back into it to resolve this. He also talks to Laura around the necessity of doing this in order to protect their family. He goes to Maya who isn’t a match for him but definitely holds her own. Clint warns her off going after his family and makes her aware that her boss wanted her father dead which shatters her world-view and shakes her trust in Kazi. She is now aware that she has been lied to and will have to decide what to do with that knowledge.
Kate is shaken up by recent events and starts to question her ability to handle situations like this. Her conversation with her mother is another great mother/daughter moment that establishes Kate feeling bad that Clint has to shoulder the rest of this on his own. It’s not something she’s prepared to accept and her conversation with Yelena makes it clear that she can’t simply remove herself from the situation. Yelena and Kate’s conversation is great with Yelena presenting as outwardly present while constantly making it clear that she is in control. She is toying with Kate while also trying to cultivate a friendship of sorts. Their distinct personalities come through clearly and the conversation naturally covers the themes of loss and hero worship in ways that complement the coverage so far. The opening flashback doesn’t establish Yelena’s background as effectively as it could have but she works really well within this episode. It’s enough to establish the mutual respect and makes it believable that Yelena would tell her the truth about her mother; something that shatters Kate’s world-view. The reveal of Wilson Fisk works well because the show has built him up as being a meaningful player in the story being told here so there’s no need to know who he is in the Netflix Daredevil show to understand why the reveal is significant. This entire episode was about building tension in advance of releasing it in the finale and it worked brilliantly.
- Clint wrestling with embracing a part of his life he tried to put behind him
- turning to the memory of Natasha to further reinforce that loss and the poignant apology he makes to her
- Maya holding her own against him but also needing to hone her skills
- Maya’s world-view being shattered by what Clint tells her
- Kate doubting her ability to handle this situation
- the excellent and layered Kate/Yelena interaction
- the reveal of Fisk making sense in the context of this show
- the Yelena flashback not establishing her as well as it needed to
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