Hawkeye – Season 1 Episode 6
“So This Is Christmas?”
Hawkeye completes its first -and possibly only- season with revelations, betrayals and answering whether Clint makes it home for Christmas.
Disney+ Marvel shows tend to struggle when it comes to wrapping themselves up. A lot of that has to do with setting up more than can be wrapped up in a single episode. Sometimes it’s due to being bogged down in ongoing franchise maintenance meaning that an actual conclusion is sidelined in favour of setting up future content. I’m personally a huge fan of the shared ongoing universe where different projects feed into one another but I also feel that the individual projects need to be conclusive in their own right. The finale of Hawkeye is very much the exception to this with a true sense of finality around what the show has set up. It’s not perfect but it does a lot of things very well.
The main purpose of Hawkeye has been twofold; to introduce Kate Bishop and chronicle her becoming a hero and have Clint face up to his dark past in order to reclaim his humanity. It’s with Clint that the show drops the ball in terms of delivering on what was promised in the first episode. He is forced to revisit his time as Ronin and hold himself accountable for it but as the end credits roll there isn’t a clear sense of any closure on that time in his life. In a way this makes sense as it isn’t something that can easily be put behind him and using that persona to provide clarity to Maya in the previous episode is a resolution of sorts but the lack of mention in this episode stands out as a glaring omission.
Part of the problem is wasted potential associated with Clint becoming known as Ronin. This is mainly attributed to Kate who was able to figure it out but didn’t have a strong reaction to it. The very beginning of this show established that Kate views Clint as a hero and being saved by him inspired her to train to be more like him. She adds more detail to this motivation in this episode by talking about how truly inspiring it was for someone who has no super powers working to protect people and do the right thing. She took that to mean that anyone could be a hero and she took it upon herself to do everything she could to live up to that and be a hero herself.
The first episode of Hawkeye was called “Never Meet Your Heroes” which was also a suggested theme for the show where Kate would actually meet the man she had put on a pedestal all those years ago and learn that he isn’t what she thinks he is. This was evident in their early interactions with Clint consistently proving to her that he has no desire to be idolised or even noticed by anyone else. He actively dissuaded her from emulating him and made it clear that he wasn’t a role model. The logical extension of that would be for Kate’s faith in him to be shaken following learning that he was Ronin but that never came to pass. I’m not criticising the show for not having Kate be disillusioned with Clint as her hero upon learning that -though I do think it would have been interesting to explore that- but there’s a noticeable lack of reaction to her learning this either way. Some level of justification as to why learning this wouldn’t shake her faith in him was required.
A definitive stance on their relationship is taken following Kate learning that her mother is -or was- working with Wilson Fisk. Kate tells Clint to go home and be with his family following her realisation that a lot of the current situation resulted from choices her mother made. Learning this leads her to conclude that this is entirely her responsibility and she alone needs to deal with it. Clint counters this by definitively telling her that they’re partners which means they’re in it together. He pledges not to go anywhere until this is solved. In this moment Kate gets everything she wants from her relationship with Clint. He recognises her value and willingly works with her which makes the culmination of everything she has worked for since the day he saved her life. It also furthers the idea that Clint is innately a role model without ever wanting to be as he instinctively takes on the role Kate needs and offers her support.
Learning the truth about her mother is a radical shift in Kate’s world-view. She was positive that Jack was behind everything and manipulating her mother but the opposite was true. When learning the truth she apologises for misjudging Jack and works to put things right by bringing her mother to justice. Kate’s decision is a mature one and reinforces her strong desire to do the right thing regardless of what the consequences might be. This has been well established through her involving herself in an escalating situation despite the obvious danger to herself. All that has changed is the details of who she is up against but her sense of right and wrong remains constant while not being swayed by familial connections.
The complexity of bringing her mother to justice is showcased brilliantly through Kate rushing to save her before allowing her to be arrested and reiterating that she loves her while Eleanor is being placed under arrest. She finds out about her mother’s involvement while also learning that she tried to remove herself. This tells Kate -and the audience- that Eleanor isn’t simply a bad person looking to gain out of involving herself in organised crime but it also doesn’t excuse the fact that she involved herself. Eleanor talks about Kate’s father being in debt to Wilson Fisk and her taking his place but Kate doesn’t accept that as a valid excuse. Her justification also involves telling Kate that there’s a lot about what’s going on that she doesn’t understand which is an insult to Kate’s intelligence as well as being a further example of Eleanor underestimating her daughter. Kate is the one aware that her mother is marked for death by trying to end her association with Fisk and Eleanor naively assumes that he can’t get to her. Kate knows better because Clint has helped her understand how the world works so she is better equipped to ensure her mother’s protection.
Kate’s fight with Fisk is an excellent sequence that shows how terrifying a physical presence he is. It looks as if he has enhanced strength considering everything he survives and how much impact his punches pack but the episode never confirms this. He’s relentless, uncompromising and nearly unstoppable but Kate manages to get the upper hand through the use of trick arrows that Fisk believed he had broken. Taking on Fisk and winning is a strong debut for Kate as a fully fledged hero with the support of her greatest inspiration and the way she brings him down is believably in line with her resourceful nature. A large part of it is Fisk assuming that she doesn’t represent a threat which means he wastes time toying with her.
Fisk’s use in the episode was mixed. He comes across as being far more careless than a man in his position should be. I don’t analyse this through knowledge of his exploits in the Netflix Daredevil show as it isn’t relevant to this one. His inclusion in this episode is very much in line with what this show has set up. He has a connection to Eleanor and is motivated to get rid of her because she tries to break free of him and has a familial connection with Maya that is briefly covered in their two scenes together. These two things make his presence meaningful and relevant with his introduction to the MCU being on terms that make sense within this framework rather than relying on the audience knowledge from another project that may or may not be canon.
Vincent D’Onoforio’s limited screen time is used really well. He is very intimidating in his first scene with Eleanor, terrifying when he fights Kate and impressively tender when he interacts with Maya. It is known that he wanted her father killed though it isn’t known why but it’s clear that he really cares about Maya and has a vested interest in her never learning the truth so that the continues to value him in her life. Maya’s measured approach to taking action after she learns the truth is admirable with her playing on Fisk’s compassion for her by pretending she has found a way to put her father’s death behind her and asking for some time to process it. Fisk’s trust in her means that he grants it which ends up engineering his -likely temporary- downfall. His final moment with her is filled with desperation as he starts trying to make her understand that what he’s done doesn’t affect the way he feels about her. Maya’s trust has been shattered beyond the point where she is willing to hear him out and she pulls the trigger. Fisk’s death isn’t seen which strongly suggests that Maya didn’t actually kill him but her willingness to do so highlights how deep the betrayal goes.
Maya does definitively kill Kazi which is a more meaningful moment as a significant amount of time has been spent showing their relationship. Learning of his betrayal is something that deeply angered here because of all the time he spent lying to her and she gets her revenge on him for doing so. It’s a powerful moment as it’s an outlet of all the pain Maya feels having been lied to by those she cares about the most in her life. Like Kate her world-view has been shattered but the difference is that she doesn’t have any visible support now that she has dealt with the two people she trusted the most. This sets up her solo show nicely with her reaching a point where she needs to start fresh and find a way to internalise the truth that was hidden from her for so long.
It’s disappointing that Clint and Fisk don’t share any screen time especially with it being established that Clint knew about him and was trying to avoid encouraging his direct involvement though his time with Yelena was very well spent. Yelena’s motivation for killing Clint is personal and based on a wrong-headed assumption. She is acting out of grief and thinks that taking down the one responsible for Natasha’s death with give her some sense of closure on that loss. Of course it won’t but she’s lost and thinks that punishing Clint will resolve that. Clint skips over the details of Natasha’s death -a smart choice given the street level nature of this show- and focuses on the fact that she sacrificed herself for noble reasons and that he tried to stop her. She directly asks him why he deserved to be the one she did that for and he flatly states that he doesn’t but he has to honour her memory as best he can. Yelena stops her attack and they are united through their shared love for Natasha. Yelena gains a different perspective on Natasha through Clint stating that Natasha would talk about her all the time. It’s a further confirmation that Yelena was loved and appreciated which definitely brings her comfort and she is able to leave having taken a step forward in processing her loss.
This episode also features a continuation of the engaging Kate/Yelena dynamic. Most of their shared screen time is spent in conflict with it resembling a sibling rivalry more than an antagonistic relationship. Kate trying to press elevator buttons to slow her down before they embark on an extended chase through various offices working to slow the other down rather than do any actual harm. Their conflict is amusing and it enhances their dynamic in really unique ways while making great use of their personalities.
More is resolved such as the Tracksuit Mafia being brought down in an excellent extended sequence where Kate and Clint work in unison using trick arrows to dispatch them in inventively hilarious ways. The level of collateral damage as Kate brings down the Rockefeller Centre tree in order to free Clint which comes with excellent owl foreshadowing leading to miniaturised Tracksuit Mafia members being carried away. Including the LARPers as backup was a really nice touch with the added background detail of them being the real heroes due to their occupation, something that is supported by the mid credit musical number.
Answering the question posed at the very beginning of the show; Clint does make it home for Christmas and in the true spirit of the season he brings Kate with him because she doesn’t have anyone to spend the time with. This furthers the paternal connection established early on with Clint now welcoming her into his family. It’s a really touching moment and immensely satisfying to see Clint achieve his goal of making it back to his family for Christmas. It was a simple objective that was made far more difficult to achieve due to the escalating situation. Confirming that Laura was once a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent comes as no surprise though her having the same number as Bobbi Morse AKA Mockingbird calls the canonicity of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into question which is personally distasteful to me. There’s no suggestion on whether Clint is hanging up his bow for good though his positive reaction to his new costume suggests that there are further missions ahead of him. Based on the quality of this season I very much hope for a second.
A strong finale that delivers satisfying conclusions on the ongoing character stories, excellent set pieces and touching emotional beats. A definitive stance is taken on the Clint/Kate relationship in this episode when Clint fully accepts Kate as his partner and accepts the complicated situation as something he needs to deal with as much as she does. The reveal that her mother is behind some of what is going on radically shifted Kate’s world-view and she feels compelled to take responsibility for that. It isn’t that Eleanor is simply a bad person and Kate recognises that after seeing that she tried to escape Fisk’s influence but she also still has to make sure Eleanor is brought to justice. The complexity of that is brilliantly showcased through Kate rushing to save her before allowing her to be arrested and telling Eleanor that she loves her as she is placed under arrest. Kate’s fight with Fisk is an excellent sequence that makes great use of her resourcefulness as well as Fisk underestimating his opponent while positioning him as a terrifying physical presence. His overall use in the episode is mixed as he comes across as more careless than someone in his position should be but his interactions with Eleanor and Maya are strong. Maya’s reaction to learning that she has been deceived by those she cares about is to gather herself before engineering her revenge. It’s unlikely that Fisk is dead but Maya being driven to kill him highlights how deep that betrayal goes. Maya killing Kazi is meaningful because of the time spent establishing their relationship though Fisk’s overall presence works in the context of this show as he is established within the confines of the stories being told. Disappointingly he shares no screen time with Clint especially considering Clint’s knowledge of him. Another misstep is that there’s no clear resolution or coverage of Clint’s relationship to the Ronin persona which stands out considering it was one of the core ideas early on.
Yelena’s fight with Clint is excellent. She enters into it on a wrong-headed assumption and assumes that killing him will give her closure on her own loss. Clint helps set the record straight and they bond over their shared love for Natasha which is enough for Yelena to take a positive step forward in accepting her loss. Her dynamic with Kate resembles a sibling rivalry with their fight being geared around slowing the other down rather than doing any actual harm. It’s engaging to watch and sets up a fun relationship to see develop in future. More is resolved such as the Tracksuit Mafia being taken down in an excellent set piece involving trick arrows and teamwork. Including the LARPers was a great touch with the added detail of their occupations furthering the “real heroes” idea, something that is reinforced by the mid credit musical number. Clint making it home for Christmas resolves one of the early established objectives and welcoming Kate into his family was very touching while adding into the paternal connection set up early on. Confirming that Laura is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent comes as no surprise though the number calls the canonicity of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into question. There’s no suggestion on whether Clint is hanging up his bow for good though his positive reaction to his new costume suggests that there are further missions ahead of him. Based on the quality of this season I very much hope for a second.
- Kate taking responsibility for her mother’s crimes and resolving to bring her to justice
- recognising the complexity of Eleanor’s actions and Kate’s difficult decision
- Kate’s excellent fight with Fisk that shows how resourceful she is
- Fisk as a terrifying physical presence
- Fisk’s meaningful interactions with Eleanor and Maya
- Maya’s reaction to being betrayed
- her meaningful final moments with Kazi and Fisk
- Yelena taking a step forward in processing the loss of Natasha
- Clint ant Yelena connecting over their shared love of Natasha
- Yelena and Kate’s sibling dynamic
- the excellent set piece where Kate and Clint take on the Tracksuit Mafia
- the LARPers backing them up reinforcing them as the real heroes
- extending that in the mid credit musical number
- the touching family reunion
- Clint welcoming Kate into his family
- Clint’s relationship to the Ronin persona going unresolved
- Fisk being more careless than a man in his position should be
- Clint and Fisk not sharing any screen time
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