Episode 4 of Hawkeye still delivers on the character moments, the humour and the emotion, but might be raising too many questions for its remaining run time.
This review contains spoilers for episode 4 of Hawkeye: ‘Partners, Am I Right?
Picking up on the sword’s edge it left off on, episode 4 of Hawkeye offers some canonical backstories, an apparent wrapping up of Maya’s (Alaqua Cox) involvement with our arching duo, as well as an injection of new (but familiar) blood. It also needs perhaps the largest spoiler claxon to date, with the small screen introduction of Yelena (Florence Pugh), last seen in Black Widow’s post-credit sting, which hinted that she’s after some vengeance of her own following her sister Natasha’s (Scarlett Johannson) death. It’s an episode that simultaneously offers a lot of fun stuff to enjoy, but also a lot of questions that might affect how well the show sticks its landing, after such a spot-on start.
Clint (Jeremy Renner) and Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) have some explaining to do, when confronted by sword-wielding wannabe step-dad Jack (Tony Dalton). The excuse of ‘working on a case’ doesn’t impress Kate’s mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga), and she pointedly warns Clint of Kate’s vincibility. This strikes a chord with him, especially when Kate so earnestly helps Clint celebrate ‘family movie night’ and tries to inject some festive cheer. It reminds him how young she is, of how fragile and new to the vigilante lifestyle she is, and what a danger that can be.
But Kate can’t be deterred, and fully inserts herself into their investigation. A run-in with everyone’s favourite LARPers, as well as Kate’s introduction to the art of hiding in plain sight, culminates in the pair scouting out the location of a mysterious watch that’s seemingly important to both Mr and Mrs Barton (Linda Cardellini). But soon things turn ugly, and they find themselves at the behest of Maya and a mysterious masked figure, scrapping on a rooftop whilst trying to figure out what exactly is going on.
As in previous episodes, the dynamic between Kate and Clint is still the draw here, even as the plot progresses and some new elements are hinted at. The show’s ability to undercut humour with serious emotional beats works so well and doesn’t ever feel jarring. Hawkeye is heartfelt and confident enough that it can easily switch between fizzy banter and poignant revelations. This is most evident during Clint and Kate’s festive planning session/movie night. The scenes in which they drink cocktails, fail to come up with a plan and compare accuracy skills transition seamlessly into a heart-to-heart in which we learn the origin of Hawkeye and Black Widow. It emphasises that under the lightness, Clint is still grieving for the loss of his friend and coming to terms with his actions as Ronin. It’s played beautifully by Renner, whose candid revelation that he ‘was a weapon’ is really affecting, making it so clear why this guy would be really keen to spend a Christmas with his family. Also, it continues to feel like a passing of the torch; like the unburdening of this Hawkeye’s last few secrets can pave the way for a new one to take over.
Episode 4 also has some really interesting parallels. After a fitful night’s sleep and an exhausting bout of hand-to-hand combat, Clint has a little come-to-Jesus moment when he scrambles after Kate as she’s hurled off a rooftop. Staring down at her, in a moment eerily similar to the final moments he shared with Natasha, he clearly comes to the conclusion that he isn’t willing to risk her, that he can’t grieve again. (Because, despite his protestations, they’re totally friends!). This last bout of unfinished business really feels like it’s the last straw for Clint, and he decisively pushes Kate away.
Another parallel comes not long after Clint tells Kate of the best shot he never took, – the one meant to take out Natasha – when Kate has the freshly unmasked Yelena in her arrow’s sights, and she hesitates. Yelena gives a tiny shake of her head, and Kate seems to make the decision not to shoot her. Perhaps it’s reaching, or perhaps it’s Hawkeye and Widow part deux: the beginning of a new and beautiful friendship. It’s an exciting – if not surprising – reveal that better links the show with the concurrent MCU, but also raises questions of how much the show plans to tackle.
There will be a lot of ground to cover in the final two episodes if the show decides to conclude all of its various plot threads: Maya’s quest for vengeance and who exactly it is she works for (The Big Guy!); the murder of Jack’s uncle; Eleanor’s shady phone calls (to The Big Guy?); the watch, as well as Yelena’s sudden appearance in New York. For a show that’s been so grounded and aware of its own constraints, it seems likely that it’ll keep focus on Clint and Kate and use the unfinished business as means of sowing some seeds for future Marvel avenues. (Like the recently announced Echo spin off, set to air on Disney+ and, presumably, follow Maya’s exploits after deciding that a Black Widow assassin is too much baggage to deal with in the pursuit of Clint Barton). But it remains to be seen.
While the expectation is for Hawkeye to stick the landing, having had such a strong start, episode 4 is the first hint of it having too many moving targets. It’s still a really great episode, it just leaves one too many questions for the same level of confidence post-episode 3.
Hawkeye ‘s Episode 4, “Partners, Am I Right?”, is now available to watch on Disney Plus.