Hawkeye ’s series finale ties up its loose ends – some more satisfactorily than others – and remains as fun as ever as we ring in Christmas with our new favourite duo.
This review contains spoilers for episode 6 of Hawkeye: ‘So This Is Christmas?’
And just like that, it’s the Hawkeye finale. Episode 6 has the somewhat daunting task of tying up all the loose ends, as well as delivering on the shaky camera photo promise of the Kingpin. With the longest runtime yet, it promises to be jam packed and aims to stick the landing for what has been a really impressive show so far, but is it a goodbye or a bye-for-now from Clint Barton? Will Yelena succeed, or will Kate prove her heroic potential and save the day? And will the Barton family Christmas be a success?
While Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) reels from the revelation that her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) has been embroiled in mob business since the attack on New York, Clint (Jeremy Renner) vows to protect her as they prepare for a showdown with the Tracksuit Mafia and their newly revealed leader Kingpin, aka Wilson Fisk, (Vincent D’Onofrio) at the annual Bishop holiday party. Things get complicated when Yelena (Florence Pugh) crashes the party, intent on avenging her sister’s death, and Maya (Alaqua Cox) turns on her former cohorts to avenge her father’s death.
Heading in to this episode, there is a lot of ground to cover and only sixty minutes to do so. It’s breakneck speed from the get-go, with a proper re-introduction (or simply an introduction for those who missed the Netflix series’) to the Big Guy, the reveal of Eleanor’s villainy and Kate’s reaction to it, a confrontation between Kingpin and Maya, and a fun montage of our heroic duo making trick-arrows all taking place within the first ten minutes. We’ve mentioned before how the show has felt like it’s juggling a little too many plots, and the worry of each being resolved in a way that feels satisfactory. Six episodes really isn’t very long to tackle all of what Hawkeye has introduced, and an extra episode or two might have aided in some aspects feeling a little bit more developed. That being said, the finale does let the most important moments have some breathing room: Clint and Yelena’s showdown is tense and emotionally heavy as they hash out their Natasha-based issues, and Kate bravely holds her own in a fight against the Kingpin and holds her mother accountable for everything she’s done.
The teamwork between Kate and Clint also gets its time to shine, with a fight sequence that really highlights how well they’ve learnt to work together, as well as how well Kate has progressed in her journey to becoming a hero. It’s perhaps a tad repetitive, relying on beats similar to the car chase in episode 3, but works in showcasing the pair’s progression to partners and as the big climax of the show’s central conflict. And, ultimately, the show has been about ‘Hawkeye’, the world-weary Avenger who held the title and the youngster who looks set to take up the mantle going forward, so it makes sense to dedicate most of the episode into their dynamic. Renner and Steinfeld are such a good double act, balancing out each other’s cynicism and eagerness with optimism and experience, and giving as much to the comedy moments as to the serious ones. It’s been such a joy to spend time with them, and the character of Hawkeye feels richer at the end of this limited series’ run. And while it doesn’t necessarily feel like a definitive goodbye from Renner just yet, it does feel like the mantle is in good hands as the MCU moves further into its phase four.
The series finale certainly isn’t without its flaws, and the main one, unfortunately, is its handling of Kingpin. It’s been a slow build, if you’ve been spotting the clues, and one episode really doesn’t feel like enough time to spend with the character who was so electric in Netflix’s Daredevil. That iteration was so complex and compelling, and D’Onofrio was absolutely magnetic, that it’s somewhat disappointing that this Kingpin feels more like a cartoon villain than the dark, gritty, violent mobster that fans had previously experienced. It feels too exaggerated, too showy and like an imitation of the character, rather than the (re)introduction of the terrifying bad guy who felt likely to feature heavily in Echo, if nowhere else in the MCU. And perhaps he still might – after all, the camera conveniently cut away as he and Maya squared off, the source of the gunshot remaining unclear – but it’s a shame Kingpin’s role in Hawkeye was a little underwhelming.
And, on reflection, the show could have functioned perfectly well without the inclusion of Yelena. Whilst her scenes with Kate were undeniably fun, and certainly planted the scenes for exciting future endeavours, her revenge plot on Clint ended up simply muddying the waters, rather than providing anything particularly significant. Perhaps its cynical to wonder if it acted as a way for Marvel to justify the killing off of Natasha, to give her death the significance it earned outside of a couple scenes in Endgame. Perhaps it was simply a case of reminding audiences that Yelena exists outside of the vacuum of Black Widow, of connecting her to current characters and establishing a place for her in the MCU. In any case, in the rush of the finale wrapping itself up, it felt like a plot line that could have been lost to dedicate more time to the show’s central conflicts, even if Pugh was a delight.
Overall, the finale encapsulated what the show has been so far: fun, grounded, genuinely funny and emotionally resonant when it needs to be, if a little overstuffed with ideas, and an excellent way of passing the torch from Clint to Kate and from Renner to Steinfeld. It’s not a bullseye ending, if you’ll pardon the pun, but it certainly comes close. The post-credit scene is a gift that keeps on giving (seriously, ‘I could do this all daaaaaaaaaaay!’) and it has been a genuine joy to spend time in this world for the past five weeks. A few quibbles with plotting doesn’t dampen what has been a really strong series, a really strong introduction to Kate Bishop and a really well-deserved exploration of everyone’s maybe-fifth favourite Avenger. Although that ranking might well change now. It feels nice to head into Christmas with the Barton’s (plus a Bishop and a Pizza Dog), and the future looks bright for this new Hawkeye.
Hawkeye ‘s Series Finale, “So This Is Christmas?”, is now available to watch on Disney Plus.