Well, it’s another day closer to Christmas and Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) are still very much in trouble. This week’s episode of the Disney+ series “Hawkeye” was full of (potentially) big reveals and had an action centerpiece that legitimately rivals similar sequences in proper Marvel Studios movies. Without further ado, let’s get into “Hawkeye” episode 3.
Echoes in Time
Like so many MCU adventures, the episode begins with an extended flashback, this time to 2007. We see young Maya aka Echo in class; she can’t hear but she can lip read and she is hyper-intelligent. (The teacher is impressed with her work.) At home with her father William (the amazing Zahn McClarnon from, most recently, FX’s “Reservation Dogs”), she’s getting ready for bed and she asks him, “What sound does the sky make?” She then asks why she can’t be sent to the special deaf school. He tells her that she has to be special – that she has to “jump between two worlds” (the hearing world and the deaf world). She understands.
We jump to her karate class. William tells her that he has to go, and that her “uncle” will pick her up. We don’t see her uncle but he places his hand on her shoulder and lets out a hearty chuckle. Given the character’s comic book origins, we think we know who her uncle is and who is playing him. We also notice more explicitly that Maya is missing a leg and has a prosthetic. Don’t worry, this will come in handy. Maya’s special ability in the comics was to mimic opponents’ moves, which she does so (at least in karate class).
There’s a time jump and we see Maya approaching a warehouse; there’s a kerfuffle going on inside. She goes up to a window that is quickly splattered with blood. Ronin aka Clint’s post-snap alter ego is murdering a bunch of guys. (Also, for those playing at home, that means that Echo was certifiably not snapped.) She gets into the warehouse only to see her father bleeding out. This explains her unresolved anger issues in a big, big way. He places his bloody hand on her face, which is incredibly poignant and also harkens back to her comic book persona, who has a warpaint handprint on her face. “Hawkeye” has a lot of shots of people’s faces with what can only be described as “steely resolve.” But Echo’s steely resolve is positively titanium.
Where It’s Fun to Shop
We’re back where the last episode wrapped up – Clint and Kate are captured by the Tracksuit Mafia (Kate refers to them later as “the tracksuits”). The warehouse where they’re captured is an old Kay Bee Toys, which is very fun and cool and also plays into the Christmas of the show. Clint tells Kate, “I was going to clear your name from the suit until you crashed through the skylight.” One of the Tracksuit bros is having some trouble involving his girlfriend and an Imagine Dragons concert. Kate says, “it’s all about communication.”
When Echo interrogates them, with the help of her #2 Kaz (Fra Free), Clint tells them “She put on the suit by accident. She’s not Ronin. She’s 9.” (He also says that he’s hard of hearing and not deaf, and that his sign language sucks. Echo says he relies too much on technology for help.) When they press him further about the identity of Ronin, he quickly makes up an elaborate story – that he’s dead. And that Black Widow killed him. Clint escapes and Echo kicks him in the head with her metal leg, which sends his hearing aid flying.
This begins an extended foot chase around the old Kay Bee Toys which gave off big “the opening sequence of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze’” vibes (if you know, you know). The sequence is a little cluttered, visually, and not the easiest to “read,” sort of like the fight sequence in the basement in the earlier episode. But directors Bert & Bertie (Amazon’s “Troop Zero”), who deserve much of the credit for this episode’s specialness, still throw in some lovely flourishes, like Clint slow motion shooting an arrow while falling into an old ball pit (the arrow grazes Kaz’s cheek and frees Kate).
With Kate and Clint now free, they run out to the parking lot to find a getaway vehicle. By this point Echo has stepped on his hearing aid, so he can’t hear Kate at all. They steal a car and get away. The beginning of the sequence is so cool that Marvel Studios made it a highlight of their Disney+ Day sizzle – there’s a nifty “Children of Men”-style oner inside the car, Kate plays with trick arrows, there’s a lot of hilarious miscommunications given Clint’s deafness. (The moments from Clint’s point of view are hugely effective and add to the chaos and suspense of the scene.) There’s an arrow that covers one of the bad guy’s cars in Christmas trees and an acid arrow that brings down some stoplights.
Towards the end of the chase, they are on a two-lane strip on a bridge. The bad guys are barreling towards them. One car has been wrecked – the one that Clint wouldn’t let Kate steal (“The Challenger gets totaled anyway” is one of the best lines of the episode), but two bigger trucks are going to ram them off the bridge. Clint gets an arrow out and the camera slowly reveals a word written on the arrowhead: PYM. He fires it up and it comes down, a giant arrow smashing into the truck. He grabs a grappling hook arrow and the two fling themselves off the bridge, underneath it, and onto the top of an elevated train. The next scene is a shot of them in the subway car. “We gotta walk the dog,” Kate says. Hawkeye then says that she really is one of the world’s greatest archers, but he can’t hear her appreciation. He simply says, “We gotta walk the dog.”
Clint is in Kate’s aunt’s apartment when he gets a call from his wife. Kate comes home from walking the dog and tries to help him with the conversation. It’s his young son who is up early and wants to know when Clint will be home. It’s a very touching sequence, aided by that brilliant sound design, and shows Clint and Kate working together in a way that is just as powerful as their car chase shenanigans. Clint’s melancholy is what makes the character so great, and this sequence showcases it perfectly.
Meanwhile, the gang is clearing out the Kay Bee Toys. Kaz says, “He wouldn’t be happy,” referring to (we think) you-know-who. But Echo asserts her dominance. And her determination. Eep!
Kate and Clint wait outside a doctor’s office in what looks like Chinatown. They get lunch after; Kate goes on a long spiel and then Clint finally puts in his repaired hearing aid. “Was that out this whole time?” She asks him. They have a great scene where she talks about the power of putting on the costume, and he warns her that “It comes with a price,” again referring to Black Widow’s death but also his estrangement from his family during Christmas. She quizzes him about Ronin but he stops short from telling her that he’s Ronin. She assures him that he’s a hero, then draws him a new costume that looks oddly familiar – like his old comic book duds. Clint assures her, “I’m not a role model.” Then she asks if he can get their breakfast since her mom canceled her credit card. When he gets up to pay, she looks down at the dog and runs through some potential names (our favorite was “Little Caesar”). Then she settles on “Pizza Dog.” And just like that, an icon is born.
It should be noted that this sequence is really well photographed and staged, evolving from more traditional coverage to a series of shots of Clint and Kate staring directly into camera, like they’re looking at one another – but they’re looking at us. It is incredibly effective and one of the stylistic tics that made Jonathan Demme’s filmography so singular (M. Night Shyamalan employs it sometimes too). Bert and Bertie directed three episodes of the first season of “Hawkeye,” and they’re off to a stellar start here.
As they walk through the park, Clint gives her a brief rundown of the Tracksuit Mafia, that they “started small but grew.” And that there is someone above Maya. Gee we wonder who it could be? Kate perfectly quips back: “Sounds like a lot of drama.” They decide to go to Eleanor’s penthouse to look for tools and access the security system’s database.
Entering the expansive home, Hawkeye says, “I’m in the wrong business.” Kate goes to the computer to try and find information about Kaz, but there is also the lingering question of her mom’s fiancé’s uncle’s mysterious death, which is definitely still on the agenda. She finds out that Kaz is connected to an organization called Sloane Limited. But as she tries to dig further she’s locked out of the system.
Hawkeye continues to wander around the posh residence. That is until he walks into a room and gets a sword to the throat. Not just any sword, though, Ronin’s sword as seen in “Avengers: Endgame.” It’s Jack (Tony Dalton), his iconic mustache identifiable even in shadow. His only line of the episode: “Don’t move.” Whoops.
This week’s episode was really wonderful, with terrific dialogue, strong characterizations, and of course the references to other Marvel lore. It’s the kind of episode that could make someone who was on the fence after the premiere episodes very excited about where “Hawkeye” is pointed. Until next week! Excelsior!