At the end of last week’s “Hawkeye,” the revelation was made that Wilson Fisk, the infamous Marvel villain and the so-called Kingpin of Crime, was largely behind the chaos that transpired over the previous five episodes. And what’s more, Vincent D’Onofrio, who played the character in the Netflix series “Daredevil,” returned to play the role once more. Would D’Onofrio feature heavily in the season (series?) finale? Or would other threats overwhelm our heroes, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld)? Well, we found out. And we’re here to break it all down.
Warning: Major spoilers for the “Hawkeye” finale abound!
House of Secrets
As “Hawkeye” opens, we get a brief flashback – it’s the moment from the photo that Yelena (Florence Pugh) sent Kate at the end of the last episode. Kingpin and Kate’s mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) are discussing business in some sun-dappled backroom. Eleanor admits to “handling” Armond (remember that?) and admits that her daughter is getting “too close.” Still, she’s not a total monster. She doesn’t want anything to happen to her daughter. And Eleanor admits to Kingpin that she has an “insurance policy.” Kingpin takes this calmly and with a measure of restraint. Just kidding. He’s furious. Eleanor has started a war.
We cut to the inside of Grills’ (lowkey MVP Clayton English) apartment. Kate is watching the footage Yelena sent. Clint tells Kate that “he’s going to react.” She is upset. She needs to do something. Also, the big Bishop Christmas party is tonight. “Kate, you’re my partner,” Clint says. He’s not going to let anything happen to her. They’re in this thing together.
Meanwhile, Maya aka Echo (Alaqua Cox), Tracksuit ringleader Kazi (Fra Fee) and Kingpin are together, in the same little room where he had the meeting with Eleanor. Echo seems repentant. “I need to stop chasing ghosts,” she signs. Then the discussion turns to her late father (Zahn McClarnon), whose death she is now convinced Kingpin is responsible for. Kingpin encourages her to move on and tells her that “he always wanted what’s best for you.” Finally, Kingpin signs “I love you” and she signs it back. After she leaves, Kingpin turns to Kazi. She needs to be dealt with, as does Eleanor. “The people need to be reminded that the city belongs to me,” he growls. And in the scene D’Onofrio reminds us of why we were clamoring to have him back: he infuses Kingpin with real menace, the kind that oscillates between a kind of genteel villainy and brute rage. It’s deceptively impressive and it’s so good to have him snarling his way through the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
On the subway, Kate and Clint are looking battle worn but resolute. “We need a ton of gear,” Clint tells Kate. Also: lots of trick arrows.
Cue the “making trick arrows” montage!
Hawkeye is seen fiddling with arrows. This is the type of scene that is essential in Marvel Studios projects – think Tony Stark building his suit or Doctor Strange attempting to fix his hands. This has the added fun of Kate Bishop being there, mouth agape. The best flourish is her using a label machine to label the arrows that are too dangerous (or what they do). After the arrows are made, the conversation turns serious. They’re going into battle. Also they’re going to some fancy New York City Christmas party. Both are pretty intense. “Heroes make tough decisions,” Clint tells her. And then she tells him (finally!) that she saw him. She saw him throw himself off a building. She taught him that to be a hero, you didn’t need to shoot lasers out of your eyes or fly. She’s welling up with emotion, but it’s not a BIG SCENE. Like everything in “Hawkeye,” it’s understated and laced with melancholy. Because it’s so underplayed, it’s even more powerful. Finally, Kate says, “I’m ready.”
The majority of this episode is a giant action set piece staged at the Bishop Christmas party and surrounding area in midtown Manhattan. But the first thing we see is outside the party – Kazi is across the street with a sniper rifle. He’s there to take out Eleanor or Kate or both. If Hawkeye gets in the way so be it. “I’m in position,” Kazi says.
Kate and Clint walk into the party looking dapper. That’s when things start to unfold: the LARPers are in position as the wait staff (including Grills). Jack (Tony Dalton, another underutilized joy) is there too, out of jail and brandishing a sword. And as if things weren’t chaotic enough, Yelena walks in the door. Kate wrestles Eleanor away from gladhanding and tells her that her “business partner wants you dead.” Kate knows everything. Before they have a real breakthrough, Kazi starts firing at Barton. Jack wanders back to where they’re chatting and has one of the best lines of the episode: “I feel like I’m missing something.” Everyone starts to scatter.
Yelena and Kate are attempting to go after Clint in the elevator. They get inside together and Kate pushes all the buttons. They fight and in the process they each reveal their new costumes. Their chemistry is, as in the previous episode, absolutely dynamite. And whether they’re discussing hot sauce for ten minutes or trading blows inside an elevator. The fight continues outside the elevator; there’s a really cool tracking shot that shows them fighting through an office that looks like a set from “30 Rock.” Finally Yelena breaks a window and starts to scale the building (which is actually 30 Rock). It’s a super cool image and makes something familiar into an object of awe. Kate follows, running down the side of the building.
They’ve got company: the entire Tracksuit Mafia (seemingly every member from the tri-state area – we’re looking at you, Danbury, Connecticut chapter). Kazi and Clint are in a scuffle too, with Clint leaping out a window, only his line breaks and he falls into the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. While he’s in the tree he notices an adorable owl. Is the Christmas tree owl more iconic than alligator Loki? Discuss!
Meanwhile, Echo is preparing to leave. She’s gathering things from her apartment, including a photo of her, her father, and Kazi together. She asked Kingpin for some time off. She’s going to take it.
Kate starts shooting at the Tracksuits. Clint says “we’re all going to die.” Kate then comes up with an idea to free Clint – she shoots an arrow at one of the cables holding up the tree, making a callback to the very first episode and the sheningans she was pulling at college. Then she shoots an acid arrow at the tree trunk, so that the tree topples over onto the ice-skating rink. It’s a terrific effect, dazzling and utterly believable in equal measure. Clint and Kate are now on the rink. Clint shoots an arrow that magnetizes the outside of the rink so all of the Tracksuits’ guns are magnetized. Then, the crazy arrow deployment montage begins and, it must be said, it is deeply satisfying.
The best moment comes when a Pym arrow is fired at the Tracksuits’ van. It shrinks to the size of a Hot Wheels car. Kate asks what they do now. Clint says he doesn’t know. Then the owl from the tree swoops down and carries them away. Those Tracksuits will make a great meal for little hatchlings, for sure. Kazi and a couple of his goons show up. Clint fires an arrow that splits into three; two of the shards take out the goons but Kazi catches the middle arrow. In maybe the best exchange of the episode, Kazi shouts at Hawkeye: “Nice shot.” And Clint says: “No shit.” Also, Clint is showing off his new costume, which was made by Missy (one of the LARPers) and matches Kate’s. It’s pretty cool.
If all of this wasn’t enough, Yelena and Echo show up. Echo faces off against Kazi while Yelena tackles Clint. And Kate goes after her mom, who was seen sneaking out of the side of the building (the LARPers transitioned to helping partygoers out of the plaza). As Eleanor is trying to get her car, she notices her security detail is dead. Kingpin is in the house. Kate tries to take him down and Eleanor hits him with the car. Both Kate and Kingpin are in an FAO Schwarz pop-up. (This is a callback to the Kay Bee Toys stuff from earlier in the season.) Kingpin is walloping Kate. D’Onofrio’s physicality is impressive, and that inner rage becomes outward fury. He breaks all of Kate’s arrows and tosses her around like a ragdoll. Finally, she sits up. She’s stolen one of his cufflinks. And she does the coin tossing trick that Clint taught her, setting off the arrowheads, including one that sets off an explosion and sends Kingpin flying.
Outside the toy store, Eleanor tells Kate that “Someone has to take responsibility.” And just then the NYPD shows up and arrests Eleanor. She’s disappointed. Kate had her mother arrested on Christmas. But the prison time will allow her to transform into a proper villain too.
Back near the skating rink, Echo kills Kazi. And Yelena is putting the hurt on Clint. She doesn’t believe that Natasha sacrificed herself. Finally, Clint does the whistle that Yelena and Natasha used. (This was in “Black Widow,” everyone!) Finally, Yelena is convinced. They have a beautiful little exchange about how much they both loved her. A single tear rolls down Renner’s face. Yelena walks away.
The cops are in the toy store. Kingpin is gone! Where could he be? Well, he’s stumbling into the alleyway, all bruised and bloody. A car stops. Echo gets out. He tries to talk his way out of it but the camera pans up and we hear gunfire. Does this mean that Kingpin is dead? Probably not. They went to all of this trouble to bring him back just to off him? Don’t think so. Also, need we remind you that one of the upcoming Marvel Studios series is centered around Echo. He’ll be back. It’s hard to keep him down.
Various characters are recovering near Rockefeller Center. Jack is talking to one of Clint and Kate’s friends. They suggest he could LARP with them. He is rather handy with a sword. “LARPing? Is that some sort of leisure activity?” he asks. Kate and Clint talk about the battle. He says that every once in a while somebody enters your life who makes you a better person. Then he quickly undercuts his sentiment by talking about how amazing Missy’s costumes are. Clint says that they really have to walk the dog. (They should probably get him some celebratory pizza too.)
Christmas Day + Mid-Credits Musical Number
We cut to Christmas Day! (One of the niftier aspects of “Hawkeye” was that it served as an MCU advent calendar, with each episode dramatizing one of the six days before Christmas.) Clint shows up to the family farm, which appears to be the third farm that has played the Barton family abode. Snow is on the ground. He grabs Christmas presents from the trunk. Then we hear the passenger door open. Kate and the pizza dog, now finally called Lucky, emerge. They go into the house with the family, with Clint telling his wife Laura (Linda Cardellini) that he brought home a couple of strays.
At the kitchen table, Clint hands over the watch. The back of the watch has the SHIELD logo and a number (“19”). Those that suspected this has to do with Laura’s identity as Mockingbird are seemingly correct. This reveal adds a layer of complexity to the entire show. Yes, Clint was trying to get his suit back and clear his name (and his soul) of his connection to Ronin. But he was also doing it for the love of his wife, the woman who has always supported his adventuring.
Out in the barn, Clint and Kate are burning his Ronin suit. She asks him a question: “What do you think of Ladyhawk?” Clint has a better idea … and then we cut to a title card for “Hawkeye.” The Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seems, is big enough for two Hawkeyes.
Before the mid-credits sequence runs, there’s a note that reads: “Happy Holidays from Marvel Studios.” Then an extended version of the “Save the City” number, from “Rogers: The Musical,” plays, complete with a cameo from one of the songwriters, Marc Shaiman. The only downside is that the song will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
There is no post-credits sequence and, unfortunately, unlike “Loki,” no promise of season 2. This is a real shame, as “Hawkeye” was easily the most accomplished and entertaining series that Marvel Studios has produced yet and the announcement of a second season would have been a lovely Christmas present. Unfortunately, we got coal in our stocking this year.