Facing the Past – Review of Marvel’s “Hawkeye” Episode Four “Partners, Am I Right?”

Taking a step back from the more action-oriented third episode, the fourth episode of Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye, titled “Partners, Am I Right?”, pulls back in order to set up the remaining two episodes of the series and give us as the audience a chance to catch our breath. At least until the ending of the episode, which I’ve been anticipated since the stinger at the end of Black Widow.

Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

Picking up from the ending of the previous episode, Clint Barton finds himself face to face with Eleanor Bishop and Jacques Duquesne, which leads to a hilariously awkward sit-down conversation between the four of them. Kate is her usual self, overconfident but charming, and thoroughly convinced that her and Clint are partners working a case. Eleanor, as can be expected, is not thrilled that her daughter is running around with an Avenger, since this could lead to her losing her daughter. Clint, still reeling from Natasha’s death, understands where Eleanor is coming from and manages to extricate himself from the Bishop flat, but not before stealing back his Ronin sword that Jacques absconded with during the black-market auction.

Awkward Family Conference. Source

I enjoyed the moment when Clint calls his wife Laura shortly after leaving the Bishop residence. The fact that Laura helps her husband with investigating the goings on is a sweet moment, revealing yet again that their marriage is a deep partnership, even if it does leave their children disappointed that Dad is working during the holidays. Through Laura, we learn that Sloan Ltd. is a money-laundering front for the Tracksuit Mafia and that Jacques Duquesne is the CEO of the company. Tying this thread with the short scene of Eleanor making a phone call after Clint left her home and I’m beginning to think that Eleanor is not some unwitting fiancée but rather an integral part of the operation.

The scenes of Kate and Clint back at their “base of operations” (aka Kate’s Aunt’s apartment) are sweet and handled well. It’s clear the two actors had a ball working on this sequence, particularly the series where Clint shows Kate how to fling a Christmas ornament and reactivate the TV. The poignancy of the scene, though, is when Clint obliquely references his first meeting with Natasha, when he was sent to kill her but chose not to instead, leading to a life-long friendship that still carries an intense amount of weight. When Kate realizes that Clint was Ronin, you can see it in Hailee Steinfeld’s eyes that she’s just now realizing that the man she’s idolized since she was a child is a more complicated person that she anticipated. For me, I like that the writers did not gloss over Clint’s past as Ronin. He understands the burden of his past actions and he hopes to correct them, not unlike Natasha did for years with the red in her ledger.

Special mention goes to Kate’s meeting with the LARPers and them coming back to the apartment to help with costuming. I think this is where the purple outfits shown in the promotional material are going to come from.

The final sequences of the episode involve Clint and Kate breaking in to Maya Lopez’s apartment to retrieve the Rolex Watch stolen from the auction (which was recovered from the Avengers Compound). Who the watch belongs to is still unclear but the identity of the individual is tied to the watch, which could compromise that person, leading to Clint’s focus on retrieving the watch. Kate’s stubborn refusal to adhere to Clint’s plan nearly backfires when Maya arrives, leading to a confrontation with Maya that the young woman isn’t fully prepared for. At the same time, a masked woman attacks Clint on the opposite rooftop, leading to a four-way battle that is choreographed beautifully. The moment Kate gets tossed of the roof and dangles over the side is reminiscent of Natasha’s final moments on Vormir, including the same musical motif from that scene. It’s obvious pretty quickly before the mask comes off who the unknown assailant is, particularly once the electrical gauntlets are used to incapacitate Maya. Yelena Belova, Natasha’s “sister”, has come to kill Clint for the death of Natasha, which was first introduced at the end of Black Widow. The appearance of a Black Widow assassin shakes Clint’s confidence and rightly so. It’s been established well at this point that Black Widow assassins are no joke, even for a trained fighter like Clint. The episode ends with Clint sending Kate home, afraid for the safety of the young woman now that he knows someone far more dangerous is after him.

Yelena Belova makes her presence known. Source

I liked this episode quite a bit. There was far more heart and humor to this episode than the previous three. The reveal of Yelena, which was already a given when the cast roster for the show was announced, was handled well, establishing her as a potent threat to Clint’s safety. As much as Clint wants to keep Kate safe, Kate isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be interesting to see how the writers handle this new development with only two more episodes left in the season.

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