Sometimes, you just need a good brawl to get you in the Christmas spirit. The season finale of Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye more than delivered, providing closure for all of the relevant story arcs over the previous five episodes. While not all of those arcs had the same weight behind them, there were satisfying enough conclusions, with some room for potentially more as Marvel Studios continues to unveil new parts of Phase Four of their grand experiment.
Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read this if you haven’t watched the episode.
Picking up where the previous episode left of, “So, This Is Christmas” shows us the conversation between Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, and Eleanor Bishop that was teased at the end of the last episode. Eleanor’s husband, who perished in the opening sequence of the first episode, left some sizeable debts in his wake, one of which was to Wilson Fisk. Using that as leverage, Fisk entered into an arrangement with Eleanor that turned out to be mutually beneficial. Having the head of a private security company in your back pocket would be just the kind of thing Kingpin would want to have in his criminal portfolio. We also find out that it was Eleanor rather than Jacques who was responsible for the death of Armand in the first episode, evidently due to Armand threatening Eleanor during the Christmas party. When Eleanor threatens to leave Fisk’s organization, the gloves come off, so to speak.
It really is a pleasure seeing Vincent D’Onofrio playing Wilson Fisk again. While I wasn’t a big fan of the later seasons of Netflix’s Daredevil, D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Fisk was always a highlight. Capable of extreme violence but possessing a measured cadence to his speaking, D’Onofrio’s Kingpin was an exercise in extremes. He carried over some of those characteristics into this show, giving us the calm, stoic Fisk we saw on Daredevil while also showcasing the extreme physical power someone like Kingpin should have.
The Maya Lopez arc in the series has been my least favorite aspect of the show, which is not a knock on Alaqua Cox and her performance. Throughout her scenes in the series, Cox has demonstrated a firm commitment to her characterization of Maya, bringing physicality and depth to a character that could have been simply a one-note baddie. Unfortunately, the writing really didn’t lend her arc the same emotional weight as the inclusion of Yelena Belova did, or for that matter Kate’s arc as she begins to understand the depths to which her world has been built on the foundation of her mother’s lies. With that being said, the ending where Maya confronts Fisk and shoots him felt satisfying to some degree. However, since they cut away from the scene before confirming that Fisk was dead, it’s safe to assume that D’Onofrio will be returning at some point in the future. It’s already been confirmed that Marvel will be releasing an Echo series.
The centerpiece of the episode is the battle at Rockefeller Center, which was just insane from start to finish. It was great to see Clint and Kate fighting back-to-back, taking down a veritable army of Tracksuit Mafia members (who knew there were that many guys on the roster?). It was also delightful to see the LARPers show up as the cavalry (in their LARP gear, no less), directing the partygoers to safety. We even got to see Jacques show off his swordsmanship abilities to some extent, but the man is still as clueless as ever. One of my favorite sequences has to be the hallway fight between Yelena and Kate. Florence Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld show an amazing amount of chemistry together, easily setting up the same dynamic that Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson showed during their tenure in the Avengers films. If Marvel Studios does decide to move forward with more Hawkeye, they should really make it about Yelena and Kate working together because that would be a fun series to watch.
Once the dust settles from the large brawl, we get to the meat of the episode, which is the one-on-one showdowns between Yelena and Clint, Kazi and Maya, and Kate taking on the Kingpin. Each of the fights were well-shot and choreographed, showcasing the stunt work for everyone involved exceptionally well. Clint and Yelena’s fight was the most emotional of the bunch, as Clint tried to reason with Yelena regarding Natasha’s death. Yelena’s insistence that Clint was lying about the circumstances of Natasha’s death makes sense given that Yelena has been shown to be far more stubborn than her sibling. It isn’t until the end of the fight when Clint uses the whistle we saw Natasha and Yelena use in Black Widow that Clint is able to break through to Yelena and get her to stop long enough to hear what he’s been trying to say. Given that we saw Yelena was one of the victims of Thanos’ Snap, it’s safe to assume Natasha knew about it as well, making her sacrifice on Vormir as much about restoring Clint’s family to him as it was about returning her sister to the world. That’s more of an inference on my part but it would make sense, given what we now know about Natasha and Yelena’s relationship.
Maya and Kazi’s fight is also an emotional as well as physical battle but for different reasons. I started to infer during their interactions that Maya and Kazi were in some kind of romantic relationship and the dialogue given to Alaqua Cox through sign language confirmed it for me. Maya wanted to run away with Kazi, even though it is likely that he was responsible for providing Ronin with the location of the Tracksuit Mafia shop that resulted in Maya’s father getting killed. Kazi, for his part, showed that his resentment of Maya’s position in the group was largely the reason for his betrayal of Maya’s father, hoping to remove an obstacle to his advancement in the Tracksuit Mafia. Despite the opportunity to end the fight, it was Kazi’s insistence on continuing it that led to his demise, dying in Maya’s arms after she deflected an arrow Kazi was wielding into his abdomen.
The most physical of the fights, though, goes to Kate versus the Kingpin. It’s not a stretch to say that Kate was manhandled by Fisk throughout the entirety of the fight. As we saw on the Daredevil series, Wilson Fisk is no slouch and they carried that over in to Hawkeye. I would say it would have taken both Kate and Clint to take down Fisk and even then, it would have been a struggle. As good a fighter as Kate is, taking on someone who has both a height and weight advantage is a mean feat, as evidenced by Fisk shrugging off nearly everything that Kate threw at him. In the end, it was the coin-trick that Clint showed her in the fourth episode that finally did the trick, allowing Kate to activate several of the more dangerous arrowheads simultaneously using one of Fisk’s cufflinks. Even with multiple arrowheads going off at the same time, all that was able to do was briefly incapacitate Fisk.
The ending of the episode carried a strong emotional weight to it, particularly the confrontation between Kate and her mother. Eleanor’s insistence that her dealings with the Kingpin were an “unfortunate arrangement” shows that even though Eleanor protected Kate, she is not sorry that she got in bed with a notorious crime lord. Watching Hailee Steinfeld’s face as Vera Farmiga’s Eleanor is arrested for the murder of Armand Duquesne is heartbreaking. Thankfully, the show doesn’t end on a sour note. Instead, we get Christmas at the Barton residence, with Kate and Lucky (aka Pizza Dog) joining in as well. In the midst of the Yuletide festivities, we get a brief moment where Clint hands his wife Laura the watch from the black-market auction back in the first episode. On the back of the watch, we see a SHIELD logo and the number 19, which for the Marvel Comics’ fans is an indication that Laura Barton was previously Agent 19, aka Mockingbird. While this does cast doubt on the canonicity of Agents of SHIELD and Adrianne Palicki’s portrayal of Mockingbird, it does make a ton of sense why Laura is not only Clint’s go-to person for intelligence on the criminal underworld but also how the two met. I’ve always suspected that Laura was a former SHIELD agent (how else would she and Barton have met?) and this confirms those suspicions. The final shot of the series is Kate and Clint burning the Ronin costume, finally putting to bed that dark chapter of Clint’s life.
Overall, I felt this was an enjoyable series. While not as much of an emotional rollercoaster as WandaVision or as status-quo changing as Loki, Hawkeye managed to wring just enough emotional drama and weight out of its story as it could. On top of that, it gave us the best Hawkeye performance Jeremy Renner’s provided so far during his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is no doubt due to the long-form storytelling afforded for a series. Hailee Steinfeld was delightful as Kate Bishop and I look forward to seeing her expand on Kate’s role in Phase Four. And it goes without saying that Florence Pugh was at times both adorable and menacing as Yelena Belova, carrying over from her work in Black Widow. I look forward to seeing what new stories come out of this series and what 2022 holds for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.
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