Hawkeye‘s fifth episode takes a further step towards its finale that lessens concerns over a rushed finale but still leaves a lot to be wrapped up in next week’s episodes.
As always Hawkeye continues to deliver a wonderful balance of heart, nuance, and fun MCU action that we come to expect from the superhero franchise. The joyful Christmas cheer of the series continues to give it the unique feel that some other projects can struggle to establish and this more grounded street-level threat manages to grip as much as any antagonist.
The episode opening scene is at the height of quality among the series many sequences, it grounds it in the MCU in a predictable but satisfying way. An exciting aspect about the decade-old franchise is piecing together the timeline with hindsight, flashback, and interesting details that more projects give to both new and old characters.
Jeremy Renner gives a deeper look at the darker sides of Clint Barton but also nuance that explores what leads this hero to become the monster that Maya sees him as. The series has swiftly turned a minimally developed Avenger’s character into a well-fleshed-out ex-assassin who struggles with skills that are built for anything but heroism.
Hailee Steinfield’s Kate Bishop has been solidified as an incredibly skilled and competent character in her own right with the confidence to know it. Gone is the wide-eyed Hawkeye fan desperate to work with her hero, instead, she is seeking out criminals and genuinely trying to help. Bishop is a wonderful addition to the MCU and has been consistently great in no small part thanks to Steinfeld’s performance.
Florence Pugh steals the episode as Yelena, while both Steinfeld and Renner have been fantastic throughout, I think this character is set as a fan favorite. Yelena’s playful charm coupled with her assassin past blends into a fun but deadly vigilante that holds the floor of any scene. Only having to wait a few months after Black Widow to see her again left her fresh in memory and a joy to revisit.
Maya’s persistence for vengeance on Ronin has driven her further and further into danger that comes to somewhat of a head in this episode. Her drive is what has characterized her through this series and it will be interesting to see if that might change and where she might go beyond it.
The series action continues to be entertaining and well-choreographed, but it still feels the weaker element of the series. There isn’t anything particularly bad about it as much as previous MCU projects, especially recent ventures like Shang Chi, have set so high a bar that it’s hard to look at this as objectively. When archery comes into play it’s done brilliantly, beyond that it isn’t particularly memorable.
Hawkeye might be one of the best of the Disney+ series yet, while it’s not a perfect series there is plenty to love and its street-level, Christmasy feel gives it a distinctive quality that makes it a great watch. Big reveals and universe expanding decisions make it one of the most important of Phase 4.