As Hawkeye barrels towards its final two episodes, familiar nerves start to arise, but we will continue to distract ourselves with trick arrows and tinsel.
The final ten minutes of this week’s episode throws another tool in the series’ ever-expanding toolbox. Hawkeye could defy the third-act slump associated with the prior Disney+ shows if it doesn’t take things too big. Hawkeye 1×04, “Partners, Am I Right?” instills confidence that as much is more than possible.
This episode knows when to slow the plot down to let the characters breathe and catch up with one another. It’s these moments of reprieve that make the emotional payoff greater for the more physically taxing scenes. The fight sequences and their aftermath won’t matter if we don’t care about the people involved.
Hawkeye does an excellent job of letting the character-driven beats hit so that the subsequent punches don’t miss. It’s a major bonus that this show balances such work with genuine Christmas cheer. Not to mention, Bert and Bertie‘s directorial decisions structure certain scenes as if they are actually comic book panels instead of a digital medium. It’s incredible.
The Return of the LARPers
Equally as incredible and entirely unexpected is the return of the LARPers. This point may seem too minute to dwell on, but it’s quite the opposite. Their appearances weaving in and out of episodes (and their roles evolving as time passes) are reminiscent of how characters come and go in the comics.
Moreover, their involvement on Hawkeye switches up a usual pattern Marvel Studios follows regarding who gets to make super suits. This twist on the franchise’s standard choices lets everyday heroes play a role in the furtherment of street-level ones.
It’s a heartfelt way to expand on the narrative of what it means to be a hero as it shows that people who risk their lives to save ours contain multitudes. Moreso, the LARPers let Hawkeye‘s setting come alive. They let the space have more purpose beyond how Kate and Clint interact with it.
Plus, on a completely superficial note, they’re so much fun to watch. Imagine how sweet it’s going to be when the LARPers finish the suits and pass them on to Kate and Clint!
Laura Barton’s Possible Secret Past
Hawkeye shoots its first, real trick arrow in this episode when Laura Barton speaks in German. This twist is enough to take anyone off-guard. Rationally, it’s not bizarre for Laura to speak multiple languages, and it works that she helps Clint get information. Furthermore, it’s not unfathomable to imagine a world where the couple met at S.H.I.E.L.D.
It is strange is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has held back such valuable information until now. This twist suggests there is more to her than meets the eye, making the gaps between her appearances agonizing. This franchise criminally underuses Linda Cardellini. One can even argue that Hawkeye does the very same thing.
There are still two episodes left (and maybe a second season or spin-off) to follow up on the theories her scenes in “Partners, Am I Right?” raises. This episode goes to great lengths to convince us that the ominous Rolex belongs to Laura. She could be someone Clint used to work with and has been out of the game for a while.
For a show playing with bate and switches, murder mysteries, and missed communication, that conclusion is all too logical. Or, this could be the one thread with a definitive end, and no misdirects. Some part of me wants to believe the latter is true since there are only two episodes left.
But, as exciting as it is that Laura Barton’s role is seemingly expanding in the MCU, Hawkeye is running out of time to tell that story.
Family Is Complicated
Our concerns with pacing aren’t entirely unfounded because things are moving like glaciers with Eleanor and Jack. Kate and Clint discover new information as the series progresses, namely with Kazi and Sloan Unlimited. Unfortunately, those developments lend themselves to Jack Duquesne more than Eleanor Bishop.
This unbalanced effort raises concerns that Hawkeye may pull the rug out from underneath Kate (and us) in its eleventh hour. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all have to know Marvel Studios wouldn’t hire an actor with the appeal and caliber of Vera Farmiga without the intention of utilizing her talents.
Jack’s ties to Sloan Unlimited (ergo, the Tracksuit Mafia) and his desire to possess Ronin’s sword are the grounds for plenty of theories that tie back to Maya Lopez’s mysterious Uncle. Moreover, Tony Dalton‘s performance is mesmerizing in its ability to rope us in the same way it does Kate this week. It’s easy to get swept up in his charm, and that has to be the point.
Where Jack has plenty of charm (and money) to cover up his shady dealings and potential inner-family murders, Eleanor keeps more cards close to her chest, making her more of an enigma. Subsequently, it makes her a person of interest in all the schemes at play on Hawkeye. So why haven’t we seen more of her?
As a result, it’s becoming a fear that (if she isn’t one of the biggest misdirects in this season) the payoff will not be worth it when the season finale arrives.
Clint Is Everyone’s Target
This episode succeeds with flying colors in its quieter moments (and okay, that epic action sequence) between Kate and Clint. It’s a smart use of time for the montage to double as a Christmas decorating session and a training session. It makes way for the (at least partially reluctant) pair to bond organically. Plus, it expands the MCU’s perception of Clint’s abilities.
Most importantly, though, the scene serves as an emotional breakthrough for the duo. Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner deliver some of their best performances of this series thus far in this scene, and they do it while wearing ugly Christmas sweaters. Seriously, if you don’t love Hawkeye, we don’t know what to tell you.
This scene does a lot of heavy lifting, but it does it so well that it never feels heavy-handed. Hawkeye handles Clint’s grief and survivor’s remorse as an ever-present aspect of his life. This focus reflects the introspective character work we wish the MCU prioritize more often.
Clint’s vulnerability in discussing his family, the Blip, Natasha, and the best shot he didn’t take is commendable. It believably strengthens Kate’s view of Clint as a hero and a father figure. Plus, it positions her as a liability because she knows too much.
Hawkeye subverts expectations by not letting Kate’s knowledge of Clint’s other moniker be the thing that drives them apart — though maybe it should be. Instead, the fallout comes at the end of the episode with the highly-anticipated arrival of Florence Pugh‘s Yelena Belova.
There is plenty to commend about how this fight sequence incorporates the range (or lack thereof) of Clint, Kate, Yelena, and Maya. Plus, Yelena is undeniably not trying to kill anyone. If she wanted Clint dead, she would have done it. It’s an example of how action can elevate the narrative. There is so much emotion and grief wrapped up in every punch and kick.
Everyone, including himself, has a target on Clint Barton’s back, except for Kate. She’s the one in his corner, which is the exact reason why she can’t be anymore. “Partners, Am I Right?” is filled to the brim with painstakingly brutal parallels to Clint’s past, and this one is no different. Why else did Fury set up that farmhouse for Laura and the kids?
It’s a good thing Kate and Clint have to reunite at some point before the finale. How else will they get their new suits from the LARPers?
Other Moments That Don’t Miss:
- Let’s start calling Clint CB-One now.
- Kate’s Christmas movies picks are very similar to my own.
- So Kate’s going to split an arrow before the end of the show, right?
- Clint wearing a grumpy cat sweater could not be more perfect.
- “She was the best there was.”
- “You were a hero.” “I was a weapon.”
- The reminder that there are 3 days until Christmas
- The entire Clint and Kazi scene in Kazi’s car
- Yelena securing Kate’s harness before throwing her off the building
- Yelena securing her own harness before jumping off the building
What did you think of the Hawkeye 1×04, “Partners, Am I Right?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of Hawkeye stream Wednesdays, exclusively on Disney+!