After last week’s action-packed episode of Hawkeye, Episode 4 felt a little tame by comparison. In ‘Partners, Am I Right?’ we get lots of lowkey character building before the final action-packed confrontation.
That confrontation includes a surprise visit from an important Marvel anti-hero, and I won’t bother burying the lede. Spoilers follow.
The surprise is Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). She shows up because things weren’t already complicated enough for our heroes.
Assassins and Thugs
When Clint (Jeremy Renner) and Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) show up to burgle a mysterious apartment where Clint’s wife Laura (Linda Cardellini) tracked the stolen Avengers Rolex, things don’t go as planned.
Kate finds the stolen watch but it’s not her only discovery. More disturbingly, she discovers a notebook with the names of Clint and all his family members written down. Somebody has been researching his family, and that can’t be good.
That somebody turns out to be Maya/Echo (Alaqua Cox) and just as we hear a fight break out on the roof across from the apartment where Clint is, Maya shows up behind Kate in the apartment.
It’s a losing fight for Kate, so Hawkeye shoots a zipline arrow over to her. Meanwhile, he’s battling a masked assailant who he mistakenly thought was Maya when he was first attacked.
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Kate zips over—getting hilariously stuck along the way—and joins in the fight, and Maya isn’t far behind. Surprisingly, Maya and this new attacker aren’t allies. The is is a three-way fight: Maya vs Clint/Kate vs ninja assassin.
Kate tags Maya in the shoulder with an arrow (just an arrow, not a trick arrow) and Maya makes her retreat. They manage to get the mask off the other attacker and lo and behold, it’s Yelena Belova—another Black Widow, and “sister” to Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Faced with an arrow to the face, Yelena shakes her head and then dives off to safety.
So how is Yelena tied to Hawkeye? Well, we have to rewind first to Avengers: Endgame and the death of Black Widow / Natasha. We get a flashback for this in the episode itself, with Clint letting go of Natasha and watching her fall to her death—all part of their attempt to recover the Infinity Stones.
Skip ahead to The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. At the end of that series, we get a scene with Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who meets with disgraced Captain America 2.0 John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and sets him up with a new gig as U.S. Agent.
In the post-credits scene to Black Widow, we see Yelena at Natasha’s grave when Valentina Allegra de Fontaine shows up and hands her a picture of Hawkeye, telling her that he’s responsible for Natasha’s death.
So when Yelena shows up and attacks Clint, it seems pretty obvious that she’s out for revenge. But that’s the least important part of the assassination attempt. The really curious thing is who exactly is Allegra de Fontaine and why is she wrangling together this group of dangerous anti-heroes.
I specifically mention anti-heroes rather than villains because John Walker, for all his anger issues and other problems, is a hero nevertheless. He’s just a hero willing to do very bad things to get the job done. He’s not a villain, however.
Neither is Yelena. She, like Natasha, was raised as a brainwashed assassin but as we saw in Black Widow, she’s got plenty of heroic traits herself.
In any case, Yelena showing up is a pretty big deal. It adds a definite wrinkle to the troubles Clint Barton faces trying to reach his family. The fact that Maya and her Tracksuit Mafia (and their mysterious boss) is looking into his family is also bad news. The whole thing is bad enough, that at the end of the episode Clint tells Kate he’s done working with her. It’s too dangerous. And, like a kicked puppy, she sadly walks away.
But she’ll be back. It’s Kate Bishop, after all. She’s no quitter. Neither is Yelena . . . .
The rest of the episode is tamer. We open to where last week’s ended, with the unflappable Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton) holding the Ronin sword to Hawkeye’s throat. Kate comes running up telling him to stop and her mom, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) walks in and asks why an Avenger is in her apartment. Jack, who almost certainly knew exactly who Clint was, acts surprised.
They all sit down and talk, and Kate brags about how they’re partners while Clint demurs. Later, Clint does some digging and discovers that Jack is the head of Sloan Ltd, a shell company laundering money for the Tracksuit Mafia and probably tied to lots more underworld crime. Kate’s mom seems to be tied to a lot of criminal elements as well, though it’s unclear how she’s connected.
Whatever the case, after Kate finally starts to warm to Jack—he and Eleanor have a poignant moment dancing and flirting in front of her and she finally allows herself to smile and appreciate their romance—Clint tells her that she was right all along. Jack is a bad guy. The real question now is whether Eleanor is a bad guy, too.
Hawkeye is also in contact with his wife, Laura, throughout the episode. They speak in German at one point, discussing the stolen Avengers Rolex. It seems pretty clear that they’re setting Laura up with a backstory. Clint isn’t the only Barton with a heroic history. Could she be Mockingbird? Seems increasingly likely. Hawkeye tells Kate the watch belonged to someone “out of the game a long time” so it’s definitely not Tony Stark’s.
Clint and Kate spend a fun evening together doing Christmas stuff. She even brings him an ugly Christmas sweater to wear. It’s sweet. He shows off his coin tossing skills and teaches her some new tricks. They talk about the blip and about how he lost his family and she puts two and two together and realizes he’s Ronin.
We also get some fun LARPer shenanigans again. They go to the guild to see if they can help retrieve Hawkeye’s trick arrows from evidence since one of them is a cop. In exchange, they promise to bankroll the creation of a bunch of new costumes—including one for Kate and one for Clint (who does not want a costume)—for the LARPers.
With trick arrows in hand, they head off to retrieve the watch and, well, we’ve already covered that bit.
Hawkeye continues to be a lot of fun, with just the right combination of action, humor, mystery and heartfelt drama. Great characters, great fight sequences and just enough Christmas cheer to make this the perfect holiday escape.
I love how they’re weaving together a larger story here as well. On one side of the MCU equation, we have the mystical stuff. WandaVision, Shang-Chi, and the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home and Dr Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness. On the other side, we have the more down to earth affairs—Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Black Widow and all the ties to Captain America, HYDRA and so forth. (Eternals is the third pillar, I’d argue, and should tie into the “space Marvel” stuff like Guardians of the Galaxy and so forth).
While I wasn’t a huge fan of Falcon, I appreciate how Marvel is able to link these shows so deftly, even if it’s a lot to follow and keep track of especially for casual viewers. Fortunately, casual viewers don’t really need to follow along to enjoy Hawkeye, so long as they can at least keep up with the current story. In that respect, the show is doing an okay job, but it’s definitely still a lot to juggle. Not everyone remembers that Hawkeye was Ronin, not everyone is aware of the criminal underworld elements in these stories, but it looks very much like we’ll be seeing a Kingpin / Daredevil crossover of some sort soon as well.
Still, a very fun show and this episode—while not as breathlessly exciting as the last—was no exception.