The first episode spent its time setting up the Kate Bishop character (Hailee Steinfeld) and her family, sidelining Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) for the most part. With the basics now established, the series can now focus on its story and pull Clint back into focus.
We pick up right where we left off, with Clint rescuing the Ronin costume wearing Kate from the Russian Tracksuit Mafia. The pair head back to Kate’s home, an apartment above a pizza restaurant, and the Shane Black-esque bickering that everyone had hoped for begins. Unfortunately, the Tracksuit Mafia must be smarter than they appear because they have manage to track Kate back home and discovered her name. They announce their arrival by throwing a Molotov cocktail through Kate’s window and then dancing around clowns in the street. In a cool little sequence, Clint breaks a window and catches the next fire bomb and Kate, proving her prowess with a bow, shoots one out of a mobster’s hand. Hawkeye tries to retrieve the Ronin costume but he is block by the flames so the two make their escape.
Hawkeye and his heir-apparent head to the local store to pick up some much needed medical supplies and then they set up a new base at Kate’s aunt’s apartment which is conveniently close by and the aunt is out of town for the winter. We now have our main narratives for the series in place – Kate needs to find out who killed her mother’s fiancé’s uncle, Armand III, and Clint needs to get the Ronin costume back and prove to the New York underworld that Kate has nothing to do with the mass slaughter of criminals he committed during the Blip.
Clint heads back to Kate’s apartment to retrieve the Ronin suit by it is now a crime scene. He grabs a fireman’s helmet and coat from a truck and slips into the building but the suit has already gone. As he his leaving he sees a sticker for NYC Larpers on a fire truck and once back a Kate’s the does a social media search about the Larpers and finds a clip of a man wearing the suit. The next morning Clint returns to his kids and puts them in a taxi to the airport so they can return to their home. He promises he will be back for Christmas so now there is a ticking clock on the task he has to complete. There’s no way he won’t make it back, is there?
Kate’s sees a news report connecting Ronin to the murder of Armand III so it’s time for her to start investigating. Kate and Clint head out as she sets off to her day job and their walk through Times Square leads to some of the best humour so far. Clint asks Kate to walk on his left side so he can hear her leading to Kate asking how he suffered his hearing loss and we get a montage of flashbacks to beatings and explosions that Clint has been involved in. Clint can’t nail down his ailments to one situation and this hammers home that he is just a normal guy doing extraordinary things that his body is not equipped to handle. There is also a running gag that Clint is the least popular Avengers due to branding issues and Katniss from ‘The Hunger Games’ is a more recognisable archer in this world. While this is good for a laugh it does contradict the first episode where everyone recognised him but now Clint is entering crime scenes and walking in public and no one bats an eyelid.
The pair part ways, Clint to get the Ronin suit and Kate to find a murderer, and he sees this as the last time they will meet and they exchange numbers. Kate goes to her work and, fortunately for her investigation, she works for the family business, Bishop Security, and has access to databases that can help her. She runs into her mother (Vera Farmiga), who is hasn’t seen since the explosion at the underground auction, but before they can have a heart to heart, the overly shady Jack (Tony Dalton) steps out of the shadows. She agrees to have dinner with them but only if she can control the conversation.
Clint continues his quest to get the suit back and attends a Larping event in Central Park where he knows the fireman who took it will be. This leads to classic fish out of water comedy as this is a world that is totally alien to him. He casually hacks and slashes his way through the hordes while maintaining a bored and bemused look on his face the whole time. He ends up in a trial by combat that he agrees to lose in return for the suit and ends up begrudgingly admitting that he has had a good time. With the suit back in his possession, he stashes it in a locker, calls home to say he’s going to be away a little longer and then says “It’s time to go and get caught”.
Back at the Bishop house there is a tense dinner taking place. Kate is very suspicious of Jack and his intensions for her mother and the company and is letting the both of them know it. Most of the talk is around his obsession with swords and she pushes it so far that the evening ends with Kate and Jack duelling in full fencing gear. It becomes clear that, although Kate is highly skill, Jack is clearly hiding immense skill. Kate’s mother has enough and pulls her aside and forces her to apologise to Jack. At this point we get our first big clue as to who kill Armand III, Jack hands Kate a sweet as a peace-offering and it is one from Armand’s person stash. Kate acts as this is concrete proof of evil-doing but this feels more like another misdirect, it’s not a massive stretch of the imagination to think that a nephew may have access to his uncles sweets, to distract us from the real villain that’s metaphorically hiding in the shadows.
Somewhere across town, Clint is getting himself caught by the Tracksuit Mafia. After a brief baseball batting, he ends up being tied to a chair and interrogated. The scene has the flavour of Black Widow’s introduction in ‘Avengers’. Clint is clearly in control of the situation, to point that he unties himself with them noticing, and he is leading events. Unfortunately for Clint, he did not let Kate into his plan. While traveling home she calls Clint but the Tracksuits answer. Using her company’s tracking software on her phone she gets Clint’s location. Inside the Tracksuits’ base, Clint is being questioned about Kate’s whereabouts and is denying all knowledge when she falls through the ceiling. Now both Clint and Kate are captured and tied up.
The episode closes out with the introduction of Echo (Alaqua Cox), a character who we knew was coming as she already has her own show announced, a deaf anti-hero from the comics. Her appearance is the cause of the most speculation around this show. So far the series has been very street level compared to the majority of recent MCU output, Hawkeye hasn’t even fired his bow in the first two episodes. The plot is very simple, find a murderer and clear Kate’s name with the underworld, but Echo could blow the whole story wide open. In the comics, Echo is the adopted daughter of Kingpin and in this show there is an unnamed head of the underworld that everyone is talking about. Put these two facts together and there could be something big coming, both for this story and the MCU as a whole.
This episode delivers what most people were expecting from the show. The chemistry between Renner and Steinfeld is great and Renner is given more to work with than he ever has before in this role. Finally Hawkeye is getting a personality and can hopefully work one his branding issues. At the moment the Tracksuit Mafia are coming across as a bit one note but it works for the lighter tone of the show. They may seen like idiots but they still manage to track Kate and Hawkeye down a couple of times so must be reasonably competent at what they do.
I can see why the first two episodes were released at the same time as this is a bit of a different show for Marvel and with the first real antagonist not being introduced until the last second of the second part it sets up episode three to be more like what audiences are accustomed to, so this speeds up the time it takes to get there.
Minor complaints aside, this is still another bullseye for Marvel.