This episode doesn’t hang around and dives right back into last week’s cliffhanger with Jack (Tony Dalton) holding the Ronin blade to Clint’s (Jeremy Renner) throat but anyone expecting a spectacular fight scene will be very disappointed. True to how the series has been going, Jack recognises Clint as Hawkeye straight away and is excited to have an Avenger in his house. This might also put to bed the theory that Jack, like his comic book counterpart, has a pervious relationship with Clint as this is not acknowledged but more on that later.
Then Eleanor (Vera Farimage) and Jack sit down with Kate and Clint to discuss what is going on. Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) says that she is working with Clint on a case as partners and that she accessed her mother’s Bishop Security account. Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) seems a bit more concerned for her daughter’s wellbeing and warns Clint off, seeming to know more than she should about Black Widow’s death, but at the first opportunity she makes a mysterious phone call. Is she more worried about her daughter’s safety or the fact an Avenger is now nosing around her business? The one bonus for Clint is he has the opportunity to steal back his Ronin sword that has been left conveniently leaning up against a wall.
On the way out, Clint messages his wife, Laura, to look into Sloan Ltd. Laura (Linda Cardellini) gets back to him seeming almost immediately with an answer. The company is a front for the Tracksuit Mafia and Jack is the CEO. Clint states that Jack is laundering money for the ‘Big Guy’, another hint that the Kingpin is the ultimate big bad of this series. But it’s Laura’s ability to get hold of information so quickly here that is the curious thing. Up until now she has been portrayed as a stay at home mother but clear there is another layer to her character. Laura also ponders what else may have gone missing from the Avengers compound, namely the Rolex that the Tracksuits got hold of in the first episode. Clint asks her to check the transmitter on it because this is more than just a normal watch, it hold the identity of someone who has been undercover for years.
Kate sees that her mother is actually happy with Jack and this inspires her to go and visit Clint. He is without his family at Christmas and it’s all her fault so she decides to keep him company and have a movie marathon with him, something he had promised his kids. They watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, a film about a man who gets a life lesson from an angel when his family are erased from existence, and this opens Clint up. Kate asks him about his best shot and he says that it was the one he didn’t take. To him, his redemption on Black Widow was the best thing he had done in his life and the pain of losing his family was the worst part. This is punctuated by flashback to ‘Endgame’ to hammer it home. Kate, upon seeing his pain, realises that Clint was Ronin.
The pair now have three missions – to convince the world that Kate isn’t Ronin, to solve Armand’s murder, and retrieve the Rolex that is holding someone’s information. To do this they need the trick arrows back so the two split up again, Kate to the arrows out of police evidence and Clint to scare off the Tracksuits. He tries this by confronting Kazi, Echo’s righthand man, and pressuring him to warn her to stop chasing the “ghost” that is Ronin before it kills her.
Kate visits the LARPers from the second episodes as they are all first responders and she needs access to the NYPD evidence vault and they agree to help without any persuasion necessary. When Clint returns to the apartment he finds an uncomfortable amount of LARPers there and it seems that Kate is setting up a solution to his branding problem. The LARPers have agreed to help in exchange for materials to make new costumes plus two extra. Will Clint look a bit more comic accurate by the end of the series?
Laura gets Clint the location of the Rolex and the two archers scope out the location from a rooftop across the street. He has a complex plan for how they are going to gain access but Kate is too impulsive for this, crosses the street, and uses a kind old man to gain access. When she enters the apartment she finds the watch and a hand written list of Clint’s family but triggers a silent, flashing alarm. Panicked and not knowing what’s going on, Clint tell’s her to get out as its Echo’s apartment (hence the alarm system) and she is attacking him but, as she goes to leave, Echo enters the room. So who is Clint fighting?
Clint fires a zip wire across to Kate so she can escape and, in a nice bit of MCU humour, it doesn’t work and she gets stuck halfway. When they all make it to the rooftop it becomes clear that Echo and the other assassin aren’t working together and a three way fight proceeds. During the skirmish, Kate get thrown from the building and Clint is put in the same situation he was in with Natasha in ‘Endgame’, even the score lines up, but this time he sees that dropping her is the best option and a way out. Kate is more up for the fight than Clint realises and, when she hits the ground after having her fall broken by Christmas lights, she sprints straight back into the fight and fires a shock arrow to knock everyone down. Echo escapes and the assassin is unmasked to reveal Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Natasha’s adoptive sister who first appeared in ‘Black Widow’. Yelena stuns Clint and then when Kate has a chance to shoot her she doesn’t take the shot, allowing her to escape. Will this be her best shot and set up a future relationship in the MCU? Now the a Black Widow is on their tail, everything has become to real for Clint and he calls off the partnership with Kate.
This has become a series that is layering question upon question and has yet to give any answers. So far we have what happened to Kate’s father, how doe Eleanor know so much, what’s with Jack and the swords, who killed Armand, what is Laura’s backstory, did Clint kill Echo’s father, who’s secrets does the Rolex hold, what is Yelena’s involvement, and probably the biggest of all – who is Uncle? Most likely a lot of these are connected. If Uncle is Kingpin then a lot of things just fall into place. As the head of organised crime he would have been the most effected by Ronin’s rampage and want revenge but then there’s the question of why would Echo hide her actions from her Uncle, is there a deeper connection between Ronin and Kingpin?
The Uncle question is closing followed by the mystery of the watch. Whose identity are they trying to protect? Laura has put herself in the spotlight but suddenly excelling in the spy game but surely this is too obvious. Kate’s dead father could be another option as whatever happened to him was all off screen but there has been no hint of any history between Clint and Kate’s family. My money is on Jack. In the comics he is Hawkeye’s mentor and this could still be the case here. What if he was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who went on to become the original Ronin, the one that killed Echo’s father, and then passed that identity on to Clint? That would explain why he was so eager to get his hands on the Ronin sword. On top of this will still have the murder mystery from the first episode that hasn’t really been touched since. So who killed Armand III? Most likely Eleanor.
As for Yelena making an appearance, I feel that this is more a set up for the future of the MCU rather than to do with the current storyline. All Marvel projects do this and hopefully it’s more ‘Civil War’ than ‘Iron Man 2’.
While this doesn’t hit the heights of comic book glory of the previous episode and there is a lot more talking than action, it still entertains immensely. As they are asking so many questions, hopefully Marvel will answer them in a more convincing way than they have done in the past.