Marvel delivered an early Christmas present with the ‘Hawkeye’ season finale. Yes, it was overstuffed, but it wrapped everything up in what felt a more self-contained way than the other Marvel shows that we have had so far. Sure, there were hints at what’s to come, but this felt like a complete story that could be revisited rather than just a step closer to what’s coming next.
The main thing the show did was answer the questions that it had posed in a satisfying way. The answers that we got may have been predicted by many viewers but that means that they made sense and weren’t out of left field. It’s also a plus that most of the questions are answered straight of that bat, allowing the rest of the episode to play out the resolutions.
It all kicks off with a meeting between Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga). Fisk has been a character that has been looming over the series but not seen or mentioned by name until this point. It had been rumoured that D’Onofrio was returning to portray the character and he slides back into the role with ease. Farmiga handles all the exposition with Eleanor confirming that she killed Armand III for Fisk and had been working for him ever since Kate’s dad died, and yes, it seems that he is dead even though it all happened off screen. He had left Eleanor with a massive debt that was owe to Fisk and she had been one of his pawns ever since. She set Jack (Tony Dalton) up and hired Yelena (Florence Pugh) to kill Clint (Jeremy Renner). Eleanor tells Fisk that she is out and this sets the events of the episode in motion.
Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) witnesses this meeting via a video that Yelena sends her. It’s now her turn to try and end the relationship with Clint. She tries to send him home to his family, who he has promised he’ll be home for Christmas, but he says to her “You’re my partner. Your mess is my mess” and their bond is complete.
Juxtaposed to this is a bond breaking down. Maya (Alaqua Cox) and Kazi (Fra Fee) meet up with Kingpin, who is unhappy with the amount of attention she has brought to his organisation in her quest for vengeance. Although she promises to stop, we know that she knows Fisk and Kazi are behind her father’s death. Fisk is the Kingpin of crime for a good reason and is full aware of what is happening and when Maya leaves he tells Kazi that he has to kill her.
Clint and Kate decide they need to confront Eleanor at her Christmas party and for that they need more arrows. Clint goes to work creating new tricks which include both Pym and Stark tech. He tells Kate that she doesn’t have to confront her mother but heroes must make tough decisions. She responds by telling him what an inspiration he is to her and that as a child she saw him fighting aliens in the Battle of New York with no powers, just a string and a stick. That showed her that anyone could be a hero and fight, no matter the cost. Kate is now ready and understands what is required, the MCU now has a new hero.
All the action then shifts to Rockefeller Plaza where Eleanor is holding her party and all the characters and plotlines converge. Clint and Kate go to confront Eleanor, Yelena arrives to kill Clint, Kazi is there to snipe Eleanor, Jack is out of police custody and enjoying life, Echo is out for revenge, the Tracksuits are there for muscle, Fisk has to clear up the mess, and even the LARPers are on hand to help out.
The amount going on is the only downside of the episode. There is too much to resolve in the hour long runtime and some plotlines get the short shrift and feel rushed. The focus is squarely on the heroes of the story so the villains get wrapped up quickly. Kate’s confrontation with Eleanor is brief and lacks weight and Kazi is dispatched quickly and with ease. Added to this is, while D’Onofrio is great as Fisk, as the main villain he is given very little to do. And the less said about the LARPers the better.
But these negative don’t drag the episode down. Clint gets to go full John McClane, fighting the Tracksuit on an under-construction floor of the building and jumping out a window. Kate and Yelena have another delightful meeting, this time a lot more action orientated than before with Florence Pugh cementing the fact that she is the new star of the MCU. And then there’s Tony Dalton’s Jack, a jolly dimwit, who finds his calling fighting of thugs with a sword.
The big action set-piece come of the ice rink in front of the building where Clint and Kate finally fight as a team in their new matching Hawkeye costumes. Every trick arrow comes into play as they systematical take out all comers with the highlight being a shrinking Pym arrow fired into a van. With this out of the way we can move on to the big emotional showdown of the series. Yelena steps onto the ice to kill Clint and all the feelings for Natasha, Yelena’s sister and Clint’s partner, come flooding out. You know that neither character’s life is under threat in the scene but it is powerfully handled and cathartic for the pair.
When the dust settles, Clint finally makes it home to his wife and kids for Christmas and he has brought Kate along with him. She might have lost her family but has found a new one and guided Clint to salvation. The show has time for one final surprise, another one that fans saw coming, and that is that the watch that Fisk was after belonged to Laura all along and she might just be Mockingbird.
For me, the reason this show stands above over Marvel shows is that it told a complete story that can stand alone and can easily be revisited. At no point did it feel like the stepping stone to the next thing which, at points, has dragged the other shows down. Sure, there are threads left dangling that could be picked up elsewhere and with the ‘Echo’ series spinning out of this that is bound to happen but at no point did those bits feel more important than the show we were watching.
If the MCU goes the way people are thinking with younger heroes taking over, in the future people will look back on this series as the place it all began. Fingers crossed that we see Kate and Yelena back on screen as quickly as possible. But one thing the show did prove is that there is still life in Renner’s Clint Barton and after serving the MCU for a decade he is finally getting his due.