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In my review of Hawkeye’s first two episodes, I wrote that I was disappointed by the lack of arrow combat, a facet that is one of the show’s best and unique selling points.
This week’s excellent chapter rectifies that in a big way, in addition to deepening the bond between Clint Barton and Kate Bishop and gradually moving forward some important plot elements.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First and foremost, this episode puts a much needed spotlight on Maya Lopez, aka Echo. Alaqua Cox’s character was introduced at the tail end of last week’s double bill without so much as a name drop, but this episode starts with her in 2007 as we get a taste of her school and home life.
Maya is deaf and has a bionic leg, but this is no crutch; she is more skilled than her classmates both academically and in Karate. Much of her determination to be great can be traced back to Maya’s relationship with her father (Zahn McClarnon), who tells his young daughter that she will have to learn to jump between two worlds by watching other people.
In the comics, Echo has a Taskmaster-esque ability to mimic people’s abilities, and that looks to be true of her MCU interpretation as well, exemplified by a now grown-up Maya besting an opponent in a boxing ring. Unfortunately, she’s not around when Ronin attacks the Tracksuit Mafia, killing her father in the process.
It’s a really effective introduction that succeeds on a number of fronts, not least of which is outlining Maya’s beef with Ronin. It’s also a win for both Native American and deaf representation, and makes me infinitely more excited for Echo’s upcoming solo series.
But back to Hawkeye, and more specifically the quandary Clint and Kate found themselves in at the end of episode two. After an interrogation by Echo almost gets out of hand, the duo free themselves and engage the Tracksuit Mafia in a fight that starts at a warehouse and ends on a New York bridge.
It’s easily the high point of the series so far, and the fact that Echo destroys Clint’s hearing aid early on in the skirmish only adds to the innovation and the humour. Some of my favourite moments: Clint jumping off the balcony and shooting an arrow that wounds Maya’s friend Kazi and frees Kate all in one motion; Clint choosing not to steal the Dodge Challenger (an homage to the Matt Fraction/David Aja comics) because he doesn’t want to wreck it, but it gets totalled anyway; Kate being equally excited and bemused by Clint’s trick arrows; and last but by no means least, the use of a Pym Tech arrow that has some supersized consequences. Great stuff.
Also great, in a much different way, is what happens after Clint and Kate make their escape. Not only does Clint show respect for Kate’s abilities — “you’re not wrong to call yourself one of the world’s greatest archers” is a really sweet moment that Hailee Steinfeld plays beautifully — but the mentor and mentee also share emotional scenes too.
A phone call from Clint’s youngest son that Kate has to explain to a still-without-his-hearing-aid Barton is especially heartfelt and weighty, and feels like the first time she truly understands what her idol is giving up to aid her, while a diner conversation has a nice mix of hero worship, comic book homages, and real talk. Interestingly, while Clint doubles down on his “I’m not a role model” outlook (which, by the way, is entirely correct), he can’t bring himself to tell Kate the truth about Ronin.
It’s such a strong episode that we barely miss the absence of Vera Farmiga and Tony Dalton’s villainous duo. But just as our favourite duo break into Eleanor’s penthouse to follow up on Kate’s suspicions about her mother’s suitor, Jack surprises Clint by holding his own Ronin sword to his throat. It’s a significant meeting because of the comic ties between the characters. On the page, a young orphan Clint used to hang out at the circus, and Jack Duquesne aka The Swordsman was his mentor.
We got a snapshot of Kate’s history and what made her want to become a superhero in the series’ opening sequence. The first five minutes of this week’s chapter were devoted to Maya’s childhood and how she came to lead the Tracksuit Mafia. So it’s a safe bet that at some point in episode four, we’ll learn about how Clint Barton came to be one of the world’s greatest archers.
From the quiver
I also like Imagine Dragons, and I hope that Tracksuit Mafia member has a great time at the concert.
Maya’s Uncle is referred to a few times in this episode. Although his name hasn’t been dropped yet, it’s almost certainly alluding to Wilson ‘Kingpin’ Fisk (Maya is Fisk’s adopted daughter in the comics). The chances we’ll get a cameo from Vincent D’Onofrio are pretty high. Watch this space.
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Watch a clip from Hawkeye