Watching the finale of Hawkeye, I couldn’t help but think “Now this is a Hawkeye show.” Lots of action, lots of arrows, Clint and Kate teaming up properly for the first time, and all the payoffs the show has been teasing. Most of those payoffs were fairly predictable, so it wasn’t a Marvel finale big on shocking spoilers, but in terms of good old fashioned satisfying character development and storytelling, Hawkeye ended on a high note. Plus, we realised that while this show called “Hawkeye” may have featured Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), it was actually more about someone else.
In fact, all six episodes of Hawkeye feel much more complete when you think of them as the origin story for Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) as Hawkeye. It’s a mantle the character has held in the comics for some time and this finale, “So This Is Christmas,” was primarily about Kate coming into her own and accepting all the responsibilities of a superhero. She fights the Track Suit Mafia alone. She fights Yelena (Florence Pugh) alone. She defeats Kingpin alone and sends her own mother (Vera Farmiga) to jail. On Christmas no less. Yes, Kate is ready for that superhero life, and in the episode’s final edit, which goes from her and Clint discussing superhero names to him saying he has an idea and then a smash cut to the “Hawkeye” title, the deal is sealed. She’s Hawkeye too. Of course, it was a long journey to get to that moment and Clint himself had some growing to do along the way, so let’s dive into the finale of Hawkeye. (Season one perhaps? Who knows.)
Things picked up where one might expect, by explaining last week’s big cliffhanger and the reveal of Kingpin, played by Vincent D’Onofrio. My initial thought was how is Marvel Studios going to establish why and how he’s such an intimidating and scary presence? Because there are certainly fans who might not know Kingpin from the comics or even Netflix’s Daredevil show. Some might know him from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse but you can’t bank on that. So the show was going to have to explain why Clint Barton, and everyone else, was so scared of this man.
That intimidation revelation came later but it began with the discovery that Kate’s mum Eleanor has not only been his pawn for the events of the show, she’s also been his pawn for decades thanks to debts her husband, Kate’s father, owed the mob boss. Now that Kate is getting involved, Eleanor says she wants out. Kingpin doesn’t think that’s such a good idea but Eleanor doesn’t care, threatens to blackmail him, and walks out. Later, the massive mob boss also loses another one of his soldiers when Maya (Alaqua Cox) asks her uncle and boss for some time off, but he and Kazi (Fra Fee) know the truth. She wants out and Kingpin tells Kazi they need to reestablish who really controls New York City.
Thankfully, the conversation between Eleanor and Kingpin was (a little too) conveniently captured by Yelena and sent to Kate, so Kate knows the truth about her mum. She loves her, cares for her, would do anything for her, but she’s the person behind it all. The revelation of just how deep Kate’s mum is in all this cements Clint and Kate’s relationship too. He calls her “partner” for the first time and they decide if they want to end this, they’ll need to gear up.
Cut to Clint and Kate making trick arrows in an excellent montage, the moment where I first was like “Oh, yes, this is what I want in a Hawkeye show.” You want to see what makes Hawkeye, Hawkeye.” And it’s basically a soldering iron and some chemicals. But the scene is great, Kate is super excited and curious about all the arrows, and all of it just deepens their trust and friendship. It ended in Clint explaining to her again that being a hero isn’t easy. It’s inconvenient, lonely and she will get hurt. Kate says she knows and she’s ready. She then tells him how much he’s inspired her and, for a rare moment, Clint Barton smiles thinking about all the good he’s done.
Everything leads to the Bishop Christmas party, which is held at 30 Rockefeller Centre, a fairly iconic location in New York entertainment which the show used to excellent effect. It was the backdrop for a multi-layered, multi-character, mega-action scene that put Hawkeye in line with the first two Marvel streaming shows, WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Solider, each of which ended in an action-heavy finale. But I was fine with it, especially after the more heady finale of Loki.
Anyway, there’s no reason to break down everything that happens in the scene but there were a lot of cool things. Clint and Kate recruiting the LARPer friends to help be their eyes and ears. Jack (Tony Dalton), now out of jail, walking around and fighting with his sword. Yelena and Kate’s hilarious elevator ride, which led into an exciting fight sequence through a series of offices. All great stuff. But things really got taken up a notch when the fighting moved outside. First with Kate conquering her fears and jumping out the window, and then the true highlight: Clint falling out a window and landing in the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree.
In all my years of watching entertainment, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full action set piece set not just around, but ON, the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree. You’ve seen plenty of scenes set there: characters looking at it, dates happening under it, but never on it. And no one has ever destroyed it. But it was worth the wait. The images of Kate taking it down with trick arrows and the tree slumping into the ice rink will honestly stay with me longer than most of the other stuff on this show.
Once Clint gets down (and encounters an adorable owl that feels like it might tie into Ant-Man 3?), he and Kate have their slow motion Avenger moment and just straight up destroy the Track Suit Mafia. Kate slides in heroically, asks Clint if it’s time, and the two just shoot all sorts of trick arrows left, right, up, down, and centre. There’s a lot of Track Suit Mafia though, so we guess earlier when Kingpin said he wanted to show who owns the city, he just meant bringing out hundreds of guys in tracksuits. But hey, it’s fine. They blow up and get electrocuted really well. It was a hell of a moment to see Kate full come into her own as Clint’s equal.
Things only get taken up another notch from there as the heroes separate and face their final boss foes. For Clint, it’s Yelena, and he finally tells her what we know she has to hear. That he didn’t kill Natasha, she sacrificed herself to save the world. Yelena doesn’t believe him though, and continues to beat the crap out of him, only yielding when Clint breaks out the special whistle the sisters have from Black Widow. It’s the piece of the puzzle Yelena needed to realise Clint truly was Natasha’s friend, and she seems eager to learn more about their time together. They part on sad, but fair, terms.
For Kate, the end foe is Kingpin, who she catches trying to kill her mum. As he approaches her, Marvel finally showed its fans why this character is so feared. Kate shoots an arrow into his chest and he just swipes it off. She does it again and nothing. They begin to fight and though Kingpin doesn’t exactly have superpowers, he’s super powerful and throws her around like a rag doll. He even snaps her arrows in half like they were twigs, but she’s able to use the coin trick Clint taught her to blow up some arrowheads anyway and knock him out, thereby saving the day. For now.
There’s one other big showdown happening alongside all this, and it’s Maya and Kazi. The two former best friends are on the brink of destruction and she begs him to leave with her. But he’s too scared of Kingpin and he goes after her anyway, resulting in his defeat and, ultimately, death. Maya then finds the Kingpin walking down an alley post-Kate-fight, and it seems like she shoots him in the head… only the camera pans up at just the right moment, so odds are that’s not what happened. We imagine that moment is where the upcoming Echo show will pick up.
Kate has her mum arrested for killing Armond, wrapping the show back around to the first episode, and Clint and Kate sit on the edge of an ambulance in a parking lot full of red lights from police cars and ambulances. Very Die Hard. He tells her how proud he is of her and the two go back to Clint’s farm in the country, with the pizza dog, now officially named Lucky, by their side. Clint’s got gifts for the kids, the stolen Rolex for his wife, and one last thing to take care of.
Clint and Kate go outside and set the Ronin suit on fire. It’s the close to one chapter of his life and the opening of another. One of a mentor. A friend. A partner of a new superhero, one who is likely to share his name: Hawkeye.
Hawkeye certainly left a lot of loose ends dangling. What’s up with Maya and Kingpin? Where will Yelena go next? How will Kate and Clint work together? Was Jack actually a good guy the whole time? The dude seemed pretty sketchy. Nevertheless, the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes on and now it’s got a brand new, very capable, very funny superhero: Kate Bishop, Hawkeye. It was an enjoyable, albeit slightly straightforward season of television but that’s OK. The show delivered some very welcome new characters, great colour and context for some older ones, and continued to broaden out the MCU in a multitude of diverse, exciting ways. That’s a big thumbs up.
What did you think of not just Hawkeye’s finale, but the show in general? You can catch Hawkeye on Disney+ (if you haven’t already).