Last week’s rooftop battle between Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) set Hawkeye off in a new direction. Clint realised everything had gotten way out of control and decided to stop teaming up with Kate. Yelena and Maya were both closer than ever to getting the people they’ve been trying to kill, which just happen to be the same person. That, plus a few excellent surprises, made for a solid episode of Hawkeye.
Hawkeye episode 5, titled “Ronin,” starts off in the past. As has been customary this year, if there’s a crucial woman who needs an origin story, we see it before the title, and such was the case this episode with Yelena. Now, we know you’re thinking “Wasn’t her origin in Black Widow, now available on Disney+?” Yes. But that movie showed you Yelena before Thanos, fighting with her sister, and then after Thanos, mourning at her grave. Hawkeye showed that in between, Yelena had been dealing with the fallout of that movie, running around the world freeing Black Widows from their mental imprisonment. On one such mission in 2018, Yelena goes into the bathroom, and exits five years later. Yup, Thanos got her. It was our best look yet at what the Blip was like for someone who was dusted. (WandaVision dealt with this too but not as succinctly). She exits the bathroom like it was one second but everything has changed. Her first instinct is to find Natasha but we all know Yelena’s only back because of her sister’s sacrifice.
Back in New York Kate is nursing wounds from the battle with Maya and Yelena, and goes home to find her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) worried sick. Mum is relieved to find out that Clint protected Kate and sent her home, a sign that he listened to her pleas. The two share a sweet mother-daughter heart to heart where Kate starts to come to terms with the realisation she might not become an Avenger. Eleanor explains that just because she may not achieve her dream one way, doesn’t mean it won’t be another way. The two open up so fully that Kate feels safe to mention to Eleanor that she and Clint have some some incriminating evidence against her fiancé, Jack (Tony Dalton).
Kate heads back to her old apartment for the first time since the Track Suit Mafia burned it all to hell and finds a surprise waiting for her: Yelena. Yelena explains she just wants to talk and could have killed Kate when she walked in the door if that’s she wanted. The conversation goes everywhere, from jokes about instant mac and cheese to recommendations for Yelena’s first time in New York City (she mentions the “new and improved Statue of Liberty,” which is most likely a Spider-Man No Way Home reference) and finally turns to Clint. Yelena reveals she was hired to kill him and she can’t believe Kate believes in him so much. She explains how much blood is on his hands and that no hero should have that kind of baggage. Kate counters with the things Clint has been telling her, that helping people has dire consequences, and the whole thing ends up being a solid little dissection of morality in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a great scene thanks in part to excellent dialogue, chemistry between the actors, and Florence Pugh’s ability to blow almost everyone off the screen with her unmistakable charisma and charm. Yelena is well on her way to becoming a top tier MCU favourite, if she isn’t already.
Meanwhile Clint does not go back to Kate’s aunt’s place, thinking he’s through with her, and instead goes to Grills’ (Clayton English) place, the LARPer from previous episodes. After getting some much needed rest (and an enticing tease about new costumes for him and Kate) Clint decides he has to end this. He wakes up, goes to the place the Avengers first assembled in 2012, and talks to Natasha. It’s a baring of his soul we wish Yelena could have heard, where he admits to feeling huge pain at her sacrifice over a dumb orange stone and apologizing to her for what he’s about to do. He’s going to put the Ronin costume on one more time, but not before talking to his wife (Linda Cardellini) who tells him she trusts him whatever he does. (Note: the use of the Endgame music here really worked to bring you back to that emotional place from the film. A very nice touch).
But before the episode can bring the Ronin back, Kate needs to get back into the fight. And that happens when she sees that her mum trusted her about Jack and calls the police on him (though, for some reason, we didn’t necessarily trust this) and wakes up to see her first bow her mum bought her. She realises being a hero is all she’s ever wanted, and a few dozen voice messages to Clint later, she’s back on the case.
In order to avoid any confrontation with “the big guy” Clint knows he has to settle things with Maya. He sets up the meet and takes out all of her goons in a very Batman Begins way. The two fight and Clint seems to emerge victorious, revealing himself as the man who killed her father, Ronin. But he’s not there to kill Maya. He’s there to explain to her that he killed her dad because Maya’s boss tipped him off and wanted her dad dead. He also explains that she and he are the same. They’re weapons other people use and manipulate. This scene, like the Kate and Yelena scene earlier, is what this episode and the entire show is all about. Like minded people, from opposite sides of a fight, discussing and figuring out their purpose. A purpose that, for Clint, almost ended as Maya turned things on him, but Kate comes out of nowhere to save him.
Maya leaves, and angry and in denial about the Ronin’s revelations, still sees that the pieces fit. Especially when she remembers her best friend Kazi (Fra Fee), who was father’s number two, wasn’t there the day he died. It seems maybe her mysterious uncle did have her dad killed by Ronin, and it’s not Ronin she should be going after.
Kate’s rescue of Clint works and the pair get away. They head back to Grills’ place for a little breakfast when Kate gets a text. It’s Yelena, who tells Kate that the person who hired her to kill Clint… is Kate’s mum. (Which is odd because we saw Valentina (Julia Louis Dreyfus) do it in Black Widow. So does Valentina work for Eleanor? Hmmm). As proof she sends a photo of Eleanor and the big revelation. Literally. It’s Kingpin, played by Vincent D’Onofrio of Netflix’s Daredevil. “That’s the guy I’ve been worried about,” says Clint.
The fifth episode of Hawkeye basically had everything Marvel fans want in a Marvel show. It filled in some larger MCU gaps with the Yelena Blip story, it showcased friends and foes going toe to toe not just with fighting, but words that deepen our understanding of who they are and what they do. Then there was even a little surprise at the end, though it was one many fans believed was coming. It all leads up to the final episode of the show next week, and if there’s any question as to who will be looming large over that, the final title card should clear it up.
Yup. Kingpin. From Daredevil. Mere days after Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said his Daredevil, played by Charlie Cox, would be back. None of that has anything to do with Clint, Kate, Yelena, Jack, Eleanor, Maya or the rest. Or so we think. There’s a lot to clear up next week.
What did you think of Hawkeye episode five, “Ronin?” Did you expect the Kingpin reveal? What is the link between Valentina and Eleanor? Is Eleanor faking Kate out for Jack? Let us know all your thoughts below.