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Hawkeye: So This Is Christmas?

“You’re my partner. Your mess is my mess.”

We knew it would come down to Christmas Eve. We knew “The Big Guy” would make his grand entrance. And we knew Clint would have to face Yelena. The only question was how. Man, this did not disappoint.

Contrary to popular belief, this wasn’t a story about Kate becoming the hero she longed to be, or Clint realizing he’s still a hero, or at least can be one again. For Kate, this episode is more of a mirror of the first than an arc. There her father died and her home was destroyed. Here her image of her mother is shattered and the protective bubble she’s been living in has burst. However, Eleanor is mistaken when she sees Kate as a little girl to be protected. Kate is a strong, capable woman who faces adversity just as her younger self did back in 2012.

As for Clint, the only nod to a character arc may be him coming to terms with Natasha’s death. They flirt with whether he should still be considered a hero. Especially when he describes himself as a tool. It’s clear he realizes that not all the people who “wielded” him were good. Yet, narratively, his status as a hero is unequivocal. Like I said, this isn’t a story about how Kate and Clint grew or changed. It’s the story of how they became partners. And this episode is the culmination.

That said, what it means to be a hero is still the theme and Kate and Clint’s heart to heart over trick arrows is there to spell it out for you. A hero can be anyone brave enough to do the right thing. The caveat being “no matter the cost.” And, let’s face it, the cost can be damn high.

We’re not just talking about Kate discovering her mother is a murderer or Clint’s loss of hearing. Almost every character goes through some crisis of faith.

Maya is a prime example. She spent years chasing after the Ronin to avenge her father’s death. Now she knows he was merely the arrow loosed by the man she thought of as family. Kingpin believes that knowledge turned her against him. But Maya may have been telling the truth about letting ghosts die. She seemed prepared to walk away. It’s only after Kingpin sent Kazi after her that she confronted him. Given that she’s been given a series of her own, I suspect her journey to hero has begun.

Kazi also had his moment of choice. Maya realized he knew of the plan to kill her father and yet she came back for him. She begged him to abandon that life and leave with her. He may have claimed he had no choice, but it’s clear that though he may care for Maya, he’d kill her rather than leave.

Eleanor’s worldview was almost as misguided as Kazi’s. She had no problem with hiring assassins, framing her fiancĂ©, or committing murder. However, she only drew a line when she realized her daughter was in danger. She couldn’t recognize the right thing to do, let alone choose it.

Kingpin embodied the adage of “everyone’s the hero of their own story.” It may not be clear from this episode, but Kingpin believes he’s doing the right thing for his city and he’s paid a pretty steep price to do it. And it looks like another bill just came due.

This leads to my only qualm with the episode. The problem with waiting so long to introduce Kingpin is that unless viewers have seen Daredevil, which I highly recommend, there’s not enough time to fully establish how much of a threat Kingpin is before he’s defeated. Twice. Although, I doubt he’s gone for good. Please see Maya AKA Echo’s backstory and Billie’s Ten Rules of Television for more details. They give Kingpin's final words a whole new meaning.

Even the LARPers get their moment in the sun. Given their day jobs as first responders, one could make the argument they were already heroes, but each made the decision to assist Clint and Kate despite the very real danger Kazi and the tracksuit mafia posed.

Jack was the odd man out since he served as our resident red herring. He was never in league with Eleanor. She may have had feelings for him, but he was just a convenient scapegoat. And I’m not sure he’s bright enough to be brave.

Which brings us to Yelena. Like Maya, she may have the courage and the skill to be a hero, but she hasn’t made that choice. She’s a hired gun sent to kill Clint but, let’s face it, she would have done it for free. He’s the reason Natasha’s dead. He needed to pay for that. However, Clint reminds her who Natasha was rather than who Yelena wanted her to be. Natasha was a hero who was willing to pay the ultimate cost. I have to believe that realization will change the calculus of Yelena’s choices in the not too distant future.

OK, now that all the serious stuff is out of the way, can we talk about how well this show offsets all that pathos with comedy? From Thomas taking a break from trying to kill Kate to thank her for her romantic advice to the brilliance of that elevator scene. It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

I’m not sure who I loved more. Kate, who radiated love and hope despite all she lost or Yelena, who balanced her exuberance for life with the rage and pain she wore like an open wound. Both of those performances blew me away.

Who am I kidding? I loved the whole thing. From the music choices. You have to appreciate the irony of Maya’s entrance to Silent Night. To the shot selections, such as the decision to shoot Kingpin from below or in a close up while shooting Eleanor from above and in ¾ to emphasize the power differential. Or just the staging. Yelena standing over a kneeling Clint as if offering absolution made me melt.

Sure, I could nitpick, but why bother? The good guys won, Clint made it home for Christmas, and we were treated to one hell of a ride.

4.5 out of 5 truck stealing owls

Parting Thoughts:

The watch confirms that Laura was a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent at some point. The number 19 leads many to believe that she was Agent # 19, AKA Mockingbird.

Quotes:

Kingpin: “The people need to be reminded that this city belongs to me.”

Jack: “You know, I feel like I’m missing something here.”

Yelena: “I’m not here to ruin anything. I’m just going to kill Barton, have some appetizers, and then I’ll go.”

Kate: “Stop making me like you.”
Yelena: “I’m sorry, I can’t help it.”

Wendy: “These people are terrible at following directions.”

Clint: “Repeat after me. ‘I’m not gonna do anything incredibly stupid.’”

Kate: “Timber.”

Kazi: “Nice shot.”
Clint: “Yeah, no shit.”

Kate: “Get away from my mom.”

Kingpin: “You are really starting to annoy me.”

Clint: “She made her choice. We’re gonna have to find a way to live with that.”
Yelena: “I loved her so much.”
Clint: “Me too.”

Clint: “I want you to take better care of your stuff.”
Laura: “You’re hardly one to talk.”

Kate: “What do you think of Lady Hawk?”
Clint: “Yeah, that’s terrible.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

4 comments:

  1. I loved it, too. It was the best episode and a great finale, and I think I'm in love with Yelena. I've seen enough Daredevil to have enjoyed Kingpin's arrival. And I really loved Clint taking Kate and Lucky home with him for Christmas.

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  2. I want a Kate and Yelena team up movie or show. The emotional stuff with Yelena and Clint actually made the Black Widow better.

    Also, yeah Kingpin isn't dead

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  3. Samantha,

    I kinda thought that was the plan. Kate as the new Hawkeye and Yelena as the Black Widow. At least it better be! LOL

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  4. Really enjoy Yelena and Kates dynamic. In particular it brings out something new in Yelena. Almost as if she gets to be the big sister for once and treats Kate as such.
    I wish Yelena got invited to Christmas at the Barton's but it was understandable why it didn't happen yet. She and Clint got to have a very cathartic moment and that's good enough for now.

    ReplyDelete

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