Call it a second helping or call it pacing – however you decide to frame it, the second episode of Hawkeye dropped on the same day as the first one! So grab another slice of pumpkin pie and cozy up with your favorite wealthy, martial arts trained archer with access to futuristic technology who investigates crime and corruption in their city.
Episode 2 picks up right where the previous one left off: Kate Bishop has just been rescued from the Tracksuit Mafia by a disgruntled Clint Barton, who pursued her because he saw her on the news wearing the Ronin suit. On an unrelated note, I always called him “Ronin”, but the show keeps referring to him as “the Ronin”. It’s one of those irritating things, like when people refer to him as The Batman. This is the only time you’ll hear me say this, but please take Justin Timberlake’s advice.
The Tracksuit Mafia tracks (haha) Kate to her apartment and promptly sets it on fire with Molotov cocktails. Clint and Kate flee the blaze for the safety of Kate’s aunt’s vacant apartment. Clint goes back for the Ronin suit only to find that it has been lifted by a sticky-fingered firefighter who LARPs as a hobby. Clint is forced to participate in an afternoon of Live Action Role Play, challenge the
firefighter “ninja” who stole his suit to a duel, and lose on purpose just to get it back.
Meanwhile, Kate is unnerved by the attention she is getting, not only from the Tracksuit Mafia but also from the authorities. The police call to question her and point out that she does not seem surprised or bothered by the fact that her apartment was torched (a note to this cop: it is not a crime to be emotionally unattached to material things). Kate confronts Jack Duquesne, believing him to be connected to Armand III’s death. She challenges him to a fencing match and grows frustrated by his refusal to take her seriously. She tries to prove to her mother that Jack is lying, but only succeeds in exasperating Eleanor. To calm her down, Jack offers her one of Armand’s personalized butterscotches which seems like either hubris to a ridiculous degree or a really stupid move. Either way, we can all agree that personalized butterscotches are an absurd investment for people who don’t pay enough in taxes.
Clint plans to allow himself to be captured by the Tracksuits in order to force a confrontation and end their conflict with Ronin. Kate, unaware of Clint’s plan, tracks him down with the help of some Bishop Security tech, hoping to get his help investigating Armand III’s death. Her attempt to stealthily enter the warehouse fails, the pair are both captured, and the leader of the Tracksuit Mafia is informed.
I liked this episode more before I learned that there are only six episodes in the season. It feels like the last four episodes have a lot of work to do to earn a coveted spot on the Official MCU Shows Podium. I’m less interested in some of the immediate plot points these first two episodes have given us. The Tracksuit Mafia feels more silly than compelling as far as villains go. I like a whodunit, but in the case of the murder of Armand III, Jack Duquesne is so cartoonish that I really hope he is a red herring. Of course, in the comics Jack Duquesne is the villain “Swordsman”, so it seems likely that he is at least not a good guy.
I’m more interested with some of the deeper issues that “Hawkeye” could explore. Obviously Clint’s history as Ronin will need to come to light, at least as far as Kate is concerned, so that she can grapple with the fact that her hero has been less than entirely heroic. But Clint also needs to deal with this history as well, not to mention the loss of Natasha. This is a guy who has been seriously suppressing his emotions, and seeing that play out would be really interesting. WandaVision delivered a master class in how the comic book TV show could deal seriously with a complex and human concept like grief. Both Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany knocked it out of the park, especially in the finale. It will be interesting to see if Jeremy Renner is up to the acting challenge, given that up until now Hawkeye has mostly played a supporting role in the MCU. If the writers, directors, and actors are up for it, “Hawkeye” could take us to a deep, emotionally satisfying conclusion for a character that has often felt out of place amidst the other Avengers. Or they could take the safe route and simply deliver a fun, lighthearted introduction to Kate Bishop’s role in the MCU. If they can pull off both, I’ll be truly impressed, but they only have four episodes left to deliver.