*Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode five of Hawkeye*
“When I was a boy…”
Well, what did I tell you guys? If you’ve been reading the recaps, week by week, then you probably know that I theorized (I swear I knew absolutely nothing, this was total speculation) that the show was going to do the ol’ switcharoo and reveal that Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga) is, in fact, the antagonist Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), framing Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton) for the murder of Armand Duquesne III (Simon Callow), and has deep connections to Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). Here’s the quote in its entirety:
“And there’s reason to believe that Duquesne may be impervious to whatever’s going on. The show may do the ol’ switcharoo and reveal that Eleanor is actually the one laundering money to the Tracksuits and has a deep connection with Wilson Fisk who has once again been teased multiple times.”
It happened. Well, most of it. We don’t know who killed Armand, but it won’t be a surprise when it’s revealed that Eleanor killed him, or someone sent by her. As for Fisk, Vincent D’Onofrio makes his first [official] appearance in the wider canon of the MCU, definitely setting up the fact that we will indeed see Charlie Cox in Spider-Man: No Way Home (he was heavily rumored, but now the leaks/scoops are all coming together now). He only appears in a picture, looking exactly the way he did in the Daredevil series, but now things are going to get really, really good. D’Onofrio is one of the best villains of the MCU.
He always gave a compelling and multi-layered portrayal of Fisk that not only made him somewhat relatable (to a certain extent!), but intensely gripping. You loved to hate him, just as it was easy to feel sorry for his troubled childhood. Lord knows if they are going to incorporate some of that backstory in a TV-14 Hawkeye series or completely ignore it and start anew with the same actor, but D’Onofrio’s sole return is amazing in isolation.
Actually, the entire episode was pretty damn good this week. It starts with a rather gripping (albeit terribly shot) flashback sequence of Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) trying to free one of Dreykov (Ray Winstone)’s Black Widows from mind control, following what was established in Black Widow. It is revealed (through a pretty compelling visual) that Yelena was a victim of the snap and missed the entire part where Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) sacrificed herself for the soul stone. She’s now on the path to kill Barton, having been hired by…Eleanor to do it.
There’s a great, albeit overlong, conversation Yelena has with Kate, that showcases how great Florence Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld are at their roles. While Yelena wants it to be laidback, you can feel the tension creeping up in Kate’s mind, never knowing what a Black Widow assassin may or may not do. She doesn’t want anything to do with her, only to chat about Clint’s whereabouts. The informal vibe of the conversation makes it quite fun to watch, and the terrific chemistry between the two makes it even more enticing.
Where Hawkeye lacks, once again, is in its willingness to craft great action sequences. They only come few and far between, and this episode’s central fight, where Barton reveals to Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) the truth that he is indeed the Ronin, and that Kingpin is the man truly responsible for the death of his father, is pretty lackluster. Cheap choreography and shoddy editing ruin the tension and the usual sleekness found in Ronin’s fight patterns, which lessens the emotional impact of the sequence. It’s a good thing, however, that the performances are strong all-around, which keeps the episode going.
Within one final shot (of a cellular phone, can you imagine!), Kevin Feige will have finally accomplished the impossible: successfully launch a meticulously-built transmedial franchise through all branches of television and film. Finally incorporating Marvel Netflix characters into the wider MCU not only respects the fact that these shows were not made in vain, but sets up so many exciting possibilities that the franchise has yet to do. Bring it on.