Hawkeye: Ronin

Really, why do I have to wait until episode five to come on show?

One of the things I have been enjoying about Hawkeye is that they have spent time developing characters besides the lead. Clint and Kate, of course, get a lot of screen time, but so has Maya/Echo and now, Yelena Belova, Natasha Romanov’s kid sister from the Black Widow movie. We get to see some important scenes from her life, filling in some blanks and there’s a major reveal at the very end of the episode. I’m not quite sure it qualified for the news that will “break the internet,” but it was important and some big news for some Marvel fans. Clint takes a step back and we get some character insight into a few people in “Ronin.”

The first scene is about what Yelena got up to after the events of Black Widow. We see her and a fellow Widow, Sonya, carrying on the mission Natasha started in the Red Room. Yelena and Sonya go on a mission that doesn’t go as expected, and Yelena learns something that surprises her. Then, as she withdraws for a moment to gather herself in the bathroom, we see her get Snapped away and Blipped back. As if she didn’t have enough to deal with already. That scene ends on a painful note and we know Yelena is about to get some very bad news. This leads into the “Previously On” sequence, catching us up on key recent events.

In the present, Kate returns to her mom’s place, battered and dispirited after the rooftop fight and Clint’s telling her to go home and stay away. Eleanor is there, and patches her up, but seems glad at this turn of events. There’s a lot to not like about Eleanor, and the fact that she is clearly pleased about Kate’s dreams being crushed goes a lot further on that front. Eleanor asks a really insensitive question, and Kate gives her a warning about Jack. Also the worse for wear after the fight, Maya is being seen to as well, by Kazi. They talk about what happened, and we can see Kazi really does care about Maya. Maya, while clearly not exactly acting heroically, has some very clear and easily understood motives.

After her mother asked her to bring her things and come home, Kate goes back to the ruin that is Kate’s apartment. What follows is a very entertaining scene as Kate is surprised by Yelena, who is disarmingly friendly, babbling a bit, and raving about macaroni and cheese. Their interaction is a lot of fun to watch, and presents two very different views of the same man. Kate’s optimism clashes with Yelena’s world weariness, although oddly, Kate seems more downtrodden and Yelena more upbeat. Showing that Yelena is the sole person who got through this fight with no apparent injuries, Clint makes his way to Grills, the LAPRer we’ve seen a few times now. In another form, Grills is a recurring character in the Hawkeye comic. Grills is initially thrilled to see the archer, and then worried when he sees the shape he’s in.

Yelena and Kate’s conversation goes on for a bit, and they talk Clint Barton, Avengers, revenge, death, and hot sauce. They talk, and it’s refreshing seeing them interact without threats, or fighting, or needless drama. It’s a strange scene but very well done. It ends with Yelena leaving in a dramatic fashion on a very ominous note, and Kate, left behind and stunned. Grills makes several very nice offers to Clint, and we hear something about an earlier minor note that I suspect will play a part in the finale next week. Clint, exhausted, dozes off on the couch with Pizza Dog.

Not done having a bad day, Kate returns to her mother’s place and finds the detective that she’s been avoiding taking Jack into custody. Jack seems strangely unconcerned by this series of events, and he’d wave cheerily if his hands were free. Eleanor tells Kate just what she wants to hear. Clint visits something we’ve heard about but not seen and has an emotional scene before he leaves to do something he really doesn’t want to do. Things lighten up a bit with a montage of Kate leaving a lot of messages for Clint.

Also in a lighter vein, Ivan and Tomas of the Tracksuit Mafia have their discussion about music and brass knuckles interrupted by a very pointed message. As Clint prepares for what comes next, he calls Laura again, and this really is possibly the healthiest and most mature relationship I’ve both seen in a hero show and on television in general for a long time. I’m getting more and more intrigued by Laura and the various fan theories floating around about her.

The episode’s really big action sequence happens at the Fat Man car dealership that we’ve seen a few times before. Maya isn’t exactly honoring the directions from her earlier communication, but we do get to see a bunch of Tracksuits taken out one by one, including Kazi. Clint has made a costume change for this encounter, and he battles Maya, showing how good both of them are, while also telling her a few important things. She very much doesn’t want to hear any of this, but you can see the words sinking in. The fight goes back and forth, and Clint gives her some important information between the blows. When Maya gets the upper hand briefly, Clint gets some long-range help and manages to escape, message delivered. Clint’s backup has an escape plan that is both unusual and perfectly in character. Maya has her own post-fight meeting, and we can see that Clint’s words are having an effect already.

Later, Clint and Kate meet up and have a talk about a lot of different things. Kate fills him in on some of what she’s found out, but not the most important part. We can clearly see that Clint is once again very battered from his fight. Poor guy needs better armor or someone with healing powers on call. Or even Dr. Cho from Age of Ultron and her gadgets. I wonder what happened to her and all the other Avengers’ support staff.

As the episode winds down, we see a key player doing some surveillance of a familiar face, and getting some surprising results. Finally, Kate and Clint are spending some time with Grills and Pizza Dog when Kate gets a series of really surprising texts. She shares with Clint, ending with a picture that is going to make a lot of fans of certain corners of the MCU very, very happy. Next episode is going to be very, very interesting and busy.

What I liked: The Kate and Yelena scene was fantastic. Clint going to Grills was unexpected, but at this point, who else does he know in New York? That end reveal was great. Clint’s fight with Maya was well done and showed how good a man Clint is. Yelena’s opening scene covered a lot of territory quickly. I’m glad Kate bounced back a bit from what she went through.

What I didn’t: I don’t get how everyone else was so beat up after that fight but Yelena seemed utterly unharmed. Despite what he said to Kate, Clint seems to be producing a few more trick arrows from somewhere. Yelena’s motivations for going after Clint don’t seem to quite dovetail with what we saw in Black Widow.

They have a lot to resolve in the final episode. I’m looking forward to seeing it, but sorry it’s ending and has gone by so quickly. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. The finale should be really impressive.