Hawkeye: So This Is Christmas

Kate, you really gotta get your own thing.

Each Disney+ series has been a bit different in tone and theme. From the surrealness of WandaVision to the international thriller feel of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, they’ve all found their niche. Hawkeye has been compared both to Die Hard (action/comedy at Christmas) and the more street-level feel of the Netflix/Defenders series, and I can see both points there. Far too soon, we’re at the season finale, in “So This Is Christmas.” Oddly, the Paul McCartney song of the same name never gets played, although I kept expecting it. As a season finale, this review will have some spoilers, so be warned.

Last episode thrilled fans of the Daredevil show, with Vincent D’Onofrio returning as Kingpin. Now Kingpin, apparently both the “big guy” and Maya’s mysterious Uncle, has a meeting with Eleanor Bishop. We learn a bit more about their relationship, and Eleanor shows that, while she’s shady, she clearly cares about Kate. Possibly Kate is the only person she cares about, but hey, it’s something. Kate watches the meeting we’ve just seen, ending with Eleanor angering Kingpin, never a wise thing to do. Kate shares her source with Clint, and finally gets around to telling him, “Oh, by the way, my mom hired someone to kill you.” Since this is never explained, we’re left with two choices: either there’s a minor continuity glitch between Black Widow’s end scene and this series, or there’s a connection between Eleanor and/or Fisk and Valentina Fontaine, the quirky string-puller played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  A very ticked-off Kate tries to call her mother, doesn’t get anywhere, but then gets something she’s really wanted from Clint.

Maya has a very tense meeting with Kingpin, accompanied by Kazi. They part company after a series of pleasantly exchanged lies, leaving Kingpin to fume and glower at Kazi. As Fisk utters a line that summarizes Kingpin’s outlook perfectly, Clint and Kate take the subway again (I’m amazed we never get a comedic attempt at a mugging, as often as they’re in the subway and as beat up as they usually look in there) and we see him reveal that the trick arrow scene isn’t as bleak as he made it sound earlier. They end up in a workshop (I’m really not clear on where that was) and we see him display some good technical skills and a few special cases with gadgets from various friends. This scene is also when Kate reveals the origin of her idolization of the Avengers’ archer. At the big Bishop holiday party, we see forces gathering, including a Tracksuit convoy and some allies for the good guys. Even Jack is there, oddly wearing a sword which I can’t imagine whoever granted him bail would be happy about. Kazi prepares to strike, Kate and Clint look good dressed up, and Yelena crashes the party in a seasonally festive green coat. This is definitely shaping up to be a memorable event.

Eleanor arrives and Kate pulls her into the kitchen, where Kate confronts her mother about what she’s learned. Eleanor has a long list of self-justifications, and then Kazi opens the festivities with a volley of sniper fire through the windows, almost getting Clint. Assassins really need to stop using laser sights in the visible spectrum. Kazi makes a report, Jack makes a decision, and Yelena looks bored as bullets fly. Clint makes good use of his allies, not asking too much of them but tasking them to important things. Clint himself gears up and prepares to take the offensive while Kate and Yelena give a really amusing twist to the “frenemies” concept. I have to say, I really enjoy the two of them together, and hope we get to see more of it. After all, Hawkeye and Black Widow were a great team before, so why not pass that along to the next generation? Yelena is clearly out of Kate’s league, but Kate has lots of heart and a few good moves that Yelena admires mid-fight.

While Kate and Yelena continue their vastly entertaining matchup, Clint ends the hail of sniper fire, making everyone’s lives easier. Yelena decides she’s had enough and makes a great exit from the duel, missing her primary target in part because of the never-say-die Kate. Kate does something brave and utterly reckless to give chase, leaving Clint asking “What are you doing?” which he does a lot, although sometimes just in his head. Kate has a very entertaining reunion with one of the Tracksuit guys, and shows she’s a good fighter when she’s not making silly mistakes. She really holds her own here. Clint gets stalked by more Tracksuits (I know there was a convoy shown, but really, how many of these guys are there?) but his plan for them gets thrown off the rails when a very determined Kazi shows he hasn’t spent years as Maya’s sparring partner without learning a few things. Clint makes his own exit, it doesn’t go as well for him as some others, and he makes a new friend. Kate takes charge of their allies, no one knows where Eleanor is, and Maya does some of her own preparations.

The Hawkeye backup team debuts a new look, inspiring a less-than-confident reaction from Clint. They even help a bit on the edges of the fight more directly than they have so far. Kate ignores Clint’s instructions (there’s a shock) and “helps” him out of a situation, landing him in the midst of a mob of Tracksuits (seriously, did they have a cattle call for thugs?). Kate joins him, and the two of them fight really well, showing teamwork and a host of trick arrows. Clint’s new friend from earlier takes out a few in a really unique way, and we get a namecheck for one of the Avengers.

In a dizzying series of changes and surprises, Kazi shows up again and almost manages to kill Clint, but both Kazi and Clint get new foes to contend with as Kate races off to try and save her mom. There’s more talking than you would expect as Yelena demands answers from Clint and Maya tries to make a deal with Kazi. None of the goes well. Kate catches up with her mother after Kingpin does. In the comics, Kingpin has stood up to Daredevil and Spider-Man among others. In the Daredevil series, the villain had a very memorable scene with a car door, and now he has a different one that makes me think he just may have had a go at enhancing himself after his defeat in the Daredevil finale. He also might be giving a subtle callback to the armored suits created by Melvin Potter in that series as Kate gets some unpleasant surprises. The man can both dish out and take some truly impressive damage.

Kazi and Maya plead with each other as they fight, Yelena works out some frustrations and grief on Clint, and Kate begins to understand just why everyone else was so worried about Kingpin. While the man is a Machiavellian planner, that’s certainly not his only forte. Yelena is moving to a big emotional crisis as their fight goes on, and Kate ends her battle with Kingpin with one move that manages to be a very nice double callback to both earlier in this series and once again to Daredevil. Her fight over, Kate confronts Eleanor, who is still riding a wave of self-justification and motherly guilt trips. Clint gets an even more emotional reaction out of Yelena with something from the Black Widow movie, and they finally come to a sort of peace.

A very battered Kingpin has a confrontation with Maya, and the outcome is very much left murky. We know there’s an Echo series coming, so unless the whole thing is a flashback/move to the past (they did it for Black Widow), she made it out. And I can’t imagine they brought back Kingpin to do away with him off camera. So I suspect we’ll see both of them again. Hawkeye’s backup group deals with some complications and potentially makes a new ally in Jack, who showed himself to be both surprisingly competent and still clueless in this episode.

Clint and Kate have a tender moment in the back of an ambulance and they talk about the costs of the job, meeting special people, new costumes, and Lucky the Pizza Dog. Finally, we get to Christmas Day, and Clint arrives at the family farm. There are a bunch of reunions and new meetings, and we finally get the watch explained. Either the fans of the Agents of SHIELD show are going to be really irritated or they’ve split one character in the comics into two for live action. There’s already a fan theory about a link between the two that I really kind of like. Clint and Kate do something ceremonial that I don’t think really worked on a practical level, and we end the series with an extended look at Rogers: The Musical, which also got a nod in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

What I liked: Just about everything. The Kate/Yelena scenes were brilliant and I’d love to see more of these two together. Clint really got to cut loose and show how dangerous he actually is. D’Onofrio was once again fantastic as Kingpin, in what may have been the most impressive performance of the series. All the fight scenes were great. Kate’s moment with her Tracksuit buddy was amusing, and all the action was great. I liked Clint’s solution to Yelena’s attack. The reveal about Laura made perfect sense. Team Hawkeye was fun to watch and believable.

What I didn’t: Very little. I’m not a fan of the murky Maya/Kingpin scene. Kazi seems to have levelled up suddenly.

This episode gets a 5 out of 5 from me, and the series gets a high 4.5 out of 5.

Maya will return in the Echo series. None of the other characters, to my knowledge, have confirmed appearances in the future. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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