Okay, now I’m “worried.” They’ve only got one episode left, they just introduced the big bad, and it’s a surprise reveal for… streaming media rights disputes geeks (like myself), but otherwise, it’s just a Marvel property. I’d seen the rumors, and then this episode, there are some big hints, but it turns out the villain is someone Jeremy Renner knows, and there’s a big back story he hasn’t been telling anyone about.
And it sets up Alaqua Cox’s “Echo” spin-off for next year or whatever, but it does absolutely nothing for “Hawkeye,” which isn’t great since “Hawkeye” just got a lot fuller this episode. With only one more to go.
The episode opens with Florence Pugh’s post-Black Widow catch-up. Kind of like how Cox got one, but with more jokes, the Blip, and less actual content. Because Pugh’s catch-up is set before Widow’s end titles scene, then when Pugh’s in the actual episode proper, it was obviously shot a lot later.
Pugh’s only in the episode proper to hang out with Hailee Steinfeld, which is simultaneously wonderful and promises of excellent New Avengers interactions. Still, it’s also kind of rushed and shoehorned. There’s only one episode left; any further bonding with Pugh and Steinfeld clearly isn’t happening on “Hawkeye.” But Pugh reveals who hired her to kill Renner—it’s not actually her life’s goal since she thinks he killed ScarJo in Endgame. She’s just in it for the money (in this case, funneled from this series’s surprise villain in the cast to the cameo villain to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character from “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”). It kind of ruins Pugh’s motivations, but hopefully, they’ll somehow get her set for her next appearance in the one hour they have left.
This episode’s only forty minutes (nothing pads end titles like CGI credits and dubbing credits), so unless the next one is seventy, there’s going to be something lost in the shuffle. And it seems very much like it’s going to be Renner and Steinfeld’s relationship. They start the episode broken up but get back together after Steinfeld’s run-in with Pugh and Renner donning his ninja assassin outfit to threaten Cox and give her some information for the next episode and her spin-off.
Linda Cardellini appears for a phone call, but it’s not about family stuff; it’s hinting at more reveals. Potentially very cool reveals, just ones the show doesn’t seem to have time to address appropriately. Not when they’re doing double major twists in the last few minutes.
Otherwise, of course, it’s a pretty great episode. The fight scene between Renner and Cox is wanting in terms of choreography, but directors Bert & Bertie are very enthusiastic about the setting. There’s this weird disconnect where they’re clearly trying with shooting the fight but not the fight itself.
Larper, firefighter, and fun sidekick Clayton English is back for a bit. Enough time to showcase how he should’ve been in the show more, or they really should’ve gone eight episodes. Vera Farmiga and Tony Dalton both have good scenes; Fra Fee’s got a good scene—it’s Cox’s best episode too. Lots of good acting. Even when it’s silly like Renner talking to ScarJo beyond the grave (I mean, she doesn’t respond), which Renner nails, but the show hasn’t established and should have.
Steinfeld’s able to keep up with Pugh, who realizes the potential for the Russian super-assassin in the world of Marvel Superheroes like none other.
Some wonderful Christmas music choices, funny moments with the Tracksuit Mafia, and so on… but there’s so much to resolve and still keep it Steinfeld and Renner’s show. They seem more concerned about setting up spin-offs than completing this story.
Fingers, toes, and nose crossed they do right by Kate Bishop.