After three episodes away, Rhys Thomas is back directing this episode of “Hawkeye” for the grand finale, and… well, I wish they’d let Bert & Bertie do it. Thomas’s fight scenes aren’t any better than the previous directors’ fight scenes, and he doesn’t have the same light touch with the characters. It’s fine. It’s a successful conclusion to the series, but it’s checking boxes successfully, not ambitious and then succeeding in realizing those ambitions. Because there’s just too much to be done.
Last episode, we discovered not only is Vera Farmiga a villain, but she’s also a villain whose been working with big reveal Vincent D’Onofrio. D’Onofrio’s from Netflix’s “Marvel’s Daredevil” and his appearance last episode is the first confirmation those Netflix shows are in some kind of continuity, even if it’s just cast continuity (in the week in between that episode and this one, D’Onofrio’s “Daredevil” costar, Charlie Cox, reprised the role in Spider-Man 3). But this episode isn’t D’Onofrio just doing a stunt cameo; he’s got a whole arc. No post-Blip recap at the beginning, which seems like a miss given both Alaqua Cox and Florence Pugh got them, but the episode’s so way too full already.
Despite hiring Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who doesn’t appear) to assassinate Jeremy Renner because he’s too good an influence on daughter Hailee Steinfeld, Farmiga’s done with the international crime syndicate lifestyle, and she’s quitting whether D’Onofrio likes it or not.
D’Onofrio doesn’t like it, and he tells Fra Fee to kill Farmiga. Meanwhile, Cox has realized D’Onofrio had her father killed, and she’s trying to get away from him. Alaqua Cox, not Charlie Cox. Charlie Cox isn’t in this episode.
Just realized how confusing writing these posts will be if Alaqua Cox’s “Echo” spin-off involves Daredevil Charlie Cox.
Renner and Steinfeld figure out D’Onofrio’s going after Farmiga—but don’t ever imagine he’d have a Fee snipe her, which seems like an oversight—so if they’re going to save her, they’ll have to do it at a ritzy Christmas Eve party at Rockefeller Center. The Christmas tree and the ice skating will both be things; I’m pretty sure they were spots on Renner’s tourist list when he was showing his kids New York City at Christmas in the first episode, but everyone seems to have forgotten. I’m blaming director Thomas. It’s probably not his fault, but I’m blaming Thomas for not making sure the echoes—no pun—reverberated.
The episode’s going to be a series of middling fight scenes with good banter, starting with Steinfeld and Pugh (Pugh’s the assassin Louis-Dreyfus hired to kill Renner in the post-credits scene in Black Widow). It’s an under-choreographed but energetic fight, with Steinfeld and Pugh’s delightful chemistry driving the whole thing.
Oh, wait—also important, Renner tells Steinfeld she’s his partner earlier, and it’s a whole touching bonding moment even though the episode never gives it enough time.
Pugh’s eager to kill Renner because she’s convinced Renner killed Scarlett Johansson in Avengers 4. But she’s still just in it for the job, which is another miss.
After their (relative to the rest in the episode) excellent fight scene, Renner’s going to fight Fee, Cox is going to fight Fee, Renner and Steinfeld are going to fight the Tracksuit Mafia, Steinfeld’s going to fight D’Onofrio, and Renner and Pugh will have their showdown.
The Renner and Steinfeld team-up fight scene is the best of those sequences, then probably the Cox and Fee one because there’s some gravitas to it. The fight between Renner and Pugh can’t possibly deliver all it needs to deliver; there’s just not enough time for the character development (Pugh’s Renner’s best friend’s kid sister, and it ought to be about their shared loss, but it’s not). It doesn’t flop, which is about the best it can ever hope for.
Similarly, Steinfeld’s fighting D’Onofrio—who apparently got his hands on some super-soldier serum between “Daredevil: Season Three” and “Hawkeye,” which is fine and could’ve easily been explained—is just to keep D’Onofrio from killing Farmiga. Except Farmiga and Steinfeld’s mother and daughter arc completely fizzles.
Though nothing would’ve made me happy with it other than Steinfeld telling Farmiga it’s not “Mare of Easttown,” so she’s not covering for her being a murderer and what not.
The episode’s most successful for Steinfeld, Renner, and Cox, with Tony Dalton getting an honorable mention. He’s got a very fun little arc. And there’s some nice stuff with the larpers, just not enough. Farmiga, Fee, D’Onofrio? Eh. It’s all fine and with more time would’ve been better, but they don’t get more time. Pugh’s good but too much a guest star. It’s almost like they could’ve used another episode.
And then the final “twist” for Renner and wife Linda Cardellini… it’s a little forced and a little slight. Another episode would’ve helped it too.
But as far as ushering Kate Bishop into the MCU and setting up a good dynamic for Steinfeld and Renner? “Hawkeye” succeeds. Though Bert & Bertie probably would’ve directed the packed script better.
There’s a hilarious joke at the MCU franchise’s expense for the post-credits scene. It’s good, and it’s nice they can laugh at themselves, but seriously, we just got done with Kate Bishop’s first adventure—the critical question is, when will she be back? And do they understand they need to bring Pugh along with Steinfeld for it?
As for Renner… if he could do this MCU dad bit so well, why didn’t they have him doing it from the start instead of being the franchise’s most useless major participant? The way they’re able to juxtapose the friendship between Renner and Steinfeld with the never explored one between Renner and ScarJo is some deft work too.
“Hawkeye”’s not a home run, but it’s decidedly a win.