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Hawkeye Episode 4 Review: The Holiday Hangout is Fun, But Is The Series Running Out of Time?

Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick

Ever since WandaVision, the promise of the MCU TV shows has been to give space for the stories that there wasn’t time for on the big screen in any but the most fleeting of glimpses. As a character who has theoretically always been a mainstay of the universe but never gotten his own spotlight, Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is definitely someone who could use that treatment. Yet while previous episodes of Hawkeye have been fun, we hadn’t gotten much of a deeper glimpse into Clint as a person beyond his loving relationship with his family. Thankfully, that changes with this episode.

Up until this point, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) has mostly been a nuisance for him. A surprisingly competent one, sure, but still mostly a nuisance. Having gotten a glimpse of how he misses his family in the last episode though, Kate arrives with Pizza Dog and a bundle of holiday treats to brighten his mood. What follows is one of the best sequences in the show, as we get to see Clint and Kate bond and have fun, and he even teaches her a couple of his tricks. Then, in a rare moment of vulnerability, he opens up about Natasha’s death and his past as Ronin during the Blip.

This is the big unanswered question of Hawkeye’s character right now: how is he dealing with the trauma from his years of dealing with grief through what was essentially a homicidal rampage through the criminal underworld? There have been hints of it before, along with his clear discomfort at Kate’s idolization of him, but this is the moment where we really get to see how the guilt over it has been eating him up. Both Renner and Steinfeld play the scene beautifully, Renner in his barely masked grief and Steinfeld in her mixture of shock, discomfort, and sympathy. It’s a moment that solidifies the partnership between the two while helping to move Clint’s character forward.

Bishop has her own moments of growth here too. Though her initial motivation to emulate Hawkeye came from a desire to protect what’s important to her, so far she has been largely dazzled by the glamour and coolness of superhero life. Recognizing Clint’s emotional needs and prioritizing them represents a step forward for her character, a real act of empathy that shows her good heart. Not only that, her heart-to-heart with Clint has started to show her that there can be a real cost to the life she wants to lead, if not quite enough for it to sink in. Paired with a growing awareness that her mom’s fiance Jack (Tony Dalton) might have his good points, Kate is coming into her own as well.

As strong as the character work is in this episode though, it does not come without its downsides. While the idea of Kate warming her to her future stepdad just as the investigation reveals she might have been right after all is a good idea on paper, her relationship with her family has been far too inconsistent and thinly sketched for it to really work. Jack has been little more than a cartoon supervillain, all but twirling his mustache as he says condescendingly nice things to her laced with double meaning. That she suddenly warms to him after one nice family interaction strains credulity to the breaking point.

It doesn’t help that the actual investigation is of little interest. Four episodes in and it’s still not entirely clear exactly what either Hawkeye or the Tracksuit Mafia are actually after. Presumably the watch they’re fighting over is another hint to Clint’s identity as the Ronin, but that’s only informed speculation. The larger hints to shadowy figures behind the Tracksuit Mafia and their potential connection with Jack are so vague as to be insubstantial, and neither Clint nor Kate have really learned much of anything about what’s going on. It’s a central mystery that’s going nowhere slowly, and only the action, humor, and charisma of its stars are propping it up.

Still, Hawkeye Episode 4 does end in a fun three-way fight scene between Clint and Kate, Maya (Alaqua Cox), and newcomer Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Those who skipped Black Widow could be forgiven for being confused, as the character comes out of nowhere with no explanation beyond Clint’s episode-ending declaration that a Black Widow is after him. As a quick summary: Yelena is the adoptive sister of Natasha Romanoff who, after repairing her relationship with her estranged sister, has been misled into believing that Clint is responsible for Natasha’s death. It remains to be seen how her inclusion will be worked into the show, but for now she adds an unexpected twist on the episode’s climactic fight scene that makes it more exciting, and the shake-up to Clint and Kate’s dynamic is an interesting development.

However, one can’t help but look at the two remaining episodes and wonder how everything will be resolved by then. The lethargic pace of the mystery has left nearly every question we had at the beginning still unanswered, and time has only added more. As welcome as it is to see Florence Pugh’s face, can the show bear the weight of another plot thread? Then again, plot is hardly the charm of Hawkeye at this point, so perhaps it will be enough to spend a little more time seeing Clint and Kate interact and deepen their mentor-mentee relationship. Either way, we’ll find out soon enough.

Hawkeye Episode 4, ‘Partners, Right?’ is now streaming on Disney+

Chris Diggins
Chris Digginshttps://alittleperspective.substack.com
"Lord" Chris Diggins, "Grand Prognosticator of ThePopBreak.com" is a staff writer and incorrigible layabout for The Pop Break. He usually reviews TV and movies, although he sometimes writes ludicrously long pieces of critical analysis and badgers the editors to publish it. He cannot be stopped.

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