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This review contains spoilers for Marvel’s Hawkeye Episode 5.
Episode 5 of Marvel’s Hawkeye, “Ronin”, finally let most of our intrepid not-quite-heroes discover that they are just pawns in a bigger game between very some strategic players. It also saved its last shot for the reveal that fans of Netflix’s Daredevil have been waiting for: the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin, in his very first MCU appearance.
But before that, some conversations needed to be had, and these extended chats occasionally found me checking the remaining episode time. Not because I was bored – far from it – but because I felt like my brain needed some kinda additional confirmation that this installment of the series was actually planning to spend most of its penultimate episode building tension, rather than releasing it.
Though I can already tell that some Marvel fans are going to be screaming at their screens when the credits roll on this on this one in pure frustration, forced to wait another week for a showdown between Clint, Kate, Echo, Yelena, Eleanor, Kazi, the Tracksuit Mafia, and possibly Wilson Fisk, that’s sort of the whole point of the episode. The players are now right where they need to be for an explosive climax, and that climax wouldn’t be as effective without us knowing what is at stake. As Hawkeye informed us from the start, this isn’t about another MCU apocalypse. It’s not the end of the world. It’s about family, and what you’re willing to do for them and without them.
“Ronin” takes the time to fill in some Black Widow gaps. We go back in time to 2018 and join Yelena’s ongoing mission to free other widows around the world. It shows us what happens when she is stolen away by The Snap (those dustings aren’t getting any less upsetting) and when Yelena returns, Natasha is dead. We already know that Valentina has pinned her demise on Clint, but even though “Ronin” has Kate trying to put a justifiable seed of doubt in Yelena’s mind about Clint’s guilt, I suspect it’s already there – if Yelena really wanted swift vengeance for Natasha’s death, she probably wouldn’t need a sweet little payday from Eleanor Bishop to get the job done.
Kate’s meeting with Yelena was a treat. Their conversation went on for a while, but I could have watched Florence Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld talk all day honestly. The actresses chew on those characters so well, and Pugh plays with Yelena’s dangerous potential like a sparkly-eyed cat toying with a terrified mouse. Will these two ultimately become partners? Young Avengers? Friends? Lovers? Ay, the internet’s heart wants what it wants.
Meanwhile, the sweetness of Kate and Eleanor’s relationship comes to the fore. Eleanor’s betrayal, plus the revelation that she’s in cahoots with Wilson Fisk, is likely to hit Kate pretty hard. Who can Kate really trust? Who can she believe in? Perhaps she’s better off shedding some of her innocence to realise that a superhero’s life is nearly always a heartbroken mess.
Echo, who was unexpectedly introduced to the MCU as more of a villain, is also asking some hard questions; her quest to kill Ronin now in turmoil after Clint grabbed the chessboard and threw all the pieces in the air. Maya’s right hand man Kazi wasn’t present the night her father was killed by Ronin because “Uncle” didn’t want him hurt when he ordered the hit, so she may accidentally find herself drifting towards Ronin’s side, rather than being at his throat.
As we head into Hawkeye’s finale, some murky truths have finally come to light and Ronin is no longer waiting in the shadows. He is a part of Clint’s soul that he can never kill – a monster than he and his family must live with until his dying breath, and perhaps beyond. Like Clint, Maya, and Yelena, he is a weapon manipulated by those who do not wish to get their hands dirty. Now each must decide how long they will stand to be used before backfiring.
The mystery of the Avengers Compound Rolex watch once again takes a backseat in this episode, but that’s ok. If the breadcrumbs of Clint and Laura’s past lead to where I think they’re leading, Clint won’t be the only one coming home for Christmas.
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