Let’s Talk about Hawkeye Episode 1-2
I have a minor quibble with the titles of the first two episodes of Hawkeye. Marvel named the first one, Never Meet Your Heroes, while the second is Hide and Seek.
I’d argue that they fit better in reverse. Kate Bishop spent half of the pilot hiding in plain sight and, later, a costume as she sought information about her would-be stepfather.
Then, during the second episode, Kate Bishop interacts with her hero for the first time…and he doesn’t think much of her.
Let’s talk about Hawkeye episode 1-2, the one where the Tracksuit Mafia burns down the house.
A Case of Mistaken Identity
When Clint Barton watched the news, the darkest part of his past came screaming back into his head.
Ronin, his post-Hawkeye persona, appeared on the news as someone attacking mob dudes on the streets of New York.
That’s a mess that Barton had to clean up. But, when he finds and unmasks the perpetrator, he quickly realizes his miscalculation.
The person playing Ronin isn’t some terrifying vigilante. It’s someone he describes as “a kid” and later diminishes by acting like 22-year-olds are the same as 18-year-olds.
Never meet your heroes, indeed.
For her part, Bishop doesn’t give away the fact that she idolized Hawkeye enough to take up archery.
Instead, she talks herself up – it goes poorly – and then takes him to her home. Clint meets the dog, which has comic book fans geeking out.
Then, the once and future Hawkeye discusses how Kate came to wear the Ronin outfit.
A hilarious moment ensues wherein Kate brags about all the ways she hid her face and covered her tracks, thereby keeping Ronin’s identity secret.
She only forgot one thing. When she dropped off the dog at her home, her name was on the buzzer.
“HEY, KATE BISHOP!!!”
That’s what one of the Tracksuit Mafia guys shouts before they start hurling Molotov cocktails at the place.
Her entire life is aflame, including all her prized trophies…and all I can think is, “Save Pizza Dog!!!” Thankfully, they do.
A funny gag starts here, although you can trace its origins back to the pilot. The Tracksuit Mafia members aren’t competent. Instead, they’re played for laughs.
Marvel determined that it would be a bad look to have the mafia terrorizing a 22-year-old woman.
We haven’t met the true villain of the piece yet…unless it’s Kate’s mom, Eleanor, something I can’t rule out.
I once watched a baseball player describe irritation when the media attacked a journeyman infielder.
The player defending him said that his “daddy dander” was up. Some people are instinctively protective.
We’ve witnessed Hawkeye’s daddy dander on several occasions…and not just with his family. He was overly protective of Wanda Maximoff during this speech:
His leadership inspired her to help save humanity. Realistically, all his best relationships in the MCU are with women.
I’m speaking of Barton’s wife, his daughter, Wanda, and Black Widow. So, this new storyline with Kate feels like an extension of that behavior.
Early in the episode, Clint takes Kate to a pharmacy so that she can clean her wounds. Later, he shows her how to dress them correctly to avoid injury.
Clint Barton is almost always fraternal or paternal in his encounters. Beyond his lack of powers, this is what makes him such an engaging character.
Once Barton recognizes that a young woman is in way over her head due to his mistakes, he has no choice but to inject himself into the proceedings.
For her part, Kate lost her father too young and responds well to Clint’s tutelage…when he’s not mocking her for lack of artistic skill.
From his perspective, Clint expects to tie up this matter quickly and return to his family.
During a conversation with his wife, he acknowledges it’s taking longer than he expected, though.
Still, this episode shows some lighter aspects of his character. He tells Pizza Dog that he’s a good boy…WHICH HE IS!
Then, Hawkeye must LARP (live-action roleplay) to track down the new owner to the Ronin outfit, a fireman who took something that didn’t belong to him.
Jeremy Renner never gets enough credit for how good he is with comedy.
The MCU rarely misses with its casting, but it’s really done something remarkable with Kate’s mother and her new boyfriend.
Vera Farmiga of The Conjuring franchise plays the mother, which is creepy for me because we have a running joke about how much she looks like my wife.
The boyfriend is Tony Dalton, the absolutely terrifying Lalo Salamanca on Better Call Saul.
The reason why Dalton has made such an impression on that show is how quickly he can switch from comedic to horrific as Lalo.
Here, he’s acting like the super-obvious villain. Current events paint him as a master swordsman who stands to inherit everything from his uncle, Armond III.
Remember how Armond died by a sword? How many people do you know who died of a sword wound?
Unless you’re Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, the answer is zero.
Dalton’s playing up the smarmy here to draw a target on his back. He lectures (does anyone still say mansplains?) Kate on why he makes her feel threatened.
Meanwhile, Farmiga, an Academy Award-nominated actress, lurks in the background. Here’s what we know about her character, Eleanor.
Husband Derek had mentioned financial problems just before the Battle of New York. She suggested he sell their stately manor.
Later, Eleanor told her daughter that she would talk with Derek just before the alien attack happened. The dude died, but we never see how.
There’s like a one in three chance she stabbed him with a sword first. And if she did that, then there’s like a four in three chance that she killed Armond III.
Remember, we’re watching an MCU program. Misdirects are a thing. Then again, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And Jack’s uncannily good with a sword.
Thanks for the Assist?
While at the security company, Kate receives a phone call from a police investigator. He would like her to come in for some questioning.
After all, Kate’s apartment had just burned down. Since that’s only like the seventh-craziest thing to happen to her, she’s defensive but schedules an appointment.
That’ll probably prove important later. Speaking of which, Clint befriends a LARPer named Grills, the dude who stole the Ronin costume.
Clint retrieves it…but not before throwing a fight. I bet Grills somehow helps later as well.
Then again, we’re already two episodes into a six-episode season. So, who knows?
Clint tells his wife that he will do catch/release to milk the Tracksuit Mafia buffoons for intel.
Laura Barton calls it an old Nat move. Avengers fans should get a kick out of that. It directly references this:
Clint’s plan calls for his own kidnapping. Naturally, the bozos think they’re clever when they capture him.
Almost immediately after the interrogation begins, Hawkeye casually places one on the defensive about the low-quality building they’re using as a hangout.
We quickly learn that he has already broken free of his handcuffs and is in complete control…right up until he denies any knowledge of Kate Bishop.
Guess who crashes through the ceiling to save the day at this moment! Yup, it’s Kate.
The two of them wind up captured and tied up much better while one of the thugs informs the boss that they have Kate.
Cut to a woman in a leather jacket who radiates competence.
Folks, I’d like to introduce you to the next star of the MCU, Maya Lopez. You can call her Echo.
Since Marvel aired the first two episodes simultaneously, I didn’t give Never Meet Your Heroes a letter grade.
Overall, I view the two episodes as one (unfinished) Hawkeye movie because they are about 100 minutes long. However, 15 minutes of that is credits.
Still, either part would get an A+ for me. These are the kind of stories I want Marvel shows on Disney+ to be. It’s light and fluffy with good ideas.
Characters have mostly behaved plausibly other than the one Deus ex machina bit with the Ronin costume.
Comic book fans know Ronin as Maya Lopez first and then Hawkeye second. So, her arrival feels organic and fitting.
As for Kate, I’m not crazy about the intro to her as an adult. That seems more like something a 15-year-old would do.
At 22, she should be above accepting bets that may harm public property.
Also, her interactions with Jack have felt a touch forced. So that’s really my only three criticisms across the two episodes.
Everything else has been pitch-perfect and feels believable. When Kate earns Clint’s respect, it will mean more since he was dismissive at first.
Conversely, the cosplay scene shows that Clint needs more fun in his life after all the tragedy. He could use a new buddy. That could be Kate or Grills.
Then, there’s the ticking timebomb of the story’s setting. We’re past Spider-Man: Far from Home AND Spider-Man: No Way Home.
This is the deepest into the MCU’s post-Thanos future that we’ve explored, and I can’t wait to see what Marvel has in mind.
Right now, my primary regret about Hawkeye is that it’s only six episodes.
Oh, and I restrained myself from making numerous Die Hard references. That trend…won’t continue. You’re warned.