Reviews | Written by Paul Mount 17/12/2021

HAWKEYE – EPISODE FIVE: RONIN

Hawkeye sprints towards the home straight – only one more episode to go! – with another episode that finds its target with unerring accuracy.  After the thrilling cliffhanger to last week’s episode where Clint found himself under attack by 'a Black Widow assassin' – Yelena (Florence Pugh), sister of his former close Avenger partner Natasha Romanoff – we find both Clint (Jeremy Renner) and his would-be new partner Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in very different places. Clint is painfully (in the most literal sense) aware that he has business to finish in the city although his main concern has always been to spend a quiet Christmas with his family, Kate  has found a new purpose in her fledgling relationship with Clint and isn’t about to let it slip through her fingers. She tells her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) of her discoveries regarding her fiance Jack’s business involvement with the Tracksuit Mafia and Eleanor contacts the Police, which leads to Jack (Tony Dalton) being arrested. Back in her own apartment Kate is confronted by an unwelcome intruder; Yelena has tracked her down and the pair engage in a spirited, brilliantly-written and performed two-hander where Kate refuses to be intimidated even as Yelena runs ring around her. In an especially poignant and heart-breaking sequence, Clint visits an Avengers memorial and apologises to Natasha for what he is about to do. Donning his old Ronin costume he confronts Lopez/Echo (Alaqua Cox) and tries to persuade her to abandon her vendetta against him. In a shattering and unashamedly fanboy-pleasing final act, Yelena (who has been tailing Kate’s mother) contacts Kate and tells her that Eleanor hired her to kill Barton and that Eleanor is working with Echo’s 'uncle'… identified by Clint in the last moments of the episode as none other than the Kingpin, infamous criminal warlord from Marvel comics and Daredevil’s constant enemy in the long-defunct Netflix TV series. Thrillingly, the imposing Vincent D’Onofrio is pictured in the role, drawing closer the worlds of the largely-disappointing Netflix series and the broader, more swaggering MCU shows. With Kingpin set to step out of the shadows in next week’s finale, we really couldn’t be more excited…

December 15th, 2021 will undoubtedly be marked as something of a red-letter day for fans of Marvel entertainment – those in the UK, at least. This brilliant and pretty faultless fifth Hawkeye episode was an aperitif, for those able to get to their local multiplex later in the day, for the first screenings of the outstanding Spider-Man: No Way Home. It would be easy to allow Hawkeye to be overshadowed by the weight and scale of this latest web-headed wonder as it’s obviously a much smaller and more intimate tale. Yet it’s no less emotional, no less thrilling and absolutely no less accomplished. Hawkeye finally reaches perfection in this instalment as we’re now fully invested in all these intriguing characters. The show has done wonders to add much-needed colour to Clint, the reluctant hero who really doesn’t want to be involved in any of this and Kate who is thrilled to be involved in the extraordinary world of superhero action and danger even if there’s the sense that she’s an ingenue who doesn’t really appreciate just how perilous this new world can be. Add to this glorious mix the mysterious Echo (we’re not entirely sure exactly how she can sustain her own series next year but we’re confident that Marvel will find a way) and, of course, Florence Pugh who again lights up the screen as the sassy, slightly arrogant Yelena. She’s an electrifying screen presence and we really must mention the episode’s opening sequence where we see her in action in 2018  where she becomes another victim of 'the Blip'. We remain in awe at the way Marvel almost effortlessly weaves its narratives in and around one another and understands that sometimes we needs to see the retrospective effects  of “the Blip” on new characters as they are introduced into the ever-growing MCU.

We’d never have imagined ending the year proclaiming Hawkeye as Disney+’s best Marvel series,  certainly not after the extraordinary scene-setter that was WandaVision. But for those who are happier with more traditional superheroics than mind-bending multiverses, Hawkeye has been a magnificent palette-cleanser and a damned good piece of TV storytelling in its own right. We’re looking forward to the finale whilst also cursing the fact that there’s only one more week of this quietly game-changing series left…

Hawkeye streams on Disney+ with new episodes every Wednesday. Read our previous reviews here:

Episodes 1 and 2.

Episode 3

Episode 4