Hawkeye finale recap: 'Your mess is my mess'
Let's start with the most important detail from Hawkeye's finale: Wilson Fisk's (Vincent D'Onofrio) white suit and Hawaiian shirt combo. I'm joking…Well, kind of. While it's not the most crucial thing we need to discuss, it's definitely a style flex for such a stiff and usually buttoned up character, and one that's being reintroduced several years after Daredevil ended. But I digress!
I had several questions coming into Hawkeye's finale, but the biggest one was: Can the creative stick the landing? There was definitely cause for concern because all of Marvel's Disney+ shows have struggled with their endings, even the strongest ones like WandaVision and Loki. (For the record: The latter's He Who Remains-centric and exposition-filled ender worked for me, but I understand why it didn't for some people.) Furthermore, Hawkeye made things difficult for itself. On top of addressing and resolving multiple threads, the last episode was also saddled with the unenviable task of reintroducing Kingpin, a new character for people who didn't watch Netflix's Daredevil. Yet in the immediate afterglow, I think Hawkeye's finale was pretty solid. I appreciated D'Onofrio's performance and enjoyed most of the action.
Titled "So This Is Christmas?," the hour wastes no time in getting to the good stuff: Kingpin. For a significant part of the fan base that watched all three seasons of Daredevil, D'Onofrio is one of Marvel's best live-action villains, and his first scene in this episode makes it clear why they believe that. Eleanor, who started working for the big guy because her husband owed him a ton of money and admits to murdering Armand at his request, wants to end their business arrangement because of Kate's growing involvement, and threatens him with her "insurance policy" if he tries anything funny. Watching Fisk react to Eleanor's demands is the most thrilling part of the scene.
At his simplest, Kingpin, as portrayed by D'Onofrio, is a guy with a lot of big emotions who desperately wants to be and come across as chill. In this instance, that's menacing because rage is one of his dominant feelings, and D'Onofrio's strained yet controlled performance powerfully conveys how hard Fisk works to keep a lid on his emotions; you get the sense that the raging waters beneath the surface may boil over at any moment. Just look at how his faces twitches in that close-up as Eleanor threatens him. Or even more subtly — and yes, we're about to come full circle — at his white suit and red Hawaiian shirt combo, which is probably supposed to disarm Maya when he meets with her in the next scene. Fisk knows Maya knows he had her father killed and plans to take her out, but in their conversation, he tries to come across as a caring uncle.
One of the things that makes this episode rather strong is how it only tells you what you need to know about Fisk for this story: He's a dangerous mafia boss and Maya's uncle who believes New York is his. That's it. Hawkeye doesn't bother trying to clear up any continuity questions regarding Daredevil's relationship to MCU. While that might be frustrating for fans like me who have so many questions about what Fisk has been up to since the series finale, it was probably for the best because who needs a big exposition dump and ultimately that's not important for what Hawkeye is doing. Instead, the episode is more concerned with delivering some great characters beats and more trick arrow good times.
After watching a recording of Eleanor and Fisk's tense tête-à-tête, Clint reassures Kate that they're partnership is real. "Your mess is my mess," he says. From there, the duo get to work crafting some dangerously fun trick arrow in preparation for the coming battle. As they work, Kate opens up about why she admires him "You showed me being a hero isn't just people who can fly," she says. "It's for anyone who's brave enough to do what's right no matter the cost." That's such a basic idea from superhero comics and my immediate reaction was, to quote Dr. House, "That can't possibly be as poignant as it sounds." But it is! The care that went into developing Kate and Clint's relationship coupled with Hailee Steinfeld's performance makes that line feel earned and genuinely moving.
With their connection fortified and the trick arrows built, the duo suits up and heads to the Bishop Security's Christmas party, as does Yelena, who is still intent on killing Clint and refuses to check her coat (Honestly, thank god this party isn't hosted by Succession's Kendall Roy.) Anyway, it's not long before the action breaks out because Kazi, wielding a sniper rifle, opens fire on the party, trying to kill Eleanor and Clint.
From here on out, it's all about action. As Clint goes after Kazi, Kate tries to hold Yelena back, which leads to even more hilarious banter ("Stop making me like you!" "Sorry, I can't help it") and a cool-looking fight through an office. Eventually, the action moves to the ice rink at Rockefeller Center, where Kate and Clint find themselves up against an army of Tracksuits while their LARP friends help with crowd control and the newly freed Jack ends off more tracksuits with his sword. Here's a quick list of the fun arrows deployed: Several needler-like ones; an electromagnetic arrow; a sonic boom arrow; a beanie bag arrow; and another PYM one that shrinks one of the Tracksuit mafia's vans right before an owl from Gahoul picks up and flies off with it. The entire ice rink sequence is exciting and shows off even more of Kate's skill. Director Rhys Thomas shoots it in a way that makes Clint and Kate look like equals, rather than mentor-protégé.
With the Tracksuits handled, it's time to settle some personal scores. Yelena attacks Clint, but the two eventually call a truce after Clint reveals he knows about Nat and Yelena's secret whistle, which is a sign of how much Natasha trusted him. "You got so much time with her," says a regretful Yelena. "Yes, I did," replies Clint guiltily. Unfortunately, Kazi and Maya's fight doesn't end as cordially, and Maya ends up killing her right hand man.
Meanwhile, Kate comes face to face with the Kingpin. Alas, Kate's agility and martial arts skills are not matched for Kingpin's sheer strength, and Thomas does a good job of making you feel it each time Fisk slams Kate to the ground or throws her against a wall in this claustrophobic toy store. Thankfully, Kate uses the flick trick Clint taught her to activate the Too Dangerous trick arrow, which sets off explosive fireworks that knock him out.
From there, Kate reunites with her mother, who maintains that she did what she had to do protect Kate and that Kate wouldn't survive without her. "Is this what heroes do, arrest their mothers on Christmas?" Eleanor, clearly trying to manipulate her daughter, asks as the cops shows up to take her away. Fittingly, a battered Fisk has a similar interaction with Maya and plays the uncle card to save his life right before she shoots him. (The fact that we don't see his corpse, and the resolution of a similar exchange in the comics, suggests that Fisk survives being shot at point blank.) I liked how the show placed these two scenes close together because it makes it clear how similar Eleanor and Fisk are. They both use the idea of family to manipulate those closest them and explain away their bad deeds. Thankfully, both Kate and Maya stop falling for it in the end, which is a great reminder that the full saying that is actually "the blood of covenant" – meaning the relationships we choose — "is thicker than the water of the womb."
In yet another Christmas miracle, Clint makes it home in time to celebrate the holiday with his family, and he brings Kate and Lucky home with him. As we all suspect, the watch, which has a S.H.I.E.L.D. engraving on the back, belonged to Laura, thus confirming that she was once a field operative. What the watch does, though, isn't revealed. As the episode ends, Clint and Kate banter about Kate's codename. But don't worry, the finale leaves very little doubt about what it'll be.
While Hawkeye may not have been as ambitious as some of Marvel's other 2021 shows, it definitely was the most consistent on an episode-by-episode basis. Furthermore, it offered a great introduction to Kate Bishop and pulled off the impossible of making me care about Jeremy Renner's Clint. I thought Hawkeye would end with Clint's death, but I'm glad it didn't because I'm excited to see where their partnership goes. Even though Clint and Kate simply burn Ronin suit in the end, I hope this is just the beginning of Clint's quest for redemption because it was interesting to see the show grapple with if he could ever be forgiven for his actions as Ronin. Alas, the finale doesn't conclude with any tease as to where Kate and Clint go next.
- In hindsight, Kate destroying her college's clocktower perfectly set up the toppling of 30 Rock's Christmas tree.
- Giving us the full performance of "Save the City" from Rogers the Musical as an end-credits stinger was the perfect Christmas gift.
- "The people need to be reminded the city belongs to me," says a frustrated Kingpin after his meetings with Eleanor and Maya.
- Did we ever see what Clint's Stark-branded arrow did? Was that the electromagnetic one?
- Yelena's likability annoying Kate was definitely a meta joke about Florence Pugh's inherent charm.
- "It's a weird flex, but sure," says Clint, reacting to the newly freed Jack showing up to the party with a sword.
- Here's another reason I believe Kingpin is alive: Hannibal, a completely unrelated show that's just always on my mind, showed us someone can survive a bullet to the head.