Marvel’s Hawkeye: Ronin (Episode 5) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
Hawkeye finally digs deep into some of its looming questions as there’s a heart to heart between two young heroines that widens the perspectives of this series’ emotional beats and a great hint that the long-awaited return of a legendary Marvel villain is soon.
Last week’s episode brought Yelena (Florence Pugh) back into the MCU and this episode immediately makes great use of her return. The opening being solely focused on Yelena post-Black Widow is great in multiple ways. We actually get the perspective of someone getting snapped out of existence and the visual is super trippy. It’s great that the impact Thanos’ snap is still being explored from multiple perspectives and the dramatic irony of Yelena saying that she needs to talk to Natasha after she snaps back to existence is crushing. This opening also acts as a good follow-up to Black Widow and Yelena’s arc as she and another Widow continue to help free Widows from their conditioning. The action immediately gets things off on the right note and it’s really interesting to see a powerful Widow’s view on her place in the world.
Eventually, this leads into the return we saw last week, but Yelena skips the fighting to have a real one on one with Kate (Hailee Steinfeld). Normally, seeing two up and coming heroes finally meet one on one would be a spectacular moment, but at first, it’s kind of a disaster. Yelena’s cartoonish antics and dialogue are a real turn-off because of how out of character it feels, and her great grounded emotion and toughness are completely stripped away in her hokey jokey demeanor. A joke here or there would be fine, but it’s like a full-blown stand-up routine that’s works against the best parts of Yelena’s realness and is just a bland lead-up to the more serious parts of Kate and Yelena’s conversation.
Thankfully, the comedy stops once Yelena delves into her true intentions to kill Clint (Jeremy Renner) and their conversation starts to have real character moments. Even though their partnership is on the rocks, Kate still looks out for Clint and tries to convince Yelena that he didn’t cause her sisters death. Yelena on the other hand is determined that she must kill Clint and fulfill the contract she was given. The outside perspectives we get on heroism and the Avengers are really great and the performances from both Steinfeld and Pugh are even better. The emotion we see from Yelena about Natasha’s death perfectly adds to Clint’s “eulogy” from last week and it’s very touching to see this series equally pay homage to Natasha’s memory. Steinfeld also breaks from the quirky, wannabe hero mold much better than she has in previous episodes with how she stands strong in the face of fear and opens up about what Clint means to her.
This moment definitely makes you want some more moments between Yelena and Kate in the future and fits nicely with where Clint is currently at. He’s absolutely horrified by the idea of a Black Widow being after him now and the conversation he has with his wife Laura (Linda Cardellini) is definitely heartbreaking. It’s more great emotion from Renner’s performance that reminds you of the unique human struggles that Clint deals with as an Avenger. He has a family to protect and a dark past that he still struggles with, which adds more stakes to everything he does. Admittedly, for an episode titled Ronin, it doesn’t do anything why Clint turned to this vastly different persona. However, Clint becoming the Ronin again has a lot more meaning now and his attempt to resolve things with Maya (Alaqua Cox) starts to pull the curtain back on the true antagonist of Hawkeye.
Although Maya has served as an opposing force for Clint and Kate and Jack (Tony Dalton) gets arrested, they’ve clearly just been red herrings. After Clint faces Maya as Ronin and dispatches the Tracksuit Mafia with some super stealth, a text from Yelena to Kate busts the doors open wide for who Hawkeye’s real villain(s) are as Yelena unveils that Kate’s mom Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is the one who hired Yelena. Now, that’s not too much of a shocker since she’s been suspicious, but a photo Kate gets brings one of the most highly requested characters officially into the MCU.
Regardless how beloved Daredevil or the characters from the other MCU shows are, the Netflix Marvel shows never really felt like they were in the MCU – until now. Fans have been begging to see Vincent D’Onofrio return as Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin and seeing his visage in the photo with Eleanor means that it’s likely going to happen soon. Personally, based on what happens with Maya getting bad vibes from Kazi (Fra Fee) after asking him about the night that her father was killed, it’s very likely that we may not see Kingpin in full in the finale. Maybe he’ll show up in a post-credit scene, but it is possible that he’ll be saved more for the upcoming Echo series. It’s tough to believe that we’ll just get Kate and Clint confronting Eleanor though, so maybe we’ll see Jack fully become the Swordsman or the Kingpin will officially resurface.
Hawkeye’s latest episode has some stumbles in some of its overly cartoonish moments, but it gives Yelena a meaningful return that opens Kate and Clint’s personal struggles and teases the highly requested return of Kingpin. It’s the perfect kind of penultimate episode that does excellent emotional work for the characters and sets up a strong finale.