Thus far, 'Hawkeye' has been good at keeping the potential for grimness and grittiness at arm's length.
After all, Clint Barton is a character who's always been somewhat morally ambiguous like Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. In fact, when the character is introduced in 'Avengers Assemble', he's almost immediately brainwashed and turned into a mindless killer. Later, when his family are zapped out of existence by Thanos, he spends the intervening half-decade slaughtering criminals across the globe.
This week's episode, however, doesn't do the obvious task of laboriously going over Clint Barton's bloody past, but instead brings Yelena Belova - played with gusto by Florence Pugh - onto the screen and lets her spell it out in uncertain terms - Clint Barton isn't the hero we all think he is. The pillar scene of this week's episode involves Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld going toe-to-toe across a dinner table where they eat macaroni and cheese (mixed with hot sauce). Pugh's character may have played second fiddle in 'Black Widow', but this week's episode shows that she's more than capable of holding a scene and giving it an edge, even if that Russian accent is a little egregious in parts.
As expected, that post-credits scene in 'Black Widow' has led Yelena to New York with the express desire of killing Barton, but tellingly she's here on business and not on a personal revenge mission. More pointedly, the person who hired Yelena to kill Clint Barton just so happens to be... Eleanor Bishop, Kate Bishop's mother. Not only that, Eleanor Bishop is working hand-in-hand with... bigger ellipses... Wilson Fisk, "the big guy" that everyone's been hinting at throughout this year. Yes, Vincent D'Onofrio is back as Wilson 'Kingpin' Fisk and he's even got the trademark white-black suit going on too. 'Hawkeye' has been leading towards this big reveal all season, and with just one episode left, it's a crying shame we're only going to get one episode of Vincent D'Onofrio bellowing at people. Still, if 'Hawkeye' gets a second season or if 'Daredevil' is restarted on Disney+, there'll be plenty of time for that.
Aside from that big reveal in the final moments of the episode, this week's instalment felt a little like the wheels were spinning just a tiny bit. Sure, you had that great scene between Yelena and Kate, and there was a decent fight sequence between Echo and Clint Barton in his Ronin gear, but the rest of the episode didn't do all that much to move things forward. Even when Jack Duquesne gets arrested, it all feels so curiously empty that you just know it's going to be undone in the final episode. Compared to the Netflix efforts like 'Jessica Jones' or 'Luke Cage', 'Hawkeye' doesn't nearly have the same level of bloat that they do. Yet, you can't help but feel that this week's episode could have been tacked on and super-sized the previous episode and next week's episode. In fact, something like the way BBC handled 'Sherlock' - with three 90-minute episodes - might have worked better than six 40-minute episodes.
At any rate, with all the cards on the table, all the big guns drawn out, all the metaphors used up, next week's season finale is on its way with a lot of power behind it.
- Pizza Dog appearance! Hooray!
- Hot sauce or schiracha sauce on pasta is absolutely disgusting and we held back from making this point in the body of the review because we want to draw attention to how disgusting it is
- Introducing Wilson Fisk with 'You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch' is just (chef's kiss)