Hawkeye Recap: The Russian Assassin Would Like a Word (and Some Hot Sauce)


Season 1 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars


Season 1 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Marvel Studios

Let’s start with the ending and the big reveal that the “Big Guy” alluded to throughout the series is actually the Kingpin of Crime, as played by Vincent D’Onofrio on the Netflix Marvel series Daredevil. It would be tempting to say, “Called it,” but who couldn’t have called that? The show hasn’t exactly been subtle with its hints, up to and including the Fat Man Used Cars lot that plays a key role in this episode. And there he is in the episode’s final frame, talking to Eleanor Bishop, much to the shock of Kate.

And why not? Kingpin’s one of Marvel’s best villains, serving as a regular foil to Daredevil, an occasional foil to Spider-Man, and a general pain in the butt to Marvel’s NY heroes. What’s more, D’Onofrio’s performance is one of the best elements of Daredevil, and while the MCU largely ignores its weird, Netflix-born cousins, they’re still officially in continuity. So, enter Kingpin.

Speaking of continuity, the MCU’s might not be watertight, but Marvel doesn’t leave a lot of gaps unfilled when it gets the chance to fill them. “Ronin,” the penultimate episode of Hawkeye’s first season, opens by catching up with Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Natasha’s “sister” and a fellow graduate of the Black Widow Finishing School for Young Assassins (or whatever it’s called). Picking up where Black Widow left off, Yelena and a fellow Widow are making the rounds chemically deprogramming other Widows only to discover that their latest target, Anna, is not a brainwashed killer for hire. Instead, she’s a highly successful killer for hire fully in charge of her senses. She barely has time to dish about her awesome life before Yelena, after excusing herself, is Blipped out of existence for five years. She returns to a much-changed world, one in which Natasha is no longer alive. And it makes her mad.

She’s not mad enough, however, to take out Clint for personal reasons. She’s been hired by some mysterious someone (let’s just call him “Kingpin”) to kill him. To that end, she’s relentless, if meticulous and thoughtful. She shows up at Kate’s burned-out old apartment and makes her some macaroni and cheese, which she serves up with a side order of smiling intimidation and an unnerving tendency to use Kate’s full name at all times. “You’re probably thinking, ‘What! This is crazy!’,” she tells Kate. And she’s kind of right. But ultimately Yelena’s there for a pretty mundane reason: She wants info on Clint’s location, info Kate doesn’t have.

What she does have, however, is the warm glow that only maternal love and concern can bestow. Beaten up and defeated, Kate’s dispirited by the turn her partnership with Clint has taken. Eleanor, however, is there with a quiver full of affirmations about the wonderful person Kate is and the amazing future ahead of her, though those affirmations all come with discouragements about attempting superheroics. How much of this is genuine concern and how much is Eleanor advancing a hidden agenda?

Meanwhile, Kate has some concerns of her own about Jack, alerting Eleanor about all the suspicious activities she’s uncovered about her maybe future stepfather. Eleanor, for once, listens, and Jack is soon seen exiting the penthouse in handcuffs while cheerily insisting he’s been framed and will be exonerated. But, come on: That guy is super-guilty. His sword expertise alone would suggest that. It would take someone with criminal connections and a deep understanding of the security world to set him up. Oh … right. Those final moments kind of cast all that in a new light, don’t they?

Meanwhile, Maya’s getting stitched up by Kazi, the loyal and handsome Tracksuit Mafia lieutenant who seems to care deeply about her. You can see it in his eyes and the way he hugs her. A guy like that could never betray her, right? But, at the end of Maya’s parking lot fight and Clint’s insistence that “Your boss wanted your father dead,” she’s come to suspect he’s done just that. Why wouldn’t Kazi be at that meeting? He doesn’t have a good excuse.

To get to that fight scene, Clint must first wander New York, crash with Grills (and Pizza Dog), have a heart-to-heart with Natasha’s spirit at a plaque commemorating the Battle of New York, let his wife know he’s been delayed again, and put on the Ronin costume to meet with Maya. It’s a busy stretch for Clint, one that ends with him being rescued by Kate, who’s improvised a getaway vehicle in the form of a rideshare (booked under the name “Matilda,” the perfect alibi when you’re toting a bow and arrow and bringing an Avenger along for the ride). With their enemies revealed at last — an old Netflix foe and Kate’s mom — they’re on their way to the finale.

That makes this the penultimate of Hawkeye’s first and, officially, only season. (It’s being billed as a miniseries, though there’s a lot of groundwork being laid for the future here.) It’s a fine outing filled with twists and featuring a pretty memorable climactic fight. (One of the neat things about the Ronin costume is how easily it conceals a highly skilled stunt person.) It also features a couple of memorably reflective moments from a discouraged Kate and a troubled Clint, who’s blinded to why the world sees him as a hero for all the actions he regrets. What it doesn’t feature, until the very end, are the moments with Clint and Kate that have made the show so remarkable. It doesn’t live or die by their sparky chemistry — Pugh’s especially fun in this episode — but Clint conversing with Kate is just more dynamic than Clint talking to a plaque on a wall.

Chances are pretty good, however, that we’ll see a lot of them together next week.

Loose Arrows

• What does it mean that Fat Man Used Cars’ lot is filled with old beaters (with the occasional classic muscle car)? Is it even trying to hide the fact it’s a front business?

• “The only Sloan I’ve ever known is this woman I dated in Palm Beach, and she was an absolute nightmare,” Jack says. Who’s Sloan? We still don’t know.

• Should we be worried about Pizza Dog’s all-table-scraps diet?

• Grills makes reference to having new costumes for Kate and Clint. This may be foreshadowing.

• Yelena loves hot sauce.

Hawkeye Recap: The Russian Assassin Would Like a Word