Will Clint make it home for Christmas? The clock is ticking, as a mid-episode phone call with his youngest, Tanner, makes clear. He’s definitely going to miss the movie marathon, and though he promises to be back in time for the ugly Christmas sweater celebration, honestly, that’s looking kind of iffy too. In fact, when Clint takes the call from a bored, up-before-everyone-else Tanner he’s never looked worse, at least within the confines of his TV adventures. He’s been beaten up and lost his hearing aid, forcing him to fake being able to hear his son. He’s also picked up a sidekick he never asked for (complete with a half-blind dog), attracted the attention of enemies he thought he left behind when he got rid of the Ronin costume (enemies who might have bigger plans tied to the Avengers compound), and stumbled into a high-society murder mystery that’s sure to be the subject of an excellent Vanity Fair investigation in a few years. A cozy Christmas at home seems pretty far away.
But at least, by the time Tanner calls, he’s gotten himself and Kate out of immediate danger. When last we saw our Hawkeyes they were duct taped to some kiddie rides in an old abandoned toy superstore where they were being questioned, none too gently, by members of the Tracksuit Mafia. Little did they realize, however, that the woman telling the Tracksuit Mafia what to do was about to show up.
That’s where we rejoin them in “Echoes,” Hawkeye’s third episode, but only after a flashback. First: an origin story. Specifically we learn the origin of Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), the woman calling the Tracksuit Mafia shots. Or, more accurately, signing the shots. Maya is deaf and has a prosthetic leg below one knee. Maya also excels in school—a public school, despite the promises of her father William (Zahn McClarnon) that she could attend a school for deaf people—and martial arts. She’s smart and dangerous, in other words. She’s also driven by her father’s death at the hands of a costumed swordsman, which seems significant to the story Hawkeye is telling.
She also works for someone, though we haven’t yet been told who. But there are hints. There’s a man she refers to as Uncle who’s been a part of her life since childhood (and may have some martial arts expertise of his own, though that’s not clear). Also, the Tracksuit headquarters that served as William’s base of operations is called Fat Man Auto Repair. Crime lord. Fat man… there’s really only one Marvel character that matches this description and that’s the Kingpin, played quite memorably by Vincent D’Onofrio on Netflix’s Daredevil. Is the Kingpin coming Clint and Kate’s way? And will D’Onofrio return? (Marvel’s Netflix series, though kind of sidelined these days, are technically within MCU continuity.) We’ll have to wait to find out.
Meanwhile, the forces of the unseen crime lord cause a lot of trouble for our heroes this week. Kinetically directed by the team of Bert and Bertie (the collective name used by English directors Amber Templemore-Finlayson and Katie Ellwood), “Echoes” largely consists of an exciting fight inside the bad guys’ lair followed by an elaborately staged chase scene involving trick arrows, backwards driving, a daring bridge escape, and the totaling of a 1972 Dodge Challenger. (CW: fans of classic American muscle cars might want to look away during a key scene.) Like the best set pieces seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, this episode seems intent on proving that Marvel can do movie-sized action on the small screen and makes a convincing case.
The episode also provides another nice showcase for fun back-and-forth between Clint and Kate, who banter their way through the escape and subsequent chase then struggle to communicate when Clint loses his hearing aid. They mostly make it work. Clint manages to compliment Kate’s archery skills, and even if he doesn’t hear her reply, he sees her reaction.
Clint’s hearing aid repaired, they continue to butt heads over their conflicting ideas of what a superhero ought to be, and how Clint should present himself. Kate has a great idea for a costume that involves putting a giant “H” on Clint’s forehead (a plan that bears a pretty strong resemblance to Hawkeye’s classic costume design). Clint would rather keep to the shadows, claiming he’s no role model. Kate might see him as a hero, but he’s not proud of everything he’s done in the name of heroism and just wants to slink away to his family. Still, Kate knows she wouldn’t be the person she is today if she hadn’t witnessed him saving lives and kicking ass during the Battle of New York. Unresolved here, it’s an argument likely to continue.
We’ll have to wait, too, to find out what intel Kate digs up on the Tracksuits in general and Kazi (Fra Fee), the henchman always at Maya’s side, in particular. After breaking into her family penthouse (and learning her family built the building generations ago) Kate’s locked out of the Bishop Security system. And Clint, he’s got problems too, when Jack appears at the last moment, shield in hand. What happens next, however, belongs to another episode.
• Clint still uses a flip phone? Is this a security thing or is he just old?
• Dragons are all over this episode. Maya asks if they’re real. William calls her a dragon with his dying words. One of Maya’s henchmen really wants to see Imagine Dragons but probably won’t because of girlfriend trouble (which she offers sound advice on navigating, despite being held hostage). Hmm…
• “Well, my go-to weapon is two sticks and string.”
• “My dad was fearless. And his whole life was dedicated to helping people.” It seems like we don’t know everything about Kate’s dad yet, right?
• The Pym arrow is a nice touch, as is the sidetrack through the Christmas tree lot. (And, in case you forgot it was Christmastime, there’s a lot of Nutcracker music on the soundtrack to provide a reminder. It’s Christmassy and Russian so it works a couple of different ways thanks to the Tracksuit bad guys.)