NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Hawkeye” are present in this review
Following a very entertaining first episode on the same day, Hawkeye’s second episode cements the series’ budding partnership between Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, a begrudging alliance that only gets both characters into deeper trouble as it develops. “Hide and Seek” finally gives viewers what they’ve likely been waiting for, amping up the hijinx and leaning even harder into the series’ Christmas caper tone. It also continues exploring the dynamics between the Bishop and Barton families, even if these family subplots quickly get left in the dust by the far more interesting main rapport between two generations of the Hawkeye mantle.
After Clint discovers that Kate has become the unwitting new owner of his Ronin costume, the two hide out in Kate’s apartment, only to be attacked once again by the Tracksuit Mafia. The resulting damage leaves Kate’s apartment burned and inaccessible, forcing Clint to take Kate under his wing on a temporary basis. Clint, unsurprisingly, is desperate to ditch Kate as soon as possible however, so he can get back to his family and enjoy Christmas with them. This deftly establishes the buddy-style rapport between these two characters, as the eager, enthusiastic Kate clashes with the tired, resigned Clint, who seems to be largely content with Hawkeye’s lower-profile presence among the Avengers.
This episode effectively takes the opportunity to examine exactly why Clint is special among the Avengers, even when the team’s flagship superheroes get so much more attention and acclaim than he does, including the late Black Widow. Kate even declares that Clint has a, “Branding problem”, and that no one digs the cynical, ‘cool’ hero archetype anymore, instead craving sincere and uplifting heroes. This is not only a sly sum-up of why the MCU has done such a good job of dominating the competition in the superhero media industry, even thirteen years later, but also provides an interesting commentary surrounding why Hawkeye, an otherwise strong, reliable and grounded presence among the MCU’s high-profile heroes, is so often considered to be the ‘worst Avenger’, both in the real world, and even in many corners of the MCU.
It’s through this commentary that Hawkeye starts presenting an ambitious, yet thought-provoking new perspective around its titular Avenger; Clint is the humanity behind the Avengers, and thus, the most inspiring to people who want to become the next generation of MCU heroes. Clint doesn’t seem to want to embrace this mantle, but Kate proves to be a compelling and likable, if slightly inept, gateway drug. It’s a true joy to see these two dueling perspectives on fully human, low-tech MCU heroes clash throughout this episode, eventually forcing Clint to come to terms with the fact that he can’t go home to his family just yet. Fortunately, Clint does manage to send his children on a flight back to Laura however, so at least they’re out of danger for the time being.
It’s also amusing to see Clint’s public reception as Hawkeye get poked at further by his Ronin suit going missing, following the New York Fire Department putting out the fire in Kate’s apartment that was set by the Tracksuit Mafia. After some light investigating, Clint discovers that the Ronin suit has been taken by a band of LARPers, largely made up of New York police and firefighters. Clint is surprisingly able to blend in to the LARPers later for the most part, once again witnessing a clever examination of how the human element of the MCU wants to be greater and live up to the overwhelming standard set by the Avengers, even when they’re already everyday heroes that save lives as emergency workers. In a nice nod to Marvel Comics lore as well, Clint’s costume happened to be snatched by a firefighter named Grills, a neighbour of Hawkeye’s in the Marvel Comics Universe, though like Jack Duquesne, Grills has no previous connection to Clint in the MCU.
Speaking of Jack, the murder mystery surrounding the Duquesne family continues to be a bit of a weak link on Hawkeye so far. The show is doing just fine by simply pitting Clint and Kate against the Tracksuit Mafia, but despite that, Jack and his engagement to Eleanor continue to intrude on the plot every so often. Kate’s animosity towards Jack also doesn’t feel effectively justified yet, especially when Kate is supposed to be 22 years old, a bit past the expected adolescent phase of arbitrarily distrusting a new stepparent. Sure, Kate believes that Jack has something to do with Armand’s murder, but… Why? Kate seems too smart to make a wild leap with no evidence (even if her youthful intuition as Clint’s unwitting protegee doesn’t prove to be that sharp), and her attempts to get the truth out of Jack end up being largely pointless anyway, after Kate learns immediately afterward that Clint has been taken hostage by the Tracksuit Mafia. Sure enough, this leads to a botched rescue effort by Kate, which only results in Kate being captured as well.
This episode then ends with a tease for a major new MCU personality that’s about to interrogate Clint and Kate, Maya Lopez, a.k.a. Echo, a deaf-mute enforcer with the ability to easily mimic other people’s fighting styles, sort of like Black Widow villain, Taskmaster. Echo’s MCU debut teases a whole other layer to the Tracksuit Mafia’s racket, but that’s of course not being revealed yet. In any case, “Hide and Seek” launches Hawkeye’s central character rapport between Clint and Kate with aplomb, further cementing the series as one of the MCU’s better Disney+ shows of 2021. It’s too bad that the Duquesne family murder mystery isn’t managing to keep pace with the main Tracksuit Mafia conflict for now, but there’s still four episodes ahead that can hopefully find a satisfying way to tie these two conflicts together, beyond Kate wasting time on the cliche of being a bratty stepdaughter.
Hawkeye develops its central Clint/Kate rapport in earnest within its second episode, "Hide and Seek", further cementing the series as one of Marvel Studios' better Disney+ shows of 2021.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Clint/Kate rapport is fantastic
Clint's weird, but lovable LARP session
The Tracksuit Mafia continue to be fun antagonists