NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Hawkeye” are present in this review
More pieces of Clint’s and Kate’s investigation appear to be coming into focus by the fourth episode of Hawkeye. This results in an episode that’s paced a bit more slowly, but also takes a well-earned breather to focus on character development across the board. We do at least get one brief scrap for the climax of this episode, one that delivers another major payoff to a previous MCU tease, but before that, “Partners, Am I Right?” almost entirely focuses on the social dynamics of Hawkeye’s lead characters. True to form, this episode remains another gem as well, with Hawkeye continuing to soar as a surprising contender for this year’s best MCU series made for Disney+.
Despite Jack holding Clint at swordpoint, following the end of Hawkeye’s previous episode, Eleanor quickly defuses the situation by identifying Clint as an Avenger, whom Jack then humourously recognizes as, “Archer.” The cute nods to Clint’s supposed, “Branding problem” remain very amusing, though they’re quickly given a sobering warning as Eleanor shoos Clint out of her place; Kate is very much not a superhero, and will be in danger as long as she’s working alongside Clint. Clint seemingly shakes off this warning at first, but it very nicely creeps in as this episode goes on, particularly as Kate reaches a new high point of comfort around Clint here, by taking more initiative than ever in Clint’s investigation.
Before things get more tense however, we get an extended scene of Kate bringing Clint some pizza and movies, to help compensate for the fact that Clint’s return to his family has once again been delayed. This is not only very sweet, but it creates a superb series of moments that show Clint and Kate further bonding with one another, namely by taking a moment to enjoy the Christmas season together. This also effectively follows Kate seeing a lighter side of Jack before meeting with Clint, which is where we get a bit of a peek into Jack’s and Eleanor’s relationship. Jack confusing common expressions, sharing a dance with Eleanor, and overall seeming like an innocent, loving presence, really helps to humanize his character, while also drawing suspicion away from him. Even so, a new cloud of suspicion now appears to hang over Eleanor, as she calls a mysterious person, following Clint’s ‘visit’. Could this be the unknown leader of the Tracksuit Mafia?
After the sweet moment of Clint’s and Kate’s Christmas fun however, it’s back to business, as Clint and Kate split up for their next objective. Kate goes to meet with the LARPers in order to get some of Hawkeye’s trick arrowheads out of an NYPD facility, while Clint undertakes a covert meeting with Kazi, whereupon Clint urges Kazi to get Maya to stand down in her hunt against the Ronin. This is another great opportunity to highlight the difference in methods between Clint and Kate, despite the fact that they’re similarly skilled operatives. Kate quickly endears herself to the LARPers by coming back to one of their homes, for example, and promising them new costumes if they deliver, while also trying on some of their gear. Clint, meanwhile, gives Kazi a more ominous warning about Maya’s boss, who, as previously mentioned, dislikes public attention. This is the latest in a series of increasingly obvious hints that the true mastermind behind the Tracksuit Mafia is Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, a figure that also appears to be connected to the mysterious rolex that Clint is desperate to retrieve, to the point where even Laura is concerned about the watch being in the wrong hands.
As much as the rolex mystery finally starts to intrigue in earnest here however, this episode does end up losing a bit of momentum towards its conclusion. This is ironic, since this is the point when the story’s pacing otherwise picks up. Clint and Kate trace the watch signal to a mysterious apartment, with Clint originally planning to break in, before Kate decides to go rogue and do it herself. This sudden breaking from Clint’s plan ends up having shocking consequences as well, namely when Clint is quickly attacked by a mysterious assailant atop his lookout roof, while Kate discovers too late that the apartment she broke into happens to be Maya’s. Kate and Maya end up on the same roof as Clint and the mystery attacker around this point (following a brief zipline mishap for Kate), and not long after, we learn who is attacking Clint; Yelena Belova, adoptive sister of the late Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff!
You may recall Florence Pugh’s Black Widow successor from this past July’s Black Widow movie, which ended with a post-credits scene wherein Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Val handed Yelena intel on Clint at Natasha’s gravestone, before telling Yelena that Clint killed her sister. Hawkeye is now following up on this tease, with Yelena having isolated Clint, before making an attempt on his life. Inevitably though, because two episodes of Hawkeye remain, we have to drag out the show’s story a bit further, creating an awkward, non-sensical ending portion to this episode. Maya and Yelena unrealistically retreat after an otherwise solid rooftop melee with Clint and Kate, before Clint angrily tells Kate that they’re not partners, and never were. This episode then ends with Kate storming off. This is a frustrating ending to another otherwise great episode, because this ‘dark moment’ in Clint’s and Kate’s partnership feels forced and cliched, especially when it inevitably won’t pan out. Clint will inevitably need Kate’s help again, and/or Kate will inevitably end up in danger again, and some circumstances, likely involving Wilson Fisk, will cement Kate’s journey to becoming Clint’s Hawkeye successor and protegee, setting up several future MCU storylines in the process.
Despite it tripping at the finish line however, “Partners, Am I Right?” still remains another slam dunk for Hawkeye, a show I never imagined I would be considering one of the best Disney+ original offerings of 2021 in general, let alone among the year’s MCU additions. The heightened focus on character development leads to a lot of rich, heartwarming moments between the Bishop family and two generations of the Hawkeye mantle alike, easily sustaining the bulk of this episode. The mysteries surrounding Jack and that shady watch are also starting to finally pick up momentum, even if it comes at the cost of Yelena’s somewhat awkward re-appearance in Hawkeye’s narrative. Like I said, the rift between Clint and Kate feels all too temporary already, but the Kingpin teases reaching boiling point still gives us an exciting final duo of episodes to look forward to, even if I’m curious as to how Yelena is supposed to fit into an increasingly busy mystery from here.
- A darker side to Eleanor creeping out
- Clint's and Kate's heartwarming moments together
- Jack investigation is finally starting to gain momentum
- Awkward ending rift between Clint and Kate