Hawkeye, Episode 5 Review
When it comes to media based on comic books, it pays to know the source material. In the case of the MCU, people who’ve read Marvel Comics can predict how things turn out in the movies and shows. Last week, everyone who guessed that Yelena Belova would show up got proven right. It was a great twist to a show that was already some of the MCU’s best of 2021. However, that’s nothing compared to the satisfaction that some fans will feel in this week’s Hawkeye. As Barton’s past as Ronin starts to come to a head, a character that people have been saying will return does return.
Here’s how everyone who called it might be feeling right now:
Where in the World Was Yelena Belova?
Before last week’s episode, the last time we saw Natasha’s adoptive sister was, chronologically, in 2016, at the end of Black Widow. While Nat went back to being on the run, Yelena took it upon herself to find the remaining Black Widows and free them all from the Red Room’s mind control. The fifth episode of Hawkeye reveals what happened to her in the following seven years. Sadly, Yelena was one of the countless people killed by Thanos’ Snap, and revived during Avengers: Endgame.
Several of the MCU’s shows in 2021 have explored the effects that Thanos’ actions had on the MCU, as well as their subsequent undoing. What sets Hawkeye apart is how it fully shows these things from the POV of one of the victims. It happens so fast that Yelena isn’t even aware of what happened until after the fact, leaving her thoroughly confused. Now imagine that happening to half of the entire universe, and it’s downright terrifying.
The worst part, though, is that it means that Yelena never saw Natasha again, and she didn’t even learn she was dead until after the fact. Coupled with her losing five years of her life, it left her emotionally devastated. So, when she gets hired to kill the guy she thinks is responsible for Nat’s death, she takes the job.
Yelena and Kate
Yes, it turns out that someone anonymously hired Yelena to kill Hawkeye. She drops this as she has dinner with Kate, who just got pushed away by Barton in an attempt to keep her safe from his past as Ronin. Thankfully, morality runs in the family, as Yelena doesn’t go after Kate, knowing she’s got nothing to do with it. She tries to tell her to stay out of the way, even reinforcing the fact that Barton did many bloody things as Ronin did. However, despite knowing the truth, Kate still defends Barton by saying he’s a hero, despite all the people he’s killed.
While Kate’s argument isn’t the best, it inadvertently shows that her view on heroes has matured somewhat. Being a hero isn’t just glamour, saving the world and being loved by all. Heroes are still people, and people make mistakes. In Clint’s case, he took the loss of his family in the worst way possible by becoming Ronin. He’s aware of this, and, if you’ll recall, in Endgame, he was willing to sacrifice himself for the Soul Stone. Yet Nat wouldn’t let him, because she knew, just as we do, that despite the blood on his hands, Clint’s still a good person. Kate throws that in Yelena’s face and makes her question who hired her to kill him.
Return of Ronin And Revelations
Meanwhile, Barton comes to term that he may never fully rid himself of his past as Ronin, and he’s ready to pay the price for it. Before that, though, he’s going to make sure that his enemies stay away from his family. Thus, donning the guise of Ronin once more, he calls out Maya for a meeting, where he unmasks himself. Rather than kill her, though, he reaches out to her. They’re both people who let their rage consume them and thus got manipulated by powerful people. Then, he reveals something interesting about the night he killed Maya’s Dad.
The night he killed Mr. Lopez, Ronin got tipped off by an informant that worked for Mr. Lopez’s boss, who wanted him dead. Ronin got sicced on them, and Maya was none the wiser. In other words, someone powerful betrayed Maya’s Dad and duped Barton into cleaning house for him. This is a major revelation for Maya, and she has a good idea who sold her Dad out (Kazi), but she leaves without doing anything.
This is where knowledge of the comic books comes into play. Those who know about Maya and the Tracksuit Mafia in the comics should’ve put this together already, but everything that’s happened is due to someone else pulling everyone’s strings. Someone who has been a major player in New York’s criminal underworld and that most heroes from the Big Apple have to deal with: the Kingpin.
Return of the Kingpin
Remember when the MCU tried doing shows on platforms before Disney+? Netflix had multiple shows based on street-level heroes like Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and more. Despite their supposed to be a part of the MCU, their connection to the larger universe seemed loose at times. It also didn’t help that the films never referenced them, and Marvel canned the Netflix shows a while back. Now, they look set to bring them into the larger MCU—rumors of Matt Murdoch’s appearance in the new Spider-Man film circulated for months. However, the return of Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin is the game-changer for the old Netflix shows.
For those who don’t know, the Kingpin’s New York’s biggest Crime Boss and a frequent enemy of Spider-Man and Daredevil. He’s also a businessman with ties to corporations, politicians, and many people in power. In other words, not someone you want to anger if you’re not prepared. Given everything we learned, he likely had Maya’s Dad killed and manipulated Maya into becoming his tool. And as we now learn, he’s also working with someone else: Kate’s Mom.
In a shocking twist, it turns out that Eleanor’s the one who ordered the hit on Hawkeye and did who knows what else. So, Kate’s Mom may now be her enemy.
Great Setup for the Finale
Overall, “Ronin”, despite having little action in it, is still a very enjoyable episode. As the penultimate episode, “Ronin” had to get everything set up for the big finale next week. All the pieces are in place, everyone’s emotionally prepared, and the disparate plot threads are all tied together. The show clearly knows what it’s doing, tying everything we’ve seen together without making it seem too forced.
Some people who know the comics might roll their eyes at the reveal of the Kingpin, saying they called it. Still, it’s an effective way to bring everything together, and it means that Vincent D’Onofrio will remain the Kingpin. If it’s an expected plot twist, then it was necessary to bring back the Kingpin. Next week’s finale is going to be amazing.
I Give “Ronin” a 4/5
- There’s a quick nod to Spider-Man: No Way Home regarding the remodeled Statue of Liberty.
- Very smart choice to have the end credits accompanied by “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” A good way to tie back to the Christmas setting for this.
- They played the Charlie Brown song “Christmas time is here!”