By Janie Walenda
“Hawkeye” has surprised me in a lot of ways: The excellent action scenes, how they captured the atmosphere of the comics while drastically changing the characters and how they’ve weaved together multiple storylines and complex characters makes this one of the best Disney shows so far. Episode 5, “Ronin” not only expands on these elements but also introduces a new surprise. “Hawkeye,” so far, has gone farther than any other MCU show in executing satisfying twists and delivering on fan theories.
Introducing Yelena early was an excellent choice, as her connection with Natasha will force Clint to confront his guilt over her death. It also means we have a little time to catch up with Yelena and it will allow her to become a fully fleshed-out character. The visualization of the snap was amazing and showed how disorienting it was for those who disappeared.
The scene between Kate and Yelena was the best in the episode. It was hilarious, mostly thanks to the rapport between Hailee Steinfeld and Florence Pugh. Seeing the next Hawkeye and Black Widow get along as well as their predecessors actually made me a little emotional.
Yelena was just as charismatic and funny here as she was in “Black Widow.”
Not only was the scene fun, but it was the closest “Hawkeye” has gotten to addressing Clint’s time as Ronin. It was clumsily introduced in “Endgame” and “Hawkeye” has attempted to resolve it. The show has introduced enough elements to create a compelling reason behind Clint’s five-year stint as a murderer but has yet to pull them together. Yelena’s point, “We are defined by what we do. Not by nice words,” neatly summarizes all the problems with how Ronin has been handled. Since Clint’s time as Ronin has never been explored, it feels out of character. While I don’t think “Hawkeye” is set up to fully explain and redeem Clint’s actions, it is trying. Clint’s conversation with Maya revealed that Clint was working on commission, just like Yelena is doing now. This aligns with how Clint views himself, as a weapon, and creates a strong similarity between him and Yelena.
Side note, but I was thrilled to see Grills pop up again. I think he belongs with other memorable side characters like Coulson, Darcy, and Agent Woo. This entire character is a comic reference I didn’t expect, so I’m delighted every time he’s on-screen.
A bigger focus on Clint means Jeremy Renner finally gets a chance to shine
While I was worried about how much “Hawkeye” focused on Kate, this episode spent plenty of time with Clint. His speech to Natasha at the monument was the heart of the episode. Her sacrifice was overshadowed by Tony’s in “Endgame,” so I’m glad that “Hawkeye” is showing the impact she had, both on Clint and Yelena. It was a really quick moment, but when Clint knew that Yelena was the name of Nat’s sister, it once again emphasized how close these characters were.
While the episode was excellent, the ending is next level. Not only is it confirmed that Eleanor is a bad guy, but she’s working with “Uncle” who is, of course, Kingpin. The transition into “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was so perfect and made this ending all the more iconic. Since Echo now knows that Kingpin ordered the death of her father and that Kazi likely acted as the informant, it’s safe to say that Echo will revolve around Maya getting revenge on the two of them. This has been a great week for Marvel Netflix fans and it’s exciting to see how the MCU will continue to integrate those iconic characters.
“Daredevil” aside, I loved the crossover references between “Hawkeye” and “No Way Home.” Yelena mentions the new Statue of Liberty that was so important in “No Way Home,” and MJ and Peter swung past several Rogers the Musical billboards. It’s small things, but it helps to keep the MCU feeling like a connected universe.
I’m really impressed with how “Hawkeye” has balanced introducing Kate and her family, Echo and her “Daredevil” connections, incorporating Yelena and wrapping up Clint’s emotional arc. Given how each episode of “Hawkeye” has managed to one up the previous one, I can’t wait to see the wild ride this finale promises to be.
Hawkeye is now available to watch on Disney+
Janie Walenda is a freshman Global Business major and an A&E writer for Cedars. She enjoys watching musicals and movies as well as rereading the same books ten times over.