DIRECTORS: Bert & Bertie

CAST: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Alaqua Cox, Aleks Paunovic, Piotr Adamczyk

RUNNING TIME: 43 mins

PREVIOUSLY, ON HAWKEYE: During the Christmas period, Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Renner) has been spending time in New York with his family. Meanwhile, young archer Kate Bishop (Steinfeld) stumbles into an underground auction attended by her future step-father Jack (Dalton), which is overrun by criminals from the Tracksuit Mafia, and forces Kate to don the Ronin outfit – originally worn by Barton during his Blip-era phase as a mob-targeting vigilante – in order to escape the mobsters. Barton and Bishop soon cross paths after Jack’s uncle is murdered, which Kate believes Jack to be a suspect of, and the Tracksuit Mafia track down Kate when they think that she is Ronin, forcing the two of them to eventually be captured by the goons and their apparent leader, Maya Lopez (Cox).

IN THIS EPISODE: Clint and Kate make a daring escape from the goons, while Lopez’s tragic backstory is explored…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

After two episodes at once last week, Hawkeye is now settling for the standard one-a-week trend for the rest of its six-episode run, meaning that we’re now already halfway through the latest Marvel miniseries. So far, though, it certainly hasn’t felt as though we’ve had nearly three hours’ worth of content already, possibly due to the varied episode lengths, but also because the series has been quite the fun ride up to this point.

This third episode, titled Echoes, keeps up the enjoyable pace with a dazzling central action sequence, some intriguing new character details, and the introduction of what appears to be a pretty cool new anti-hero to add to the Marvel line-up – but in terms of furthering much of the overarching narrative, this one is perhaps a bit too much on the fluffier side.

Echoes begins with a backstory for Alaqua Cox’s new character Maya Lopez (known to comics fans as the character Echo, and who now has her own Disney+ series confirmed to be in development); born deaf, she is shown to struggle in school due to the lack of an ASL interpreter, but she can certainly whoop other kids’ butts in karate class, and has a sweet relationship with her father (Zahn McClarnon) which, as per comics tradition, ends tragically thanks to the intervening of a certain Ronin. Years later, Maya seems to have allied herself with the Tracksuit Mafia, who currently have both Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in their captivity, and seeks answers as to the identity of the person who took everything from her. Cue the escape montage, as both Clint and Kate make a heroic exit from their captors’ grasp, resulting in an entertaining car chase with the assistance of some awesome arrows.

The episode’s primary function really appears to be a means of introducing Maya Lopez into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, and giving the audience – as well as the title character – a taste of what it is like to see things through her eyes and, more explicitly, hear things through her ears. On the basis of what we’re given here, Lopez seems like a pretty cool character; she certainly ticks a lot of anti-hero boxes, from the tragic past to the ties with organised crime, but her hard-of-hearing nature and Native American heritage, not to mention the fact that she also appears to bear a prosthetic leg (a trait carried over from actress Alaqua Cox, who is herself an amputee), makes her a unique character that you’re immediately curious to know more about. Cox makes a fierce debut in this episode, all the more impressive seeing how this is her very first acting role with no previous experience, and she proves to be a formidable opponent in fight scenes opposite more abled performers like Jeremy Renner, further setting up her vital role in the Hawkeye episodes (and her just-announced spin-off show) to come.

Speaking of Renner, he is given some particularly intriguing personal challenges in this episode, which tie him more than directly with Cox’s Lopez. The previous episodes have established that since the events of the Avengers films, Clint Barton has developed some major hearing loss of his own, and there is a good portion of this episode where we get to see him struggle with his rapidly declining ability to hear, leaving him unable to listen to his new protégé Kate Bishop speak (to his relief, naturally) or even his young son over the phone in a particularly heart-breaking scene. Renner, as always, sells the character’s vulnerability, without it impacting his delightful scenes opposite Hailee Steinfeld’s adorably overconfident-yet-naïve Bishop, and adding a new intriguing layer to a character who’s already proven to be way more interesting than the cynicism surrounding his powerless character may suggest.

The rest of the episode is dedicated to surface-level Marvel entertainment, which certainly isn’t bad but compared to the deeper themes introduced her it seems like a slight step back into safer territory. The escape sequence is plenty of fun to watch, filled with the usual quips that have become part of Marvel’s family-oriented identity, and featuring some nifty 360-degree camerawork as we see a bulk of the action from within the characters’ getaway car; directing duo Bert & Bertie get some good enjoyment out of the limited artillery that our heroes are left with, among them a selection of inventive “trick” arrows that range from acid arrows to Play-Doh arrows to one that calls back to a certain size-manipulating Marvel hero. Though it’s entertaining to watch, you do wish that there was more development to the story and its several threads as introduced in the previous two episodes, since most of what we see here doesn’t exactly provide many answers.

That said, this is a good character-centric episode that establishes some new, fascinating figures and adds some really engaging new challenges for some of Marvel’s longest-running heroes. It may be light on the plot side, but there’s another three episodes for that to become prominent once more, leaving a bit more time for some high-thrilling Marvel action to take place before things inevitably get serious again.

Also, can we acknowledge that the series mascot, the one-eyed golden retriever named Pizza Dog, is the most adorable of its kind since Baby Yoda/Grogu? Now, if only it could use the Force…

SO, TO SUM UP…

Hawkeye: Episode 3 – Echoes is a strong character-based episode that introduces the awesome new anti-hero Maya Lopez/Echo to the MCU, as well as add some heart-breaking new personal struggles for the title character, though it soon becomes more concerned about delivering entertaining Marvel action than actually furthering more of the overarching plot.

Hawkeye: Episodes 1-3 are now available on Disney+. Episode 4 will be available next week.

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