DIRECTORS: Bert & Bertie

CAST: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Alaqua Cox, Linda Cardellini, Ava Russo, Ben Sakamoto, Cade Woodward

RUNNING TIME: 41 mins

PREVIOUSLY, ON HAWKEYE: Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Renner) has teamed with wannabe archer Kate Bishop (Steinfeld) to investigate a murder that may involve Kate’s new stepfather Jack (Dalton), while also keeping ahead of various gangsters who are after them for information regarding Barton’s previous vigilante alias Ronin, including vengeful mob commander Maya Lopez (Cox) whose father was killed by Barton/Ronin years prior. Having gone to Kate’s house to find clues, they are discovered by a sword-brandishing Jack.

IN THIS EPISODE: Clint and Kate bond further as partners and as people, while their investigation continues…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

So far in Hawkeye, everyone seems to be loving the mismatched pair of Clint Barton, the seasoned Avenger with weary darkness in his soul, and Kate Bishop, the plucky and overconfident rich kid whose own skills at archery are almost as good as his. Both Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld respectively are a fun pair to watch together, with an easy chemistry that’s carried a lot of this reasonably light-hearted miniseries, so seeing them bond further in this fourth episode – titled Partners, Am I Right? – is predictably joyous in a completely solid fashion.

Picking up from last week’s cliffhanger, both Clint and Kate have been caught snooping around the penthouse of Kate’s mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) and her new beau Jack (Tony Dalton), the latter of whom Kate doesn’t particularly trust. Although they manage to charm their way out of that situation, Kate decides to cheer up a despondent Clint – who, because of the current events, is unable to get back to his family in time for Christmas – with a dollop of festive cheer, leading to plenty of bonding shenanigans. Meanwhile, their investigation into the murder of Jack’s uncle picks up some heat with info that Clint’s wife Laura (Linda Cardellini) handily shares, and an attempted break-in to retrieve a missing – and apparently very important – watch taken from the Avengers compound by the Tracksuit Mafia, leads to run-ins with some familiar faces.

Said faces will certainly be the big talking point for most viewers this episode, especially since one of them is a Marvel character who has become quickly beloved since their debut this year in another project, but let’s not get too distracted by the episode’s main reason for being, which is to show us more of the neatly blossoming relationship between its two characters. Clint and Kate, however opposite their personalities may be, form a pretty good duo, capable in battle (as seen during last week’s big car chase, and in a major brawl this episode as well) but also getting each other to realise stuff about themselves that even they didn’t know much about; Kate’s desire to bring some colour into Clint’s hard-boiled existence, from the repeated insistence that he gets a new costume to the onslaught of Christmas traditions she arrives with (the sight of Hawkeye in an ugly Christmas jumper is destined for meme status), sheds light on his need to lighten up a bit more, whereas his encouragement to flex some new skills introduces her to a couple of nifty tricks she’s bound to use later on. Neither would probably admit it, but they’re both rather good for each other, in a mentor-mentee kind of way where they’re both learning and teaching in different, but highly useful ways.

The episode’s focus on their growing friendship does mean that most of the rest of the plot is rather secondary, just as it was last week with the heavy spotlight on Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez, though that might be because some of the hints which are being dropped here are starting to paint a somewhat predictable picture. While we are being asked to suspect Tony Dalton’s Jack of wrongdoing, more attention should perhaps be paid towards Vera Farmiga, who is too big a name in this cast to simply waste on the role of “protagonist’s mother” and is surely up to something behind the scenes; the way she talks to Clint in one scene perhaps foreshadows her own strong connection to the villainy at play? Either way, it seems to be becoming too easy to figure out what exactly is going on, which hopefully doesn’t turn out to be the case and leaves room for some surprise twists to be revealed in the upcoming final two episodes.

So far, Hawkeye has been a bit of a relieving exhale in the current line-up of Marvel movies and TV shows; after the critical disappointment of Eternals, and shows like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier perhaps leaning too much into self-seriousness amidst the reliable formula, it’s nice to see a show like this which isn’t concerned about world-saving heroics or anything that would require an Avengers-level threat, and instead remembers to actually have some fun with itself while still giving audiences what they expect from this universe. It might not be the strongest show so far in their Disney+ line-up – it’s hard to beat Loki and WandaVision – but as a fun festive distraction with fun characters and a perfectly digestible narrative, Hawkeye is certainly shaping up to be a good use of the character’s skill and perseverance.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Hawkeye: Episode 4 – Partners, Am I Right? is a chance for Clint Barton and Kate Bishop to bond further with highly pleasing effect, even if it’s at the expense of furthering the surrounding plot despite the welcome presence of some familiar, crowd-pleasing faces.

Hawkeye: Episodes 1-4 are now available on Disney+. Episode 5 will be available next week.

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