DIRECTOR: Rhys Thomas

CAST: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, Alaqua Cox, Florence Pugh, Linda Cardellini, Ava Russo, Ben Sakamoto, Cade Woodward

RUNNING TIME: 61 mins

PREVIOUSLY, ON HAWKEYE: Clint Barton (Renner) and Kate Bishop (Steinfeld) have been targeted by numerous foes during their uneasy partnership, including the Tracksuit Mob, deaf enforcer Maya Lopez (Cox), and Black Widow assassin Yelena (Pugh), while they investigate a murder that possibly ties to Bishop’s mother Eleanor (Farmiga) and her fiancé Jack (Dalton). They have now learned that the “big guy” operating behind the scenes is none other than Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin (D’Onofrio).

IN THIS EPISODE: On Christmas Eve, Barton and Bishop make their final stand against their foes…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

What better way to kick off the series finale to Hawkeye than with the return of a beloved Marvel villain, played once more by an actor who’s become heavily associated with the role since their debut in a now-discontinued Netflix series? That’s right, as revealed during last week’s cliffhanger, Vincent D’Onofrio is back as the Kingpin himself Wilson Fisk, and the actor slips neatly back into the menacing role as though he never left. As ever, D’Onofrio is intimidating as hell and makes you seriously pity any poor sap who crosses his path, showing absolutely no mercy to those that do (though sadly, there’s not a repeat of the bloody fate that met whoever embarrassed him in front of Vanessa – watch the first season of Daredevil to know what I’m talking about).

It’s a neat re-introduction that comes at a crucial climactic moment for Clint Barton’s Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and his young protégé Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who upon discovering her mother Eleanor’s (Vera Farmiga) involvement in the murder they’ve been investigating – which, honestly, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to viewers waiting for the Oscar-nominated actress to actually become important – decide to infiltrate her company’s Christmas party and bring down their foes – ranging from the Tracksuit Mob, their embattled enforcer Maya Lopez (the series’ secret weapon Alaqua Cox), and a vengeful Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) who is still eager to kill Barton for his part in the death of her sister, Natasha Romanoff – once and for all.

As the natural conclusion to the series, this final episode – titled So This Is Christmas? – contains numerous traits of the typical Marvel movie climax, from the big explosions to the property damage (without spoilers, pray for that poor Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center…), to closure for numerous arcs that potentially pave the way for future adventures. It isn’t overkill like the final episodes of WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, nor is it more ponderous like Loki’s recent season-closer; instead, the final episode of Hawkeye, much like the rest of the series, is just about having as much fun with itself while also adhering to the familiar tropes we have come to recognise in Marvel projects. As such, it delivers an action-packed finale with all the regular bells and whistles, with the right emotional balance and satisfactory conclusions that have been etched into this story’s DNA from the very start. We get meaningful resolutions to both Maya and Yelena’s arcs, with at least one of them setting up further adventures down the line, and the right bad guys get their comeuppance one way or the other.

Mostly, though, it’s a pleasing end to the story of its central duo. Both Renner and Steinfeld have maintained a strong mentor-mentee chemistry this entire miniseries, and here we get to see the pair at their most formidable together, working very well as a team while also bringing useful skills as individuals. Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop has become a beloved character amongst viewers for her strength and sparky ambition, making her the perfect partner to the much more seasoned foil of Renner’s Barton, and if the baton really is being passed from the latter to the former, then the Hawkeye mantle is in safe enough hands. Meanwhile, it’s been a strong showcase for Jeremy Renner who, after years of absorbing cynicism for his character’s lack of powers, actually does manage to show why he’s such an integral Avenger despite only being equipped with a bow and a bunch of neat trick arrows. He has been gifted with a bunch of raw emotional moments throughout this series that have highlighted just how much of a toll being an Avenger has taken on him, and in this episode he gets to face some rough demons that he specifically went through in Avengers: Endgame. They’re a fine pair, and solidify their bond significantly here as well.

Overall, this series has been a nice breath of fresh air, where the concern hasn’t been about saving the world from a dangerous threat, but rather keeping things strictly at street level, with the occasional dallying with sci-fi technology, but even then nowhere near to what would usually be considered an Avengers-level threat. Hawkeye has always been a character who has provided the viewer with a more grounded perspective amongst the superhero activity, so it makes sense that his first solo adventure would keep things relatively muted in comparison to whatever’s going on with Wanda in Westview. It’s allowed for a greater focus on character-based arcs and emotions as a result, not getting too caught up in the usual effects-heavy shenanigans, and whenever the story has to include familiar attributes they’ve always been presented in a way that’s not only very entertaining but also more meaningful than some of the bigger-in-scope narratives. The added Christmas-themed touch also makes this a rather nifty excuse for Marvel to homage some classic festive traditions, from the carol-infused musical score to visual nods towards the likes of Elf and Die Hard (both of which are referenced, unintentionally or not, in this episode).

All in all, this has been a Marvel series that doesn’t try to be the next profound superhero story, but just wants to have some festive fun with characters both familiar and new, while also staying true to the very essence of the titular hero that doesn’t deserve all the cynicism that’s come his way.

Also, the mid-credits sequence is a rousing treat that you may as well call Rogers and Hammerstein (and no, that’s not a typo).

SO, TO SUM UP…

Hawkeye: Episode 6 – So This Is Christmas? wraps up several arcs and narrative strands in one entertaining swoop, in a finale that brings to light everything that has worked about this miniseries and concludes things on a satisfying enough note that adds up to a nice festive Marvel treat.

AND NOW, FOR THE OVERALL SERIES GRADE:

All episodes of Hawkeye are now available on Disney+.

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