Spoilers for the Hawkeye finale follow!
As the festive season draws to its climax, Hawkeye follows suit. Not only is this sixth episode the finale to Hawkeye, but also for Marvel’s 2021 Disney+ slate. The show has been timely in terms of its nods to Christmas, however, as an overall program, Hawkeye hasn’t lived up to the same degree of imaginative storytelling seen in Marvel’s other series this year. The plot has consistently been highly predictable, leaving no room for satisfying payoffs. Practically none of the comedic beats have hit as intended, creating an air of awkwardness that lingers throughout. On the other hand, though they can often overstay their welcome, the action sequences flow relatively well and contain interesting dynamics as well as fight styles.
Ultimately, Hawkeye is very much driven by its characters but has run itself rather thin by losing focus. There was potential to draw on emotionally charged scenes, such as that where Kate hands her mother Eleanor over to the police. This should have been the moment where Bishop is officially deemed a superhero by putting aside her personal relationships for the greater good. Yet nothing is done to make this beat seem like a decision where she has to sacrifice a loved one. Poorly written plot points like these are ones that would have elevated each character’s journey over the course of these six episodes, alas none of them seem changed by their weak arcs.
A prominent stand out yet again is Florence Pugh’s portrayal of Yelena Belova. She steals every single scene she’s in and brings a gripping charisma that the rest of the show and subsequent performances lack. On a contrasting note, Clint and Kate’s partnership is duller than ever. Hailee Steinfeld does her best with what she’s given and provides real range in her performance, working fantastically well as a duo with Pugh. Sadly, this leaves Jeremy Renner’s monotony as the guilty culprit that drags the pair down and makes it difficult to fully believe or appreciate their relationship.
After a brief appearance in the penultimate episode, Vincent D’Onofrio returns as Wilson Fisk. While it is exciting to finally see him in the MCU, the subplot focusing on his relationship with Maya AKA Echo feels incredibly forced and contributes nothing other than a step up for the recently announced Echo spin-off series. It seems as though half the writing effort was put into their storyline as well as half in that of Clint and Kate and the result is that both are painfully average instead of homing in on one cohesive plot.
From the very first episode, it’s repeated that Clint’s goal is to make it home for Christmas Day, but once that moment finally arrives, it is rushed and leaves no time for the audience to sit with the events that led him to this point or give insight into Barton festive traditions. In the show’s closing moments, there is little closure about the mysterious watch Clint makes a point of retrieving. As many suspected, it belongs to his wife Laura and confirms that she was once a S.H.E.I.L.D. agent. Yet the details of her past are kept a secret, most likely to explore in another season or perhaps even series. This has worked in Marvel’s favor in the past, although in this instance it’s frustrating considering the emphasis that was put on it in previous episodes.
Overall, this finale to Hawkeye lacked substance, perhaps because the initial five episodes do not build up enough tension to see this series reach any emotional climax at all. Kate Bishop’s future in the MCU is an exciting prospect, but Clint Barton feels like a character who works better in a team-up scenario – definitely those stronger than what was presented here. He has been wrung of passion by Renner, and maybe it’s time he totally passes the mantle on in order to keep the Hawkeye title fresh and appealing.