There’s a reason the first two episodes of Hawkeye were released back-to-back. Where the opener sees the eponymous superhero predominantly spending time with his family and the spotlight firmly on Kate Bishop, the follow-up brings the two heroes together for some fun dialogue, showcasing the pair’s electrifying chemistry.
Jeremy Renner’s sad superhero shtick made Hawkeye one of the more forgettable Avengers, often sidelined as a simple quip-making machine. That same attitude, when given room, works wonders on the small screen, the character becoming immeasurably more likable when paired with one feisty co-lead instead of five.
Both Kate Bishop and Hawkeye are given time to shine together and seperately during the second episode. Kate’s on the run from the Tracksuit Mafia after stealing the Ronin costume, and Hawkeye feels a deep responsibility, having been the original Ronin. Hawkeye’s very much a reticent mentor, showing Kate how to properly bandage wounds, while Kate’s trying to act cool despite her hero walking around her flat. There’s not much action this time around, but there is a lot of banter, with Kate criticizing Hawkeye’s branding issues.
The best part of the episode belongs to Hawkeye, when he enters a LARPing (that’s Live Action Role Playing) event. Hawkeye’s tough-as-nails straight-man act plays wonders as he cuts through the medieval reenactors, and we’re reminded that, yes, Hawkeye may not be as popular as Thor, but people still love a celeb.
Meanwhile, Kate’s testing her step-father Jack Duquesne’s patience as she does some investigative work, trying to discover whether he murdered Armond III. Seeing Kate march into her mother’s office is a little off-putting (big "don't you know who I am" vibes), but Hailee Steinfeld’s reaction faces are top-notch. When she finally does get a clue about Armond's death, in the form of a sweet wrapper, she beams, desperate to tell Hawkeye.
Unfortunately, Hawkeye’s hands are (badly) tied by the Tracksuit Mafia, who hunted Clint down. Kate tries to save the day and fails miserably. A few traded jibes with the knuckle-headed gang members, and they go to their mysterious leader for help. Who, by the way, happens to be Echo, a Deaf hero played by Alaqua Cox.
In the comics, Echo’s the adopted daughter of Kingpin. And if you were expecting Vincent D'Onofrio’s Daredevil villain to appear, you were not the only one. Hawkeye, with its relatively low stakes and street-level story, has much more in common with Netflix’s series than the other Disney Plus shows – essentially, Hawkeye feels like the Disney-fied version of Daredevil, with less violence and more jokes. When the show leans into its fun side, it succeeds, and I hope things don’t get too bogged down in action, as the set-pieces we have seen have been unremarkable at best. The overarching plot, meanwhile, remains slight, though Jack's devious ways are certainly intriguing and not clear-cut.
The episode ends with Hawkeye and Kate together. Their pairing is the standout element of the show so far, and long may they continue to work with one another. When they’re apart, Hawkeye, the series, slows down arguably too much. I hope the momentum sticks.