Wednesday, December 1, 2021

REVIEW: 'Hawkeye' - A Villainous Tease Further Complicates the Conspiracy Clint and Kate Are Fighting in 'Echoes'

Disney+'s Hawkeye - Episode 1.03 "Echoes"

After escaping a new threat, Clint and Kate join forces against an expanding criminal conspiracy.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Disney+'s Hawkeye.

"Echoes" was written by Katie Mathewson & Tanner Bean and directed by Bert & Bertie

At their worst, the MCU shows on Disney+ can feel like they are solely filling in the lives of the supporting characters in the interludes between their appearances in the feature films. Consequential things can still happen. However, the stories themselves are always setting up key details to be played out elsewhere. On one hand, it shows how seamless some major characters can move between the films and series now. But it shouldn't come as a surprise that the more successful versions of this format are those that have something distinct to say themselves. WandaVision and Loki have fit into the same narrative structure that has become apparent over the last year with these projects. However, the stylization and willingness to invest in the depth of the characters worked in profound ways. A sense of mystery and teasing of what's to come elsewhere has plagued all of them though. In WandaVision, it was a mystery how Vision was alive. And then, Wanda's future as the Scarlet Witch will play out elsewhere. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it was a mystery who the Power Broker was. In Loki, it all built to a grand reveal as to who was the person who remained beyond the end of time. And here, it's clear that the show loves teasing the audience with little Easter Eggs that could suggest some grand connectivity or massive reveal to come. It's probably joyous for the audience to watch as one of Clint's new trick arrows employs the Pym technology that Ant-Man and the Wasp operate with in their suits. But it's also just as scandalous for certain viewers to pick up on who Maya's father ultimately works for. That's being set up as the new mystery that this series will probably answer by the end of its run. As such, a lot of speculation will run rampant. That too has been a part of the discussion with each MCU show. The audience wants to know how the creative teams will pay homage to the comics while further expanding this universe. Some of the twists can be foreshadowed based on some popular arcs in the comics. Others can be informed by how this universe has grown after a decade of development. It also runs the risk of feeling like an empty gesture. The shows and the films are now closely linked. That wasn't always the case. A few years ago, the television shows largely operated as their own independent unit. The idea that they could now fold into the complex mythology is exciting. But it's a slow burn full of tantalizing hope. It will be exciting if it ultimately happens. Right now, this show is hoping the tease of such an entrance from a memorable antagonist from Daredevil is enough to entertain in its own right. Instead, the tragedy and emotional arc comes from Maya's father being killed by Ronin. That forms a connection in what is currently playing out onscreen. Sure, Maya doesn't know that Hawkeye is Ronin. Some of the connections aren't fully formed yet. Again, it's slow progress which can be frustrating for a show that's only set to run for six episodes. Plus, Kate's family life and the mystery of Armand's death is a tangential concern. It will come into focus after Jack catches Clint. That's the cliffhanger though. It still informs danger. But it also highlights a somewhat scattered narrative wherein various criminal elements are operating in the story. They may all connect in some grand way. But they ultimately have to be treated in a lighthearted manner because the banter between Clint and Kate needs to be the defining characteristic no matter what. As such, the tonal blend can feel inconsequential in moments even when the action and camerawork is impressive. The scale is still being built up. That just sets expectations for the big reveals instead of trying to make every episode count. Again, this isn't a problem solely kept to Hawkeye. It's been present in this franchise. But that connectivity also allows the audience to feel when Clint says he isn't a role model to anyone. He and Natasha both felt like the supporting spies meant to be ghosts instead of standing out amongst the Avengers. But they have inspired the next generation just as much as Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. Clint simply has the benefit of seeing that. Natasha had her own epic hero's journey in Black Widow that set the stage for the future. Clint may not need to die in order to hand off this responsibility to Kate. Those broad questions seem to inform so much. However, the most effective moment is still watching Kate translate a phone call between Clint and his son. That informs much more genuinely than teasing some vague MCU developments that may or may not occur.