Wednesday, December 22, 2021

REVIEW: 'Hawkeye' - Clint and Kate's Partnership Requires Them to Make Heroic Sacrifices in 'So This Is Christmas?'

Disney+'s Hawkeye - Episode 1.06 "So This Is Christmas?"

Clint and Kate's partnership is tested as they face the consequences of exposing the 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 season finale of Disney+'s Hawkeye.

"So This Is Christmas?" was written by Jonathan Igla & Elisa Climent and directed by Rhys Thomas

Clint feared he wouldn't be home with his family for Christmas because he kept getting pulled in deeper to a conspiracy swirling in New York City. It had personal resonance for him. He couldn't return to them without reckoning with his past as the Ronin. As such, it's cathartic when he burns that former costume and celebrates the new one made for him. He is actually just as gleeful about the new garb as Kate. That showcases just how strong their partnership has become in such a short amount of time. And yet, this series had some fundamental struggles with pacing. It always felt the pull to keep escalating. However, it also required the audience to already have an understanding of certain characters and their relationships with others. Even then, the show didn't flesh out those known dynamics as much as it seemed it could. The whole story started with a black market auction being hijacked by the Tracksuit Mafia in pursuit of a mysterious Rolex from the Avengers compound. That was a detail that basically became irrelevant after a certain point. Its deeper meaning is hinted at. It connects to Laura's past as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Clint and Laura can tease each other about it. Again, it infers that Kingpin is the reason why Clint has had his family in hiding all these years. And yet, that's not where this season built towards. Clint wanted to get out of the story and settle all of these issues before they rose up to include the true man in charge. Maya was positioned as the antagonist with a personal vendetta against the hero. It's one the audience could easily understand and accept. The same applies to Yelena with her mission. They need to seek vengeance for their fallen loved ones. They take out their frustrations on Clint because he is the man they believe they have to blame for their pain. He is distraught and hurt as well. He could provide a crucial piece of the puzzle to Maya about her father's death. That immediately set her on a different trajectory. One where she is the one who ultimately delivers the fatal shot to Kingpin. Of course, the camera conveniently pans up which some in the audience could take to mean some shocking twist is still coming. It would be rather lackluster if the show hinted at the return of this beloved villain from Netflix's Daredevil only to prominently feature him in one episode. Of course, the Disney+ shows in the MCU love delaying their true displays of villainy until their season finales. That's when the most shocking twists occur. They all function as mysteries that need to be solved. Sometimes, the audience can really get ahead of the creative team. Both Eleanor and Jack were suspicious here. Eleanor wants to be perceived as misunderstood in her attempts to protect her daughter. She is still guilty of crimes. Meanwhile, Jack fits in with the lovable LARPers who just want their chance to be heroes and show off their skills even when they can't actual compete with the crazy antics on display. That too gets at the heart of what this series was and Kate's admiration for Clint. He is a role model because he can empower people without something extraordinary happening to them to gift them incredible abilities. Kate trained. And now, she is partners with Hawkeye. She can go toe-to-toe with Yelena. Frankly, the banter between Kate and Yelena in the final two episodes stole the show. That's the creative direction that must be pursued in the future. Right now though, the show wants its satisfying ending through Clint making it home and bringing Kate with him. She has been adopted into the family. Secrets still abound in this universe. Everything is crazy. The people try to find some semblance of normalcy and peace. That may all just be an illusion. It's worth striving for. But at the end of the day, it's all about the elaborate stunts and action. That's the bulk of this finale. And yes, it's thrilling to see the constant display of trick arrows. They too have evolved over the years. Clint shares more of the Hawkeye mantel with Kate. That's rewarding. But she is the one to face Kingpin in battle. That's a rushed development. One that hopes a few brief moments of exposition is enough to inform everything for her. It's played as being more personal for her mostly because the show chose to sidestep the meaningful connection for Clint despite what was previously alluded to. That's complicated as well and makes for an incomplete conclusion to a show that had many delights along the way. The genuine moment of heartbreak works when Yelena realizes Natasha sacrificed herself and Clint loved her just as much as she did. It's still informed by the genuine sense of chaos that dominates the entire set piece. It's a bunch of cutting back and forth hoping that each action is just as meaningful. It's trusting of the audience to fill in the blanks. That's satisfactory in some moments. In others, it still comes across as doing the basics. The post-credits musical moment is an incredible and amusing troll though - as well as an obvious play to win an Emmy for original music and lyrics (a year after WandaVision's "Agatha All Along" did the same).