– Episode 2 (of 6), ‘Hide and Seek’
– Written by Elisa Climent
– Directed by Rhys Thomas
Spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye follow. You’ve been warned.
One of the reasons for the success and longevity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its ability to shapeshift between genres. Over the last decade and a bit, the franchise has dabbled in space opera, political thrillers, comedy and more.
But Hawkeye episode 2 takes the MCU somewhere it’s never been before – for a decent chunk of its running time it could pass for a John Hughes holiday movie. Quinjets, Trains and Automobiles, anyone?
As Clint Barton tries to tie up loose ends in New York and make it home in time to see his kids for Christmas, the first act puts the focus on his odd couple relationship with Kate Bishop. Double acts have been a core component of Marvel’s previous Disney Plus shows – from Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, to Loki and Sylvie in Loki – and the Hawkeye take on the formula has similar potential. The show even throws a cute dog, aka Lucky the Pizza Dog, into the mix for good measure.
From the moment they meet, Clint’s scene-it-all-before cynicism meshes perfectly with Kate’s unstoppable enthusiasm
“Some people have actually called me the world’s greatest archer,” Kate tells the world’s actual greatest archer.
“Yeah, are you one of those people?” comes the wonderfully barbed reply.
She’s found her idol, someone she believes can teach her to be the hero she longs to be, while he’s run into a rookie too inexperienced to be anything but a hindrance. She’s so caught up in the excitement of the moment that she’s asking her favorite Avenger to autograph her bow, while he’s asking if there’s any way the Ronin suit could lead a bad guy to the Bishop residence.
It turns out the answer is yes, as the so-called Tracksuit Mafia – a fun but sartorially inelegant addition to Marvel’s rogue’s gallery – arrive uninvited on Kate’s doorstep with an express delivery of Molotov cocktails. Kate and Clint are soon on the run, hiding out in Kate’s aunt’s apartment, as his efforts to keep his new companion safe fall on deaf ears – she just has to go to work.
While Hawkeye hasn’t always been well served by the MCU – he spent most of the first Avengers movie possessed by Loki, for starters – this show is threatening to provide him with the sort of character overhaul that Thor: Ragnarok gave the god of thunder. Armed with extra screen time, his world-weariness is becoming an asset, and away from limelight-hogging wise crackers like Tony Stark, he’s really coming into his own – he gets to be the human face of the Avengers in a way we’ve never really got to see before.
And throughout the scenes he shares with Kate, you can see the advantages of hiring a director with a comedy background. Banter and snark have always been integral to the MCU mix, but Saturday Night Live veteran Rhys Thomas makes sure the humor never feels forced. Whether it’s Clint is questioning Kate’s abilities, or she’s pointing out the flaws in his minimal marketing plan for the Hawkeye brand, you feel you could spend hours in their company. Indeed, the chemistry works so well that it’s a shame when the story pulls them apart, the episode going off the boil almost as soon as they separate to follow their own paths.
Clint’s mission to recover his Ronin suit from a LARPing (Live Action Role-Play) meet-up isn’t nearly as funny as it should be – Hawkeye half-heartedly dressing up as a knight for a half-hearted duel with the new owner of the outfit is one of those ideas that probably looked better on paper than on screen.
Did Hawkeye episode 1 hit the bullseye?
Kate, meanwhile, reluctantly goes for dinner with her mom and her new fiancé, Jack – a man who has a questionable penchant for DIY psychology, and may or may not be connected with the death of his uncle, Armand Duquesne. The family scenes lack the flow of the Kate/Hawkeye moments, with Tony Dalton playing Jack so broadly you suspect he can’t be anything but a bad guy – he even has a moustache to twirl next time he brandishes his sword.
So it’s good news for the series – if not for Clint – when the final scene contrives to get the lead duo back in the same room. While it’s debatable whether a college student would be able to track an Avenger’s phone – if his phone number is classified, surely his GPS is inaccessible too? – Kate’s clumsy entrance-via-skylight is a wonderfully inept way to scupper Hawkeye’s carefully crafted plan to get to the heart of the Tracksuit Mafia. With five days to go until Christmas, it looks like getting home in time to carve that turkey isn’t going to be as easy as it first seemed…
After a fun season opener, this follow-up struggles to deliver on its potential. As a comedy it works fine, with Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld instantly hitting a groove as he latest double-act to emerge from the reliable MCU conveyor-belt.
As soon as they’re apart, however, the story starts to flag. The plot is also in serious need of a villain slightly scarier than the played-for-laughs Tracksuit Mafia to really shake things up. Maybe the big reveal of Echo – soon to be seen in a Disney Plus TV show of her own – will be the catalyst that restores the show’s momentum.
- This episode confirms that Eleanor Bishop made her money as the boss of Bishop Security.
- The safehouse Kate and Clint use belongs to Kate’s aunt, Moira Brandon. In the comics she’s a retired actress, who ends up becoming an honorary Avenger after saving Hawkeye’s life. In the TV show she’s simply spending the winter in Florida.
- Lucky the Pizza Dog and the Tracksuit Mafia (also known as the “Tracksuit Draculas”) debuted in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s 2012 run on the Hawkeye comic.
- Matt Fraction is also a consulting producer on Hawkeye.
- The newsreader talking about the Ronin’s possible return to New York is real-life NY1 host Pat Kiernan. As well as appearing in the first episode of Hawkeye, he’s showed up in Spider-Man: Far From Home, Doctor Strange, Iron Man 3, the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, and many more movies and TV shows.
- Pat Kiernan also appeared in Netflix’s Daredevil TV show, which only adds further credibility to the rumors that we may see Matt Murdock or Wilson Fisk cross over into the MCU.
- While Kate is watching TV in the safehouse, an ad comes on for Rogers: The Musical.
- Product placement alert! That’s a very long, lingering shot of the Disney Store on Times Square. Coincidence? We think not.
- The cosplaying superheroes who upstage Hawkeye include Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man, Hulk, Iron Man… and Katniss Everdeen. Presumably the costume store had run out of Black Widow outfits…
- After Eternals proved that DC’s Superman is a thing in the MCU, this moment confirms that The Hunger Games exists too.
- Notable credits on Welsh director Rhys Thomas’s resumé include Saturday Night Live and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
- The “catch and release” move Clint plans to infiltrate the Tracksuit Mafia – he allows himself to get caught, before turning the tables on his captors – is a nod to a Black Widow move at the start of The Avengers.
- The Tracksuit Mafia boss revealed at the end of the episode is a bigger deal than she may initially appear. That’s Maya Lopez, aka Echo, a superhero who made her first comic-book appearance in 1999’s Daredevil #9. Played by Alaqua Cox, Echo’s already got her own spin-off show confirmed for Disney Plus.
- Unlike previous Marvel Disney Plus TV shows, Hawkeye has more than one director. Thomas helms episodes 1, 2 and 6, while Bert & Bertie oversee episodes 3, 4 and 5.
- Writer Elisa Climent’s previous credits include work on TV shows Sorry for Your Loss, Imposters and Queen of the South.
New episodes of Hawkeye stream on Disney Plus every Wednesday.