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Hawkeye Delves Into Echo’s Origin Story in a Thrilling and Poignant Episode

Who knew I could get so excited about a Hawkeye series?

Jeremy renner and Hailee Steinfeld in 'Hawkeye'

Readers, if you had told me 6 months ago, nay, 6 days ago that Hawkeye would be my new favorite series, I would have laughed in your face. Welp, the joke’s on me, because Hawkeye not only delivers an absolute banger of an episode, but is well on its way to being my favorite Disney+ Marvel series. “Echoes” is an action-heavy episode that also delivers a moving origin story for our new antagonist Echo.

The episode opens on young Maya/Echo (Alaqua Cox) doing her best to keep up in school. Though she can read lips, she struggles as a deaf student among her peers. Later that night, Maya asks her father William (Reservation Dogs‘ Zahn McClarnon) why he won’t send her to a school for the deaf. He replies that he wants her to be able to move between the two worlds, a message he reiterates during her martial arts class. William is a warm, loving presence in his daughter’s life, but he refuses to treat her any differently than her peers.

As a result, Maya grows up to be a capable woman who can kick some ass, but despite this, she cannot save William and his thugs from Ronin’s violent justice. Echo’s origin story rolls out over the first 8 minutes of the episode, delivering economical storytelling and an emotional wallop. It also seamlessly ties in with the present-day storyline, where Echo seeks to avenge her father’s death. She believes that Kate is Ronin, but Clint assures her that Ronin is dead, and Black Widow killed him.

So much of this series has been a reckoning on Clint’s time as Ronin, and the accountability (or lack thereof) for his five-year murder spree. Will Clint finally be held accountable for his bloody past? And what happens when Kate, who idolizes Clint, discovers her hero’s dark side? This conflict has been on simmer ever since Kate donned the Ronin suit, and the longer Clint hides the truth the more devastating it will be when everything comes out.

Echo chides Clint for using a hearing aid, telling him that he’s better off without it. Later, she smashes Clint’s hearing aid in a fight, rendering him mostly deaf for the rest of the episode. This episode (and others) use sound design to terrific effect, utilizing silence in the midst of heavy action.

And the action? Oh, what fun! Hawkeye’s action scenes on the big screen have been, well, fine. After all, it’s hard to make a human archer exciting alongside a Norse god and a flying man in a metal suit. But Hawkeye finally lets Barton shine in a thrilling fight sequence inside the abandoned toy store. Like Kate’s wine cellar fight in the previous episode, this sequence cleverly uses its setting, incorporating trampolines, ball pits, and stuffed animals as Clint and Kate fight.

British directing team Bert and Bertie deliver stylish, propulsive action sequences that are a breath of fresh air amidst Marvel’s penchant for CGI-heavy battle sequences. There are only so many times you can watch people shoot different colored lasers out of their hands before you get bored. But Hawkeye makes the most of Clint’s improvisational fighting style, and his experience, paired with Kate’s over-confident energy, is a thrilling combination.

So when the fight moves to a car chase across the city and Kate finally gets her hands on Clint’s trick arrows, it’s absolutely thrilling. Katie Mathewson and Tanner Bean’s script keeps the jokes flying fast and furious, as Kate works her way through bomb arrows, plunger arrows, acid arrows, and one especially delightful arrow courtesy of Pym labs.

My colleague Rachel Leishman wrote about Clint and Kate’s dynamic, which kicks into high gear as the duo find a way to effectively communicate with one another. Ironically, it takes Clint losing his hearing aid for the duo to finally click, and their combined skills fight off Echo and her minions.

Clint and Kate are finally on the same wavelength, and that connection leads to a poignant scene in the episode where Clint’s son calls him. Clint is able to talk to his son on the phone thanks to Kate’s quick translating skills. Clint’s son tells him that they understand if he can’t make it home for Christmas, in a brutal reminder that his family is used to his absence.

Clint’s job has made him a hero, but it’s come with sacrifices both physical and emotional. He tries to explain as much to Kate, who is too busy designing a new costume and brainstorming branding ideas. But while he warns Kate of the perils that lie ahead, he acknowledges that she is talented, and that they are partners. For now, at least. Steinfeld and Renner continue to have phenomenal chemistry together, and their relationship serves as the emotional core of the series.

This episode didn’t have any appearances by Eleanor or Jack (until he holds Clint at swordpoint in the final scene) and it’s all the better for it. Presumably, we’ll get back to Kate’s family drama next week, but I’m more than content to watch her and Clint shoot the breeze while walking Pizza Dog.

What was your favorite part of last night’s episode? And what would your trick arrow be, if you had one? Let me know in the comments!

(image: Marvel Studios)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.