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The ‘Hawkeye’ Finale Hits the Emotional Bullseye

'Hawkeye' is now a Christmas movie, I don't make the rules.

Kate Bishop and Clint Barton in Hawkeye

The Marvel cinematic universe has many great qualities, but it doesn’t always stick the landing. Most of the films end with generic CGI-heavy action for a less than satisfying final battle. After all, you’ve seen one character shoot colorful lasers out of their hands, you’ve seen them all. The Disney+ series follow a similar template, but allow for a bit more emotional catharsis. Thankfully, the Hawkeye finale sticks to what it does best: grounded action and feel-good Christmas spirit.

The episode picks up with the reveal that Kate’s mom Eleanor is working with Kingpin (welcome back, Vincent D’Onofrio!). After Kate’s dad died, he left behind a massive debt to the crime lord, which Eleanor has been dutifully paying off (while making a fortune of her own). We learn that Eleanor arranged Armand’s killing, framed her own fiancée for it (turns out Jack was a red herring after all), but she draws the line at her own daughter. Eleanor wants out, but no one ever turns down Wilson Fisk.

D’Onofrio, the first Disney+ import from Marvel’s Netflix roster, brings all the menace we’d expect. But how defanged will he be in the Disney+ world? Don’t count on him decapitating any thugs with car doors is all I’m saying.

Kate is reeling from the revelation that her mom is a criminal, and tells Clint to go home for Christmas and not get wrapped up in Bishop family drama. But Clint is doing no such thing, telling her “Kate, you’re my partner. Your mess is my mess.” And despite her turmoil, Kate internally fangirls over finally being welcome onto Team Hawkeye.

Meanwhile, Maya tells Kazi and Kingpin that she’s done chasing ghosts, and is going to take some time to clear her head. Kingpin signs “I love you” to her, and it’s clear that they share a bond. But Kingpin is never one to let emotions cloud his judgment, and he realizes that Maya has turned on him and the organization.

Clint and Kate set about making all new trick arrows for their face-off at the Bishop Christmas Eve party, which is delightful to watch. Then Clint gives Kate one more out, telling her she doesn’t have to fight. Kate tells Clint that during the alien invasion, she was terrified. But then she saw him fighting with a stick and a string and thought, “If he can do that, I don’t need to be scared.” It’s here where Kate reminds us of the thesis of the series, which is “Heroes can be anyone brave enough to do what’s right, no matter the cost.”

This theme is what makes Hawkeye such a refreshing entry into the MCU, especially after the multiverse Doctor Who-like shenanigans of Loki. Clint and Kate are grounded, real-world heroes without superpowers (much like the first responder LARPers, who reappear to offer back-up). They’re skilled archers with a stupid amount of bravery and willingness to risk their lives to do what’s right. And what’s more, they’ve developed a strong friendship and mutual admiration.

This takes us to the party over 30 Rock, where all our main players congregate. The Bishops, Kate, Clint, the LARPers, and the Tracksuit mafia are all present. Yelena also makes an appearance, happy to see Kate but still dead set on killing Clint. Kate and Yelena get into a terrific fight that starts in the elevator and pans across several offices and meeting rooms.

We don’t often get to see two women in an extended fight sequence like this, especially in the MCU. And what’s even rarer is a fight that showcases the character’s personalities so adeptly. We see Kate’s quick improvisation as well as Yelena’s intensive training, but we also see the two trying desperately not to hurt one another too much. These two clearly dig each other, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for a Bishop/Belova partnership.

Meanwhile, Clint is fighting Kazi, after which he finds himself stuck in the middle of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. While Clint is making friends with a baby owl, Kate shoots the support wires holding up the tree, sending it crashing down onto the ice rink. Kate hits the ice, and the duo start launching trick arrows at the incoming Tracksuit mafia.

The fight sequence is scrappy and delightful, as we see new trick arrows do their thing. The Pym arrow shrinks a moving truck and the men inside it, but before Clint can figure out how to reverse it, the owl picks up the truck and flies away.

On the other side of the rink, Kazi and Maya face-off, and Maya begs him to escape with her. Kazi refuses, and Maya reluctantly kills him. This would hit harder if we knew the nature of their relationship (friends? lovers?) but Alaqua Cox acquits herself so well. I wish we had spent more time with Maya this season, but her presence is enough to make me excited for the Echo solo series.

Kingpin confronts Eleanor, as Kate flies in to save her mom. The Kingpin/Kate fight is solid, and it’s rare to see someone so fearless go up against Fisk. Their toy store fight is a bruiser, and Kate gets some good shots in before finishing Kingpin off with the coin toss trick (we knew that would pay off), which activates some explosive arrows.

And while Kate saves her mom, she doesn’t let her off the hook. As the cops arrest Eleanor, she questions the heroism of locking up your mom on Christmas Eve. But Kate already knows that being a hero comes with painful sacrifice.

Back on the ice, Yelena and Clint face off. Clint tries to reason with her, but it’s not until he does their childhood whistle that she stops and listens. Yelena and Clint finally get to grieve together, as the two people Natasha loved most. Florence Pugh is doing great work in this series, effortlessly portraying Yelena’s survivor’s grief. It’s a cathartic moment for the two, and a fitting tribute to Natasha’s sacrifice.

Kingpin has escaped Kate, but encounters Maya as he tries to escape. Maya aims a gun at his head and the camera pans away as we hear a gunshot. Is Kingpin dead? Not likely. After all, the MCU just got D’Onofrio back, they’re not going to waste him with an offscreen death.

Meanwhile, Jack makes friends with the LARPers, which given his sword-fighting skills, is an obvious match. Guys, do I love Jack now? He’s so theatrical and ridiculous. You just know he’d love Rogers the musical.

The finale ends with Clint and Kate joining the Barton family for Christmas. Clint keeps his promise, Kate gets a new family, and Lucky gets belly rubs. Clint also returns the Rolex to his wife, Laura. The watch has the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on the back, along with Agent 19, which reveals that Laura was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and also, possibly, Mockingbird? Give Linda Cardellini her own spin-off challenge!

As Clint and Kate burn the Ronin suit on the BBQ (really Clint? It’s gonna be so hard to get plastic off the grill), Kate pitches Clint some sidekick names, like Lady Hawk or Hawk Eve or Hawk Shot. But Clint says he has a better idea, and the credits cut to ‘Hawkeye’.

All in all, Hawkeye has been an unexpected delight. And the mid-credits reveal the full performance of “I Can Do This All Day” from Rogers the musical. It’s silly and sweet and just what fans wanted. Kudos to the Hawkeye team, for a satisfying and highly entertaining miniseries. I’m excited to see where Kate and Clint go from here, and what’s in store for the Barton family. Is ‘Hawkeye’ my favorite Marvel Disney+ series? No one is more surprised than me.

Happy holidays readers, thanks for joining me for these ‘Hawkeye’ recaps. And may everyone find trick arrows and pizza dogs in their Christmas stockings!

(image: Disney+)

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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.