Hawkeye “Partners, Am I Right?” Spoilers Ahead
How Marvel’s Hawkeye continues to be such a quiet exposition into family dynamics, and the heart of loss is beyond anything I could comprehend at this moment. Hawkeye is the last show I would’ve expected to floor me as much as it has, which is part of the reason why it’s so fascinating in the way it compares to what Marvel’s done and how it could pave the road for what’s likely to come.
Kate Bishop is a treasure we could deep dive into for hours, but what Hawkeye slowly and carefully cements is the importance of conversations—the utter, human need to have someone to talk to, whether a mentor or a hero or a friend. A partner, in this case, however, unlikely that alliance. The best part of Clint as a character has always been his ability to spot those in need of a place to belong. What he can see in Wanda and Pietro Maximoff in Age of Ultron is one of the most endearing details in Marvel’s otherwise worst Avenger film. Clint Barton is anything but the man he became as Ronin, and thus, exploring those parts of him, however, subtly with Kate, is proving to be one of the more riveting aspects of the series as we dig into the complexities of genuinely grey areas.
While it’s one of Marvel’s most festive series to date, there’s something dark and ominous to Hawkeye that makes it easy to wonder if we’re watching Clint Barton’s final mission as an Avenger. Suppose it wasn’t the threat of Maya Lopez’s (Alaqua Cox) Echo on a quest of vengeance or now, finally the introduction into Yelena Belova’s (Florence Pugh) mission alluded to in Black Widow. In that case, there is still the question of whether Clint’s guilt is too potent to live with, especially while still in this job. “It was supposed to be me,” in Avengers Endgame is a line that’s packed with so much oath and painful sorrow that it makes it easy to question whether his time is also near in some form.
Hawkeye’s “Partners, Am I Right?” is thereby full of parallels to the darkness in Vormir. Whether it’s a similar fight sequence to yet another trained fighter with skillsets matching Natasha’s, the image of Kate falling backward, or the haunting essence of the shot he didn’t take looming over him—the episode is yet another painful reminder of the losses that have yet to heal. (And the loss that might never heal.) We aren’t watching a show like Ted Lasso where happiness is guaranteed. It’s easy to consider that every day that keeps Clint away from his family is a day too long. And so, though it’s bleak, it forces me to ask the question of whether he will make it home for Christmas in time.
Let me be wrong about this. I sure hope I am.
I hope he does make it home by Christmas. And I hope he grieves properly too. Lord knows he needs it. But there’s a darkness in Hawkeye that’s tied to the gravitas of the blip and every choice made before and after. These characters aren’t perfect. Yes, they’re heroes, but more than that, they’re human. And the episode shows so much of that humanity through the quiet moments where it slows down to allow its characters the opportunities to talk—to grieve. Kate lovingly pushing that he tell her of the shot he didn’t take only to realize that it’s tied to Natasha broke me because Hailee Steinfeld touches on Kate’s innocence with such intrinsic heartache it’s a splendor to a witness. She is sunshine personified while Clint is the polar opposite, and yet, we know that it’s all a result of the darkness she lived through as a child coupled with the uncertainties she’s currently trying to grapple through.
Hawkeye’s “Echoes” is a superbly balanced episode, and yet, where maybe it shouldn’t be as shocking, “Partners, Am I Right?” is somehow even more remarkable. Full of Christmas cheer in what’s a sad display of loneliness, but simultaneously personal and action-packed. The loneliness that Hawkeye touches on is yet another brilliant part of the series, as it’s such a necessary display of what loss is like for most people. Clint isn’t alone by any means—his family is his entire world, and they’re the best part of it, but there’s a piece of him that’s so evidently missing, and when you look into his eyes, it’s there bright as day, telling us that the loss of a partner, the loss of his best friend has thus far been the worst part of all. And how the series continues to adjoin on that pays homage to Natasha’s memory in the way that I hoped it would. So many of us hate the fact that she dies, but the way she is consistently honored is a beautiful thing.
“Partners, Am I Right?” is the kind of episode that takes the risk in quiet revelations, and that’s something Marvel shows have successfully mastered with WandaVision and Loki as well. Kate not taking the shot with Yelena is the kind of perfect parallel to kick yet another brilliant partnership into motion. There’s a lot the two of them and Maya combined could do together, and I want to see more than anything else.
But that said, what this episode sets up with Clint’s promise to Eleanor about keeping Kate safe, and realizing that the stakes are higher than he thought possible is likely leading to an exemplary penultimate and finale. In its haunting uncertainties and sadness, it’s still the kind of easy-to-watch episode we’re already hitting replay on.
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