Here’s the recap for “Hawkeye” episodes 1 and 2 as Clint Barton is visited by ghosts from his past while encountering an ambitious wanna-be hero named Kate Bishop…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Let’s be honest, Hawkeye gets a bit of a bad rap.
He’s often called the least interesting Avenger but until Taika Waititi came along, I’d argue that Thor absolutely wore that crown without any challengers to his throne. Still, Clint Barton (as portrayed by the great Jeremy Renner) was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2012’s “Avengers” and he spent the majority of the movie as Loki’s mind-controlled minion.
Sitting on the sidelines and working with the primary villain for nearly two hours would probably sour anybody to a character so Clint was already behind the 8-ball before he ever really got much of a chance to charm audiences at all.
Fast forward to “Avengers: Endgame” and the opening scene with Barton’s entire family being wiped off the map due to the infamous blip created by Thanos where half of life across the universe was erased with the snap of his fingers. Argue all you want about the emotional resonance in comic book movies but it’s nearly impossible to dispute that watching Hawkeye turn around to see his family gone in a blink of an eye was absolutely heartbreaking.
After taking up the mantle as the masked vigilante Ronin, who killed first and asked questions later, Barton took out his anger and frustration on the criminal underworld and following him for those five years while the world tried to adjust to life after Thanos would undoubtedly be fascinating but that’s not the Marvel series that’s now playing on Disney+.
Instead, the new “Hawkeye” series puts Clint back into his happy family life with his wife and three children as he continues to adapt to a world where the Avengers are once again heroes to all yet he’s still trying to figure out his place in it.
Enter Kate Bishop (played in a star-making performance by Hailee Steinfeld) — a fan-favorite character from the comics who eventually takes on the name of Hawkeye as well — and she ends up stealing just about every scene she’s in through the first two episodes. Kate is a charming 22-year-old college student, who spends her spare time following through on bets with classmates that end up with the clocktower at her college being destroyed.
She’s a bit of a walking calamity at times but also a skilled martial artist and well-trained with the bow and arrow after she grew up idolizing Clint Barton. More on that later.
Through two episodes, Marvel has once again managed to create a new take on an old face yet somehow managed to reinvent the genre with a story set against the backdrop of Christmas in New York City as Clint Barton and his unlikely sidekick Kate Bishop run afoul of a street gang seeking to find a particular bauble while also looking for vengeance after Ronin suddenly reappears in the city.
There’s a lot to dive into so let’s recap the first two episodes of “Hawkeye” with “Never Meet Your Heroes” and “Hide and Seek”…
The series starts with a flashback to 2012 when a young Kate Bishop is busted after actively eavesdropping on her parents in the middle of an argument. After reassurances from her father than everything is OK, Kate goes downstairs to have lunch with her mother, who attempts to add some levity to the family drama by offering to play a game of checkers with her daughter.
As Kate runs upstairs to grab the game, she notices strange creatures suddenly flying by the window and overhead. Before long huge explosions start happening all around the building and that’s when we realize that Kate is smack dab in the middle of the Battle of New York as alien invaders led by Loki are doing battle with the Avengers.
Kate is frantic to find her parents but after one side of her family home is blown out and an alien invader is headed right for them, she witnesses Hawkeye take them out with nothing more than his bow and arrow as well as some serious acrobatics to stop the Chitauri invader hell bent on destroying the entire Bishop home.
That’s enough right there for Kate to declare Hawkeye as her favorite Avenger but her fascination is short lived after her mother rushes to pull her from their crumbling home, which is when she realizes that he father didn’t make it out alive.
At his funeral, a downtrodden Kate declares that she never wants to see anyone she loves get hurt again so she asks her mother for a bow and arrow of her own.
Fast forward to present day and Kate is a 22-year-old college student following through on a bet where she’s tasked with making the giant bell on campus ring by using nothing more than her bow and arrow. Kate succeeds but the reverberation from the banging gong ends up shattering the bell and the entire structure falls to the ground just as security arrives to apprehend her.
After she returns home — or should we say mansion — Kate is greeted by her mother (played by the amazing Vera Farmiga), who is preparing to go to a charity benefit alongside her new boyfriend named Jack Duquesne (played by ‘Better Call Saul’ scene stealer Tony Dalton).
Now keen Marvel fans will recognize that name because Jack Duquesne is actually a sometimes archvillain named the Swordsman, who often goes up against Hawkeye in the comics. In more modern versions of the character, Swordsman is more of an anti-hero than a straight up villain but he’s got a rich history tied to Clint Barton, which is why he’s likely showing up here in the series.
With a name like Swordsman, it’s not difficult to tell his specialty.
Kate immediately has her guard up when Jack’s around and she doesn’t seem all that interested in attending the charity benefit but a reminder that her mother will soon be funding the college a new bell tower convinces her that maybe she should go without any further argument.
Meanwhile in the theater district, Clint Barton and his children are enjoying a showing of the new smash Broadway hit — Rogers: The Musical — which tells the story of Captain America and his many adventures spent saving the world across decades.
Of course, Clint isn’t all that interested in watching the musical version of the Battle of New York play out on stage, especially when he’s reminded about his friend Natasha Romanov, who fell to her death in order to retrieve the soul stone to defeat Thanos and save the world. Eventually, Clint’s seen enough and he goes outside for some air but he’s soon joined by his children, who realize that he’s just not that much into the musical.
After going for dinner, which gets comped because the restaurant owner recognizes Clint for his heroic contribution to the Avengers, Clint takes his family back to the hotel where he’s trying to get back to some sense of normalcy with his family. It’s evident by these scenes that Clint is not comfortable with his newfound celebrity or the perks that come along with it, which also includes an awkward encounter where he’s asked for a selfie while taking a leak in the bathroom.
Over at the benefit, Kate is doing her best to fade into the background after wearing a suit that makes her match the waiters serving food. It’s there she encounters Armand Duquesne III — Jack’s very wealthy uncle who happens to name his children Armand as well. In the midst of the conversation, Armand reveals that his nephew Jack and Eleanor Bishop just recently got engaged, which is definitely news to Kate.
She confronts her mother and Eleanor apologizes that this is how her daughter found out about their upcoming nuptials. After stepping outside for some air, Kate returns and finds her mother arguing with Armand and it appears that he threatens her before they go their separate ways.
Kate once again asks her mother what is happening but Eleanor claims she doesn’t know why Armand was so upset. None of this is sitting well with Kate, who decides to follow Armand to see where he’s going next.
Kate ends up in the basement where a black-market auction is taking place and she soon spots not only Armand but Jack joins him as well.
Among the items up for sale is the sword used by The Ronin — the persona Clint Barton took on as he gutted the criminal underworld as a masked vigilante in the wake of the blip. When he was dressed as the Ronin, Clint took no prisoners and personally dished out punishment as the judge, jury and executioner without remorse for the criminals he was killing.
Of course that left Clint with a whole lot of enemies if his true identity was ever revealed.
After Armand wins the bidding for Ronin’s sword, the next auction up is for Ronin’s costume but the bidding is interrupted after a gang of Russian thugs breaks into the building on the hunt for a watch that was found at Avengers tower in the wake of the Battle of New York.
Why the Russians want the watch remains a mystery but Kate decides to take it upon herself to finally stop standing on the sidelines and get into the game.
In the many years since her father’s death, Kate has not only become a championship archer but she’s also mastered numerous martial arts while winning titles across just about every category available to her. Those skills come in handy as Kate decides to put on the Ronin outfit and stop the bad guys invading the charity benefit.
In the middle of the melee, Jack picks up Ronin’s sword and tucks it away for himself.
As for Kate, she’s handling herself quite well but she eventually has to escape the building where she finds the Russian getaway van with a man packing bags of stolen goods. The goon finds the watch that the Russians were after but a stray dog ends up attacking him and he starts kicking the good boy trying to break loose of his grip.
Kate can’t abide by that so she stomps the goon and then rescues the dog — who will soon be known as Lucky the pizza dog, another famed character from Hawkeye comic book history.
After rushing back to her place to stash Lucky, Kate decides to track down Armand to find out why exactly he was bidding for Ronin’s sword and what the argument was about with her mother.
Unfortunately, Kate arrives and finds Armand’s body after he’s been stabbed to death and already bled out on the ground. She feels just as a housekeeper arrives to discover the body but outside Kate is confronted by the Russians who have been following her ever since the battle at the charity benefit.
Once again, Kate is doing well defending herself but she’s soon outnumbered and trapped in a car when the Russians are taken out one by one by a mystery assailant.
After stopping the Russians, Kate is snatched out of the car and taken down an alley where Clint Barton reveals himself as her savior. After returning to his hotel with his kids, Clint saw a news report about the mysterious Ronin reappearing in New York and he knew that meant somebody wearing that suit was in grave danger because just about every crime lord in a three state radius would be gunning for them.
Clint is stunned to see a young girl like Kate staring back at him after unmasking this new vigilante and he’s forced to rescue her before the Russians return in full force to kill her.
Clint takes Kate back to her apartment where he confirms that she never took off the mask in order to reveal her identity. He knows she’s now put a target on her back by wearing that Ronin costume but Kate is so enamored to have Hawkeye in her place, all she can think about is asking him to sign her bow.
Clint then reveals that the people after her are called the Tracksuit Mafia, bro, and they are bad news, especially after what Ronin did to them a few years ago.
Before the conversation can go much further, the Russians show up because they’ve continued to track Kate and now they know her identity because her name happened to be on the buzzer downstairs. The Tracksuit Mafia starts tossing Molotov cocktails through the window but Clint manages to throw a few of them back at the gangsters as he rushes to gather up Kate and the dog so they can all escape together.
After making a getaway, Kate takes Clint to her aunt’s apartment because she’s gone for the winter and they won’t be tracked there by the Russians. Clint get some supplies to help clean up some small wounds they’ve endured through the fighting while also teaching Kate how to lose a tail when somebody is tracking her.
Clint then leaves to go back to Kate’s apartment to get the Ronin suit, which they were forced to leave behind. Unfortunately, Clint doesn’t find the suit but he figures out that it’s one of the firefighters who took it and he prepares to track down the costume the next day.
In the morning, Clint walks Kate back to her mother’s place of business — Bishop Security — and he exchanges numbers with her just in case of emergency. Clint has a lead on the Ronin suit and he tells Kate once he retrieves it and knows she’s safe then they will probably never see each other again.
Clint then packs his kids into a car bound for the airport where they will return home without him but he promises he’ll be back by Christmas, which takes place in six days. First things first, Clint has to get the Ronin costume back.
In order to track down the suit, Clint has to go to a local park where the firefighter in question is currently locked in an epic battle as a member of the NYC Larpers — yes, they are live action role playing and the only way Clint can get near the guy is to join the game.
So Clint puts on the armor and grabs his foam sword, laying waste to everybody that steps in his path before finally reaching the man wearing the Ronin suit. The firefighter in question is happy to return the suit but only after they duel in battle — and he asks Clint to lose because that will just make his day.
Clint finally decides this is the path of least resistance so he engages in the duel with the firefighter, who then returns the Ronin suit to him while thanking him for the honor of battling an actual Avenger.
After getting the suit, Clint stashes it in a locker while calling his wife to tell her that he won’t be home for a little while longer. Clint can’t leave New York until he figures out what’s happening with the Trucksuit Mafia while also ensuring that Kate is safe.
He decides to enact a strategy called catch release that his old pal Natasha taught him back in the day.
As for Kate, after reuniting with her mother at her company, she’s soon interrupted by Jack once again, who seems to be omnipresent in their lives now. Kate gives her condolences on the death of his uncle and she agrees to have dinner with Jack and her mother as long as they allow her to pick the topic of conversation.
That night, Kate is short on the small talk because she mostly wants to know more about Jack — in particular she’s interested in his fascination with swords after her home has been decorated by numerous pieces from his personal collection.
She wonders if perhaps Jack is skilled at fencing and after admitting that he dabbles in it, Kate offers him a friendly sparring session in the living room, much to her mother’s chagrin.
Kate scores two quick points on Jack but she realizes that he’s holding back on her and allowing her to win. That only makes her even more irate, which leads to her lunging at Jack when he’s not looking but he quickly turns, counters and disarms her without batting an eye.
While Eleanor is irate that her daughter attacked her fiancé, Kate is more concerned with the fact that Jack was lying to her about his fencing skills and that leads her to believe he must be lying about so much more.
Following the fencing match, Kate is looking for a way to leave, which leads to another argument with her mother over Jack. Eleanor chalks it up to Kate’s anger over a new man in her life, which seems to be the first time since her father died all those years ago.
Of course, Kate believes that Jack is hiding something and her suspicions are seemingly confirmed after he offers her a butterscotch candy — the same monogrammed snacks she saw at Armand Duquesne’s penthouse after finding him murdered.
Kate leaves the apartment and decides to inform Clint about what’s happening but he’s too busy essentially handing himself over to the Tracksuit Mafia, who have come to collect him. When she doesn’t get an answer the first time, Kate calls back except this time a Russian named Ivan answers and tells her that Clint Barton isn’t available.
Believing that Clint is in trouble, Kate uses her login at Bishop Security to track his phone so she can rescue her favorite Avenger.
Sadly, Kate doesn’t realize that this has all been part of Clint’s plan as he basically frees himself from the restraints that the Russians used as he awaits the opportunity to find out who’s running this sideshow criminal enterprise now. In other words, Clint is trying to find out the villain’s plan because these idiots love to tell the hero everything they’re going to do just because it appears they’ve already won.
Before Clint can get the answers he’s seeking, Kate Bishop arrives and attempts to save the day but soon she’s captured right alongside of him and they are both tied up at an abandoned toy factory that the gang calls home.
With Clint and Kate tied up and duct taped to a pair of toys, the Tracksuit Mafia goes to inform their leader that they’ve captured both Hawkeye and Ronin. The leader doesn’t say a word but she turns around to reveal that it’s Maya Lopez aka Echo (played by newcomer Alaqua Cox) — a famed character from Marvel Comics, who was initially introduced as a deaf Native American assassin, who farmed out work for the Kingpin. Echo was used against Daredevil in the comics and she eventually turned on the Kingpin after realizing that he had lied to her about the Man Without Fear killing her father.
Echo is going to be a major player in the “Hawkeye” series but how she got hooked up with the Tracksuit Mafia and why she’s after this mysterious Avengers watch remains to be seen. Echo will eventually be getting her own Marvel series so she will certainly be a major character for years to come.
“Hawkeye” returns for a new episode next Wednesday on Disney+