“So This Is Christmas?” was an excellent finale that brought all of the season’s subplots together, allowing Clint to exorcise his demons and find his successor, all in time for the holidays.
This recap of Hawkeye season 1, episode 6, “So This Is Christmas?”, contains spoilers, as well as a discussion of Hawkeye’s ending.
I tweeted last week that I thought Hawkeye might have quietly become my favorite of the MCU’s Disney+ shows, and “So This Is Christmas?” confirms it. It wasn’t the same kind of bombastic things-will-never-be-the-same finale as, say, Loki had, and there were probably some aspects of it that I’d have done differently or not at all. But in terms of really solidifying everything that the show set out to accomplish in the first place, it was an exceptional bit of small-screen storytelling; a legitimately Christmassy holiday outing, a character study, and an action-adventure, with real wider-mythology implications, satisfying payoffs, fun teases for those in the know, and an ending that actually feels like an ending. Whether this is the last we see of Clint Barton remains to be seen, but if it is, we can rest easy knowing he’s where he belongs – with his family, having exorcised his demons, made his peace and found his successor.
Hawkeye season 1, episode 6 recap
The idea of him finding a successor in Kate has, in many ways, been the point of the show, though it’s impressive how many other worldbuilding duties Hawkeye has accomplished in the meantime (don’t worry, we’ll get to those). The relationship between Clint and Kate Bishop has been integral to the entire story, developing from flinty hero with a hanger-on to reluctant team-up to fully-fledged partnership across the six episodes. “So This Is Christmas?” gives them their biggest test, and finds them ready to meet it head-on with quivers full of trick arrows and finally a mutual trust.
To be fair, the big action set-piece that takes up most of the episode and crystallizes most of these ideas is a bit of a redo of the fantastic trick arrow chase from the third episode, but it’s bigger, goes on for longer, has more working parts, and benefits from the development the characters have undergone in the meantime. And it cleverly manages to fold in almost every character and subplot. This is where the Kingpin gets personally involved after his longstanding deal with Eleanor is exposed (she was paying off her late husband’s debt to him); this is where Yelena finally catches up with Clint; this is where Maya/Echo gets to confront Kazi about her father’s death. It’s a lot to be going on at once, but Hawkeye handles it deftly, and it’s always clear where people are, what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it.
Let’s talk about the Kingpin for a moment. Many fans were thrilled to see Vincent D’Onofrio return to the MCU last week, but he didn’t have anything to do. Here, he’s up to his old tricks, making a real meal of a Marvel villain part by putting hysterical emphasis on the wrong words in sentences and snarling stuff that shouldn’t be funny but becomes so immediately, such as, “Like she works as Goldman Sachs!” when Eleanor tries to essentially quit their arrangement. Of course, some compromises must be made. In the Netflix shows, Kingpin was all about smashing people to putty using car doors and such, but he can’t really do that on Disney+, so instead, he’s always shot in a way that emphasizes his size and he seems to have comically insane strength. Kate fights him in a department store and he just throws her all over the place. He survives being run over and blown up. It’s a great way to have him “lose” while still coming across as an imposing villain. And while it seems like Maya kills him towards the end, that occurs off-screen, so we have little reason to trust it.
But while the action is all great, the real value of Hawkeye has been the character drama, particularly regarding the historically underused Clint, and his long-awaited confrontation with Yelena is a great excuse for Jeremy Renner to really sell the character’s grief and shame over Natasha’s death. Florence Pugh is similarly great here, and the two complement each other very well. It’s a quite legitimately moving fight and an important moment for both characters, but for Clint especially, since it allows him to finally retire in peace, having come to terms with Natasha’s sacrifice and literally burned away his old Ronin identity (he and Kate put the suit on the bonfire when he takes her to his family’s home for Christmas.)
So, Clint keeps his promise – he spends the holidays with his family, which now includes Kate and Lucky the Pizza Dog. There’s a direct reference to Kate being the new Hawkeye – “I’ve got an idea,” Clint says when she’s trying to come up with a name for herself, and the show’s logo flashes up on-screen – and while it’s unclear what Clint’s career prospects look like, the smart money is on him settling down. Maya/Echo has been firmly established, Yelena has dealt with the loss of her sister, Kingpin is back (though maybe dead?), and there’s a lovely last-minute tease for the backstory of a long-time minor character who may be more than she seems. Hawkeye more than justified its existence in the MCU, and despite some mixed feelings about the current state of the franchise, this was a welcome holiday treat.