As the stakes continue to rise after last week’s episode, Hawkeye continues to similarly rise in quality, from the script to the visuals. Directors Bert and Bertie deliver a slower paced penultimate episode than I expected, but it works all the better for it. For what the episode lacks in overall action, it makes up for in fantastic scenes between its stars and reveals that deliver what fans have been wanting for a long time.
Episode five, “Ronin,“ picks up directly after episode four’s climactic rooftop fight. With Clint and Kate broken up, Yelena (Florence Pugh) on the hunt and Maya still seeking revenge for her father’s death. Clint then starts to take action by his lonesome, forcing Kate back into the fray, regardless of his pleas.
“Ronin” is purely a set-up episode for next week’s finale, but that’s okay because it’s handled exceptionally well. There’s no weak link in the episode. It’s strong from start to finish, much like the rest of the series has been so far. If anything, this series has been consistent in its quality, like Loki was before it. This is mostly due to the performances of its leads.
Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic, as always. She’s asked to do a bit more dramatically here, and she shines even brighter because of it. Facing the possibility of having to find a new life path following Clint’s rejection, Kate goes through a lot mentally in this episode’s 40-minute runtime.
Steinfeld shows just how good her dramatic chops are multiple times, with two scenes sticking out: One with her and Vera Farmiga at the start of the episode and another scene shared with Florence Pugh in the middle.
Pugh’s return in last week’s episode blew up the internet — rightfully so. She brings weight to every scene she’s in, whether it’s dramatic, comedic or both. And she steals every scene she’s in, too. Her scene with Steinfeld, in which they talk over a pot of macaroni and cheese, is one of the best scenes the series has had so far, rivaling the scene of Jeremy Renner deafly on the phone with his youngest son from a few weeks back.
Renner also gives a fantastic performance in this episode. Having to deal with the magnitude of the situation he’s found himself in and the repercussions it could have for his family, he’s forced to show a lot more humanity and seek help from unlikely sources. He shares a very touching scene with an Avengers memorial plaque later in the episode. As an attempt to communicate with Nat in some way, it shows him nearing a breaking point.
Kate’s also probably nearing a breaking point thanks to this week’s ending, which is just as strong as last week’s, if not stronger. For an area where the series struggled at first, Hawkeye is quickly learning how to end an episode, especially an episode set in the MCU.
The ending also could be teasing some really tantalizing potential returns and future plot points for the MCU and its heroes, both on the big and small screens. While I doubt this reveal means exactly what many fans may be speculating or wanting, it’s still exciting to think about.
Hawkeye’s fifth episode, while not the best episode of the series, is pretty close to it. The action is solid, the acting is on point and the reveals are massive for both the characters and the audience watching at home. There’s so much to look forward to with next week’s finale, but what I’m most interested in is whether or not it will stick the landing like Loki, or crash and burn like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.