Plot summary: Echo’s past is revealed as Clint and Kate go on the run and try to piece together their separate messes.
Episode Title: ‘Hide and Seek’
Air Date: December 1st, 2021
Directed: Bert & Bertie (1)
Written: Katie Mathewson (1) & Tanner Bean (1)
One of the other kids in young Maya’s martial arts class is credited as ‘Little Kazi’, pointing to them being life-long friends.
In his death scene, Maya’s father leaves a bloody handprint on her face. In the comics, she has a white handprint… tattoo? Marking? Something!
Clint’s arrows have field tips, the kind used for target practice. Can’t have our heroes killing people (in the present), right?!
We learn via a series of flashbacks that Echo grew up deaf, with her father unable to afford to send her to a school for the hearing impaired. She worries she’ll have to stop signing to fit in, but her father says she will learn to move between two worlds.
Young Maya excelled in karate classes (despite also having an artificial foot) thanks to her ability to read body language. Her father tells her that “Uncle” will take her home, and a clearly enormous man shot from the chest down pinches her cheek…
As an adult her martial arts skills advanced even further, but nothing could prepare her for the night that The Ronin slaughtered members of the Tracksuit Mafia… including her father, who dies in her arms.
Back in the present, she interrogates Clint, disappointed that he relies on a hearing aid and isn’t fully fluent in ASL. He asserts that Kate definitely isn’t Ronin, claiming he saw Black Widow kill Ronin.
Echo isn’t buying it, but while she bickers with Kazi and the Tracksuits, Clint frees himself and leads them all away.
He and Echo go a couple of rounds during which she breaks his hearing aid but he retrieves his bow, letting him cut through the Tracksuits and free Kate.
The two sides engage in frantic car chase across the city, with Kate hanging out the window to shoot an assortment of Trick Arrows (they’re all out of regulars), culminating in a daring leap off a bridge using a grapple-hook arrow.
They return to Kate’s aunt’s apartment to feed Lucky the Pizza Dog, with Kate having to help Clint through a phone conversation with his son that he can’t hear.
Kazi warns Echo how unhappy ‘Uncle’ will be about their pursuit of Hawkeye, but she takes it as a challenge to her authority and insists he look more into Clint
A doctor fixes Clint’s hearing aid and the two archers get breakfast. He warns her about the hero lifestyle, and she proposes he upgrade to a more iconic costume, which she terribly sketches for him.
Clint tells her that Echo works for someone far scarier, and that Ronin took out members of the Tracksuits, hence the grudge. Kate is adamant Jack is somehow tied to the whole thing, so they sneak into her mother’s penthouse to browse Bishop Security files.
They learn that Kazi is an employee of a company called Sloan Limited, which Clint recognises. Before he can reveal why he wanders off to investigate a noise and ends up with the Ronin sword across his throat…
This was my least favourite of the series so far, which a cursory glance of the internet tells me is an unpopular opinion. In theory, Clint and Kate making their daring escape from the Tracksuit Mafia was exciting. But all of the best moments of that lengthy car chase were featured heavily in the promos, so I found it disappointing. I wasn’t expecting Children of Men level camera work from the car chase, but they gave it a 60-second try, I suppose, and it was more ambitious than your average Marvel camerawork.
Some of the effects on the trick arrows looked like absolute garbage, in particular the putty arrow, going against my comments for episodes 1 and 2 that this was the closest they’ve come to movie quality in their TV shows. The Pym Arrow was half fun, half eye-rolling. The return of the USB arrow from The Avengers was cute, though.
Unfortunately, that car chase was Kate’s biggest contribution to the episode, and while she’s by no means bad in the rest of the episode, I personally noticed her reduced/simpler role. Some of the bonding was decent, particularly them talking past each other before his hearing aid gets fixed, and the recurring theme of the Disney+ shows of finding ways to give nods to heroes’ campy costumes of decades past, this time with Kate sketching it out on a napkin.
The ending also felt abrupt, again, likely because of how much of the runtime was devote to two action sequences I didn’t really care for, but also because every time Kate uses the Bishop Security spyware, it’s felt clumsy and rushed. This time it was Kate knowing how to spell Kazi’s full name on her first attempt. Similarly, during the opening brawl/chase the Tracksuit Mafia vanished into thin air until the plot demanded they come back, which was uncharacteristically clunky for these productions. It’s also worth noting this is the shortest episode so far, which only contributes to the ‘oh, is that the end?’ factor.
All of that being said, the episode contained some of my favourite individual moments to date, with Echo’s flashback (let the Kingpin speculation rage on) and Clint struggling without his hearing aid (more on that below). But because these end up bookending the action sequence, and are not followed by a satisfying ending, it’s difficult to praise the entire episode.
The use of Sammy Davis Jr.’s ‘Sweet Gingerbread Man’ in the end credits was inspired.
Most Marvellous Player
Against all odds… I think I have to give this to Jeremy Renner. His performance in the scene where he can’t hear his son during a phone call may be the finest acting I’ve seen from him in anything. As I’ve said in previous episodes, he’s a pretty cold performer and I often feel like there is nothing behind his eyes, but he crushed this scene. His work was supported by some great audio effects work to try and express how he and Echo experience the world, and I was impressed by how he handled all of the scenes where he was playing deaf, including trying to express that his ASL is… patchy. Furthermore, while in general he’s been the worst Avenger, it is totally believable that he would be able to take charge of the interrogation and calm a terrified Kate, because he’s still a career secret agent.
It’s not that Hailee Steinfeld was bad, it was just a far smaller role, and as I said earlier, her main contribution was delivering bleh quips about the Trick Arrows during an extended car chase. She was perfectly fine in the diner conversation (both she and Renner did a good job with the direct-to-camera POV acting there), but the material she was handed was definitely a step below the first two episodes which gave her a chance to show off how many hats she can wear.
With the episode named after her character and a spin-off incoming, I couldn’t help but to continue to feel Alaqua Cox has been set up to fail. She gave a perfectly solid supporting performance, but I can’t see her in a leading role yet. Darnell Besaw nailed the assignment of sad child.
Frae Fee impressed me in his pleas with Echo, and it was really nice to see Zahn McClarnon as Echo’s father in flashbacks, where overflows with humanity. I hope we see a couple more of them in future episodes.
As mentioned above, I wasn’t blown away by Echo’s first real appearance. Sure, she gets in some little disses to Clint and impose her will on both heroes to an extent, but given she is meant to be the leader of the villain faction (you can argue Jack is the main antagonist), I expected a tad more from her. Establishing that Clint murdered her father during his time as Ronin, coupled with her general struggles with growing up poor, deaf and with one foot all make her far too sympathetic to be a villain in my opinion. I like that her jacket has the same design as her father’s chest tattoo.
Luckily, The Tracksuit Mafia are still pulling their weight, both as disposable henchmen to be run through, and with the goofball antics such as the Imagine Dragons shtick. Kazi acts as the bridge between them and Echo, demonstrating a surprisingly sensitive side, potentially because they’ve known each other since childhood, or because he’s in love with her. We shall see. Definitely a far cry from the Murder Clown Enforcer role he played in the comics.
‘Uncle’ is set up to be a huge deal, and with the Kingpin speculation running rampant, we may have a Mephisto situation on our hands if it’s not him. Having ties to Echo and the Tracksuits would fit with the comic story, and the expensive suit, GIANT hand and Clint saying he’s not someone you want to mess with fit his profile…
Jack raises a sword to Clint… That is all. (In the comics he trained Clint in sword fighting, so it’s possible that relationship will carry over here and episode four will open with them doing the whole “Clint?” “Jack?” thing.)
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