Plot summary: Clint and Kate’s budding partnership hits a snag in the form of an elite assassin.
Episode Title: ‘Partners, Am I Right?’
Air Date: December 8th, 2021
Directed: Bert & Bertie (2)
Written: Erin Cancino (1) & Heather Quinn (1)
Hawkeye’s talent for coin tricks is a nod to his older brother, Barney, teaching them to him during their days in a circus, where he also learned swordsmanship from Jack Duquesne. The end credits show a bottle being broken by a coin.
The cop that fetches Clint’s Trick Arrows shares a name with the costumed villain Bombshell in the comics, hence her having that written on her bag.
In a messed up call-back, the music playing when Clint cuts Kate’s line is the same as Black Widow’s death scene from Endgame.
Picking up where we were last episode, Jack holds Clint at sword-point, but recognises him and we quickly transition to an awkward cup of tea. Eleanor is displeased about her daughter being put in danger, so politely asks Clint to bounce and then calls somebody…
On his way out, Clint steals the Ronin sword back and asks Laura to investigate Sloan, the company Kate found Kazi associated with last episode. She almost immediately discovers Jack is the CEO and is “laundering money for The Big Guy.”
Kate drops in on Clint at her aunt’s apartment, bringing pizza and Christmas movies. They bond, decorate a tree, wreck a poster with a permanent marker and Clint teachers her coin tricks. It’s adorable.
Clint also shares his side of the story of how he met Natasha and recruited her into S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of going through with his ordered assassination. Kate also pieces together that he was Ronin.
The next morning, Clint sends Kate to meet the LARP group from Episode 2 as a tracer shows that his trick arrows are at an NYPD facility. She trades them supplies for more costumes and asks them to make two more…
Meanwhile Clint lets himself into Kazi’s car to point out that Maya’s obsession with Ronin could cause problems with the Tracksuits’ boss, asking him to try and talk her down.
(Re-)armed and dangerous, the two archers stake out the address where (per Laura’s research), the Rolex recovered from Avengers Compound from Episode 1 is located.
Kate goes against all of his advice and infiltrates the apartment instead of playing lookout. She finds both the Rolex and a notepad with the names and ages of Clint’s kids.
Oh, and it turns out to be Echo’s apartment and attacks Kate while Clint battles a masked assailant. One zip-line arrow later, and all four congregate on a rooftop for an all-out brawl.
Kate sets off a flash-bang arrow, which takes everybody down. Echo runs and Clint unmasks… Yelena! She knocks Clint down and flees. Clint tells Kate that somebody hiring a Black Widow makes things too dangerous and tells her to hit the bricks.
Easily my favourite episode.
Call me crazy, but I like it when characters are friends and have fun together. Thus far, Marvel’s interpretation of television has been longer, cheaper movies with cliffhangers. More run time means more conversations, but those conversations are normally just more exposition or saying the themes aloud. However, in this episode they have at last seemed to twig that extra runtime can be used for things like a ten-minute hang session where our heroes (drunkenly?) decorate a Christmas tree and teach each other coin tricks. It doesn’t advance The Plot, it isn’t ‘necessary’, but it’s lovely and makes me want to see this partnership continue, which is WILD given that coming into the show I was of the mindset that I’ll tolerate more Jeremy Renner in order to get rid of him forever. Now I think I want him to stick around, albeit in a (somehow) smaller role, occasionally popping up to bicker with Kate. And just to cap off my previous point, I think most of us agree that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was terrible (shout out to my colleague who said it is his favourite MCU thing of 2021), but the best episode was one where the two heroes were nice to each other and fixed a boat together.
I’ve been patiently waiting for Yelena to show up, and while I’m bummed she didn’t say a word in her debut at the end of the episode, it was certainly an effective little fight scene (thanks to the mask allowing a stunt performer to do all the moves instead of Florence Pugh). And of course she does the superhero pose. Clint going from trying to make a go of mentoring Kate to demanding she remove herself because things just got serious. Speaking of Black Widows, Clint opening up to Kate about Natasha was nice, telling us his perspective on the story of how they met that she previously told.
There is potentially some hinting that Laura Barton has some kind of past in Clint’s line of work, with her fluency in German, ability to run intel for him in minutes and the ongoing mystery of the rolex which may in fact be hers. Previously I said how nice it was that he clearly talked to her about his job, but pairing that with this episode suggests a little more may be going on with her. Perhaps she is a retired Mockingbird (Clint’s most enduring love interest in the comics, played by Adrienne Palicki in the semi-canonical Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), or a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or something. In fact, Tony Stark joked that she must be an agent when the Avengers first met his secret family, and they do love to bring back throwaway lines years later…
Most Marvellous Player
Nobody is more shocked than me that Jeremy Renner is again clearly the best actor in an episode of this show. I was utterly convinced I would award this category to Hailee Steinfeld for six weeks in a row, but couldn’t argue with Renner’s work last week which I said was the best I’d ever seen him act in anything. He’s not quite on that level here, but he’s again so endearing and easy to connect with during that Christmas bonding session. He is surprisingly great at the light-hearted stuff, looking/being drunk as he helps decorate a Christmas tree and generally messes around with Kate, and teaching her about stealth during the apartment stakeout. But he also nails his two emotional low points, first telling Kate about his decision to recruit Natasha instead of kill her, and then claiming he’s nothing more than a weapon.
Steinfeld gave him more of a fight this time though, as she is so good at trolling Clint with her fandom. We saw a lot of that in episode 2, and it resurfaces here when she tries to explain how chill she is to her mother, and then tells the old man that she’s talking to an Avenger while making an adorable face. She’s also great at reluctantly enjoying hanging out with Eleanor and Jack. My assertion that they’d transplanted Clint’s comic personality onto Kate was categorically proven correct here, as their exchange about boomerang arrows is lifted directly from the book, but with the roles reversed:
Vera Farmiga does some nice subtle ‘I’m secretly a villain’ work here, her eyes conveying more than simple concern for her daughter’s safety when she sees an Avenger in her house. This pairs nicely with Tony Dalton’s overly dopey stepfather routine that is clearly a way to divert attention from his criminal enterprise.
Finally, it’s a tiny thing, but I loved the return of the LARPers, in particular Adetinpo Thomas as Wendy, whose delivery of the whole “this is my bag” thing was a fantastic little awkward, true to life exchange.
While Jack is confirmed as the criminal we always suspected, serving as a money launderer for the Tracksuit Mafia and their unseen boss, it also becomes more apparent that Eleanor may be in on the whole thing. I like the way she hurries Clint out, namedrops Black Widow and correctly ‘assumes’ that he has children, only to later put in a phone call to an unknown individual, who clearly in turn supplies Echo with information about them.
Kazi may not be the hired Murder Clown he is in the comics, but Fra Fee does make him into a fun little second-in-command. Not to be taken seriously, but still looks like he may end up instrumental to the plot.
Seriously, if Kingpin isn’t coming then they have some ‘splaining to do, labelling the Tracksuits’ unseen boss as “The Big Guy”, and Clint talking about how much Kazi’s boss doesn’t like attention after all of the stuff from last week.
One assumes Yelena will abandon her mission to kill Clint and end up BFFs with Kate, but one also assumes Echo will end up on the side of the angels given she’s getting her own show, and I’ve been listing her in this section. Both are badasses, but they do not have a lot of runway left to land that side-swapping plane.
Check out The Matt Signal Beyond, in which I recap episodes of Batman Beyond every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend Terry investigates a suspicious psychiatric clinic and Curare returns.
There Will Be Movies continues each Wednesday, as Ben Phillips and I talk about 25 of our favourite movies from the 90s. Frequently daydream about quitting your boring 9-5? Well then do we have the episode for you this week as we discuss Office Space.