Plot summary: All roads lead to Eleanor’s Christmas Party as Clint, Kate, Yelena, Kazi, Maya and Kingpin make their moves.
Episode Title: ‘So This Is Christmas?’
Air Date: December 22nd, 2021
Directed: Rhys Thomas (3)
Written: Jonathan Igla (2) & Elisa Climent (2)
Wilson Fisk’s colourful wardrobe is a nod to ‘Spider-Man: Family Business’
In the comics, Clint’s ex-wife/recurring love interest, Mockingbird, was also known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 19. Her watch bears the organisation’s logo and the number 19.
Once again, Tony Stark’s first line of dialogue when meeting Laura was “this is an agent of some kind.”
We see the meeting that Yelena captured on film last episode, with Eleanor trying to politely back out of her partnership with Wilson Fisk (inherited via her late-husband’s crippling debt to Fisk).
Naturally, Kate is stunned by the reveal and Clint warns Kingpin will take big messy revenge and tells her that they’re partners and he won’t leave until her mess is cleaned up as well.
Maya meets with Fisk and Kazi and is lightly scolded for how much attention her vendetta against Ronin drew to their operation. She claims to have seen the error in her ways, pledging to refocus… after some time off.
Fisk acquiesces, but after she leaves he expresses his displeasure with recent events to a terrified Kazi. They agree Maya has turned on them and Fisk orders Kazi to take care of her.
It all goes down at Eleanor’s Christmas party, with Kazi setting up as a sniper in the building opposite, the LARPers acting as waiters and Yelena arriving as a guest. Kate takes her mother out back to get her away from windows and confront her about Fisk.
Kazi decides Hawkeye makes just a good a target and opens fire, but Clint notices his dot sight in time and avoids the shot and orders everyone to evacuate.
Kate spots Yelena heading after Clint and runs interference, fighting and bickering with her throughout the building. Yelena eventually jumps out the window and abseils down it.
Clint shoots a gas arrow from an open window all the way across the street, flushing Kazi out. He barely avoids getting shot in the face by a passing Yelena thanks to Kate’s warning.
The Tracksuits arrive just as Kate reaches street level and she and a rapier-wielding Jack fight them off together while Clint battles Kazi and uses the zip-line to… get stuck in the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
Kate shoots out the tree restraints, bringing it down, and she and Clint make their stand on the ice rink, unleashing Trick Arrows on the never-ending Tracksuits, including freeze, magnet and another Pym arrow.
Kate battles Kingpin – who shrugs off an arrow to the chest and Eleanor ramming him with her car. He snaps all of her arrows in half, but she pickpockets one of his cufflinks and uses Clint’s coin-flick method to set off one of the explosive arrows on the floor directly below him.
The Bishops argue about Eleanor’s actions before she is led away in cuffs thanks to Kate turning over evidence to the police. She does not take it well.
Yelena attacks Clint ferociously but he refuses to do anything more than defend himself. He tells her how Natasha died, and first she doesn’t believe him, but then scolds him for allowing her to sacrifice herself.
He finally gets through to her by doing their secret whistle from Black Widow and recounting the things Natasha told him about her. They agree on how much they loved her and part ways.
While all of this was going on, Maya arrived on the scene for an emotional battle with Kazi. He ends up accidentally stabbing himself, and then tells her to run as Fisk will come for her.
She instead meets her (somehow still alive) would-be-executioner head on… with a gun. He claims they’re family, but as the camera pans away we hear a gunshot and a thud.
On Christmas Day, Clint, Kate and Lucky the Pizza Dog return to the Barton Farm for wholesome family time. Clint returns Laura’s Rolex that the Tracksuits stole, revealing her to be a retired S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent.
Our heroes then burn the Ronin suit on a barbeque and laugh about potential superhero names for Kate. A full musical number from Rogers: The Musical plays during the credits.
It seems the Internet are having a Very Normal One about this finale, particularly the lack of a mid-credits scene that teases future projects because people have Brain Worms. It was by no means my favourite episode (tune in next time for full rankings and overall series thoughts), but it was a fun time and wrapped up basically every plot thread while also leaving a few doors slightly ajar for the Echo spin-off show and an inevitable second season.
The majority of the run-time went to the big Christmas Party action sequence, which spilled out onto Rockefeller Center. I enjoyed every bit of that, from the LARPers acting as waiters, to Clint & Kazi’s sniper fight, to Yelena and Kate’s delightfully ridiculous race to the 12th floor, and of course the ice rink showdown. They kept just enough of the ‘slow it down and embrace that this is a television show’ stuff from episodes 4 an 5 with Fisk’s conversations and Clint and Kate concocting the Trick Arrows together, but it did move firmly back into movie land for the most part, which I can forgive for a finale. I did enjoy the touch of Kate using a label maker to help identify the various Trick Arrows, which ranged dramatically from minor mischief to an act of domestic terrorism.
There was some messiness with Echo (Alaqua Cox was good, see below) that threatened to undo the balance. When Maya returned to attack Kazi I assumed it was confirmation she knew it was him that betrayed her father to Ronin on Fisk’s orders, but then their dialogue exchange would suggest otherwise, as she was continuing to ask him to run away with her and she instead only blames Fisk. Maya may realise Fisk ordered the hit on her father, but I don’t buy that she’d be willing to defend the man that actually did it from her best friend/lover. Speaking of the dialogue, Kazi’s was very obviously ADR, suggesting a last-minute rewrite that didn’t help with that haziness. I’ll get into this more in the series review.
But yeah, this was a solid finale and what the Marvel shows should be striving for. They can’t get away with Loki ‘s predominantly-talking finale every time, but this managed to be bombastic in a more satisfying way that felt organic to the rest of the show, rather than completely betraying the tone of what came before. Looking at you, Wandavision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Plus maximum Christmas!
Most Marvellous Player
Vincent D’Onofrio slipped back into the role of Wilson Fisk like a glove in the opening scene, intimidating everyone, lying through his teeth and mostly importantly always being one step ahead when it comes to a double cross. Fra Fee helped tremendously by portraying Kazi as scared as a human being is capable of looking, aware that Fisk could beat him to death at any moment. The scenes with Fisk attempting to bullshit Maya, even dropping in a touch of ASL, were great as well. It’s far from peak Daredevil Kingpin, but it’s still effortlessly better in five minutes than 50% of MCU villains thanks to subtle touches like his twitching eye. I’ll cover his… antics towards the end of the episode in the next section.
The Big Four were all tied for second place in my opinion, not afforded as many pockets to do big sexy acting due to the all-action nature of the episode. Florence Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld still have incredible chemistry. Pugh and Jeremy Renner do their best with a difficult scene with Clint having to talk Yelena out of killing him to the point I was mildly surprised they didn’t hug at the end. I would like to see them get to have a longer conversation in a future movie/season. Alaqua Cox was hypnotic in her interactions with Fisk, and sympathetic in her reluctant battle with Kazi.
Our two leads are sweet as candy in the completion of their bond, with Clint calling Kate his partner, letting her help make more Trick Arrows (after previously claiming that wasn’t possible), and of course inviting her into his family home for Christmas. Also that he asked her if she was ready instead of deciding for her like in previous episodes, and talked her through how to scope out the party for threats and assets. Okay maybe those two are tied for second, then Pugh, then Cox.
Tony Dalton took the Jack character to his natural final evolution of Himbo Swashbuckler (is himbo already implied by swashbuckler?). Walking around the party with a damn rapier hanging off his expensive suit (and bickering with a child) was one thing, but actually cutting loose on the Tracksuits was Big Funny. I predicted he, Kate, Clint and Yelena would end up LARPing at the end, but had to settle for him just asking one of the crew about it and then immediately getting distracted by his own clothes.
On the one hand, it would be extremely funny if they finally brought in an aspect of the best non-MCU Marvel property after all this time… only to immediately kill them off. On the other, it would be extremely frustrating, though perhaps for the best given the drastic changes made to Kingpin. I can overlook him ripping off a car door and barely flinching when shot with an arrow, but Fisk gets hit by a moving vehicle and stands up, and then walks away from a full-on explosion completely unscathed. All while cosplaying as Black Uncle Blastoise. I know it’s a comic reference, but it feels a little much in live action, especially with the hat. Anyway, I follow the rule that nobody in fiction is dead until you see the body, so the very deliberate choice to cut away before the gunshot leaves the door open for the first scene of Echo being her blinding him like in the comics or perhaps changing it to deafening. Either way gives you a hero/villain mirror thing. Oh, and as should be evident in the above, he was great as a threatening presence in his conversations with Eleanor and Maya, and a little over the top in his action scenes. I guess that’s what putting an MCU spin on things gets you…
Eleanor Bishop is confirmed as evil while Jack is just an idiot. Her reasons for getting into business with Fisk are justifiable, but she definitely did at least one murder, and her frankly ludicrous attitude towards Kate for calling the cops is true villainy.
The Tracksuits go out like they came in, as a nameless horde of henchmen with the exception of the comedy duo. Paying off the Imagine Dragons jokes with a slightly less shitty band in Maroon 5 was fun. But yeah, they’re all fodder for Trick Arrows, including a group who get shrunk and taken away to certain death by a terrible CGI owl.
Kazi on the other hand finally steps up to the plate as a badass, proving a decent match for Clint and catching an arrow in mid-air. He’s stone cold in the fight with Maya, stopping just short of admitting he was the informant and resents her for inheriting the leadership position from her father instead of him.
Check out The Matt Signal Beyond, in which I recap episodes of Batman Beyond every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend Batman finds himself dramatically outgunned and tangles with a sleazy journalist.
There Will Be Movies continues each Wednesday, as Ben Phillips and I talk about 25 of our favourite movies from the 90s. Foreign films are like buses, you wait forever and then two show up at once. Or something like that. Whatever, the finale for this volume is Beau Travail.