About this episode
– Episode 6 (of 6), ‘So This Is Christmas?’
– Written by Jonathan Igla and Elisa Clement
– Directed by Rhys Thomas
Spoilers for the entire season of Hawkeye follow. You’ve been warned.
If anyone had told us six weeks ago that a TV show about the guy with arrows would arguably be the MCU’s best small screen offering, we’d have assumed you were joking. But, while WandaVision arguably wins out in terms of invention and emotional depth, Hawkeye is out in front when it comes to consistency of vision and the development of its characters.
Breaking the tradition of its more open-ended Disney Plus predecessors, this entertaining season finale feels like the end of a story rather than the beginning of another. Since the start of its run, Hawkeye has been seeding ideas and plotlines that – with very few exceptions – are resolved satisfactorily here. And, in the interconnected worlds of the MCU, that’s about as close to a standalone adventure as you’re going to get.
‘So This Is Christmas?’ picks up where episode 5 left off, with the video of Eleanor Bishop’s meeting with the infamous Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin. Back in the famous white suit he wore in Netflix’s Daredevil TV series, Vincent D’Onofrio wastes little time reminding us that Marvel villains don’t need the power to snap half the life in the universe out of existence to be intimidating.
It turns out that Eleanor Bishop came into his service to repay her late husband’s debts, and is now in so deep that she had to orchestrate Armand Duquesne’s death, framing her hapless fiancé, Jack, in the process. With Kate now sucked into this criminal underworld, she’s keen to walk away from Wilson Fisk’s business, but that’s never going to happen – as Kingpin later puts it to Kazi, “She thinks she can quit her job as if she works for Goldman Sachs!?” Regardless of whether this Kingpin exists in the same timeline as Daredevil, his terrifying presence instantly makes it clear why Marvel could never have contemplated casting anyone other than D’Onofrio in the role: he’s just that good.
And, although Fisk’s screen time is relatively brief, his considerable shadow looms large throughout the episode. As soon as Maya asks for “a break” from the criminal underworld she’s been embroiled in for years, he realizes that his adoptive daughter is about to turn on him, and his perfectly pitched emotional manipulation shows that his success in the crime world isn’t based on intimidation alone.
Eleanor’s business dealings with Kingpin have also ensured that this is well and truly Kate’s mess but, with his Ronin problems seemingly solved, Clint isn’t going to let her clear it up by herself – even though the doors on his kids’ advent calendars are nearly all open. She’s his partner, he finally admits, in a genuinely lovely moment reciprocated a few minutes later when she tells him how seeing Hawkeye “fighting aliens with a stick and a string” taught her that anyone can be a hero.
And so, after a MacGyver/The A-Team-inspired montage that sees the duo assembling a new arsenal of trick arrows – the use of Dymo tape labels is a wonderful DIY touch – they head off to the Christmas party where everyone is on the guest list. Indeed, despite Kate’s insistence that it’s a formal do, the door policy is lax enough to allow Tracksuits, LARPers, Russian assassins and even Jack’s sword through the doors. It’s a slight mark on Hawkeye’s stellar sheet so far but, in the grand scheme of things, we’re willing to let it slide.
As is fitting for the lavish Bishop Security party, there’s a sense that no expense has been spared, leaving you to suspect that the relatively quiet fourth and fifth episodes were simply cash-saving exercises ahead of this Rockefeller Plaza showdown. There’s loads going on here, too, whether it’s Kate’s fun scrap with Yelena – Kate’s push-all-the-elevator-buttons trick is hilariously juvenile – or Clint scrapping with Kazi, who’s apparently elevated himself to full-on bad guy status. Go figure.
And, of course, those aforementioned arrows come into play. Much as Marvel did with Black Widow, the studio plays out its Bond and Mission: Impossible fantasies with some seriously inventive gadgets. How 007 would love to the chance to play with arrows that freeze a bad guy’s legs, or shrink a van to the size of a toy, we can only guess.
If the beautifully choreographed action sequences – including Kate holding her own against the formidable Kingpin – show Marvel having fun, the episode continues Hawkeye’s tradition of keeping its character beats in the foreground. Maya gets a tearful goodbye with Kazi, who admits he has no desire to leave the criminal life behind, while Clint’s strategic deployment of Natasha’s signature whistle allows him to get through to a Yelena hell-bent on killing him. Their heart-to-heart allows both to find some peace about the loss of a woman they both loved and, unsurprisingly given how Yelena has tracked him for three episodes now, to go their separate ways.
While it’s refreshing to see a Marvel story tying up some loose ends, however, there’s also a sense that everything’s been wrapped up in an implausibly neat bow as Christmas Day makes its grand entrance.
Although Eleanor ends the episode under arrest for murder, everybody who deserves a happy ending essentially gets one – whether it’s Yelena learning the truth about Natasha’s death, the swashbuckling Jack potentially finding LARPing outlet for his sword skills, or Clint, Kate and Lucky the Pizza Dog making it back to the Barton farm just in time for Christmas. Maya even gets to fire a shot in the direction of Kingpin as revenge for her father’s death, though the fact we don’t see Fisk die on screen suggests he probably lives to fight another day.
And that’s probably a good thing – after all, you don’t go to the effort of bringing back one of Marvel’s most iconic villains only to kill him off one episode later. This is a man with a long history of getting back up off the floor, and he’d surely make one hell of an antagonist for the upcoming Echo spin-off. The MCU, then, hasn’t seen the last of Wilson Fisk…
Hawkeye doesn’t alter the course of the MCU as WandaVision and Loki did, but the show’s self-contained nature has arguably been its biggest strength from the start. While the extended version of ‘Save the City’ from Rogers: The Musical is a welcome Christmas gift from Marvel, the fact that it doesn’t set up an upcoming movie or TV show is a massive change of pace for the MCU, where end-credits stings are an integral part of the brand.
Beyond proving that Marvel is as adept at street-level mini-series as it is at blockbuster movies, though, Hawkeye’s biggest legacy may be character-based.
Newcomer Alaqua Cox’s brilliant portrayal of Maya Lopez has already done more than enough to make us excited for the Echo TV show, while Jeremy Renner has belatedly lifted Clint Barton up to the Avengers’ top-table. In Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, meanwhile, the show has discovered one of the most exciting talents in the MCU. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we see her taking aim again. Maybe alongside Florence Pugh’s Yelena in a new buddy cop show or movie? We can but dream.
- The episode’s title, ‘So This Is Christmas?’, references a line from John Lennon’s perennial Christmas hit Happy Xmas (War is Over).
- Vincent D’Onofrio’s most famous pre-Kingpin roles include the ill-fated Private Pyle in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, and Edgar the Bug in the first Men in Black.
- It’s heavily implied that the entitled kid who teases Jack at the party – the one who peed his pants in the Hamptons – is Kingpin’s son. (Presumably that makes him Princepin or even Kidpin?) This raises more questions about whether Wilson Fisk’s appearances in Daredevil are part of MCU continuity. The final season of Daredevil debuted in 2018, while Hawkeye is set at the end of 2024. While he looks a bit older than six, it’s conceivable that the child was born after we last saw Fisk in Daredevil – assuming, of course, he wasn’t blipped out of existence by Thanos…
- There’s a poster for Dragons of Despair in Grills’ flat, a reference to a 1984 Dungeons & Dragons storyline written by Tracy Hickman.
- Kate and Clint’s new-look costumes are clearly inspired by their outfits in the Matt Fraction/David Aja Hawkeye comic-book run, which has been a huge influence on the show.
- With Kate Bishop leaping out of a skyscraper over Christmas, it would be remiss not to mention the parallels with Die Hard – especially as it was one of the movies Kate brought along for the movie marathon in episode 4.
- During Kate and Kingpin’s fight in the FAO Schwarz toy shops, we get a brief sighting of the store’s giant piano – made famous by Tom Hanks in Big.
- Jack steals a catchphrase from Doctor Who regular River Song when he announces his arrival with a, “Hello, sweetie!”
- When Clint says, “I’ll have to ask Scott about that one” in relation to the shrunken Trust a Bro van, he’s referring to Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man.
- The SHIELD logo on the back of Laura Barton’s watch confirms that she was an ex-operative known as Agent 19, who also goes by the pseudonym Mockingbird in Marvel comics.
- Will any of Kate’s suggestions for her new superhero alias catch on? Ladyhawk does have some Marvel history, having been used as a shared identity by twins Rosetta and Regina Morgan. (Ladyhawke is also the name of a 1985 fantasy movie and the stage name of New Zealand singer Pip Brown.) Hawk Eve and Hawk Shot seem to have originated in Kate’s imagination, but Lady Arrow could be a sly reference to the Distinguished Competition at DC – Emiko Queen, younger sister of Oliver ‘Green Arrow’ Queen has worked as Red Arrow.
- If you were wondering why the camera keeps cutting to a guy who seems to be enjoying Rogers: The Musical a little bit too much, there’s a good reason – it’s Marc Shaiman, the real-life composer of ‘Save the City’.
- This episode contains the first on-screen confirmation that Pizza Dog has been named Lucky, the canine’s name in the comics.
- Yelena’s episode 5 reference to the refurbished Statue of Liberty implies that Hawkeye takes place a few weeks before (or after, depending on what she means yb refurbished) the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
- No Way Home also features a poster for Rogers: The Musical – it’s clearly a massive Broadway hit across the MCU.
The entire season of Hawkeye is available to stream on Disney Plus now.