Hawkeye, Episodes 1 + 2
Kate Bishop starts by taking a bow.
TV REVIEW /// Hawkeye, Episode 1, "Never Meet Your Heroes"
Episode summary: Archer Kate Bishop lands in the middle of a criminal conspiracy, forcing Hawkeye out of retirement. (IMDb)
An odd question to start with: if I was to admit that I absolutely love and adore the Matt Fraction/David Aja comic book run this show is very heavily based on, would that make me more inclined to criticise it for not living up to the source material or to go easy on it thanks to my fondness for its origins? For this episode, I suppose it doesn't really matter as Hawkeye gets off to a simply 'good, but not great' start.
Although I will confess that getting to see the Battle of New York from The Avengers from the perspective of a young Kate Bishop was pretty great. I always love when works re-visit older material from new angles. Spoiler alert, but Kate loses her father at this time and dedicates herself to protecting her family as a result. Losing a parent/parental figure and committing to a life of danger as a result? Seems pretty Spider-Man/Batman-esque, right?
Yet there are some (men) who can't understand why the grown-up Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) is pursuing the lifestyle she has chosen. It seems pretty standard superhero fare to me, and the show makes clear that she has dedicated herself from that young age (trophies for martial arts, archery, gymnastics and more) to becoming the best 'hero' she can be, even if she hasn't quite joined the circus of superheroism yet.
Steinfeld is pretty good as Kate, although a little hampered narratively in this episode thanks to having so much story and fleshing out of her character being a requirement. Much like the other MCU heroes though, she's likeable enough that the more awkwardly-scripted parts are easy to gloss over so that you can enjoy the better stuff which will hopefully become the standard going forward.
Clint (Jeremy Renner yet again) on the other hand, has been around for a decade now as an Avenger, so he doesn't get as much attention as you'd expect from one of the title characters as this episode is really about establishing how his life is going post-Avengers: Endgame. Hearing issues and trying to play the happy dad while suffering PTSD from Black Widow's death in that movie makes for an interesting mixture to say the least.
The best parts of his story are his reactions to the how the world has changed - a Steve Rogers musical, pro-Thanos graffiti and sheepishly accepting a free meal for his past heroics just serve as constant reminders of much one part of his life has affected the family life he's been trying to concentrate on since Captain America: Civil War, but also prove to be neat nuggets of world-building to show how things are different from our own.
"Never Meet Your Heroes" gets the series off to a solid start, bringing everyone up to date with where Jeremy Renner's Clint is in his life, while also introducing Kate Bishop and her... complicated family life. While much of the episode is setting the stage for things to come, the Christmas setting lends it a very different feeling to much of the MCU and, Clint and Kate make for quite the intriguing and contrasting protagonists.
[7/10 - Good]
TV REVIEW /// Hawkeye, Episode 2, "Hide and Seek"
Episode summary: Clint has to help Kate disentangle herself from the Tracksuit Mafia and a real-life murder mystery. (IMDb)
"Hide and Seek" is definitely a much funnier episode of Hawkeye and more... things happen than in the first episode, yet the rather abrupt ending and lack of any real story progression makes it feel less substantial somehow. It's weird because I can see a lot of people liking this episode more than the first due to the level of humour present, but it definitely feels less vital.
And it really is a very funny episode, with some genuinely laugh out loud moments not just from how Clint and Kate behave with each other (grumpy dad who just wants to spend Christmas with his family and an over-eager young woman who idolises said grumpy git to the point of irritating the life out of him), but also how they react to various events in their own lives.
The problem is that the humour feels like it's masking the fact that nothing of genuine substance takes place - the episode ends with the Tracksuit Mafia still very much anti-Kate Bishop, and Clint just wanting things to be over so he can leave New York and head home. That's pretty much how the first episode left things, so you can see how little happens here.
While funny, some scenes such as Clint taking part in a Live Action Role-Playing event in order to get his Ronin suit (from Avengers: Endgame) back do go on a little too long. It's a highly entertaining sequence, but it lasts quite a while for only one thing of note to happen during it. With only six episodes in the season, I can't help but wish the pacing was just a little bit better.
Of course, how you view this episode will depend on what you're expecting from it - if you want the usual MCU banter and bickering between the heroes as shit goes down around them, then you'll love this episode. If, like me, you're worried that the slow plot progression means we could be heading towards another rushed ending... maybe not so much.
"Hide and Seek" is an okay follow-up that relies heavily on the chemistry between Clint and Kate, who are fortunately great together. This episode is a lot funnier than the first, and I really enjoyed the interactions between the central duo, but it really feels like the plot of the show was put on hold for an episode as a result, with some scenes dragging on a little longer than needed too.