DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Hawkeye episode “Ronin” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Avengers! “Ronin” catapults the Hawkeye narrative into the stratosphere, serving up a heaping helping of action, intrigue and plot twists aplenty. Florence Pugh dazzles as Yelena Belova, breaking our hearts in one scene and mending them swiftly in the next. It’s a masterful penultimate episode.
Kingpin’s arrival feels inevitable; nevertheless, that ending is a brilliant cliffhanger. I hope this means we’ll see Daredevil soon, as this would be the opportune moment to unleash him.
I should have noted Eleanor’s deep involvement from the start — she had the motive to murder Armand. Jack might be laundering money for the Tracksuit Mafia, but he’s merely a pawn. He’s a red herring for us viewers, concealing the genuine power player in all of this.
Ready to delve into “Ronin”? Let’s get to it.
We open after the events in Black Widow, in 2018, with Yelena (Pugh) and Sonya (Yssa Mei Panganiban) breaking into Ana’s (Annie Hamilton) luxurious home. Yelena and Sonya seek to undo the brainwashing inflicted upon Ana no thanks to the Black Widow program. However, when they use synthetic gas on Ana, she appears unchanged. It turns out that Ana wasn’t brainwashed at all.
Later, Ana learns more about what Yelena and Sonya do and how many former Widows they’ve saved after the fall of Dreykov and the Widow program. Yelena heads to the bathroom, and, suddenly, she vanishes due to the Snap.
Yelena rematerializes five years later, almost instantly, when the Blip occurs. She notices her surroundings look much different. Sonya is no longer in the house, but Ana is present with her new family. Ana explains to Yelena what happened, but Yelena’s first action after missing for five years is to find Natasha. Cue the waterworks.
Next, Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) arrives home after fighting Maya and Yelena. Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is taken aback by Kate’s post-fight appearance. While tending to Kate’s wounds, Eleanor reassures her daughter that she’ll find her path. It’s inevitable.
Kate questions her next move, namely since Clint cut her loose. Steinfeld and Farmiga have excellent mother/daughter chemistry.
Meanwhile, Kazi (Fra Fee) also tends to Maya’s (Alaqua Cox) injuries. Maya tells him about the battle and that Yelena appeared unexpectedly. It looks like Clint and Kate didn’t know her, either. Kazi vows to help Maya take out Ronin, but after that, it’s bye-bye to the vengeance hunt.
Kate returns to her apartment to retrieve her belongings, only to find Yelena preparing mac ‘n cheese for them. They have a chat, much to Kate’s dismay. Yelena asserts that if she had every intention of killing Kate, she would have done so by now.
Kate learns that Yelena is Natasha Romanoff’s sister, and she wholeheartedly believes Clint murdered her. Clint’s impending death is Yelena’s assignment, straight from the big boss. Yelena wonders why Kate reveres Clint, notably because his trail of blood could “wrap around the world.” Natasha also saved humanity, and she lost her life.
Yelena urges Kate to stay out of her way before falling elegantly out of a window. This scene is fantastic, and it proves that Pugh is a tour de force as Yelena.
The following morning, Kate heads back to her mother’s place to stumble upon Jack’s (Tony Dalton) arrest. Eleanor heeded her daughter’s suggestion and looked into Jack’s ties with Sloan Limited and the Tracksuit Mafia.
Clint stands before a plaque for The Battle of New York, commemorating the names of the Avengers who fought valiantly to save the world. He talks to Natasha, hailing her as the bravest of them all. He confesses he needs his best friend and apologizes for what he’s about to do. Renner’s vulnerability here is refreshing.
Kate proceeds to leave Clint a slew of voicemails quickly, telling him she knows the assailant from the fight and Jack’s arrest. Unfortunately, she fills his voicemail inbox. Steinfeld has a knack for comedy, but those who watch Dickinson already know that.
Meanwhile, Ivan (Aleks Paunovic) and Tomas (Piotr Adamczyk) return to the Tracksuit Mafia headquarters. They’re greeted by one of Clint’s arrows, conveying a message for Maya. He wants to meet her for a showdown.
Later, Clint calls Laura (Linda Cardellini), updating her regarding his mission. Maya has the coveted watch, and she knows where Clint’s family resides. Clint vows to finish this once and for all, and Laura trusts him to do what’s necessary. Laura Barton for Spouse of the Year, folks.
Next, we see Maya and the Tracksuit Mafia waiting for Clint. However, our favorite archer surreptitiously incapacitates every Mafia member before he gets to Maya. He sports his Ronin outfit, but, of course, Maya doesn’t know it’s Clint. The pair proceed to duke it out, and it’s a gloriously choreographed fight.
After brandishing his sword at Maya, Clint unveils himself as Ronin. He not-so-subtly threatens her to stand down, and if Maya comes after him or his family, she’ll regret it. Clint also reveals that Maya’s boss hired him to kill her father.
Kate reprises her role in the ensuing battle, shooting an arrow at Maya. This move gives Clint a moment to escape. Kate catches up with Clint, and the duo takes an Uber back to Grills’s place.
Maya confronts Kazi post-Clint showdown. She asks Kazi where he was the night her father died. Kazi claims he didn’t receive a call for the meeting. Something tells me he’s blatantly lying. He is an employee for Sloan Limited, after all. Maya doesn’t seem to buy it, either.
Meanwhile, Kate informs Clint about her conversation with Yelena and that Yelena is Natasha’s sister.
We see Yelena pursue Eleanor later that morning while Clint and Kate rest at Grills’s apartment. Yelena texts Kate crucial information — she knows who hired her. It was Eleanor Bishop! Yelena also shares a photo of Eleanor with none other than Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). Kate shows the image to Clint, and the latter reveals he was worried about Kingpin’s involvement.
So, if Eleanor hired Yelena to murder Clint, does Valentina Allegra de Fontaine work for her? Methinks Kingpin called for the hit on Hawkeye, while Eleanor provided resources to implement it. Maybe seeing Clint interact with Kate catalyzed Yelena’s appearance in New York. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eleanor reached out to Kingpin when we saw her on the phone.
Who else started bawling when the episode blessed us with the Black Widow theme? Natasha’s impact resonates strongly in this outing, and it’s painful and cathartic.
Do you think we’ll see Vincent D’Onofrio in the flesh in next week’s season finale? Will we finally get an end-credit scene? How will Hawkeye tie its remaining loose threads in one episode? I hope it’s longer than the last few installments, but, like anything in life, good things come to those who wait.
The season finale of Hawkeye streams Wednesday, December 22, on Disney Plus.