This episode pulled back a bit on the character-building storylines of the previous two in favor of action and a long if inventively shot car chase, with the exception of one meaty scene I will get to. It also has the origin of one of the villains (a character who will eventually get her own series), wrapped up in a cliffhanger.
The origin story is Maya Lopez, aka Echo, the leader of the Trackside Mafia. (Though I don't think much of her leadership abilities, since she's overseeing a bunch of idiots.) We see scenes between her and her father, with him explaining why he enrolled the Deaf girl in a hearing school--she has to serve as a bridge between the two worlds. Maya also has a prosthetic foot, but despite this she proves to be a badass at her karate lessons, mopping up opponents by observing them and mimicking their fighting style. Her story comes to head when she is grown and comes home to none other than the Ronin decimating the previous incarnation of the Tracksides and killing her father, which explains why in the previous episodes and in this one she is so determined to hunt him down.
Coming back to the present day, Kate and Clint are still tied up at the warehouse and Maya comes out to interrogate them. She demands to know why Kate was wearing the Ronin suit if she isn't the Ronin, and Clint spins her a technically true line of bullshit about the Ronin being dead, killed by the Black Widow. Maya asks how he knows this, and he says, "I was there." Which is again technically true, but it also leaves a large elephant trumpeting in the corner of the room: what will Kate do when she finds out her hero, the Avenger she idolizes, is actually the man who murdered so many people during the five years of the Blip? That revelation does not happen this day, as Clint manages to escape his bonds and he and Echo fight their merry way across the warehouse. Clint finds his bow and arrows and manages to skewer most of the Tracksuits, and even frees Kate with an arrow piercing the duct tape binding her hands. The two of them burst out of the warehouse and steal a car outside. Since in the process of fighting Echo Clint lost his hearing aids (she actually stomped on one of them), Clint is trying to get Kate to drive, but as Echo and the remainder of the Tracksuits burst out after them, there isn't time. Clint takes the wheel and speeds off, leaving Kate to shoot the remainder of his arrows--the "trick" ones--in an effort to stop their pursuers.
This is the aforementioned chase scene, and it's a doozy. For nearly half its length, the camera is sitting in the back seat of the car, pivoting between Kate and Clint in the front and the pursuers barreling after them. I'm sure it was cleverly edited together, and there are some cuts later on, but the first section looks like it was shot in one take. Kate works her way through all of Clint's trick arrows: one spits out purple bubbling Play-Dough that covers and blocks a pursuer's windshield, one blows up a following van, one sticks to the windshield and sends out threads grabbing whatever is nearby (since they're wheeling through a Christmas tree lot at the time, this means the trees are whipped back and bound to the vehicle), and the last one, a one-two punch employed on the last pursuers, sends a normal arrow straight into the air intersected by an arrow marked "Pym", which nicks the first, blows it up into an enormous size, and pierces the truck coming towards Kate and Clint. This takes place on a bridge, and Kate and Clint then jump over the side. Clint shoots a grappling arrow which latches on to the side of the bridge, enabling them to swing to the top of a passing string of subway cars on the tracks beneath.
After this bit of excitement, Kate and Clint return to her aunt's apartment, where the (as yet unnamed) one-eyed dog was left. Clint is without his hearing aids, and through a good use of sound design, we hear what he can hear--which is almost nothing: voices are muffled and faint in the distance, the words not understandable. Because of this, when Clint's son Nathaniel calls to check on Daddy and ask if he's going to make it home for Christmas, Kate has to write what the kid is saying on a pad so Clint can respond to it. This scene is well acted by Hailee Steinfeld, the expressions on her face showing that she realizes how much Clint cares for his family, and the sacrifice he is making to stay in New York to help her.
Later on, they head to a street doctor Kate knows to get Clint's hearing aid fixed. Afterwards, sitting in a nearby restaurant eating (and feeding the dog more pizza), we get to the meaty character scene I referenced earlier. (This is one advantage of watching this on streaming, that I could pause the scene as it went along and write out all the dialogue.)
Kate: "I know this may sound weird, but I've dreamed of this for as long as I can remember. My dad was fearless, and his whole life was about helping people. When I put that suit on [the Ronin suit], I thought, this is it. This is the moment I become who I'm supposed to be."
Clint: "I remember the day I thought the same thing. You know, it comes with a price."
"This life you want to live. To really help people. I mean, try to help people, anyway. It comes with a lot of sacrifices, and some things you'll lose forever." (As Clint says this, a shadow passes over his face, and you know he's thinking of Natasha.)
"Well, there's also the things you gain, like trick arrows and cool costumes. Speaking of which, I've been thinking about your branding problem." (At this, Clint shakes his head and looks down in despair, knowing Kate's not listening to a word he's saying.) "You need a more recognizable costume."
"You realize my job for the past 20 years was to be not recognizable, right?"
"Well, you've officially failed at that. Picture this in purple." (Shows Clint a sketch)
"Oh, wow. What's that on his head?"
"It's your head. Wings, like a hawk. That's an H on your forehead. For Hawkeye."
"Well, not happening."
"What if it was all black? All black, with a mask? Maybe a hood?" Since this is essentially the Ronin suit, Kate goes into an aside: "You can't say who Ronin is because it's someone close to you, right? [Ya think?] It's your job to keep their secret."
Clint ignores this: "There are several reasons I'd never wear a flashy costume. My job is to be, number one, a ghost. Number two, my wife would divorce me if I put something like this on. And number three, I'm not a role model. I'm sorry, Kate, I'm not a role model. Never have been."
"What? Yes, you are. You are. You came here. You left your family at Christmas because you thought some stranger was going to get hurt. You stuck around even though I screwed up. And now you're stuck. Whether you like it or not. The Tracksuits have connected us both to Ronin, and it's pretty clear they're not just going to drop this."
"Well, that you are not wrong about."
"Not to mention the fact that my mom might be marrying a murderer."
"And then there's that."
"As far as I'm concerned, we're in this together."
Since there's not much else Clint can do at this point, he gives in. Kate insists on sneaking into her mother's penthouse and using the resources of Bishop Security to dig up dirt on the Tracksuits and/or Jack, so they go there (all three of them, including the newly-christened Pizza Dog). Kate inexpertly tries to hack her mother's laptop and eventually gets locked out, but not before discovering something about an organization known as Sloan Enterprises. Clint, meanwhile, wanders around the obscenely luxurious penthouse--and runs across Jack, who flicks out the retractable Ronin sword and holds it to his throat.
This episode really shows off the Kate/Clint dynamic, and it's fascinating to watch. Perhaps Kate is also coming round to the conclusion that she's not as invincible or smart as she previously thought? At any rate, though I don't think this is going to be my favorite Marvel series (WandaVision and Loki jointly hold that title), this show is growing on me.
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