If you’re looking for a little Christmas cheer, Marvel’s got plenty in Hawkeye’s first episode. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? Check. Dramatic sequences set to “Carol of the Bells?” Check. Powdery snow dusting the New York streets? Check.
But as undeniably holiday-spirited as this initial installment is, it also serves as an introduction to Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), the Big-Apple-based college student/archery and martial arts whiz who seems destined to take up the mantle of the archer who never misses.
In its opening, Hawkeye ponders the events of 2012’s Battle of New York from a civilian’s perspective—a child, at that—and it’s absolutely horrifying. Kicking Chiutari a** is cool, but being stuck while your home falls down around you is decidedly less so, as young Kate Bishop finds… and then she discovers her father died in the collapse, and terror turns to heartbreak. “I need to protect us,” she tells her mother at his funeral, and she resolves to get a bow and arrow: Just like her new hero, Hawkeye.
As a college student, Kate’s doing less protecting and more mischief-making (her archery antics topple a clock tower on her campus), but when she heads home for the holidays, her chipper mood dulls. Her wealthy socialite mother (Vera Farmiga) has a new boyfriend who Kate clearly doesn’t trust—for good reason, as it turns out later in the episode—but her mom appears head over heels. They all head to a charity auction, where a sharply black-suited Kate learns from the boyfriend’s father, Armand, that his son is engaged to her mother.
Kate had no idea, and she’s stunned by the revelation. Her mom tries to comfort her, but she says she needs to “get some air,” where she meets a one-eyed dog that she takes in later in the episode who’ll be familiar to comics fans. When she returns to the party, she glimpses her mother and Armand in the midst of what appears to be a heated argument. Her mom downplays it, but Kate’s suspicions are aroused… so much so, in fact, that she follows Armand all the way to a separate auction across the street, where black market items (like Clint’s Ronin sword and suit) are being sold. Well, that’s suspicious!
Speaking of good ol’ Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), he’s not having a great time himself. He and his kids went to see a Steve Rodgers-themed musical on Broadway, but when Clint sees Black Widow, he’s grief-stricken and frozen: He and the family end up leaving the show early. With all of that said, they’re still determined to have a good time in New York (Mrs. Barton, as we see from a phone call, is at home preparing the farm for Christmas). Clint’s plan to have a fun vacation is complicated by the re-emergence of Ronin, who’s described as a villain-vanquishing hero on the news but was decidedly more, uh, complicated in Endgame. Of course, Ronin is him. But it’s not him on the TV. As you might imagine, this is confusing for Clint.
When she follows Armand into the auction, things go sideways, fast, with some gang members stealing the items (one of them says the only thing that matters is “the watch,” but we don’t find out why it’s of such value). In true heroic fashion, she puts on the Ronin suit and takes ‘em all on, then flees the scene with style. Determined to figure out what Armand’s deal is, she goes to his house—it’s not entirely clear how she knows exactly where to go, but we can suspend some disbelief—where she sneaks in only to find the white-haired businessman dead on his no-doubt-expensive carpet.
She runs, as any reasonable person would, only to find herself cornered by some more thugs. Kate puts up a good fight, but there are plenty more of them than her, and they’re twice her size. Things are looking pretty bad, but a mysterious savior picks them off… and then he grabs her and prepares to throw a punch. When he pulls off the mask, Clint (because of course it’s Clint!) hesitates. “You’re Hawkeye!” she exclaims, clearly overjoyed to see her hero. “Who are you?” he answers, bewildered—and we’re guessing this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Hawkeye Season 1, Wednesdays, Disney+