“Partners, Am I Right?” drives home that Hawkeye is the kind of storytelling the MCU was built for. We have characters from different films alongside comics favorites, with an air of suspense over who we might see next- or what they might be up to.
As the fourth episode in a 6 episode arc, I’d already guessed that “Partners, Am I Right?” would be the one where Clint and Kate have a falling out of some kind. It makes narrative sense: they fall out in 4, get back in their partnership throughout 5, then spend 6 kicking butt and wrapping up loose threads. So I wasn’t blindsided when Clint tells his would-be partner to back off at the end of the episode.
I was semi-blindsided by the reason. Yeah, I mentioned during our collective Black Widow review that Yelena would probably show in Hawkeye. Valentina pointed her in Clint’s direction on a vengeance mission. How could she not pop up in his series?
However, since we’d gotten to “Partners, Am I Right?” without a hint of Widow action and we had so many other plotlines going seemingly out of control, I’d almost forgotten about Yelena. It wasn’t until Clint said he was fighting Maya outside while Kate was face to face with a furious Maya inside that I thought…. wait. Wait. Could it be…?
Then I saw the trademark Widow weapons and knew. Outstanding. Surprise Florence Pugh is always a treat.
Do I think Yelena could have easily killed Clint outright if that was her goal? Yes, for sure. She has something else on her mind, it seems. Maybe she wants to get some face time to grill him over Natasha’s death, which is a sign she doesn’t entirely trust Valentina. That would be good.
It was interesting to watch her interact with Kate on the roof. Kate could have killed Yelena (or tried, Widows can probably parry arrows). Yelena could have finished off the prostrate Clint or taken a run at Kate. Instead, Kate hesitated to take the shot even when this stranger had attacked her partner. In turn, Yelena just warned her off with a smirk, then left instead of continuing the fight. Which she could have won, with Clint disabled and Kate not yet a match for a Widow.
Clearly, Yelena has developed enough softer instincts that she’s not going to kill a random superhero for being in her way. Nice.
Clint didn’t recognize Yelena. He just thinks a Widow has been assigned to kill him and wants Kate safely out of the way. Does this mean Natasha didn’t tell Clint about getting back in touch with her family, even though they would have had a little downtime? Or maybe she did tell him, but he’s never seen a picture? Either way, that’s going to be an exciting second meeting for both of them.
Of course, the raid on Maya’s apartment and Yelena’s entrance aren’t the only things that happened during “Partners, Am I Right?”, we also got some intriguing interactions between Kate’s mother, Jack, and our heroes.
Honestly, I wasn’t seriously entertaining Eleanor Bishop as a villain before this episode. Other critics have been suggesting her as a contender for Big Bad, but I didn’t see why on screen until I saw her trail her hand in a quick, assertive gesture of control across Jack’s neck as she stood. That’s a power gesture. It says, “I’m in charge and I’m warning you of something that’s apparent to both of us, and you’d better listen Or Else.”
I’m starting to feel like Jack might be working at her bidding rather than using her for money and power. His brand of villainy seems delightfully cartoonish next to her subtle, complete control of her surroundings.
Then she delivers a thinly veiled and deliberately cruel threat to Clint at the door. That makes me wonder: what do people know about Black Widow’s death? Do they just know she died fighting Thanos, or was there some kind of detailed account of her sacrifice? Because Eleanor really knew where to stick the knife on that one.
Maybe I’m overreacting and she’s just a concerned parent. If she is a villain, she’s a clever refreshing one… and it will destroy Kate to find out she’s going against her only surviving parent on her first adventure as a superhero. At least Kate’s got her aunt Moira (who was in the comics as well) to lean on for emotional support.
One final thing we should talk about: Laura. She’s always been the most understanding, supportive spouse of a superhero in history. In “Partners, Am I Right?”, though, we see her show a deeper hero skillset than we knew she had. None of the kids are surprised when she switches languages, which means they’re used to her helping Dad out sometimes.
This is downright fascinating.
Is that Rolex… Laura’s? Could Laura have retired from a superhero identity when she and Clint started having kids? If so, who was she?
I’ve heard it whispered around the internet that she might be Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird). I don’t think so. We’ve already seen Bobbi played extensively on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D by Adrianne Palicki. Linda Cardellini, who plays Laura, neither looks nor acts anything like Bobbi. It stretches the limits of credulity to suggest she’s gotten prenatal plastic surgery in order to hide from her past.
Plus, the eldest Barton kiddos (Cooper and Lilah) would have been born while Bobbi was still on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Even with the general idea that AoS is semi-canon, it would be sloppy of Disney to create such an obvious plot hole.
Not that I’d mind seeing Bobbi back in the MCU. I’d just like to see a more thoughtful storyline for Laura’s backstory. We know she was at least connected with S.H.I.E.L.D. The boring answer is that she was a random agent, but I think giving her an actual hero (or villain? Clint has a knack for turning those) identity would be more fun.
I guess we’ll have to see where things go.
A few notes from this episode:
- Clint took out his hearing aid to rest. Is he taking Maya’s advice about becoming less dependent?
- I was waiting for Kate to guess Clint’s secret. I appreciate that this conversation was given time and space to have the impact it should. This is both a major moment for Clint, who is sharing a major secret with Kate, and for Kate, who is furthering her education in “being a superhero can mess up every part of your life so be careful”.
- This is probably my background speaking, but the purpose of those flashing lights in Maya’s apartment was immediately obvious. I thought it was telling that Clint took a moment to figure it out. That disconnect from the Deaf and HOH community is coming back to haunt him again.
- “Superheroes ice up after a fight using a variety of random frozen foods” is one of my favorite tropes. It’s above “superheroes bond while drinking”, though that was also a nice touch.
- Always fun to watch Clint deliver a threat. We really haven’t seen much of his spy days in the MCU, so this is nice.
- Is Kate ever going to formally name this dog?
- The LARPers are much more fun in this episode than before. Less cringey. And are they going to get that poor woman back her monogrammed bag?
- Where does Kate actually live right now? Has her mom really not turned her credit card back on even though her apartment was blown up? We know she’s staying at her Aunt’s place, but she needs food and clothes and such… why is Eleanor not helping at least a little?
- Seeing Maya thrown for a loop by Kate’s surprise burglary was hilarious. But. Why is Maya cataloging Clint’s family? What’s that about? Does she suspect one of them might be Ronin, because they’re mostly actual children?
- Yelena did the pose. She’s a poser now. Natasha would be proud.
If you haven’t seen “Partners, Am I Right?” yet you can catch up over at Disney+. The penultimate episode drops next Wednesday. Check back afterward to see how right (or wrong) I was with my predictions, or just kibbitz in the comments if you’d rather.
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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