CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Hawkeye episode 5 recap: Marvel show's big bad steps out of the shadows

The Black Widow assassin has Clint Barton in her sights, but her employer's boss is even scarier.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture, Video Games, Breaking News
Sean Keane
6 min read
Clint Barton in Hawkeye

Clint Barton pays his respects to his fallen friend in Hawkeye's fifth episode.

Marvel Studios

After the return of a superspy last week, episode 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Hawkeye dropped onto Disney Plus on Wednesday. Exceptional archer Clint Barton is trying to save Kate Bishop from the consequences of his slaughtering New York City's criminal underworld as the masked vigilante Ronin in Avengers: Endgame, before returning to his identity as Hawkeye.

Clint and Kate (Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld) briefly teamed up to face off against Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) and her Tracksuit Mafia goons, but the surprise appearance of Black Widow assassin Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) turned the danger level up too high for Clint. He told Kate to go home, but that doesn't seem like a solution since her family is wrapped up in the criminal conspiracy.

The fifth episode revealed who the mastermind behind that underworld plot is. It's time for Netflix and SPOILERS for an episode titled Ronin.

The "Observations and Easter eggs" section will also contain minor SPOILERS for Spider-Man: No Way Home (which came out in the US on Friday), but we'll have another warning before that so you can read most of this recap safely.

Marvel Studios

The Big Guy

Their partnership seemingly repaired after Kate rescues Clint from Maya, the Hawkeyes chill out with their firefighter buddy Grills and the unnamed Pizza Dog (who'll absolutely be called "Lucky" next week). 

However, Kate gets a series of texts from her new assassin pal (and boxed mac and cheese cook) Yelena, revealing that her mom, Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga), hired the Black Widow to kill Clint. She also receives a slightly blurry photo of Eleanor with a familiar man in a white suit jacket.

Kingpin and Eleanor Bishop in Hawkeye

Wilson Fisk's return is revealed through a phone video.

Marvel Studios

"Well that's the guy I've been worried about this whole time," says Clint. "Kingpin."

Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio), aka the Kingpin, was the major villain of Netflix's canceled Daredevil. We last saw him being dragged off to prison in that show's finale, which took place before Thanos' genocidal Snap in Avengers: Infinity War

This episode confirms that he survived the Snap. He was presumably released in the five-year period before the Avengers brought everyone back and likely used the chaos to reclaim much of his power (until Clint ruined it as Ronin).

It's unclear if Eleanor took out the contract on Clint under orders from Fisk or if she was acting alone, but the revelation that she's under the Kingpin's thumb isn't a major surprise. 


Kingpin had a fine selection of white suits in Daredevil season 3, and he's kept up this fashion tradition in Hawkeye.


In the first episode, the 2012 flashback suggests the Bishop family was in some kind of financial trouble and present-day Kate heard the late Armand III confronting Eleanor, saying "I should've known that this empire of yours would be built on a lie." It's likely Eleanor turned to Fisk for help sometime after 2012, and Armand was displeased when he learned of Fisk's involvement.

We also saw Eleanor making a concerned phone call after Clint left the Bishop penthouse in episode 4 -- almost certainly letting Fisk or Yelena know about the Avenger's snooping.

Watch this: What's new to stream for December 2021

Manipulated Maya

Clint dons his Ronin costume to confront Maya and stop her from getting close to his family. He Batmans around the used car lot and immobilizes her Tracksuit Mafia boys before taking her on directly. Their fight is awesome, but Clint manages to reveal a vital detail about the night he killed Maya's dad, William.

It turns out that during Clint's bloody rampage through New York City's criminal underworld, he tracked down William and his crew following a tip from an informant working for Fisk. After learning this, Maya turns the tables and almost murders Clint before being stopped by Kate.

Maya and Ronin in Hawkeye

Maya faces off against Ronin at last.

Marvel Studios

The plot thickens further when Maya's underling Kazi (Fra Fee) meets her afterward. Turns out he was mysteriously absent the night Clint killed her dad. Presumably Fisk used Clint to get rid of William and his crew for some reason. 

Now it seems like he's having Kazi maneuver Maya into a situation where Clint will kill her, giving Kazi a chance to take her place, before Yelena ends Clint. Or something like that -- it's just the kind of big, complicated web of murder Fisk is great at.

In the comics, Fisk adopted Maya after killing her mob enforcer father, and she turned on him after learning that he's a jerk (with a little help from Daredevil). Since MCU Maya is getting her own Disney Plus show, she's clearly going to follow a similar path.

Yelena Belova in Hawkeye


Marvel Studios

Blipped Widow

A chunk of this episode is spent with Yelena, who was among the billions Blipped away by Thanos in 2018. 

It happened after she and fellow Widow Sonya (Yssa Mei Panganiban) track down another Widow, Ana (Annie Hamilton), in their mission to release all of their "sisters" from the clandestine assassin program's brainwashing. Just as it was revealed that Ana hadn't been brainwashed and just used her skills to get stupidly rich, Yelena turned to dust.  

After Yelena Blips back, Ana tells her Sonya got rich too. Since we know Yelena subsequently started working for the morally dubious Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine (aka Val), it seems she decided to do the same. Smart choice.

Kate and Clint in Hawkeye

Kate and Clint fix up their partnership.

Marvel Studios

During her heart to heart with Kate, they debate Clint's morality. Both make fair points; He's both a decent guy and a killer. However, Yelena's grief over Natasha's death and false belief that Clint is responsible has fueled her vendetta against him.

Given the survivor's guilt Clint expresses at the Avengers Assembled marker outside Grand Central Terminal, they'll likely come to some kind of understanding and maybe give Fisk a good firm kickin' in the series finale next week.


Observations, WTF questions and Easter eggs

  • Fisk isn't the only Netflix alum to return to the MCU this week, as previously hinted at by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige. Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, (Charlie Cox) has a cameo as Peter Parker's lawyer in Spider-Man: No Way Home. He gets Peter out of the legal trouble created by Mysterio revealing his identity.
  • Yelena wants to see "the new and improved Statue of Liberty." It turns out that means adding Captain America's shield, presumably in honor of Steve Roger's apparent sacrifice in Endgame, as seen in No Way Home's final battle.
  • Fisk is at the center of a Marvel Comics event, Devil's Reign, because Disney loves synergy. In the mainline comics continuity, he's New York's mayor and has amassed an army of supervillains as part of a plot to get rid of the city's superheroes.
  • I think I preferred Ana's 2018 bathroom color. The 2023 shade of green is a bit too dark.
  • Did Ana and Sonya end up watching Sex and the City together? That house seems like a pretty sweet location for binging a show. Maybe they've reunited for HBO Max's sequel series And Just Like That?
  • How did Yelena find out that Natasha had been killed? It's likely the Avengers made a public announcement after Endgame, but we know Val twisted the truth and made Yelena think Clint was responsible. 
  • "You're the only thing that matters to me." Eleanor almost certainly started working with Fisk to make sure she could provide for Kate.
  • Kate's would-be stepfather, Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton), is arrested after Kate tells Eleanor about his connection to the Tracksuit Mafia. It's likely all smoke and mirrors. In Daredevil, Fisk had people at all levels of law enforcement. Jack could well have been the person who connected Eleanor with Fisk in the first place.
  • The chat between Kate and Yelena is delightful, with the latter sounding exactly like Melina Vostokoff and Alexei Shostakov (the fake parents we met in Black Widow). It makes sense, since she lived with them at a formative age.
  • Yelena asked for mac and cheese in Black Widow's 1995 flashback. She is a connoisseur. 
  • Kate leaves at least six messages for Clint, but he really doesn't seem like the kind of guy who actually listens to them.
  • The Tracksuit Mafia lads reference prominent tracksuit wearers in pop culture -- hip-hop group Run-DMC (they're listening to Christmas in Hollis), American track and field 1968 Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith (whose sporting career ended after he and fellow athlete John Carlos raised their fists to protest racial discrimination during the medal ceremony), The Royal Tenenbaums and Tony Soprano.
  • "Meet me tonight." Clint gives Maya a very loose time frame, and it's actually pretty inconsiderate to have someone standing outside in late December. Rude and mean, Clint.
  • We still don't know what the mysterious Rolex is all about. It better be spectacular after all this hype. 
  • Grills mentions having the "new outfits" for Clint and Kate. I guess they'll be decked out in purple for the last episode.
  • Fisk looms over Kate and Clint in the final shot of the initial credits sequence.

Join us for more Easter eggs and observations Wednesday, Dec. 22, when episode 6 -- the season finale -- of Hawkeye hits Disney Plus.