Hawkeye episode 3 has arrived and it feels like we’re finally getting started! Spoilers ahead!
We begin with the backstory for Maya Lopez, aka Echo, the woman we saw at the very end of episode 2. The first six minutes of this episode cram in Maya’s entire backstory in a surprisingly efficient yet in-depth way. Maya Lopez is a Deaf Indigenous woman with a prosthetic leg. As a child, she attends a hearing school where she is the only Deaf child. Much of her point of view is shown with silence, conveying the way Maya experiences the world without sound. She tries lip reading but can’t understand everything the teacher says, yet she is so smart and fast with her work that she overcomes the language barrier. At home, Maya is disappointed that her father can’t afford deaf school, but he says attending a hearing school will be better for her in the long run.
Maya also practices karate. While the smallest in the class, her ability to copy other’s movements and her general ambition allow her to defeat larger opponents with ease. It’s not made completely clear, but it’s implied that Maya has the photographic reflexes she has in the comics. At karate, she is met by her “Uncle” who remains off-screen, but the hand and the voice signal that this is Vincent D'Onofrio’s Kingpin, a fan-favorite from the Marvel Netflix show Daredevil. Everyone is excited to see him transfer to the MCU. This off-screen cameo practically guarantees that he’ll show up sometime again in Hawkeye, maybe even in the next episode!
Later on, an older Maya is still a proficient fighter. After a boxing match, she returns home to find the Ronin slaughtering her father’s gang, the Tracksuit Mafia, before slaying her father last. (This is a different backstory from the comics, where Kingpin kills her father.) Maya arrives in time to say goodbye to her father, and he lays a bloody hand on her face. It's an iconic moment from the comics that inspires the white handprint she wears on her face afterward. I hope we’ll see this look in the show—it’s so unique, and it’s a staple of the character, a mark to show the importance of this loss.
And this loss is what has driven Maya to seek out the Ronin to take her revenge, leading her to Clint and Kate. Those first six minutes of this episode are my favorite part of the entire Hawkeye series so far. Maya instantly became my favorite character. She’s sympathetic, ambitious, and a total badass. Alaqua Cox steals every scene she’s in; it’s hard to believe this is her first acting gig! Those first six minutes instantly got me hyped for her upcoming Disney+ series. I’m already on the edge of my seat in anticipation for Echo.
This episode continues with Maya confronting Clint and Kate, thinking Kate was the one who killed her father. (It’s truly astonishing how no one has figured out Clint was the man under the hood.) Maya sees Clint wears a hearing aid and immediately has him untied, thinking he needs his hands untied so he can sign to her. However, when Maya starts communicating in ASL, Clint can barely keep up. He clarifies that he’s not Deaf; he’s hard of hearing. This moment clears up the questions surrounding Clint’s familiarity with sign language. His use of it has been rare and sloppy so far because he hasn’t committed to fully learning it. (Although, he probably should.) Maya states Clint is reliant on technology: his hearing aid. Clint’s not culturally Deaf like Maya is. He’s only recently lost his hearing, so he does not have the same experiences that Maya does. This moment is a perfect opportunity to show the differences between the Deaf and hard of hearing communities. Disappointed, Maya has Clint’s hands retied.
Maya tries to get answers from Clint and Kate, but gets none (at least, none that are real). Clint breaks himself out, leading to a hectic chase through the building that leads to a car chase. In the process, Maya destroys Clint’s hearing aid. After, Clint has trouble communicating with Kate and can’t hear her as they escape into a car. This car chase scene is super fun, unlike many that are filmed with the same static shots of cars zipping down streets. Instead, this sequence is filmed in one long, single shot from inside the car, turning around and around as Clint spins the vehicle, occasionally switching to wide shots that show the scale of chaos around them.
After they’ve escaped back to the apartment, Clint’s hearing loss becomes more of a central focus. He can’t hear anything Kate’s saying, leading to occasional comedic moments, but also causing him a great struggle. We finally get to see Clint deal with the effects of his hearing loss and the way it changes his interactions when he’s been a hearing person all his life. He’s still not totally comfortable with this disability. This is showcased in a conversation with his son Nathaniel over the phone, using Kate as a translator. Nathaniel tells Clint it’s okay if he can’t come home for Christmas. Heartbroken, Clint assures him he will, and that he’s glad to hear his voice, even though he actually can’t. Moments like these—the ones that delve into a character’s emotions and personal struggle—truly make the Hawkeye series amazing. This show is doing leagues more to make Clint Barton likable and sympathetic than any single one of the Avengers movies did.
Shortly after, Clint gets his hearing aid fixed. I was a little disappointed by how quickly this happened. I was hoping we could see Clint come to terms with the loss of his hearing more. Maybe we will in the future. But for now, Clint and Kate are off to her mother’s apartment. Kate breaks into the Bishop Security software to see who might be involved in the conspiracy to steal Avengers tech. But before she can discover anything, she’s locked out. Meanwhile, Clint runs into the end of his own sword, wielded by Kate’s suspicious soon-to-be-stepfather, Jack.
This episode truly got me excited for the rest of the Hawkeye show. Moreover, it’s a fantastic episode for representation. It sensitively addresses the hard of hearing and Deaf experiences and features a groundbreaking new hero: Maya Lopez aka Echo. I hope to see more of her experiences as a Deaf Indigenous woman with a prosthetic leg, plus her amazing power set. I can’t wait to see what happens on next week’s episode!
Hawkeye is currently streaming on Disney+.