Yelena sets out to avenge Black Widow's death by killing Clint Barton as Kate Bishop learns the true price of being a superhero.
Marvel is known for their end-credit and mid-credit scenes that often tie their various projects together. They've become a mainstay of the films, and fans have come to look for them in MCU series on Disney+.
So, the good news for "Hawkeye" fans who stick around through the gorgeous closing credits is that there is a scene at the end of it, and it's one of the longest post-credits scene we've ever gotten. And we feel pretty confident it's not what anyone was expecting.
This finale offered us closure in every category, from Yelena's quest to kill Clint to Kate's shocking discovery about her mom working for the Kingpin to Kingpin's connection to the Tracksuit Mafia.
It also features more Christmas packed into its hour-plus runtime than all five episodes prior to it, including a major supporting role for the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. If you haven't figured it out yet and you've made it this far, there are only going to be more spoilers as we go.
We are going to unpack everything from the missing watch that everyone cared so much about -- and what it revealed -- to the shocking final moment with Vincent D'Onofrio's brilliant Kingpin.
In fact, let's start with the return of D'Onofrio's iconic villain from "Daredevil." We don't know if his arrival means that series is MCU canon yet, but for the moment we do not care because it definitely means that D'Onofrio's Kingpin himself is.
He gives us so much in this one episode, chewing scenery and kicking ass like nobody's business every moment that he's on the camera. He is chilling in that recorded conversation he has with Kate's mom, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga), and that goes to that gravelly growl that D'Onofrio uses to portray him.
He's absolutely terrifying later when he's giving Kate a veritable beatdown in a store, showing off incredible strength and resilience. It's so much the Kingpin of the comics -- and "Daredevil" -- that you can't help but smile, even as you wonder how anyone could possibly stop him.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. It's easy to do when "Hawkeye" is knocking it out of the park with these guest stars.
Right there with Kingpin as an absolutely delightful addition to the story is Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, who was hired to kill Clint Barton by Kate Bishop's mom. Talk about your plot twist!
But that aside, we absolutely adored everything that Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld (Kate) were giving us in their beautifully choreographed fight sequence across the floor of a building. It's so wonderful because it's both a fight and a bit of play for both, as their characters clearly like one another.
That's pretty good news for Kate, though, as Yelena would mop the floor with her if she really wanted to. Turns out, as hinted during their "girls' night" last week, she doesn't want to. Instead, she clearly really likes Kate, so she just needs to sideline her so she can kill Clint.
Obviously, there's history in the MCU for Hawkeye and Black Widow to work together and develop a tight bond, so consider us here for the next generation of that relationship if that's the groundwork we're laying here. Pugh and Steinfeld are a delight together, with great comedic timing and charm for days!
Probably the most visually exciting -- and surprising -- scene, though, came when the entire Tracksuit Mafia, or so it seemed, converged on the skating rink at Rockefeller Center to take on Kate and Clint and an arsenal of brand-new and extremely fun trick arrows. It was a hoot watching what each one would do, including an unexpected nod to Ant-Man.
We can't even go through all the twists and turns of the hour because it seemed like everyone was after everyone, and they kept crossing paths. The Tracksuit Mafia was looking to kill Clint and Kate.
Yelena was looking to kill Clint. Kingpin wanted to take out Eleanor after the latter told him she was out -- and had taken out "insurance" to assure she'd be left alone (clearly not understanding who she was dealing with) and then Kate when she interfered.
Meanwhile, Kazi -- under the orders of Kingpin -- was trying to kill Eleanor as well at a formal Christmas party. When he realized that Kate and Clint were also there, he decided that maybe he'd just kill them all. Bonus points and all, right?
And so, obviously, that's how Clint wound up stuck high in the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. No wait, that was because he tried to use Yelena's rappelling line and it was shot and broken. Yelena had just tried to kill him but she missed as she went down the building, so Kate followed (far less gracefully) all the way down.
That's how the tree wound up a major part of the story, as Kate had the harebrained idea to just knock the tree down, which would free him. It did work, but it also landed on the ice, which is how Kate and Clint wound up surrounded by the Tracksuit Mafia in that trick arrow battle we mentioned already.
As we mentioned, there are a ton of moving parts here. After that battle is when Kate went off to save her mother and fight Kingpin. She actually managed to survive that brawl, knocking Kingpin out with more trick arrows, only to ultimately have her mom arrested for her involvement in Armand's death (remember that from the premiere)?
While all of that was happening, Yelena found Clint on the ice and proceeded to beat him down, refusing to believe that Natasha had sacrificed herself for him or anyone -- though that's exactly what she did in "Avengers: Endgame." It took Clint using the special whistle Nat and Yelena shared for her to finally listen, hear him and accept the grief.
It was another beautifully performed scene by Pugh, who brought an incredible range to her performance, committing fully to the lighter comedic moments with Steinfeld as well as the angry and ultimately emotionally shattered moments alongside Jeremy Renner.
Yelena walked off after that -- not to be seen again -- leaving Clint there and us hopeful that she and Kate will become BFFs if and when Kate's story continues (Season 2?). The only piece of unfinished business was with Kingpin, and that came down to Maya, the deaf assassin who'd been working for him as leader of the Tracksuits.
Once she discovered that Kingpin is the one who had her father killed, and lost Kazi to death by her own hand because he wouldn't (or was afraid to) leave the life, she found Kingpin, still dazed and stunned by Kate's arrow blasts.
He tried to lean on the notion that they're like family, but as the camera panned up, we heard a gunshot and we heard a body hit the ground. Did they really introduce D'Onofrio's Kingpin into the MCU proper only to kill him? Of course, they didn't.
Spoiler for those who don't follow the comic storylines, so you might want to skip to the next paragraph. There is precedent for this sequence of events. In the comics, though, this encounter does leave Kingpin shot, but there Maya shot him in the eye and he survived. This is probably how things will play out, because you don't let D'Onofrio go -- he's that good in the role.
The final surprise (before that end credit scene) was saved for the final moments of the episode, when Clint brought Kate with him to spend Christmas with the family. It was here that we finally see the truth of that watch that everyone was so keen about, revealing a heretofore unknown fact about Clint's wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini).
The back of the watch features the S.H.I.E.L.D. insignia with the number 19 on it, indicating that she is the agent known as Mockingbird -- another parallel from the comics, as that Clint was married to Mockingbird, as well.
If this were true, then like Yelena is poised to be the next Black Widow, Adrianne Palicki's Mockingbird from "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." could well be Laura's successor in the role.
And so, a happy ending for all. But endings in the MCU aren't really endings at all, are they? They're just setups for the next chapter.
Which brings us to the post-credit scene, which is absolutely bonkers and great and terrible and ridiculous all at the same time. No, Spider-Man doesn't show up (any of them) as some fans have speculated.
In fact the scene doesn't build a bridge to anything else happening in the MCU. Instead, it expands on something that happened in the premiere of this episode. And that something is the apparently horrific "Rogers: The Musical."
We got a full-on musical number called "Save the City" -- but it should really be called "I Could Do This All Day" -- featuring not just citizens of New York, talking about how they love how it stinks, but also the Avengers themselves in a choreographed fight recreating "The Battle of New York."
The scene was preceded by a title card reading "Happy Holidays from Marvel Studios," so this was basically a light-hearted present for us. That gift is more than four minutes of actors and performers who are really committed.
The people who came up with this should probably be committed.
There is no promise of a second season, like we were surprised with at the end of "Loki," but obviously there's no way we're done with these characters. Kate Bishop is one of the most exciting new characters introduced in a long time, and we're ready for her buddy comedy action romp with Yelena right now!