Hawkeye Has Finally Paid Off That Black Widow Post Credits Scene

This week's episode of Hawkeye has brought a major Black Widow character back into the fold--and no, it's not Natasha Romanoff.

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Earlier this year, the intensely delayed Black Widow solo movie hit Disney+. It was set predominantly in the past, between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, for good reason, considering Black Widow's death in Avengers: Endgame--but there was one notable exception. In the post-credits scene, we were treated to an ominous flashforward back to the present day where Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova was revealed to be in league with the recently introduced Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, played by Julia Louis Dreyfus.

The scene didn't do much to elucidate what the nature of Val and Yelena's relationship actually was--they obviously know each other, and Yelena apparently takes work from Val, but that's about the details are still unclear. What was clear, however, was that Val had a reason to put Clint Barton in the crosshairs and Yelena was more than happy to buy what she was selling, hook, line, and sinker.

The scene was an obvious prelude to the Hawkeye TV show, but none of the show's promotional material gave any indication of how and where Yelena would fit into the mix. Now, however, with the premiere of the fourth episode, we've got our answer--or at least part of one.

Hawkeye Episode 4, "Partners, Am I Right?" spent the bulk of its runtime focusing on Kate and Clint's overarching mission to stop the Tracksuit Mafia and Maya Lopez from their violent rampage against Ronin, who Maya correctly associates with the death of her family. And, as it turns out, Kate's suspicions against her mother's new fiance, Jack, are related--this week they learned that Jack's business has been bankrolling the Tracksuits all along for unknown reasons. This all connects back to a mysterious watch stolen from a black market auction that Clint says "belongs to someone [he] used to work with."

There's a lot going on here, to be sure--but the end of the episode threw one more cog into the already very crowded machine. During an effort to steal the watch back from the Tracksuits (or, more specifically, from Maya herself) Clint finds himself under attack by a masked figure, and the fight that culminates eventually reveals it to be none other than Yelena, apparently on her mission from Val.

As a reminder, Val told Yelena that Clint was the one who killed Natasha, so this one is personal for her, despite the facts of the matter being a bit confused thanks to Val's manipulation. Clint and Yelena don't have time to actually hash things out--Yelena doesn't actually speak for the duration of the fight before she ends up retreating--but Clint knows she's a Black Widow assassin sent to kill him.

"Things," he says, "have gotten very real very fast."

So, this tells us a few things: Clint probably doesn't know who Yelena is, actually--he never calls out to her by name or tries to appeal to the fact that he was one of her sister's best friends. This is a little weird, considering how close he and Natasha were and how Natasha reconnected with Yelena post-Civil War, but who are we to critique what super spies keep close to the chest? Clint also doesn't seem to take it personally that a Black Widow is after him, meaning he likely doesn't know that Val has fabricated a story connecting him to Natasha's death.

That leaves us with a lot of ground left to cover while the series nears its final two episodes. We do know that Maya is getting her own spin-off series leaving room for that particular plot to grow and change but Yelena's involvement in the MCU moving forward remains mysterious--either we're going to see her being told the truth about Clint (and subsequently about Val) in the next two weeks, or we're going to see her continue to be manipulated, making room for future conflicts with whatever Val's actual agenda is. Let's not forget that Val also has US Agent at her disposal as well after The Falcon and The Winter Soldier left John Walker in the window. Also, worth noting, Walker too is a bit up in the air with no confirmed appearances in any future MCU projects as of yet.

Of course both Walker and Yelena are going to pop back up, the question is how, why, and to what end.

With any luck, we'll continue to see Yelena in the remaining episodes of Hawkeye and get some--if not most--of our burning questions answered.

Hawkeye airs on Disney+ every Wednesday.

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