Hawkeye’s first episodes place many different characters in its crosshairs. First, it’s Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton), whose mysterious air and penchant for collecting blades make him appear suspicious. Then, the tracksuit gang enters the picture and causes mayhem for Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). Finally, the two-episode premiere ends with Echo revealed to be the show’s likely antagonist. Or is she?
While the extent of everyone’s villainy is unclear this early in the series, Hawkeye clearly wants us to suspect Jack and Echo. However, another character is curiously absent from the villain discourse, and that is Kate’s mom Eleanor, played by Vera Farmiga.
The head of Bishop Security, Eleanor, comes across as a caring mom who afforded Kate every opportunity to follow her dreams of becoming a master athlete and fighter. But as Kate finds out, her mom has been keeping secrets — one of them being her engagement to Jack Duquesne. Could Eleanor be holding something else back from Kate? Here’s why Farmiga’s character might not be as innocent as she seems.
Spoilers ahead for Hawkeye Episodes 1 and 2.
The Theory — There is more to Eleanor than meets the eye, and Hawkeye hints at that throughout its first two episodes. The character might seem to be relegated to the “mom” role, as the narrative centers on Kate and Clint, but several moments indicate there’s more to Eleanor.
The first clue is in Hawkeye’s opening scene, which takes viewers back to 2012 during the Battle of New York in The Avengers. A young Kate is at home with her parents, Derek (Brian d'Arcy James) and Eleanor, arguing about selling their penthouse and Kate’s future.
“Maybe growing up in this place, you got used to the idea that a solution would just fall out of the sky,” Eleanor says to Derek before Kate accidentally interrupts them.
Soon after the fight, their home shakes from the mayhem outside, and Kate can’t find her parents until suddenly her mom sweeps her up and saves her. Eleanor doesn’t respond when Kate asks where her dad is at. In the next scene, Kate and Eleanor are at Derek’s funeral. What was Eleanor up to during her brief disappearance? Did the solution to her problem “just fall out of the sky” and get rid of her husband?
Eleanor’s power — While there’s not enough evidence to pin Derek’s death on Eleanor, she did gain from it by becoming the new head of Bishop Security. That means she has access to a lot of information and influential people, which puts her in a very powerful position that Hawkeye curiously seems to downplay.
While I’m hesitant to give a character like Armand Duquesne (Simon Callow) any kind of benefit of the doubt, the fact that he doesn’t like Eleanor and disproves of her engagement to his nephew (who he doesn’t even seem like much either) is important to note. Their argument at the party clearly shows the two have issues with each other beyond the engagement. When Kate stumbles upon them and asks if Armand threatened her, Eleanor gives an evasive answer, not appearing shaken or affected by any alleged threats.
The fact that Armand ends up dead could also be seen as another solution “falling out of the sky” for Eleanor. There is now one less powerful person trying to stop her from doing what she wants and marrying Jack. Again, this is all speculation as the two-episode premiere event offers little concrete evidence that Eleanor had a hand in Armand’s demise.
The Inverse Analysis — Vera Farmiga has proven time and again to be a formidable performer, as seen in The Conjuring films, Bates Motel, and many other works. While Marvel has at times underutilized its actors, that hasn’t been the case with the Disney+ shows. (From Carl Lumbly in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to Kathryn Hahn in WandaVision, the casting so far has been on point.) So Farmiga likely has a more prominent role to play in Hawkeye.
Eleanor being the show’s villain is also the kind of betrayal that could truly shake up Kate’s world. Despite the loss of her father, Kate has lived a charmed life, with the money and resources to pursue the skills she wants and to do with them as she wills. (I mean, she shot down her school’s belltower like it was no big deal.) Kate is due for a reckoning, and Eleanor could be the one to set it off.
Hawkeye Episodes 1 and 2 are now streaming on Disney+.