Not only does this episode feature both crime and circuses (rather, a circus), but the title is supposed to reference "bread and circuses," the ancient Roman tradition of cheap food and cheap entertainment to keep the masses from revolting.
And just like a certain Russell Crowe character from a certain movie that took place in that time period, you're here to ask me one question.
"Are you not entertained!?"
Well, read on, and I'll give you an answer.
|I am required to recap, so I recap. That is enough.|
Despite not having Iron Man’s usual assistance with scanning the perimeter thingums and checking the security whatsises, Hawkeye is 100% on the ball with knowing exactly which labs are where and what the probable goal of the thieves is. But Hawkeye brushes it off, saying he’s “been here before.”
Falcon: “Previous Avengers mission?”
Hawkeye: “Let’s just… not say.”
When they find the lab, they come face to face with the clowns responsible for the break-in.
|Huh. An actual clown. Didn't see that coming. Except for the title and all.|
|Stan Lee, never change.|
|The man who said "If I only had a heart," and then made one. In a cave. With a box of scraps.|
Hawkeye: “Take ‘em off without knowing the code and you’ll fry their brains.”
Falcon: “How do you know that, exactly?”
Hawkeye: “Just a… hunch.”
But Hawkeye’s exploding arrow got their pals’ attention, and the fight resumes. In the midst of the scuffle, Falcon demands some real answers, so Hawkeye starts explaining exactly what in the name of P.T. Barnum is going on.
Hawkeye: “It’s the Circus of Crime.”
After dodging Thor’s hammer, Hawkeye demands that the “Ringmaster” show himself. So Iron Man grabs the two heroes, and the Ringmaster graces them with his appearance.
Falcon: “Hawkeye, you know this clown?”
Ringmaster: “’Hawkeye hasn’t told you about us yet? Where are your manners, archer?”
So in the interest of filling time, the Ringmaster goes into detail about all the non-Avenger members of his new Circus of Crime, as well as their new Stark upgrades.
Ringmaster: “High-tech acts for a modern age!”
|What are you going to do, juggle iPhones?|
He prepares to shoot Falcon, but Falcon merely gloats and says that S.H.I.E.L.D. is on their way. So instead of quickly killing Hawkeye and Falcon while he has a chance, Ringmaster gives the order for Iron Man to make the heroes “know what it feels like to be betrayed by a friend.” It apparently feels a lot like Falcon being thrown into Hawkeye.
Ringmaster: “The next time you see us….”
Let me stop you right there, Ringmaster. There doesn’t have to be a “next time.” You had the chance to kill them both, you didn’t take it. You’re going to lose, and it’s entirely your own fault. You fail at villain. Period.
|I award you no points, Ringleader.|
Falcon: “Hawkeye, some days I think you’re the coolest guy on the team.”
You’re damning him with faint praise, Falcon.
Falcon: “And other days, I can’t stand you.”
Hawkeye: “So I’m an enigma. Let it go.”
Falcon takes this a bit literally and drops Hawkeye to scare him a bit before catching him, depositing him on a rooftop, and asks just why the heck Hawkeye’s trying to go at it alone.
Hawkeye: “Because it’s my fault. All of this. That’s all I’m gonna say about this until I set things right. Alone.”
Falcon brings up that he’ll be fighting the majority of the Avengers and offers his help. When Hawkeye declines one last time, Falcon runs off to assist S.H.I.E.L.D. with the situation, but not before planting a tracer in Hawkeye’s quiver.
Hawkeye: “I do respect you, kid…. It’s me I’m not so sure about.”
But Ant-Man can suck eggs, right?
Soon enough, Hawkeye finds himself at the docks near a warehouse that I’m fairly certain Ultron was using as a hideout in the last series. He follows a young woman (voiced by Hynden Walch) searching for a specific shipping container. She finds it, but gets tied up by Hawkeye’s restraint arrows.
Hawkeye: “Never did learn to check your six… Princess Python.”
Princess Python, Princess Bubblegum, Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran…. Hynden Walch sure voices a lot of princesses.
She rants about his oh-so-vague “betrayal,” he responds flippantly, and then he asks if she’s still with the Circus.
Princess Python: “I’m a solo act for the moment. As if you care.”
He does, as a matter of fact. He follows up by asking if she knows where the Circus is and explains that they took his team.
Princess Python: “Oh, now you care about your team?”
In her anger, she uses her powers to summon the giant robotic snake out of its shipping container.
Hawkeye: “That looks a whole lot bigger than I remember.”
I think I’ll skip the “that’s what she said” joke. Princess Python mounts… I mean, rides… I mean, straddles… Hoo boy, this is going to be a tough character to talk about without everything turning into a double entendre. Let me try again.
So anyway, she issues a mental command to her robotic snake, and…. Oh, come on, animators, you’ve got to be doing this on purpose.
|There is no way the shape of that snake's head wasn't intentional|
Hawkeye: “It’s not too late to put this overgrown worm back in its cage, Princess.”
Yeah, cage that snake before you shake and bake.
|All jokes aside, condoms are very useful for preventing pregnancy and transmission of STIs.|
The more you know.
Princess Python: “My snake and I don’t like an ambush!”
Yeah, Falcon, knock first so she can hide her magazines.
|Although, to be fair, she didn’t put a sock on the door.|
Falcon: “Yeah, I can see you’ve got it handled.”
Princess Python whacks Falcon into the river, and I’m not putting a dollar in the jar for that one because not every usage of the word “whack” is inappropriate. Besides, the plot has decided to interrupt this scene, which is good, because I’ll run out of money soon.
The Hulk shows up out of nowhere to incapacitate Hawkeye and take him back to the Ringleader’s hideout, an abandoned circus. After the Ringleader makes some more cryptic references to something Hawkeye did to the Circus of Crime, laser turrets come out of pretty much everything to start firing away at our bowless archer.
|And if you think that's bad, you should see what the Joker’s doing in the other end of the place.|
Falcon: “This is where you thank me and admit you’ve been a jerk.”
Hawkeye: “Thank you.”
Falcon: “That was only half.”
Hawkeye agrees to start letting Falcon assist him, and the two heroes are brought to the Big Top for the final showdown. The other Avengers, peacefully hypnotized, have been placed into deathtraps. A human cannonball act for Iron Man, a mechanical clown with cymbals smashing the Hulk, Thor struggling with a heavy weight, Black Widow being hoisted to the ceiling, and Captain America… uh…
|May or may not have drowned.|
Hawkeye: “Unless he suddenly learned how to breathe underwater!”
Well, he was underwater for about seventy years, so there is precedent.
Hawkeye’s attempt to pierce Cap’s tank is shot out of the air by Trickshot, so Falcon steps in to slice the tank up and release the water. A rope-arrow stops Black Widow from pulling a “Flying Graysons,” Falcon breaks the Hulk’s mechanical clown, and Iron Man survives his trip while Thor simply puts the weight down. And since they’re all still mind-controlled, the Avengers start attacking their rescuers.
It doesn’t go well, considering that two humans are going up against the Hulk and Thor, among others. And I’ll admit, I got a chuckle out of seeing Iron Man say “Pew pew pew!” as he shoots repulsor beams. Things take a turn for the worse as the Hulk rips Falcon’s wings off. Trickshot takes the shot at Hawkeye, but Hawkeye flips a coin at it, blowing it up in midair. Still, things are pretty bad. But just as all seems lost, Princess Python penetrates the tent and rams her snake deep inside.
|Not putting a dollar in this time. That was an accurate description of what happened.|
Hawkeye: “She’s a princess. She fights with a big snake. Uh… never mind.”
Yeah, get your mind out of the gutter or put money in the jar, Hawkeye.
Hawkeye: “Couldn’t resist me, huh?”
Princess Python: “More like, you need my help.”
And what help it is. I mean, with that robotic snake, she’s probably one of the strongest people in the Circus of Crime. In fact, when I think of the words “most powerful member”….
|There goes another dollar.|
|On an unrelated note, does anybody remember when I issued a content warning in one of my Recaps because I was going to refer to A-Bomb’s non-existent junk? Boy, this site’s come a long way.|
|And I've lost a few bucks thanks to these jars.|
Falcon: “The snake won’t hold for more than a few seconds.”
|Another dollar goes in.|
|Shoot, that's my last one.|
Hulk: “I. Hate. Clowns.”
Iron Man thanks Princess Python for her help.
Iron Man: “I take it you’ve switched sides?”
Sweet Odin, there are just too many jokes to make with this character, even without lines like that. And here I am, out of dollars.
Ringmaster teleports in, promising more fighting, so Princess Python leaps into action as her snake rises high into the air. But the Ringmaster’s tricks soon send her crashing back down. Dang it, I already used that clip from The Avengers.
Ringleader sends in the rest of his circus, and each Avengers fights their counterpart. Hulk fights the strongman, Falcon fights the Human Cannonball, Hawkeye fights Trickshot, et cetera. Black Widow and Cap struggle against the Gambonno Twins, thanks to their piston-powered feet.
Gambonno Brother: “How do you like-a the boots from Italy?”
Black Widow: “I prefer American made.”
Says the Russian.
As the fight goes on, Princess Python opts to leave, but Trickshot stops her and questions her loyalties, threatening the limp body of Hawkeye on the ground.
|Phallic symbol vs. phallic symbol.|
Alliance or Horde?
Princess Python: “I’m not a circus act anymore.”
Trickshot: “All I needed to hear.”
Trickshot takes out the Human Cannonball, allowing the Avengers to quickly defeat the Circus of Crime and save the day. As it turns out, “Trickshot” was Hawkeye in disguise, having knocked out Trickshot off-screen and switched outfits with him.
As the Circus is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawkeye introduces Princess Python to Nick Fury.
Hawkeye: “He’s not so big on pets, but he’s really good with second chances.”
|Princess Python would be locked away forever next to wherever they stuck the Molecule Kid.|
|“Hawkeye, I was trained to be a living weapon through brainwashing and
torture when I was a little girl.|
Cry me a river over your evil, tragic past.”
Falcon: “Never. But keeping secrets… even tough ones, doesn’t do anyone any good.”
Oh, so now you’re the expert on not keeping secrets, Falcon?
After Hawkeye apologizes to his teammates, all is forgiven, and the episode ends.
So. Magnificent performance? Or a stale act? Let's review.