Eyes a little bleary after mainlining the entire second season of Daredevil this past weekend? Having trouble remembering what happened in which episode? Or, have you taken a more sensible approach and are working your way through the season at a comfortable pace, but still want to connect with others and talk about that big moment from that one episode? Whether you’ve gorged yourself on Daredevil and sit ready for Luke Cage to hit Netflix this September, or whether you’re savoring every bite of the “Man Without Fear”, you’ve come to the right place.
The first season of Daredevil ended with the title hero capturing season one big bad Wilson Fisk, better known to comics readers as Daredevil’s longtime nemesis The Kingpin, who rose to power in the wake of the destruction leveled upon New York after the first The Avengers film. With Fisk (presumably) out of the picture, and with the additions of The Punisher and Elektra, there are a lot of questions heading into the second season. How will this season build upon the groundwork laid by the first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones? How will it point toward and pull together our heroes as their lives begin to converge over the course of their individual series and the upcoming The Defenders? Will any of this fit into the upcoming Civil War? Can we get back to the simple and clean aesthetic of the black costume again?
Check out the episode-by-episode recaps below, and weigh in with your comments below.
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And we’re off! Is there a more beautiful yet haunting credits theme anywhere on television?
After Daredevil brought down Wilson Fisk, there was a power vacuum among Hell’s Kitchen’s criminal underground. Massacres targeting the Dogs of Hell biker gang and the Irish mafia announce that there is a new player in town, leaving the street gangs scrambling to arm themselves for war. The butchering of the Mexican Cartel reveals that this paramilitary threat is not a “they”, it’s a”he”. Though not yet named, the episode introduces us to Frank Castle, the vigilante known as The Punisher, who has no problem taking out anyone caught in the blast radius of his personal vendetta, which includes Karen.
What a way to kick off the season! The smile on Daredevil’s face after detaining (with extreme prejudice) the diamond thieves in the episode’s open show us that Murdock’s mission to clean up the streets isn’t some noble sacrifice. He gets off on this. Juxtapose that with Foggy’s attempt to call upon his old catholic school classmate Smitty at the Dogs of Hell bar. Who is more heroic here, the guy with the training who beats the armed bad guys or the guy who willingly walks into a den of criminals without a weapon (unless you count his ability to read people and think on his feet as a weapon) in order to try and get some information that just might save lives?
Foggy is the heart of this series. He and Matt are more than just friends. They’re partners. I don’t mean that in just a business sense. Matt was Foggy’s wingman. This is the guy who puts up with Foggy’s quirks (noble as they might be). The guy who gets him. Foggy says he’s worried about what happens to the law firm if Matt is caught or severely injured. What he’s really saying is, “What happens to me if something happens to you?”
Something like–I don’t know–taking a bullet at the end of the episode, maybe? You’ll note that Castle drops Daredevil in their rooftop brawl, but Castle’s first inclination isn’t to kill his fellow vigilante, it’s to walk away. Walk quickly, but leave Daredevil alive and relatively unharmed. Is it Murdock’s sense of righteousness (or “rightness” in not letting the mass murderer get away without facing justice) or his lust for the fight that causes him to get up and go after Castle? We’ve got another 12 episodes in which to figure that out.
Random Thought: Outside the bar, Matt overhears one of the officers working the crime scene saying that this is just like the Dogs of Hell incident, that all these bodies has the morgue full. Wow. We saw how many members of the Irish mafia died here. Must have been another big hit against the Dogs to fill the morgue that time before, huh? Nope, just 5 Dogs killed… Smitty and the “four brothers” that rode with him. Must be a tiny morgue.
Karen and Grotto manage to escape the hospital shooter. Daredevil wasn’t so lucky, taking a bullet to the head; though Murdock’s personal tailor/armorer thinks that the shot that busted Daredevil’s mask was just a warning shot. If that’s the case–if shooting a guy in the head is just a warning–then bad things are surely coming. (I wish Melvin would have told Matt to just go back to the black outfit, but change it to red this time.) Foggy negotiates a deal with the DA’s office to get Grotto into witness protection, but DA Reyes pulls a bait-and-switch, using Grotto as bait in order to catch the shooter vigilante that the police have nicknamed “The Punisher”. Even though he’s dealing with unseen, internal effects of being shot in the head that leave Matt without the rest of his heightened senses (and without a properly protective mask), he suits up in an attempt to stop The Punisher before anyone else gets caught in the crossfire of his vendetta.
Two episodes in and I’ve decided that this season isn’t about Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Let me explain. Take a show like Doctor Who. The Doctor is an amazing title character, but the show isn’t really about The Doctor. The show is about his companions, the normal, everyday people who tag along with The Doctor on his crazy adventures. The companions serve as the audience’s proxy. Their eyes are the “normal human being” windows that we peer through and use to orient ourselves against the fantastic background and storyline.
In much the same way, I believe that this season is about Foggy. He’s the normal guy in a world filled with superheroes. He’s certainly the non-powered person in the partnership between himself and Matt. It’s Foggy’s care and concern for this “other”, an almost supernatural person who acts with no regard for his own health and well-being, this “other” who never thinks about the impact his actions are having on those who care about him, that is the heart of the first two episodes of this season.
The episode opens with Foggy frantic to find Matt when no one hears from him after the hospital shooting. Again, Foggy uses his street smarts and know-how to get into the nearby buildings (even at the expense of his own ego) to find an unresponsive Daredevil on a rooftop. No martial arts training required, just a desperate sense of love and need to find his friend.
When Karen goes to Matt’s apartment, it’s funny how easily she has bought into Foggy’s excuse that the reason Matt is always bruised and taking time off from the job is because Matt is an alcoholic. Painting Matt’s addiction for going out dressed as “the devil of Hell’s Kitchen” every night is probably the best metaphor to use. Like anyone who has watched a person let their addiction spiral out of control, Foggy is upset and feeling helpless. This manifests itself in Foggy’s anger at Matt and setting an ultimatum. Give this up. And, like an addict, Matt grabs his suit from Foggy and growls at his friend, the one who has stood beside him, who has picked Matt up off the rooftop and dragged him home, to drop the suit.
Karen is shaken up from her near-miss at the hospital (not that Matt notices). Nearly ending up in the morgue isn’t what’s really bothering her, no more than Foggy’s weak objections and rationalizations are what is driving him. Karen still feels guilt over killing Fisk’s man, Wesley, last season, even though no one would blame her for acting in her own defense. If Matt’s loss of his senses is the narrative device that weakens him in his fights against The Punisher, then Karen’s empathy for a guy driven to pick up a gun in order to try and shoot his way out of a bad situation may be the way out of this war for everyone caught up in it.
When the DA’s plan to catch The Punisher goes bad, Karen wants to leave the safety of the control room to run out there and save Grotto. Should she get gunned down in the crossfire, I think she would see that as fit punishment for her own “crime”. Foggy talks Karen out of it, telling her that it’s crazy unsafe out there, that this is the safest place for them to be. When the DA gives the order for the police to open fire on The Punisher, even though Daredevil is up on that rooftop with him, what does Foggy do? He rushes out of the room the moment the police lose track of the two vigilantes. Even though Matt’s addiction has led him to make another bad decision, this one running directly afoul of the police and the DA’s office, Foggy puts his own safety aside and runs to his friend. Not to protect the law firm, should Daredevil be caught and unmasked, but because he loves his addict.
Random Thought: Foggy calling out the DA’s BS! I’m telling you, there’s “go punch a guy on a rooftop” heroism and there’s the normal, everyday courage to step into an uncomfortable situation and do the right thing.
After the DA’s office botches the ambush, Reyes threatens to shut down Nelson & Murdock if they go public with the story. Karen digs into Reyes’ past indiscretions and convinces the DA’s assistant to turn on his boss, passing along the police’s file on The Punisher, resulting in Karen finding an ominous x-ray of Frank Castle’s skull with a bullet hole in it. A chained Daredvil attempts to both find out more about the vigilante who has abducted him (but kept Daredevil alive) and to humanize things for Frank, telling The Punisher that even criminals deserve a shot at redemption. Frank displays Grotto for Daredevil, forcing Grotto to confess murder before Frank shoots him, then turns his attention to the Dogs of Hell. Daredevil uses the gun Frank forced upon him to free himself and get he and Frank out of the apartment in another epic hallway brawl that evokes season one. Meanwhile, Foggy goes to Claire at the hospital to ask he to find out whether Matt has been checked into the hospital… or the morgue.
A great episode. The bulk of the episode is more of a psychological battle, with Matt waging a war of morals against his captor. Again, the possibility of redemption is played, though it’s too late for our friend Grotto. This is becoming more and more the theme for this season. The question is who is most in need of redemption and who will find it by season’s end.
Karen’s swimming in troublesome waters again. After the way things went down in season one, specifically Ben Ulrich’s death and Karen killing Wesley, it’s interesting to see that she’s willing to put herself in this position again. Maybe she’s feeling bullet proof after surviving Fisk last season. Regardless, she’s a better female character than most on TV nowadays. No one told her to look into Reyes. She did that on her own, because she doesn’t need a man to tell her how to be useful. Though, I will point out that Matt and Foggy are keeping the big red secret from Karen, but at least it isn’t “for her protection”.
Finally, Foggy shows his concern for Matt and his own particular brand of courage and heroics. Foggy doesn’t back Karen’s move of calling out Reyes because he’s distracted in worrying about Matt. At the hospital, things turn violent between a pair of thugs, but Foggy is able to read the situation and the guys involved and defuse the confrontation by appealing to the guys’ selfish natures and talking them down.
Random Thought: Daredevil is often compared to Batman, for obvious reasons. Every shot committed to film in this series wears its homage to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy on its sleeve. That said, if I hear some variation of the “only difference between me and you is one bad day” line again, I’m going to scream. Did the writers of this episode even bother to change the line, or did they lift it verbatim from The Killing Joke? The real contrast here isn’t between the two vigilantes taking the law into their own hands, to different extremes, but the difference between how these two have decided to be “heroes” versus how people like Karen and Foggy work within the law and with genuine concern to help others. There’s your dichotomy.
The Punisher’s war on the Irish mafia brings a new man from across the ocean, Finn, whose oldest son is among the dead and who is missing the 1.2 million dollars The Punisher stole from the dead Irishmen. Finn and his boys wreak havoc on Hell’s Kitchen until they manage to capture Frank and torture him for the location of the missing money. Which is exactly what Frank had planned from the beginning. After attending Grotto’s funeral, Matt suits up and goes after The Punisher, looking to put an end to the killing and to send the message to the city that the police are the law and order in Hell’s Kitchen, not the vigilantes. Daredevil helps Frank escape from the Irish and turns him over to the police, ending The Punisher’s reign of terror. Meanwhile, Karen follows a hunch and tracks down the nurse who attended to Frank the night he was brought into the hospital with a hole in his head, which leads her to the Castle home, where more men and women in suits arrive to secure the place. Something stinks in all of this, and Karen thinks that it is all somehow tied to DA Reyes.
This was possibly the most gruesome episode of the series to date, and that’s saying a lot after last season’s car door scene. All of the brutality is countered by the simplicity of a family life abandoned that Karen finds at the Castle house and Frank’s story to Daredevil of his return home to his family after all he saw while fighting overseas. Contrast Frank’s fatherly love for his daughter with Finn’s priority in finding his money over getting revenge for his son’s death. Compare what love has turned Frank into versus the blossoming love that Matt is finding with Karen. Love is what is driving these people to do some wonderful and some deplorable things.
Once again, the idea of redemption is front and center, this time in the priest’s eulogy for Grotto and one-on-one with Matt afterward. As much as we’re being beaten over the head with redemption, there had better be a pay-off at the end of the season.
This episode wraps up the first third, or Act One, of this season. If this were a network program, our Elektra introduction and cliffhanger would lead into November sweeps. Now that there is a real potential for happiness for Matt, I’m guessing that Elektra’s sudden appearance kicks off Act Two, which should take an already dark character to an even darker place. The next four to five episodes should be The Godfather, Part II to these first four episode’s The Godfather.
Random Thought: The car door scene referenced appeared in episode four of the first season of Daredevil. What is it with grizzly, brutal fourth episodes on this show?
Foggy finds out from an old flame that Reyes plans to use the Castle conviction to build an anti-vigilante platform to launch her mayoral campaign. At the newspaper office, Karen delves into past editions, looking for anything that might tell more of Frank’s story and to piece together what it is that the DA’s office is hiding. Matt juggles his budding romance with Karen against the fling he had with Elektra, who is manipulating Matt in an effort to get him to embrace the darkness within himself.
So, yeah, Act Twos generally go into darker territory. In this case, that darkness is what first attracted Elektra to Matt a decade ago. While she did everything she could to get Matt to give in to his dark side–even finding and leading Matt to the crime lord who had Matt’s father killed–Matt could never be brought to kill. The flashbacks serve as a nice counter to his relationship with Karen. Where Elektra was all about expense and excess, which Matt has rejected in the years since (evidenced by the work he does with the law office), Matt keeps it simple and cheap with Karen.
While everything ended all lovey-dovey between Matt and Karen on the stoop of her apartment, there was still the awkwardness of that first part of the date. Karen lied to Matt about spending her day looking into the Castle case and Matt lied to her about the “new client” who dumped a saving amount of money into Nelson & Murdock. If we were playing Super Hero Show Bingo, we could all mark the “lying to the person he/she cares about” square on our cards.
It seems to me that what we’re going to wind up with is Nelson & Murdock taking Castle as their client and defending him against the DA at trial. At that point, I expect the DA’s office to put the squeeze on the law firm, testing Foggy, Matt, and Karen’s trust in one another and that they’re doing the right thing here. I really hope that when the chips are down, that all three lay all their cards on the table and stop with the secret keeping and lying.
As for Elektra, is she really just bored and digging out the thorn of letting Matt get away (and overcome her seductive charms), or does she have some larger plan in mind?
Random Thought: Again with Foggy sticking it to the DA’s office. They may be small-time, but Nelson & Murdock will not be intimidated. I really hope that Foggy gets a scene at the (assumed upcoming) Castle trial where he gets to stick it to Reyes. I think he’s earned a payoff like that. Also, we got our Luke Cage reference from Claire back in episode three and can add our Jessica Jones reference here in episode five. Any thoughts on when we’ll get our Iron Fist reference (and whether it’ll have something to do with Elektra’s presence in Hell’s Kitchen)?
Elektra’s attack against Roxxon has led her afoul of their criminal organization, which she–perhaps mistakenly–thinks is the Yakuza. In order to bring down Roxxon (for herself and her father’s business), she needs Matt’s help, framing it in such a way that by helping Elektra, Matt will be running the Yakuza out of Hell’s Kitchen for good. To that end, Elektra and Matt use a Roxxon gala as an opportunity to steal the ledger that holds the information on all of Roxxon’s illicit dealings, plus something else, hidden in code. While Matt’s off with Elektra, Karen gets closer to Frank and convinces a reluctant Foggy to represent Frank in his upcoming trial. Karen appears to get Frank to agree to take the DA’s plea deal, but Frank throws them for a curve and pleads “not guilty”, sending the case to trial. Perhaps Castle and his counsel will bring down Reyes, but at what cost to the firm?
The balance has shifted in this season’s storytelling. Where the first act had Foggy watching Matt’s back, the relationship between Matt and Karen has Foggy as the odd man out and feeling outnumbered as Matt and Karen push him to agree to represent the mass murderer who terrorized Hell’s Kitchen in general, not to mention Karen, Daredevil, and Grotto specifically. All this while Matt is becoming less present and more evasive about his deal with Elektra, who Matt only refers to as the “new client” whose money is keeping Nelson & Murdock afloat.
In the same way that Bruce Wayne is the disguise that lets Batman be the dominant personality, blind, stumblin’ and bumblin’ Matt Murdock is the disguise that lets the man be Daredevil. Here, misdirection, misperception, and misconception are employed twice at the gala to draw attention away from Elektra and Matt’s extraction of the ledger and their escape from Roxxon’s security thugs.
Out title hero’s life is now sufficiently off-balance. Karen and a happy future, or Elektra and an unhappy past? Save the city by eliminating the Yakuza threat (not that the threat really is the Yakuza… the box of severed fingers sure feels like a clue, doesn’t it?) or save the single person who terrorized the city with his particular brand of vigilantism? The Punisher trial has been expedited. Matt needs to help Elektra and get her out of his life as quickly as possible. Everything is spiraling together all at once, and I’m guessing that it’s only going to worse before things get better.
Here is our redemption arc coming together. Neither Nelson & Murdock nor Daredevil were able to save Grotto’s life. To paraphrase the priest, there was no redemption for Grotto. By taking Frank as their client, the threesome has a chance to protect a new client and attempt to redeem him in the eyes of the public and give Castle a chance–if not at redemption–at exposing what happened to his family and getting vengeance for them. Not justice for his slain family, but revenge for their murders and the cover up.
Random Thought: Remember that smile Daredevil has after the opening scene in of the season? We know that Matt is addicted to being Daredevil. That he enjoys his work. That there is catharsis in letting that darkness inside of him out, just a little bit. It’s the same smile Elektra has after taking down the assassins sent to her penthouse to kill her. She gets off on this stuff as much as Matt does. They are quite the couple.
The trial of the century has begun, but Nelson & Murdock are a man down. While Foggy and Karen burn the midnight oil in an attempt to actually build a defense for Frank, Matt is off with Elektra, attempting to determine what it is that the Asians (not going to call them the Yakuza… I think that’s a red herring) want in Hell’s Kitchen.
As off-balance as things were becoming in the past couple of episodes, they’ve started tipping in this one. Matt remains at Elektra’s beck and call. Did you see how easily she controlled Matt, getting him to go with her to the professor’s suite to get the cryptogram decoded? How she called the shots in that apartment, getting Daredevil to continue punching the window until it broke. To his credit, he does appear to stop and consider how easily Elektra manipulated him, but only after the fact. After her manipulation server her purpose.
Where Foggy was feeling like the odd man out before, there is a clear rift between the two partners by episode’s end. Foggy didn’t want to take this case, Matt did. Matt was supposed to deliver the opening statement, but Foggy had to when Matt overslept after a night out with Elektra. Foggy and Karen were building a case around the medical examiner’s testimony, but Elektra (and Matt’s choices) botched that deal.
Where Foggy showed courage in other episodes pales in comparison to standing up to Matt in this one. It’s one thing to step in when there are strangers involved. It’s another to call out a friend. Not that this is the first time this season that Foggy’s had to do so. He tried to get Matt to give up the vigilante gig in episode two, but Matt wouldn’t. Now, that decision and the choices Matt has made since then have put their livelihood in jeopardy. I guess Matt wasn’t listening when the priest at Grotto’s funeral said that every decision one person makes impacts the lives of those connected to him. Matt is still trying to be the lone vigilante and not considering how his choices about where to focus his energies and what to be present for are impacting others.
It’s not just Foggy and Matt who are on the outs. The more time Karen spends with Frank, the more she comes to understand and even buy into his way of thinking. What is the difference, she asks Matt, between what Frank did and what the Daredevil does, if the result is the same? Daredevil rebuked that line of thinking when Frank put it to him in episode three. But that was a criminal asking a vigilante a rhetorical question. This is Karen, someone Matt is supposed to have feelings for, asking the same question now. Between their philosophical difference, Matt’s behavior and attitude toward the trial, and Matt blowing Karen off at the courthouse when she told him it was time to come clean so they can all move forward, these two have never been farther apart than they are at episode’s end.
Matt confronts Elektra about interfering with the trial, but like everything else in Matt’s life, she doesn’t really care. Sure, she says she’ll stay out of it. She also said she would stay out of Matt’s life while in New York, but there she was, listening to everything from the terrace when Matt and Karen had their disagreement about Frank’s methods. His blood up, Daredevil takes his aggressions out on the Asians outside of the old tenement from season one (glad to see them making that connection and the one with the Asian boy in the train yard from last season). Elektra stays out of it, toying with Daredevil. As much as Matt might protest what Elektra’s doing to his life, it is him making the choice to suit up and follower her lead, like the addict that he is.
I’m not sure what to make of the bottomless pit that Daredevil and Elektra discover. I’m sure it’ll be cool and probably vaguely mystical and possibly even point back to last season’s episode with Stick and the enigmatic Asian man whose face we don’t see while at the same time pointing forward to the upcoming Iron Fist series. That’s my guess. I could be way off base. Regardless of what it reveals, I really hope we don’t get a “aw, shucks, I guess it’s okay that you blew us off, lied to us, and risked everything we have since you saved the city by doing so” conclusion to this season. These are supposed to be real characters with real emotions, and I don’t want Foggy and Karen to be placated by Matt saving the trial or Daredevil saving the day. It’s time for the people in these hero’s lives to hold them accountable for making poor and/or selfish decisions.
It’s like the Dareveil’s methods versus The Punisher’s methods issue. It shouldn’t matter what the end result is. It should matter the path one takes to get there.
Random Thought: The shot right before the opening credits is powerful. Frank Castle, veteran, standing in front of the American flag in the courtroom. It’s a powerful image because what’s really on trial here is our American value system. We are a nation built on a cowboy sense of justice. We do tend to praise our vigilantes and romanticize getting vengeance over getting justice. Take a look at what’s popular in our culture. We root for the outsiders to come in and blow up the status quo because so many of us feel marginalized and that perhaps the powers that have stacked the deck against us in an effort to maintain their positions. The jury selection process reflects our divided culture right now. This episode is perfectly timed to capture America in 2016. Well done.
Also, I applaud the writers for taking the insanity plea and the PTSD defenses and having Frank spit all over those, saying that using those as a defense tool is disrespectful to those actually suffering from mental illness and the impact that their military service continues to have on their lives. A great way to make a point without preaching at the audience.
Yeah, that’s what I was talking about in my episode seven recap. I know the image above is from season one, but something about the way season two is turning made me think of these fellas.
Sure enough, Stick makes his return to Daredevil by saving Elektra and Daredevil from a group of silent, heartbeat masking ninjas guarding the pit, which wasn’t bottomless after all. Elektra and Stick have a history, which includes her mission to bring Matt back into the fold when Elektra and Matt first met a decade ago. Stick knows Elektra’s secret of who–no, what–she is. Matt doesn’t care about Elektra’s past, only what she chooses to be now. Redemption, right? Matt tells Elektra that if she’ll swear off Stick and join Matt in doing things his way, without killing (which is what got Elektra wounded in the first place), then they can be together.
Which is a good fallback plan now that Matt has alienated Karen. And has left Foggy to dangle in the wind so often that it chaps Foggy to have to bring Matt in to handle the questioning when Frank takes the stand in his own defense. Karen tells Foggy that he’s doing great and doesn’t need to put Matt ahead of himself. Foggy tells her–and reminds Matt the one time he does show in court to help his friends–that he doesn’t need Matt because he’s better, smarter, or a hero, but because this is Matt’s unique strength in their partnership.
Frank’s not willing to sit back and accept being sent to the mental health facility. Not when there is a better deal on the table. So, just when the jury and gallery are on Frank’s side, thanks to Matt’s particular line of questioning, Frank sabotages the deal by throwing a tantrum in court and shouting that not only is he in his right mind, but he’s guilty and would do it all over again. Why? Watching this go down, I thought that there was a plan we’re not privy to yet, sort of like how Frank allowed himself to be captured by Finn and the Irish mafia. I was blindsided by the reveal at the end of the episode regarding who it was that made Frank a better offer if he would go to prison. Very, very cool. I love the way season one is informing season two as we enter the back half here.
So, we have a group of resurrecting ninjas that Matt can’t hear (I guess this is the new MacGuffin, since the effects of being shot in the head and temporarily losing his senses only lasted a couple of episodes) who are attempting to get their hands on and use a weapon known as Black Sky. The only thing stopping these ninjas from taking over Hell’s Kitchen (first Hell’s Kitchen, then the world!) is a group of warriors recruited and trained by Stick, known as The Chaste. Elektra was working for Stick, but I’m assuming that she was a member of The Hand prior to joining Stick in an effort to find redemption. That has to be her big secret, right?
Matt’s shot. Elektra’s killing immortal ninja kids. Stick’s gone to get the band back together. Foggy and Karen not only lost the high-profile case, but now have to deal with the wrath of Reyes (since they couldn’t bring her down). And Frank’s in prison with Fisk. What could possibly happen next?
Random Thought: I love Clancy Brown. Always have, always will. I could listen to a loop of the man reading names from the Hell’s Kitchen phonebook. Kind of funny that he shows up in the same episode where immortals with swords are converging on New York and appear to only be killed by taking their heads! Okay, by slitting their throats. Still… there can be only one!
I’ll admit, I spent most of this episode thinking to myself, “Man, I’ve missed Wilson Fisk.” Before we dive into the episode, I have to say that Vincent D’Onofrio is an absolute presence in this role. I didn’t think we’d be seeing The Kingpin this season, much less seeing Fisk become The Kingpin. What an unexpected treasure!
We find out about Fisk’s time in prison and the circumstances that cause Frank to derail his own trial in order to meet with Fisk. Fisk wants Frank to take out his opponent on the inside. After doing so, Fisk sees the value in Frank being back on the streets, keeping the various criminal factions weakened by Castle’s one-man war so that Fisk can quickly reclaim his empire once he’s out of prison.
Frank gets his own version of the Daredevil Hallway Fight (patent pending). This scene gives us a stark, bloody contrast once more between Daredevil and The Punisher, which has been a recurring theme throughout the season. Frank’s hallway melee is the far more gruesome of the variations we’ve seen because Frank has no qualms about taking lives.
Foggy is ready to take some time to talk to Matt about the future of the firm. Matt tells Foggy that he can’t apologize for who he is anymore. Matt and Daredevil are the same person, not two different people who Foggy gets to choose between. If that is holding Foggy back, then Matt agrees that they should part ways so that Foggy, unfettered, can be the person he wants to be. Is Foggy wrong for asking Matt to give up his nocturnal activities? Is Matt wrong for not giving up his self-destructive habits because he understand what’s truly at stake? Are both wrong? Is neither wrong, they’ve just become incompatible? The jury’s still out, but I did particularly like Foggy’s line, “You don’t get to create danger then protect us from that danger.” Again, social commentary without being preachy.
Karen is still digging into the conspiracy that surrounds the death of the Castle family. Someone was killed that day, a John Doe whose body was quietly lost. Karen and the Bulletin editor go to the medical examiner for answers. The ME was asked to resign by the mayor and has been shadowed ever since. What he knows–that John Doe was an undercover cop working a drug bust gone bad– has made him a target. Karen’s on to something big, and the editor gives her Ben Ulrich’s old office to use while she keeps on digging.
In Ben’s office, Karen finds a file that Ben dug up on her. In it is a newspaper clipping about an accident and a teen fatality. Karen is horrified. The editor says he knows and that Ben knew, and that neither cared. My first thought is that maybe this is a continuation of a breadcrumb trail laid throughout the season. I think it has something to do with the brother that Karen never mentioned before nor spoke about at any length or in any detail. My guess is that Wesley wasn’t the first person that Karen killed.
Another set of small, seemingly throw-away details play out when Daredevil finds out from the Roxxon accountant that whatever The Hand is up to is taking place at a building dubbed “The Farm”. In the basement, people (including the accountant’s son) are being bled out to feed something or someone in a sarcophagus. One of those silent ninjas attack Daredevil and whisks the sarcophagus away, but not before revealing that the ninja is Nobu, the ninja who Daredevil killed in season one. And here you thought Matt and Elektra tracing one another’s scars was just foreplay. It was a reminder, a seed planted that bore fruit in this episode. Turns out that immortal ninja is immortal.
The Hand is bleeding people and preparing for “the rising”. Daredevil is going to try and bring them down on his own… no Elektra. No Stick and The Chaste. No Foggy and Karen. Frank is on the outside and looking for someone called “The Blacksmith”, who orchestrated the massacre of Frank’s family. How long until all of these players cross paths and the various conflicts come to a head?
I’m guessing within the space of about… oh, four more episodes.
Random Thought: I just miss Wilson Fisk. I hope we get to see that promised Fisk versus Castle showdown next season.
With Frank on the loose, someone is gunning down anyone and everyone connected to the Castle case and making it look like Frank is the shooter. Reyes gets taken out, with Foggy wounded in the storm of bullets. The former medical examiner, too. Karen would have been among the victims had she not been saved by Frank, who told her exactly what she already knew. He didn’t do this. He’s a special forces trained sniper. His work isn’t sloppy. Innocents don’t get caught by a stray bullet. So, who is behind the latest string of murders? It seems clear that whomever it is, they are targeting the people who know the truth about what happened to Frank and his family. Reyes knew the truth; she was the one who ordered the cover up. The medical examiner was in on it. And Karen has pieced together what’s going on here. Someone, probably the men and women in suits who watched over Frank after he took a bullet in the head, want the truth to remain buried and for Frank to take the fall. Again.
Wild guess, but I’m going to throw it out there that somehow Frank’s former commanding officer, played by Clancy Brown, who spoke as a character witness in Frank’s defense is the one responsible. My guess is that Frank knows something that he shouldn’t and the CO want’s him dealt with. Or, maybe it’s just revenge for showing up the CO in the operation the CO recounted in court. Plus, isn’t that exactly the type of role you could see Clancy Brown playing? Appears to be one of the good guys speaking at Frank’s trial, but the swerve is that he’s a bad guy after all.
I thought the tension was thick when Matt overheard on the police radio that Frank was loose, but his scene with Fisk in the prison… wow! Talk about chewing the scenery. Fisk is a powerful and power-hungry force. If Nelson & Murdock somehow make it through this season, I don’t envy them when Fisk decides to tear down everything they’ve built.
With the police on the scene at The Farm, Daredevil tells Brett to have the victims taken–quietly–to Claire for treatment. The victims are drained, feverish, unresponsive, and have had their fingerprints burned off. Toxicology reports show that organic toxins were introduced into their bloodstreams and their bodies used to incubate the toxins before being piped into whatever is inside the sarcophagus. If that wasn’t bad enough, just as The Hand comes for their specimens, the victims decide to get up, looking like zombies, and kill the Roxxon accountant.
This is the episode where Matt bottoms out. He’s injured. He’s tired. He’s outmanned, outgunned, and out of answers. All he knows is that he’s consumed with guilt over Foggy being in the hospital and Frank being out on the street. Claire calls Matt out, telling him to quit playing the martyr. Matt decides that he can’t be Matt anymore, only the Daredevil, all the time, if he has any chance of anything he does making a difference.
Feels like we’ve been here before, right? Every superhero goes through their “I have to push everyone I care about away so they don’t get hurt”. It’s so beyond cliché that it hardly even registers anymore when a character goes to that place. It’s a lazy writer’s way of stating “see, he’s hit rock bottom”. As if we couldn’t tell by what we’ve seen over the past ten hours. The writers didn’t need to go there. We can see what’s happening. We know what decisions Matt has been making. We’ve got a great episode going, with the dread so heavy it’s pressing in all around Matt (anthropomorphized by The Hand ninjas ascending to the hospital rooftop, where Daredevil awaits them, alone). Playing this card feels like the writers lacked confidence, either in that they were effectively conveying Matt’s isolation or that we are smart enough to “get it” without them spelling it out for us. A rare misstep in what has so far been a stellar season.
The good news? After you hit the bottom, there’s only one place to go. Into Act Three!
Random Thought: Wait, so Stick sent the assassin after Elektra? Is it because she rejected Stick or because she was a member of The Hand and Stick is afraid that without him lording over her, that Elektra will turn to The Hand once again?
The Hand ninjas attack the hospital, killing one of the nurses and getting the victims away. The only victim with an identity, the accountant’s son seems physically as helpless as the rest of the zombies to do anything other than follow the ninjas, but he still possesses enough of his mind to beg Daredevil not to the let the ninjas take them. Not enough presence of mind to keep from being a willing victim as The Hand bleeds the victims just a little more to finish fueling whatever’s in the sarcophagus.
Neither Matt nor Claire can figure out what The Hand could possibly want with those victims. Really? Isn’t it obvious? Didn’t Claire just tell Matt in the last episode that a cocktail of toxins were incubated inside the victim’s bloodstreams? Isn’t it clear that whatever biochemical process is taking place inside the victims’ bodies is what they are being bled for?
There were some great lines delivered to Matt by Claire and Karen in this episode. Not only is Matt playing the martyr, but he has decided that he is the protector of Hell’s Kitchen. That in his search for redemption, he has to be the one to protect the innocent. That’s his addiction. It’s not uniquely Catholic, but his faith certainly informs Matt’s world view. He can’t sit back and let the bad things happen to his city on his watch. But, as Claire points out, “It’s not your city.” This is a city full of people making their own choices. Some are good choices, some are bad choices, but Matt doesn’t have the right nor the responsibility to make those choices for others, not to enforce his brand of justice.
This extends to Karen in particular. Matt has blown her off time and again this season. He has hurt her and pushed her away. Last episode, Matt was moping around about not being able to have any friends, which we discussed at length above. But as soon as Matt hears from Brett that Karen was shot at, he tries to swoop in and insert himself as her guardian. Kudos to Karen for telling Matt, “I’m not yours to protect.” Karen lets Matt in on the fact that Frank wasn’t the one trying to kill her, as the police want to believe, and when Matt tries to throw his opinion in, Karen tells him, “But that’s my problem.”
In spite of some poor showings in the movie theaters, Marvel (and Netflix’s series in particular) have a strong track record of allowing their female characters to be their own persons with their own personalities and motivations in their television series. Certainly more so than some other comics-based superhero programs whose names I’ll not mention here. Kudos to the teams at Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, and Agents of SHIELD for writing half of the population as actual people. I wish I didn’t feel the need to type that, but it remains a problem, particularly in this genre.
Speaking of the fairer sex, Claire isn’t going to sit back and watch the hospital cover up the murders that took place there. One of the ninjas already sports the Y-incision scar of having gone through an autopsy. The hospital administration has accepted a large donation in exchange for hushing up what happened. but even with two strikes already against her, Claire storms in and tells the administration that if the hospital is more concerned with finances than with helping people, then she quits. I wonder where Matt, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage will go the next time they need medical help.
After Daredevil has a conversation with Madame Gao (glad to see her again, too) and Frank beats some information out of a pair of hitters sent to take him out, the two converge on the docks where The Blacksmith receives his heroin shipment. Frank is consumed with killing anyone associated with The Blacksmith, but Daredevil tells him hat if they kill everyone who knows anything about The Blacksmith (which is a small number of people with an even smaller amount of information), then they’ll never find their target. Frank isn’t interested in Daredevil’s half-measures, and Daredevil says that maybe this once they have to do things Frank’s way.
This is a big change for Daredevil. He’s fought with Frank over this position. He watched Grotto die because of it. Matt and Karen grew apart because she tended to side more with Frank’s view than with Daredevil’s (though, after seeing Frank’s work up close and in person, I think that she might be rethinking her position). It’s the reason that Daredevil and Elektra aren’t working together right now to stop The Hand. For Daredevil to give in now feels a little disingenuous and forced. I don’t think we’ll see Daredevil kill, and not just because Frank told him that you can’t just do it once and turn back from ever doing so again. To kill goes against what this version of Daredevil stands for. Forgive me for making the comparison again, but it would be akin to watching Batman take a life.
Not gonna happen.
Random Thought: At the dock, The Blacksmith’s men yell, “Been a long time, Frank” before firing on the ship. If that doesn’t cement the fact that Castle’s former CO is The Blacksmith and that the men working for him are Castle’s former special forces unit, then I don’t know who else The Blacksmith could reasonably be.
Also, we get a few more breadcrumbs spread out before us regarding Karen’s past. Frank says that Karen doesn’t have a flashy, toy gun for home protection. She has a gun that means business. He thinks that maybe she’s used a gun before, and not just for recreation. It also reminds me that when Wesley held Karen in season one, she made a comment to him to the effect that this wasn’t the first time she’s shot someone. I really think that maybe she was, to paraphrase her words, forced to shoot her way out of a bad situation, and I think it has to do with the brother she never talks about. I also think that it was explained away as an accident. In other words, she’s been involved in a cover up, which is pretty ironic considering that she has spent two seasons uncovering cover ups.
So, I was wrong. Elektra is not a former member of The Hand. She is Black Sky. She was trained to fight Black Sky. She was trained to fight the darkness within herself. Never before has she put it together that they are one in the same. Not when other members of The Chaste referred to her as “it”. Not when Stick saved her life and hid her away from both The Chaste and The Hand. In a season that has been about redemption and fighting the darkness within, how appropriate is it that the villains’ greatest weapon is just that… giving into the darkness that is already inside of you?
Our redemptive arcs are drawing to a close as the season winds down. Matt thinks that Elektra is worth saving. He goes into the sewers, not to save Stick, but to make sue that Elektra doesn’t kill the old man. Doing so would be her point of no return. Elektra not only chose to not to kill Stick but to drag the sour old bag of bones to safety. She is not beyond redemption.
On the flip-side, Frank’s point of no return comes in a shed in the woods where he has brought The Blacksmith, his former commanding officer (I did get that one right), for execution. Karen gives Frank the same sort of ultimatum that Daredevil gives Elektra. Do this and there’s no turning back. You’re dead to me. Unlike Elektra, Frank isn’t interested in redemption. “I’m already dead.”
Random Thought: I’d type more, but what more is there to say, really? This is where we’ve been headed from the first episode of the season. Since season one, if you connect all the dots. It’s time to stop talking and get the to the final episode of the season.
So, there it is. Matt and Elektra know that The Hand has set a trap for them using innocent people as bait, but have no other choice but to go in and save those hostages in an attempt to draw out Nobu. Which they do. To no one’s surprise, Elektra is killed. She found her redemption in self-sacrifice. On the other hand, Frank survives, living to search for some sort of redemption on his own terms. Oh, and stopping long enough to help Red with his ninja army problem.
The season ends with Elektra’s body exhumed and put inside the sarcophagus. We can only assume that the biotoxin-infused blood used to make the sarcophagus “ready” will bring Elektra’s body back to life, with some warped mindset that causes her to embrace her role as Black Sky. That’s my guess, since the toxins seemed to make the bloodletting victims susceptible to suggestion. So, it wasn’t something terrifying coming out of the sarcophagus that we needed to be concerned with, but what The Hand planned to put into it all along.
The season doesn’t wrap everything up in a nice, neat package for us. Life seldom works that way. Foggy has gone to work at and possibly be a partner at Hogarth’s law firm (another bit of cross-pollination). Karen works at the Bulletin, and is now privy to Matt’s secret. Instead of pushing people away, Matt has reached out to Karen. I assume that in time he’ll attempt to repair his relationship with Foggy, too. A hero can’t do it alone, and Matt is starting to realize that.
Final Random Thoughts: Daredevil has his stick now. Stick beheaded Nobu. We have no idea what’s up with that 40-story hole in the ground. Frank retrieved a disc from behind the photo of his marine unit before torching his house. “MICRO” was written in Sharpie on the disc. Is there more to the story about what happened in Kandahar, which led to The Blacksmith having Frank’s family murdered? It sure seems like it. It also seems to me that a good place to tell that story would be in a The Punisher series.
The acting was spot on. Jon Berenthal was unrelenting as Frank Castle. This might be an unpopular opinion, but (as you can tell from the first third of the season) I enjoyed Foggy’s role in this season’s storyline. The callbacks to season one and shout outs to the other Marvel Netflix properties was organic and didn’t seem at all forced. I’m not certain how much this season of Daredevil will play into Luke Cage this September or the second season of Jessica Jones this year, though. Not that they have to be directly tied together at this point, mind you. The bigger question might be how the events of the upcoming Captain America: Civil War will be impacted by the vigilantism taking place in New York over the course of this season and how the identification and registration of heroes in that movie might add a level of paranoia to the shows which come after that movie is released this summer.
Tell me, what did you think of the second season of Daredevil? Share your thoughts in the comments below (and if you haven’t finished the season yet, you might want to steer clear of the comments until you are caught up, in case of spoilers).
“Close us out, Josie. We’re done here.”