Matt Murdock R.I.P? Things weren’t looking to good for Daredevil in the conclusion of the second season’s premiere episode, with the Punisher getting the drop on him, seemingly shooting Hornhead through the head. Luckily, Matt can always rely on his best friend Foggy to get him out of a pinch, pulling Murdock from the roof of a nearby building — the bullet not crashing through his skull but rather being caught by the faceplate of his mask. This leads to the old chestnut of Nelson worrying that Murdock’s nightly activities are going to be the death of him, with each jaunt as Daredevil seemingly being worse than the one before. Matt’s identity of Daredevil causing him to suffer in his daily life was always a nice caveat, and a standard when it came to oh-so-many superheroes that we’ve seen before in live action, but the added benefit is Murdock’s mortality is once again put on display, albeit this time to much greater effect than the first season.
In a particularly tense scene, Matt later on loses his ability to hear completely, as his powers go haywire from either the recent bulletwound from the Punisher, or simply from the sheer amount of abuse he’s taken as Hell’s Kitchen’s protector. The silent scene of Murdock screaming and doing whatever he could to hear anything that was going on was scary, and did more to impact just how dangerous his vigilantism was becoming for him that even the broken bones and ripped stitches. Getting sprayed with radioactive chemicals which grants you super powers was never quite an exact science, and this new weakness of Daredevil’s feels earned. And of course, it tends to occur during the worst possible times moving forward this season.
The continued buildup of the Punisher is fantastic, whether Frank is directly on screen or otherwise. Frank’s encounter with a pawn shop owner who attempts to sell him more than just a police scanner gives a brief but good insight into the Punisher’s character, i.e. a remorseless killing machine. Grotto’s discussion with Foggy and Karen, along with the D.A. and her assistant’s description of Castle’s activities, go a long way in filling the episode with tension. You’re not just feeling bad for Daredevil stumbling into Castle’s crosshairs — heck you feel terrible for the criminals themselves! The Punisher makes for an interesting case in the “escalation” created by Daredevil, and rather than being seen as an outright villain, the police force, and most of the public, are left with a hard choice as to whether or not they should be discouraging Frank’s actions or rooting for them. In a way, it’s close the idea presented in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but a tad more complex in that Daredevil isn’t “creating” characters whose motivations are seen as black and white among the citizens, but rather those which are gray. The Punisher can be seen as a villain or anti-hero, with either argument having merit.
There’s little to no weaknesses to be found overall in this episode, with each character being given an interesting spin to occupy their time. Karen and Foggy, for example, can usually be seen as the weaker aspects of the series due to their supporting roles to Matt, but also, they’re simply as they’re not as flashy as a Punisher or a Daredevil. Regardless, their place next to the surviving Irish mobster, Grotto, puts them head to head against the District Attorney, who is making Grotto’s placement into protective custody that much harder. Foggy’s stand against the D.A. made for a nice character moment, though, and helps to set him apart from just being Matt’s leg to stand on when he needs support. Karen’s chemistry with Grotto is surprisingly a standout of the episode, too, in that you really get a sense that Karen has connected with this guy, going a long way to continue to show how damaged she truly is. Of course, you can also see Karen somewhat justifying Frank’s actions throughout the episode, and in a sense seeking redemption for herself and her past, which is a nice take.
As the D.A.’s office manages to talk Grotto into meeting with a higher up within his organization while wearing a wire, all is not as it seems. The entire time, Grotto’s involvement was actually a ploy to pull Frank Castle out of hiding. Before the Punisher can put the nail in Grotto’s coffin, Daredevil springs into action and round two begins! Once again, the choreography here is top notch, especially as both combatants are being shot at by police snipers in between blows. It’s a heck of a scene, and just goes to show the work that the cast and crew put into making some rather spectacular set pieces for this one. Murdock’s grace versus Punisher’s brutality works so well in their physical confrontations and it’s been fantastic seeing Frank Castle brought to the forefront from the very start.
The final scene between the two juggernauts ends with the two circling one another like punch drunk boxers, with Murdock smiling at seemingly having the upper hand. Wouldn’t you know it though, his powers decide to leave him once again and he’s left helpless at the hands of the Punisher. In a brave move, Foggy runs out into the carnage to try to see if Matt is all right, only to see that both Daredevil and the Punisher are gone.
The second episode really cemented the world, and the trajectory, of this season. Jon Bernthal continues to impress even with next to no lines of dialogue, merely exuding a presence that is played extremely well by those around him. The world of Daredevil that’s been created here should really be seen as one of Netflix’s, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s, crowning achievements and you really get the sense that the audience is in for one heck of a ride for the rest of Season 2.
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– Anyone who had any doubts about Jon Bernthal being the Punisher should have their doubts completely extinguished with this episode. That scene of him emerging from the darkness in the Dogs of Hell garage, covered in blood, staring into his next victim’s soul was something else.
– A point on the character of the Punisher: I think this season has done it perfectly in that Frank Castle, during his introduction, doesn’t work best as protagonist, but rather to be seen through the eyes of others. I think that the movies somewhat had taken missteps in immediately dropping the audience in from the POV of Frank, rather than those around him who are either cleaning up, or attempting to stop, his killing spree. Though don’t get me wrong, the Punisher should absolutely get his own Netflix series.
– Melvin is apparently working on the costume for Stilt Man in his shop, as you can see in the background of his scene!
-That Pawn Shop owner was so ridiculously evil it was almost laughable.
– Mahoney: “Taking out mob families, not in a Daredevil way, but in a Death Wish way.”
– Reyes: “If God willing your firm doesn’t collapse under the weight of the chickens and the fruit baskets you’ve been collecting from your indigent clientele, there will come a time when you need to ask for a favor from the District Attorney’s office.”
– Reyes: “What the hell are you doing?”
Foggy: “Zealously protecting my client’s rights.”
– Foggy: “Like what, Killdozer? Dumbass with a gun?”
-Foggy: “They turn into the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”