If Daredevil Season 2 had a best episode, it would most likely be Episode 4, “Penny and Dime” but damn it if “Seven Minutes in Heaven” doesn’t come really close! Our episode starts following the cliffhanger reveal that Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, has re-entered the series by exploring his life immediately following the season finale of the first season. Fisk has seen better days as he begins the motions of spending quite some time in a maximum security prison. At first, between harassment from both the guards and the prisoners alike, you think things might not work out too well for the former Kingpin of crime. Not only does Wilson need to keep himself alive, he also can’t retaliate against anyone as it may throw a wrench into the possibility of him getting parole. What a sticky situation!
In the first season, we weren’t really given a chance to see Wilson Fisk rising to power as the head of the New York underworld and it’s not necessarily something that we needed to see. I think that origin stories have become something of a hinderance to comic characters brought to life in movies and television but I can say that the ten minute sequence in which we see Fisk become the “Kingpin of the Prison” is probably our best bet as to how it happened on a larger scale. I was completely engrossed by Fisk working his way through the system, paying off who needed to be paid off, and asking his attorney for favors in making sure that the other prisoners were working for Wilson 24/7. Fisk is most definitely a villain, but the best villains are the ones you root for and you can’t help but do that here with him. That scene of Fisk walking through the prison with his newly made army was just absolutely fantastic; can’t say enough good things about it.
With the Kingpin now firmly in control of the prison, we’re snapped back to the present wherein Wilson comes face to face with the Punisher. The scenes between the murderous pair here is watching two masters of their craft bounce off one another as Jon Bernthal and Vincent D’Onofrio chew up the scenery in completely different ways. I’ve been a big fan of the Netflix version of the Kingpin, taking a slice of his character from the comics and adding some anxiety and vulnerability to the character, almost as if he’s uncomfortable in his own skin at any given moment. You still see that here from time to time, but you get the sense that the side of Fisk that was vulnerable is washing away gradually over time, especially now with his incarceration. Kingpin informs Frank that Fisk’s rival, Dutton, in the prison just so happens to have been involved in the murder of Castle’s family. Shiv in hand, Wilson gives Punisher free access to Dutton’s cell that day to take out his aggressions.
Meanwhile, on the outside of the prison walls, Matt and Elektra have a heart to heart about their relationship. Following the absolutely ruthless display of Elektra killing the boy sent from the Hand in the previous episode, Murdock simply put it out there that they would never work as a couple as Elektra “loves to kill”. Heartbroken, Elektra leaves as Matt emphasizes the fact that they need to “stop corrupting each other”. It’s sort of hard to believe how much of an a-hole Matt comes across as here, telling Elektra that she needs to embrace the fact that she’s a monster, essentially. To be honest, it’s in turn with his character and his absolutely terrible approach to maintaining relationships but jeez Matty, there was no chance for redemption there?
Back in the prison, Frank makes his way to Dutton, gets confirmation that he did in fact have involvement in the death of his family and shanks him in the guy for good measure before attempting to walk back to his cell. All’s not well in Riker’s though as Fisk closes the wing off and releases Dutton’s men from their cells giving us a fight scene that is the most “Punisher” fight I think I’ve ever seen in the portrayal of the character. Shanking his way past numerous men (and even ripping out a guy’s eye with his bare hands), Frank is knee deep in blood and bodies, covered in blood, and awaiting the prison guards to take him away. The brutality of this scene goes hand in hand with everything the Punisher is about, that being of course uncompromising, unblinking violence. This isn’t to say that we didn’t see some brutal portrayals in the early 2000s Punisher or in Punisher War Zone but this felt the most real and therefore the most grotesque.
What follows is another amazing confrontation between Frank and Fisk with the two proceeding to beat the hell out of each other. You can feel the blows as a viewer as they simply wail on each other but it leads to a nice reminder that Kingpin is always in control. A great part of Wilson’s character here in relation to Frank is that Kingpin always lays out the truth to Castle, originally letting him know that Dutton was his rival and now that he did try to kill the Punisher, but the plans have now changed. Fisk decides to let Frank loose, using his newly acquired power in the prison to let the Punisher back on the streets.
Meanwhile, back on the ninja side of the tracks, Matt is scouring the underworld hearing word of a “Farm” that the Hand is operating in the seedy depths of New York City. With Roxxon’s accountant in town, Matt has a few nifty fight scenes with some Hand members and runs into what may be considered the big bad of the season, a resurrected Nobu! Ultimately, if you know the Hand, you know that bringing people back from the dead is their bread and butter but I dug Nobu’s character from the first season and I’m glad to see him make a return here. In the end, this episode made for another great installment of Daredevil’s second season showing the power of Wilson Fisk and the ferocity of Frank Castle in excellent detail.
Grade: ★★★★★ Excellent
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock:
-I think in D’Onofrio’s original casting, people were concerned he wouldn’t embody the physicality of Wilson Fisk’s insane muscular proportions from the comics. I think this episode helps alleviate that to a degree for sure.
-When I watched this episode, I had to text some friends about how nothing was going to top the prison fight scene in turns of Punisher moments. Hope to be proven wrong down the line Netflix HINT HINT.
-Karen continues down the road of Ben Urich and it works for the character in replacing her shattered persona with a drive for the truth. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll work for the Daily Bugle?
-Kingpin’s dinner scene next to a dying Dutton was SAVAGE. Just went to show the quiet brutality of Fisk in the series.
-Having seen the entirety of the season, the numerous unanswered questions from the Hand plot are the main lowpoint of the series. Surely they could have explained something with either the Farm, the hole, or the other elements in future episodes.
-Dutton: “I’m the Kingpin of this bitch.”
-Fisk: “Perhaps his name suits him.”
-Fisk: “The tide raises all ships Mr. Castle.”
-Fisk: “The shiv is the best I can offer, something tells me you’ll make do.”
-Daredevil: “You’re dead.” Nobu: “There is no such thing.”