What is Black Sky? What is the Farm? What is the Hand using the children for in the Farm? What’s in the jar? What does Black Sky do exactly? What was the purpose of the giant hole in the ground from Episode 8? I think I’ve somewhat scratched the surface on the multitude of unanswered questions that were left at the door with the penultimate episode of Daredevil’s second season. Not even the Punisher story arc is able to pull this episode out of the muck as Frank’s side reveals the even more complicated, disappointing reveal of the Blacksmith’s true identity. Perhaps the show was just trying to incorporate too much too soon at the tail end of this season, with the Punisher and Elektra just being two characters and storylines that were never meant to be in the same house. Regardless, everything kind of falls apart, and it’s really unfortunate.
Anyway, on to the episode itself as we take a look back into the early days of Elektra as she trained to be the ruthless killing machine that is she is today under the tutelage of Stick. More allusions are made to the war with the Hand and it’s hinted that Elektra needs to die, for a reason to be revealed later in this episode. Ultimately, I feel that these scenes weren’t really necessary in giving us insight into why Elektra is who she is today, and before we have much more understanding, we’re whisked back once again to the present where Matt’s ex is stalking Stick. The two have something of a masterful duel in Stick’s abode only for Daredevil to stop them, just as the Hand descends showing us another big ninja fight. During this fight however, the ninjas manage to snag Stick and take him away, causing an uneasy truce between Matt and Elektra as they both want to find him albeit for completely different reasons.
The series was doing so good with the Punisher storyline, too! And yet, that’s what makes this episode all the more disappointing in that we’re given the identity of the Blacksmith, just causing more questions and an anticlimactic feeling. If you watched the episode, you know that the Blacksmith turns out to be none other than Castle’s former commanding officer Ray Schoonover (Clancy Brown) which doesn’t make much sense when all’s said and done. I mean, granted, it does make sense as far as Frank’s former C.O. was actually a drug dealer that unfortunately had been found out by Castle. With the jig up, Schoonover was forced to set up a hit on Frank and his family involving numerous gangs, undercover detectives, and a District Attorney in way over her head as the entire operation went to pot. It’s so needlessly complicated that connecting all the dots somewhat takes you out of the simplicity of the character of the Punisher, but I suppose that the showrunners looked at the gem they had in Brown and moved forward with him being the one responsible for everything bad that happened to Frank to that point. It’s a tough pill to swallow.
Anyway, this was all brought to light by Karen, who put on her gumshoe hat once again and found the clues pointing toward Ray. The Blacksmith got a hint that she was on his tail, held her at gunpoint, but was intercepted by the Punisher, who drags Schoonover into the woods. Karen follows in hot pursuit, pleading with Frank. I did really enjoy the idea that Karen always saw herself in Punisher, even if it’s never outright stated, but her attempts to convince Frank he still has one lost shot at his humanity falls on deaf ears as Castle drags Ray into an almost Evil Dead style cabin. Frank essentially kills his humanity along with the colonel with a bullet to the head, finding himself now in front of wall-to-wall artillery. It’s quite the scene to see Castle twitch at the sight of all his new tools, and Bernthal certainly sells the scene.
Swinging back around to Murdock, Elektra and ninjas (oh my!), Matt essentially cuts off Nelson after hearing his advice, cementing the two perhaps permanently parting ways. Daredevil manages to find Stick, with the old man being brutally tortured by the Hand with bamboo under his fingernails, and Elektra barging in once again. Wanting to make it a full house, Nobu and some ninjas burst onto the scene and reveal that in fact Elektra is the Black Sky! WHAT? Again, this really goes back to the idea of the Hand story arc just having absolutely too much mystery as we never quite know what being Black Sky means so we somewhat find ourselves lost in the details of it. In the first season, and I had made mention of this in a previous write-up, Black Sky almost seemed to be a supernatural deity. Stick built the kid who may have been Black Sky up as a dark god, quite possibly beckoning the end of the world. Now, Black Sky almost just seems to be the de facto title for leader of the Hand, as Elektra exhibited none of these qualities. It’s bizarre.
Elektra dropped into the series as a toxic entity to Murdock, a part of his past that was almost a mirror reflection of what his Daredevil persona does to destroy his current life. With this reveal, her development has slingshotted to some odd places, though I can somewhat understand what the writers were going for here, from Elektra killing under the eye of Stick, to trying to give up her past ways to stay with Matt, to ultimately being offered the opportunity to be herself — even if it is as the leader of a group of undead ninjas. Though ultimately, this is once again thrown to the wayside as Elektra decides to turn down the Hand’s offer and help Matt and Stick escape.
In this episode, all the moving pieces were there, the acting was still top notch, but the revelations that had been built for a good part of the series fell flat. It certainly wasn’t poor but I think it was definitely the weakest episode of the series so far, which is a shame.
Rating: ★★ Fair
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
-I think if the Blacksmith had been revealed to be Wilson Fisk or Reyes, it would have made more sense here, and while I do understand the need to use Clancy Brown if you have him, I think the show stumbled hard here.
-So we won’t be seeing the Punisher don the skull shirt until the finale eh? Sigh, I hope that if we get someone like Bullseye in Season 3, we get him in the costume right off the bat.
-Elektra: “You tried to have me killed!”
Stick: “You got that right!”