Our episode begins with Daredevil and Elektra finally discovering how deep the literal hole goes following the conclusion of the previous installment. To be honest, it’s a cool way to connect the conclusion of one episode and the start of another. Almost immediately, the Hand make their grand entrance besieging the star-crossed lovers and showing that this is not something the pair have encountered before. Matt can’t read their presence with his senses, making the fight that much scarier, especially when Elektra is mortally injured thanks to some interference with from her do-gooder ex. All’s not lost though, since Matt’s former mentor, Stick, leaps from the shadows and manages to save them. What follows is a neat little car chase filled with ninjas on the streets and on the rooftops, slinging arrows willy-nilly across the screen. It’s a cool visual without a doubt.
During my recaps of the last season, I made special note of Scott Glenn’s performance as Stick as he really is a noteworthy addition to the cast. That continues to be the case in this season. Stick is the kind of character that you just can’t help but love, even when he’s doing things to everyone that you should hate. It’s that kind of charisma that Glenn radiates where you can’t help but be drawn to and his quips manage to give me some of the biggest laughs of the season. When Elektra is mortally wounded, Stick does his best to save her and is doing things you would never expect a blind man to do, but Glenn still does a great job of making you think that he is indeed blind (I would actually say even more so than Charlie Cox’s Murdock!) Elektra manages to become stable, and Stick lets it slip to Matt that Elektra has been working for him.
On the Punisher trial side of the shows, enter Clancy Brown! Brown joins as Frank Castle’s former CO, Colonel Schoonover, and gives us a fantastic performance here recounting Punisher’s time in the Middle East. As a character witness to back Castle’s integrity, we’re given a great side of Frank before he became the Punisher, but get obvious hints that his darker side was maybe always waiting in the shadows. Matt of course is nowhere to be found here, still wrapped up in his ninja problems but the team manages to put one over on Reyes and the trial continues to be the more interesting of the two plots without a doubt. To be fair though, the ninja plotline is far more compelling now with Scott Glenn entering the fray as you can’t help but get wrapped up into his story of how his war with the Hand had originally started. Daredevil has always had a knack for finding the perfect actors to encapsulate these comic book characters and it helps sell the story that much more.
With the trial still in full swing, Foggy and Karen delve into the idea that when Frank Castle was shot in the head during the murder of his family, it has plunged him into a physical mental state that holds him into a state of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder permanently. Thanks to the injury, Castle will always be living in the moment of his family’s death for the rest of his life, pointing at a viable reason as to why he is constantly firing guns at the criminal element of New York City. This is a new wrinkle in the Punisher lore, and it works here to humanize Castle as you’re left wondering how much of this is actually Frank’s decision and how much is the injury to his brain. What also helps humanize Frank is when the son of one of his victim’s has an outburst in the courtroom, making the Punisher question whether his mission has been worth it this entire time. Karen suggests Frank take the stand to plead his case, not to win the it but to reduce his sentence.
Speaking of Karen, boy does she ever enter back into Matt’s life at the worst possible time! Page walks in on Murdock consoling Elektra during her recovery and immediately assumes the worst, and rightfully so! A part of Daredevil’s character has always been his lousy history with women, and the show certainly manages to get that part right. With the trial the next day, Murdock finally manages to join Foggy and Karen in the courtroom. During his closing argument, one of the court’s officers whispers something to Frank, throwing him off the deep end and causing an outburst of epic proportions. Bernthal once again is able to demonstrate his chops as the character, delivering a mania that’s rarely seen and boy does it ever work. The team blames Matt, and even though it ultimately wasn’t his fault, it’s deserved here.
Back in Matt’s apartment, things somehow get even worse as following Elektra’s admission that she wants to be with Murdock, a ninja from the Hand attacks. In a particularly scary scene, an arrow blasts through Matt’s shoulder in utter silence before the battle starts between Matt and the black attire clad martial artist. This is all ramping up to potentially one of the best finales to a television episode I’ve ever seen. Matt manages to rip off the mask of the ninja, revealing him to only be a kid, right before Elektra cuts the boy’s throat and kills him in front of Matt! It’s a horrific moment laying out Elektra’s character in a way that we hadn’t seen before. In this one terrifying scene, we’re shown all of Natchios’ vulnerabilities and the character she put on display throughout the series so far is washed away. Great stuff to be sure but as good as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the reveal on the Punisher side of things.
With Frank being led into prison, you begin to definitely get the feeling that something is amiss as the guards begin turning off cameras and Castle is lead to a more quiet section of the establishment. Led by a guard to the exercise yard, Frank comes face to face with a character we haven’t seen for quite a bit, the villain of the first season, none other than Vincent D’onfrio’s Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin! What a reveal! This episode is able to find a perfect balance of the two storylines here and give the audience some surprises that knock your socks off along the way. Another excellent ride in the life of Matt Murdock without a doubt and promises viewers more than enough reason to immediately watch the next installment.
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
The Collider Officers of Nelson and Murdock
– Sigh, let’s talk about the hole. Having seen the season in its entirety, the hole is never explained so it is literally a “plot hole.” I don’t quite know what the point of it was or if it’s a build up to future seasons, or perhaps the Defenders series, but I wish they had given us a bit more hints as to its purpose. You’ll find this complaint come up a few more times this season when it comes to the Hand, trust me.
-In this day and age, it’s really difficult to keep things under wraps when it comes to story beats of movies and television, so kudos must go to the show creators here for managing to slip Fisk’s involvement in the second season under the radar. What a welcome surprise that was.
-Stick: “So, who wants to get the hell out of here?”
-Schoonover: “Cleared that entire LZ by himself.”
Schoonover: “By being Frank Castle.”
-Foggy: “I think he’s batshit!”
-Stick: “Nice meetin’ ya!”
-Castle: “The big bad Punisher. Well here I am! I AM THE PUNISHER!”
-Fisk: “I see you got my message.”