Matt Murdock has seen better days! Following the explosive battle in the last episode, Daredevil finds himself chained to a rooftop with Frank Castle interrogating him and trying to convince Matt that his style of crime fighting just isn’t working. Aside from seeing their two bodies smash together with Matt’s agility bouncing off of the Punisher’s brick-wall-style of brawling, this episode made for a nice diagnosis into the personalities and methods of two of New York’s finest vigilantes. It also makes for a nice chunk of the episode, the two chatting/poking and prodding at one another and their beliefs, but it’s made no less exciting in doing so. Understandably, Matt at one point asks Frank why he hasn’t taken off his mask yet, to which the Punisher responds that he doesn’t really care who Daredevil is under the mask. It’s a well thought out conversation between the two Marvel stalwarts, learning about one another through their heated argument.
Along the way of their chat, the two run into a few obstacles, one in the form of a nosey apartment resident looking into what exactly is transpiring on the roof. Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle adds an interesting layer here, as he seemingly drops his guard to have a talk with the resident, the two connecting over their military backgrounds. Bernthal turns on the charm, making it seem like Frank would be a great guy to catch a beer and a ballgame with, of course all the while holding the barrel of a pistol behind the door pointed at the old man. After managing to convince the resident that he was simply looking for some alone time, Matt questions Frank on whether he was actually going to kill the man if the truth had been discovered. The Punisher retorts that maybe he was holding the gun for “Daredevil’s benefit,” trying to sell him on a story that didn’t actually exist.
This is a side of the Punisher that I think is sometimes overlooked in this series, in so much as you’re never quite sure how open Frank is being at any given time or if he’s merely trying to sell a story to further his own mission. It wouldn’t work nearly as well if you didn’t have the powerhouse acting ability of Bernthal backing up Frank’s words and mannerisms here. Of course, the spirited debate between Matt and Frank gives way when Punisher reveals the real reason he brought Daredevil up to the roof, as he pulls Grotto — the remaining survivor of the Irish gang — into play. It’s here that Frank has also freed one of Matt’s hands, only to tape a pistol to it! Yes, the Punisher is attempting to teach Murdock a lesson by presenting a difficult scenario: either Matt kills the Punisher saving Grotto, or Frank shoots the pleading mobster. Easy peasy?
The decision is made all the more difficult when Frank gets Grotto to reveal that, during an “errand” in the past, the Irish lowlife had killed an innocent old woman to cover his tracks. During this frantic scene, Murdock manages to use the pistol to blast himself free but Frank still manages to put a slug in Grotto, ultimately killing him. It’s a fantastic moral quandary presented to Daredevil here, and it really wraps the audience into the decision as I’m sure you asked yourself what you would do in this situation. Matt manages to knock out Castle, but not before Frank alerts the Dogs of Hell, the biker gang from the previous episodes, to their location. What follows is a momentous fight scene in which Daredevil, still having the pistol taped to his hand mind you, must fight all the bikers while simultaneously attempting to keep tabs on a passed out Punisher in a descending elevator.
While not necessarily done in completely one take as the hallway scene of the first season was, the choreography and action beats are still masterful. Matt is bouncing all over the place, minus one hand, using whatever he can find at his disposal to take down the bikers in his path. Brandishing a chain and the aforementioned unloaded gun, Daredevil cuts a path through biker after biker, meanwhile frantically checking up on Frank. It’s a flurry of fast paced action and brutal hits along the way. With the hallway fight scene of the first season, the majesty was not only the action but the fact that it was done in an entirely one take. While the latter isn’t represented here, the masterful camera angles and stuntwork certainly is. Ultimately, Daredevil loses track of Frank as he makes his escape, but man, what a ride all the same.
On the other side of town, the power vacuum created by Wilson Fisk continues to grow with gangs warring with each other so much in fact that hospitals are overflowing with injured goons. Enter Foggy Nelson, and Rosario Dawson’s return as Claire. Foggy’s continued independence is interesting enough, and I think he’s far more interesting to watch this time around than in the first season as he struggles with keeping his law firm afloat and Matt’s masked rendezvouses. You get a real sense that Nelson is coming into his own as a character, especially in this episode when he is talking down the thugs pointing knives at one another, threatening to fight in a packed hospital. Back at the Offices of Nelson and Murdock, Karen manages to discover more information on the Punisher, leading to her uncovering a foreboding image of Frank Castle’s X-ray. The X-ray shows a bullet wound in the side of his skull, hinting at a certain shirt in the Punisher’s future …
Daredevil’s third episode of its second season is lean, mean, and knocks it out of the park. It’s arguably one of the best episodes the show has ever made…until the next one, that is.
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– The scene with Daredevil chained up is straight from the Garth Ennis written Marvel Knight Punisher series, the story arc titled “The Choice” as part of the big “Welcome Back Frank” storyline. In this, things don’t quite go as well for Daredevil as they do in the series. Matt chooses to attempt to kill Frank to save a gangster’s life, but finds that the firing pin was removed, leaving Daredevil with the terrible decision in this impossible scenario. This was in Frank’s book after all, so of course he’d win.
– What was the Punisher doing in the comics BEFORE this storyline? Well he was an avenging angel employed by heaven, who could pull any weapon he wanted out of his trenchcoat of course! The less said about that the better.
– Punisher: “You’re a counter-measure.”
– Punisher: “You knock them down, they get back up. I knock them down, they stay down!”
– Punisher: “I think you’re just one bad day from becoming me.”