Following the explosive episode of “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” does “Man in the Box” manage to grab the momentum and run with it in terms of quality? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good episode, but it’s a tad all over the place for my liking. Ultimately, I feel that this season was something of an experiment that got some things wrong and some things very right in its departure from its predecessor that focused entirely on Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk. Here, with the split of the two plotlines of the worlds of Frank Castle and Elektra, you still have those previous threads but you’re also being pulled into these other directions that don’t necessarily gel with one another. The trajectories of a war-hardened mercenary being placed on trial and the former Kingpin of Crime in prison don’t go hand-in-hand with the idea of supernatural, resurrecting, undead ninjas.
Anyway, on to the episode, wherein the inhabitants of “the Farm,” consisting mostly of children and teenagers, are delivered into the hands of none other than Rosario Dawson’s Claire. Getting around half a dozen blood-drained, creepy children dropped into her lap doesn’t necessarily sit well with the “Night Nurse” and she brings her grievances to Matt, hanging around on the roof. If there’s one thing that I think the storyline of Elektra and the Hand manages to do right, it’s the idea that Matt’s strength in Daredevil makes for a huge weakness in his identity as Matt Murdock. This season shows Matt to be something of a jerk in that regard, doing what he thinks is the right choice, everyone else be damned. To be fair, he didn’t necessarily have a ton of good options when it came to what to do with the “Farm kids” but dropping them into Claire’s lap seems like a terrible idea, and to the surprise of no one, this is proven right later on in this episode. Matt does what he thinks is best here, but ultimately screws it all up anyway.
In the course of their discussion, Matt discovers that the Punisher is loose in New York City once again, transitioning to a scene of Murdock, Nelson, and Page being asked to visit District Attorney Reyes’ office. In hysterics, Reyes spills the beans that she had a part to play in the death of Castle’s family, but is doing everything in her power to save the life of her daughter, who is currently being threatened as a product of all this mess. Before the team can work toward a solution, a hailstorm of gunfire cuts down Reyes, with everyone jumping to the thought that Frank Castle is to blame. The trio of Matt, Foggy, and Karen are so adrift from one another that they all simply disperse, thinking of their own personal ways to solve the case. In a sense, it works in that we see just how far each of them have drifted from one another with Matt’s selfish attitude, Foggy’s growth as an independent character, and Karen’s shift into the role Ben Urich held before his untimely death last season. Our protagonists are growing and changing along the way, even if those roles may act as a detriment to their ability to stay together as a cohesive unit.
In far and away the best scene of the night, Matt figures out that Wilson Fisk must have been responsible for Castle’s release, and goes to confront him in prison. When this season started, this most certainly wasn’t a scene that I thought we’d see, but the reunion of Murdock and Fisk is one of the best scenes of this season, eliciting the spirit of Breaking Bad in ratcheting up the tension levels. Trying to get leverage on Fisk, Matt mistakenly tries threatening him by saying he’ll do everything in his power to make sure that Vanessa Fisk is put into harm’s way and won’t be allowed re-entry into the US. It’s a nice power play on Matt’s behalf, using his experience as an attorney to pull a bargaining chip on Fisk, but it is of course extremely ill advised. Wilson Fisk isn’t the kind of person to take threats lightly and proceeds to show Matt how he receives him by mercilessly kicking his ass.
The beating Matt gets here is well deserved, as Murdock this season has been on his high horse, believing that he’s had most of his situations well under control. Instead of taking a light handed approach to the Kingpin, he decides to go all in and receives the proper response. Fisk owns everything in the prison as he delights in telling Matt the no one will back his claim of the assault currently happening, and the cherry on top is Kingpin telling Murdock that he hasn’t forgotten the “injustices” brought against him thanks to the Law Offices of Nelson and Murdock. That’s right, Fisk plans to dedicate his time and energy once being released from prison to destroying not only Matt, but Foggy Nelson as well thanks to his hand in the deal. The tussle between the two is both emotional and physical, and promises a showdown to end all showdowns in Season 3 for sure.
Back to the ninjas though, things get a tad weird, which seems to usually be the case. Elektra confronts a man who tries to kill her in an airport, only to discover that man was sent to do so by Stick and not the Hand. Ultimately, I feel like Elektra’s character reached a worthy conclusion for the series with the destruction of her relationship with Matt last episode and the scenes and storyline with her that followed seem to be spinning its wheels. Daredevil then comes face to face with more members of the Hand in the hospital, as they look to get back to the remnants of the “Farm” that are currently under Claire’s care. If anything, at least we get some great actions sequences with Daredevil fighting off the Hand, and the final clincher of the multitude of ninjas scaling the walls was a good closer.
Ultimately, this season has its ups and downs, when it’s firing on all cylinders, it’s the best show on television but then when it slips, it’s merely a good one. Definitely an episode where mileage may vary, but worth your time all the same.
Rating: ★★★ Good
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– If the confrontation between Murdock and Fisk is any indication, Season 3 could be following the storyline from the comics: “Daredevil: Born Again” which followed Murdock’s life being completely destroyed after Kingpin discovers Matt’s secret identity.
– Speaking of which, Fisk starting to put together the pieces of Daredevil and Matt being the same person was a nice, yet terrifying hint of things to come.
-Claire: “I’ll say this about you Matt Murdock. You are a lot of bad things but boring is not one of them.”
-Matt: “I heard you, three stories down.”
Claire: “You do know that sounds creepy right?”