Season Two, Episodes Seven, Eight, Nine — “Semper Fidelis”, “Guilty As Sin”, “Seven Minutes in Heaven”

© Copyright 2016, Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

By Jarrod Jones. Thus begins the trial of Frank Castle, who sits in chains with welts and bruises across his face like some sort of maddog killer in front of a jury that’s already made up their collective minds about him. How the hell Matt and Foggy are supposed to defend this guy is anybody’s guess, especially when you consider the hail of expertly-fired bullets Frank just rained down upon Hell’s Kitchen. Vigilante justice could almost be excused — the law has pretty much turned a (heh) blind eye to The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen (the cooler moniker, Daredevil, still seems to lie before us). But the local DA, Samantha Reyes — who’s within earshot of a higher political office — has a hate-on for Castle. Also she really needs a tony case to win her the hearts and minds of New York City.

Frank, in a word, is screwed. Compared to the likes of David Berkowitz (aka “The Son of Sam”, which is sheer hyperbole), or Bernie Goetz (who opened fire in a NYC subway car — to defend himself — back in 1984, which feels more astute), the man known as the Punisher has become something that doesn’t suit the character much — a public figure. But it sure makes for compelling courtroom drama, the first of its kind for Daredevil. We finally get to see Foggy Nelson come into his own in open court, but Matt? Well.

Matt’s been fucking up, and often. So often, in fact, that it’s gonna take Stick to come out of retirement (or wherever he’s been hiding) to knock his fool head straight. And yet the wretched mess of Nelson & Murdock remains sadly in Matt’s periphery, as it becomes more and more apparent that this criminal organization looking to fill the rather large void left behind by Wilson Fisk is a little more proficient at what they do… because they’ve had centuries in which to do it. Oh, and speaking of Wilson Fisk…

WHAT WORKED: Wilson Fisk. I really wanted all of “Seven Minutes in Heaven”, the ninth episode of this season, to be entirely about how Vincent D’Onofrio finally steps into the wide wingtips of The Kingpin. Sadly, it’s only the episode’s opening salvo to that still-stunning credit roll — but those (checks Netflix)… seven minutes of show (Hey!) were as engrossing as anything dealing with Fisk in all of Daredevil‘s introductory season.

WHAT DIDN’T: Holy shit, Daredevil just had Frank strut into his trial in slo-mo, to the tune of Inception. Daredevil has rarely skimped on cool, but this season seems to be a bit more self-aware of how widely lauded it is and puts on airs (here and there) accordingly. The People v. Frank Castle is something I’m pretty sure anyone who likes The Punisher, even remotely, never wanted. And Daredevil doesn’t serve to make it any more compelling — beyond a top-notch performance from Elden Henson, the entire spectacle is treated precisely like that. A spectacle. All the intrigue of Frank Castle’s dilemma, and the conspirators who threaten to do him in, takes place on the streets, where Karen Page does stalk. (And later, inside a maximum security prison.) Inside the courtroom? Snooze.

I’m missing the days when Matt would just fight some damn crime, instead of being perpetually flummoxed by some lofty conspiracy. These days, Matt’s fighting ninjas, which is cool for about roughly five minutes. “Daredevil vs. Ninjas” can only go so far. (I know that’s a tough matzoh ball to choke down, but it’s true.) But this season seems to dwell entirely on this, meaning all the purse-snatchers and muggers and more violent offenders who are presumably taking advantage of the chaos left behind in The Hand’s wake are left to wreak all kinds of havoc of their own. Matt’s too busy playing errand boy for Elektra to be the hero Hell’s Kitchen deserves. And isn’t that a shame.


Episode Seven —

Karen: “I’m not so sure Frank is insane.” Foggy: “I’m no doctor, but I’d say he’s at least driven past Crazy Town.

That was a pretty big slice of bullshit right there, Counselor.” – Frank.

Episode Eight — 

Those blades were poisoned. She’ll be dead in 20 minutes unless I pull some serious juju out of my ass. Now make the goddamned tea!” – Stick, just when I thought I’d never miss him.

Episode Nine

The shiv is the best I can offer. But something tells me you’ll make do.” — Fisk.

Matt: “Wait. You’re dead.” Nobu: “There is no such thing.”

BEST MOMENTS: Everything with The Kingpin. I thought Vincent D’Onofrio would be sitting this season out, only to come back bigger than ever in Daredevil‘s inevitable third year. But, hey! He’s back, and I’ll take it. Though we only have but a few episodes left to the season, I’m hoping that Wilson Fisk plays a larger role in the show, as the one wild card that makes these two opposing subplots (Elektra’s mission vs. Frank’s mission) finally converge. If anyone was capable of such a deed, certainly it would be The Kingpin. (Maybe we’ll see Vanessa before long?)

EPISODES’ MVP: Foggy Nelson. Elden Henson’s been quietly given more to do as the moral anchor of Daredevil, which is surprisingly more effective than it should be. Given that Matt’s been such a shithead as of late, Foggy’s had to step up to become the attorney we always knew he could be, and faced against the shifty-eyed Samantha Reyes, Foggy’s become the attorney he knew he should be. Good on you, Foggy.

© Copyright 2016, Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, Netflix. All Rights Reserved.


– Foggy may end up being a butcher after all.

– Nobu really fucked Matt up back in Season One, Episode Six (“Speak of the Devil”). Wonder if he’ll do it again. (Seriously, that was one gnarly fight.)

– What in the hell is The Hand digging for? Fin Fang Foom? That’s one deep hole.

– Speaking of The Hand, they first appeared in Daredevil vol. 1 #174. (1981)

– HOLY SHIT IT’S CLANCY BROWN. Wait. Why would they cast Lex Luthor in this show? Not for a one-off appearance, I hope.

– A cursory Google search reveals that Brown is playing Colonel Schoonover, Frank’s superior officer during the Vietnam War (here, the Afghanistan War). The Colonel first appeared in Punisher War Journal #4. (1989)

– Seems Stick is taking up the duties of The Chaste, the organization put in place to keep The Hand from doing… whatever the heck it is they do. (What do they do? Is this world domination, or what? Somebody explain The Hand to me.)

– Good thing Matt’s loft is a damned warehouse, what with all the fighting and all.

– Frank Miller imagery is all over the place — Fisk’s jail-time workout, arrow-shooting ninjas. *sigh* Look, I know it was only inevitable, but after the week I’ve had, Frank Miller is the last person I want to think about right now.

– Oh my god, it’s William Forsythe. This season has been killing it with the celebrity cameos.

– (in my best Joan Rivers impersonation) Can we talk about Frank Castle’s prison fight scene? Holy shit, that’s about as violent as Daredevil‘s been this season, and we watched Frank take a power drill through his left foot earlier this year. Do you like the more bellow-y Punisher? Or do you like him more subdued? Sound off in the comments section below.

7.5 out of 10

Next: “The Man in the Box”, “.380”, “The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”, soon.

Before: “Penny and Dime”, “Kinbaku” and “Regrets Only” , here.