Episodes Ten, Eleven, and Twelve — “The Man in the Box”, “.380”, “The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”
By Jarrod Jones. Samantha Reyes’ history is coming back to haunt her in a big way, which is bad timing considering The Punisher is now back on the streets. Matt’s allowed his head to operate on a swivel for far too long. Karen’s deal with The Punisher is going to come at a great personal cost. The second season of Daredevil is coming to a close, and it doesn’t look like anyone’s coming out of it clean. (Except maybe Foggy, who appears to have landed on his feet after that whole trial fiasco, at least politically.)
The wicked snare of Daredevil is closing in on everyone in these penultimate episodes, which creates an interesting shift in the dichotomies we often take for granted in these superhero yarns. Who is truly “The Man in the Box” — is it Wilson Fisk, a titan of criminality humbled by his present state of affairs, or is it Matt Murdock, a man who believes there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved in a hail of legalese or fists? Matt seems to be thumping his chest in an adrenaline-fueled dressing-down of his once-was nemesis, but Fisk? His heartbeat is steady.
And then there’s The Hand, that ragtag secret cabal of alchemy and wildly ineffective ninjas. They make their play in a very big way in these episodes, creating even more havoc for Daredevil‘s already discordant sophomore season. (Though, what the hell is going on with those kids? You could explain it to me, and I probably still wouldn’t get it.) With five subplots trying their damndest to converge towards a satisfying ending, Netflix’s saga of The Man Without Fear ends up juggling quite a bit of loose ends — Stick, Elektra, The Kingpin, The Hand, Matt, Foggy, Karen, and of course Frank, The Man With The Hamburger Face.
WHAT WORKED: Elektra’s lamming it in style, which leads to a rather sophisticated encounter with a Frenchman named Jacques. What begins as a light, flirty exchange over Mezcal (“The whole bottle, please,” Jacques requests), quickly turns to a confrontation of truths concerning the lethal history of Elektra Natchios. And the sequence continues to turn, this time into a slick fight inside a private tarmac bar. This dramatic conflict — which has 10 aggravating minutes of other non-Elektra stuff spliced right in the middle of it — turns bloody the second Elektra gets her mitts on Jacques’ twin sais. If you needed an example of how well-written Daredevil can be at its best, let this scene be it.
More Kingpin this go-around, though I have a feeling we won’t be hearing too much more from him until next season. Vincent D’Onofrio’s presence looms large in these episodes, in spite of the fact that the show didn’t really need him around this year. But it’s always nice to see a villain cool his heels just before his titanic ascension. It’s build-up for future things, possibly better things, and it’s a conceit that hamstrings most superhero fare more often than it doesn’t. But Fisk is such a compelling character, I find myself not caring that much. (And after Episode Ten, I find myself not caring at all.) Which is far more than I can say for…
WHAT DIDN’T: Claire Temple’s arc. Most of the sequences that included Claire Temple — aside from her lovely heart-to-heart with Matt towards the end of “The Man in the Box” — felt like nothing more than superficial Luke Cage buildup. Hospital cover-ups shouldn’t concern a casual viewer, that is unless we’re watching Night Nurse, which we definitely are not. It does the second season of Daredevil credit to lay a trail of breadcrumbs leading up to the next Marvel/Netflix collaboration, but these sequences ate up way too much time with little to no payoff. (Save for the knowledge that Claire’ll be looking for a job once Luke Cage premieres.)
The very second I saw Clancy Brown again (in Episode Twelve), The Blacksmith mystery pretty much wrapped itself up. Of course, it helps that I’ve seen L.A. Confidential and I’m familiar with the conceit (where a comfortable and welcoming setting is rarely a safe place for someone digging into a conspiracy). But it certainly doesn’t help matters that Daredevil flagrantly committed the offense of the “don’t cast Lex Luthor in your show unless you want your audience to automatically distrust him” rule.
One episode left, and it’s obvious now that the Punisher/Elektra subplots just aren’t going to converge. (Still wondering what The Kingpin has left to do here.) There were two solid seasons stuffed into this sucker. Instead we got one pretty-alright batch, chock full of crazy as it was. Maybe the inevitable third season will learn how to tap the brakes a little more.
Episode Ten —
“Y’know, someday? I’ma tell you how to do YOUR job.” — Detective Brett.
“This whole case has been a disaster.” – Matt, master of understatement.
Episode Eleven —
Karen: “Who are they?” Frank: “Just two guys about to walk into a diner for the last time.”
Episode Twelve —
“I am the enemy of The Hand. So kill me.” – Daredevil.
BEST MOMENT: Murdock vs. Fisk. I’m not sure how Matt mustered up enough confidence that he thought he could play with a wounded lion inside its own cage. Searching for information about Frank Castle’s escape, Matt plays his hand against Wilson Fisk by threatening the only thing The Kingpin holds dear — Vanessa. Matt somehow forgot that a cheap suit doesn’t hold superior contrast to an orange jumpsuit — not now, and with Fish, not ever. Matt tries to outmaneuver Wilson, but The Kingpin isn’t playing. Not today. What happens immediately after Matt’s adorable little speech about “yanking visas” is a terrifying reminder that Wilson Fisk isn’t just a creature of intellect — he’s a goddamned force of nature. Next season is gonna rule.
EPISODES’ MVP: Wilson Fisk. Even though this season didn’t need him here, Vincent D’Onofrio arrived to steal the whole damn show out from under Elektra and The Punisher, thus confirming his place as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s #1 non-Loki villain. (At least, it does for me.) And all he had to do was stand up. Begin your “Born Again” theories in the comments section below.
– Reyes’ propensity for lousing up sting operations has precedent. So there’s that.
– Did Matt just sign that release form with his right hand? Hey, Show! Murdock’s a leftie!
– Jacques Duchamps — tried to dig up something on him, but the best I could find was just a name: Jacques Duquesne, also known as The Swordsman. (He hand a hand in training Clint Barton in the comics once upon a time.) Either I’m digging too deep, or Netflix loused up.
– Never figured Daredevil would ever become the kind of show where Matt would dive out the window to save a falling person, but I’m so glad it did.
– Aw, Ben and Frank have the same taste in music.
– Mark Verheiden should never be allowed to write television. It’s like watching him play cliche bingo. (He wrote “.380” this week, easily the weakest episode of the bunch.)
– Look. If you’re not gonna use the word “fuck”, then you can’t use “screw you” twice in one episode. You just can’t.
7.5 out of 10
Next: “A Cold Day In Hell’s Kitchen”, soon.
Before: “Semper Fidelis”, “Guilty As Sin”, “Seven Minutes in Heaven”, here.