The Great Daredevil Season 2 Binge Is Here, and I’m Reviewing Every Episode. Head Here to Keep Up.
Which One Is “.380”?: The one where we the Punisher and Daredevil separately hunt down Blacksmith, and Claire Temple stops being the Night Nurse and becomes Recently Unemployed Nurse.
1. About that Cliffhanger
After “Man in the Box”‘s cliffhanger involving ninjas ascending the hospital housing Foggy, Matt , Claire and the X-Files kids, I expected…more. Granted, seeing Claire and Daredevil going out a window and ricocheting back into the building through a lower floor’s window was vintage grade Batman. However, what I anticipated to be another one of this season’s endless brawls turned out to be but a brief squirmish, the ninjas running off into the night with the re-captured teens. Sure, Claire killed a guy after one of her fellow nurses took a sword through the chest, and it’s odd for me to complain about such a brief fight scene after admitting a couple of reviews ago that I was growing weary of season 2’s violence. However, after “Man in the Box”‘s ending it’s hard not to feel like “.380″‘s beginning completed a bait-and-switch.
2. Has This Season Devolved Into a Mess?
There are only two episodes left. Two. Yet this show is still spinning in multiple directions. For a couple of episodes, the welcome return of Wilson Fisk papered over that. Even without him around “.380” manages to move things forward. Turns out, Madame Gao never truly left Hell’s Kitchen, and is running heroin out of Chinatown. She points Daredevil straight toward Blacksmith. At the same time, Frank uses Karen as bait to draw in goons who can offer up him the location of Blacksmith. Thus by the end of the episode Daredevil and Punisher come close to forging an alliance, but then Frank goes and gets himself blown up. He’ll walk it off, though. He’s a Marine.
However, why has it taken this long to get our heroes singularly focused on Blacksmith? Why are we just now spending an episode discovering the local hospital is in Hand’s back pocket? Does having Claire quit her job on principle truly serve this season of Daredevil or set her up for a big role in Luke Cage? Sure, it does illustrate the long reach of, um, Hand, but it also feels Iron Man 2-y. Furthermore, with us so close to the finish line do we have time to detour into a family spat between Elektra and Stick? Have they forgotten about Foggy these last few episodes?
Most importantly, what has this season actually been about? Much has been made by the showrunners and Charlie Cox in interviews about the notion of Punisher and Elektra pulling Matt in different directions, testing his moral code and breaking him down so much that he briefly forgets to ask for help from his true friends when he most needs them. There has certainly been plenty of speeches to back all of that up, and in this episode Daredevil did concede that maybe Blacksmith needs to die. However, because Matt is always straddling so many different storylines as per his double life as Matt Murdock/Daredevil I don’t know if we’ve felt the true impact of the great moral dilemma suggested by Punisher and Elektra’s alternate points of view.
Moreover, while Elektra was intriguingly integrated into the season at first she was cut loose the moment she became interesting, left to float about on the sidelines like a leaf in the wind. As for the Punisher, there are only so many times you can watch him brutalize his enemies before it loses all meaning, and Karen’s continued commitment to him because he’s at least honest with her takes a hit every time he annihilates someone who we know in the back of our minds might have a family back home.
By comparison, season 1 was so, so clean. At its heart, that was a season about two men and their differing visions of how to save the city they loved. Matt’s method was to smoke out corruption and act outside of the legal system. Fisk favored consolidation of power and gentrification. Their goals, once stated, were easy to understand, and their ultimate conflict inevitable.
Season 2 has been purposefully messy, weaving together mysteries and peacemealing a conspiracy about a doomed police sting operation which created the monster we know as Punisher. Meanwhile, the glorified League of Assassins are running around and turning teenagers into science experiments to feed into some containment chamber. WTF?
In an earlier review, I argued this season’s answer to the “How do you top Wilson Fisk?” problem was to depart from its formula and throw mini-arcs at us (first Punisher, then Elektra, then Fisk in prison). All the while, though, I expected the true big bad to emerge since a hero is only as good as his villain. That has yet to happen. The Punisher has served as the antagonist, instead of pure villain, and the season has felt comparatively formless as a result.
3. Welcome Back, Madame Gao
I hope your painting turned out well. You were determined to keep at that canvas while lobbing insults, threats and cryptic statements at Daredevil. The next time those two talk I want her to be teaching a Tai Chi class, and the time after that she’ll be knitting a cozy for her favorite knife (assuming she can choose). Each time, she will barely even look up at him, instead continuing on with her activity while quietly promising violence and death to all who cross her.
4. Need Help? Why Not Call Jessica Jones and Luke Cage?
It’s the post-Avengers problem all of the Marvel movies faced: why aren’t those other heroes showing up to help? Except here, of course, Matt doesn’t know Luke or Jessica yet. The only thing connecting them is the now-former Night Nurse. However, when Claire tells Matt that he needs to ask for help I know in my head the show is setting it up for him to finally align with Punisher and Elektra and/or win back Foggy and Karen, but in my heart I’m expecting a surprise Jessica Jones/Luke Cage team-up in the finale. Damn you, Arrow/Flash/Legends of Tomorrow/Supergirl. You’ve completely ruined me on this kind of thing.
5. There Needs To Be Way More Of These Two Flirting:
Seriously, I could watch an entire episode of just Foggy and Marcy going about their day together at a law firm together. There’d be so many double entendres.
On to the next episode: “The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”