The Great Daredevil Season 2 Binge Is Here, and I’m Reviewing Every Episode. Head Here to Keep Up.
Which One Is “Semper Fidelis”?: Matt, Karen and Foggy begin their pre-trial work on The People v. Frank Castle while Matt and Elektra follow leads on the Yakuza case. Not a totally good time to be multi-tasking like that, Matt. Maybe just focus on the trial of the century, especially since it’s a case you sought out. But, no, you can’t. You have to be Daredevil. Then you oversleep and show up super late on the first day of the trial, forcing Foggy to adlib an opening statement. What kind of friend and legal partner are you, Matt Murdock? How dare you, sir! What’s this? Elektra independently tried to help your legal case by intimidating the medical examiner, but her actions inadvertently disqualified him as your key witness? Oh, you are just the worst lawyer ever, Matthew. Go beat up some Yakuza guys. That’s what you’re good at. It’s what you truly love. I don’t even know who you are anymore!
The above recap may have been written by Foggy Nelson.
1. The Punisher Debate
“Semper Fidelis” is an episode which opens with a montage of potential jurors differing over whether or not the Punisher is a monster or hero, and ends with Karen and Matt realizing they themselves are divided on that subject. She doesn’t necessarily view him as a hero, but she can’t argue with his results, a rather pragmatic point of view which seriously alarms Matt.
There is clearly trouble in paradise, and that’s been the plan with the Punisher from the beginning, as one of the co-showrunners told SlashFilm:
I think the great thing about Frank Castle is that he’s going to make everybody rethink Daredevil. He’s going to make Matt Murdock rethink Daredevil. He’ll make Karen rethink Daredevil and if we’re very lucky, we’re hoping that it will make the audience rethink Daredevil. We really hope that they come back to our guy but we hope to make the ride as bumpy as possible in terms of questioning and challenging is this a good idea or is this not a good idea? What’s the difference between these two guys? Taking a look at everything Matt Murdock so painstakingly built in season one and shaking it to its foundation was absolutely something we wanted to do this year.
However, as this plays out I find myself nodding along with it more because I am familiar with this ethical debate through so many prior superhero stories and less because I truly believe the Punisher would spark such a divide in the community. This is perhaps a minor quibble, but we rarely saw any of the villains he killed doing anything which warranted execution. The first gang he took out was into dog fighting, sure, but we didn’t actually see that. We just glimpsed the scars on that poor dog. The biker gang was incredibly hostile to Foggy for no good reason, but other than that they’ve just hung out in their bar and gotten drunk.
They’re all clearly bad dudes. However, the only ones which were depicted as an actively disruptive force in the community were the Irish mobsters who kept pushing shop owners around for intel. As such, I hesitate to completely buy a montage of jurors disagreeing over the Punisher. That’s a debate which works in the abstract, but based upon what we’ve seen I’m not so sure. Obviously, the more pertinent angle is the way this is slowly driving a wedge between Karen and Matt, with her sympathetic to a dark avenger and him not so much, and the community’s viewpoint on the subject won’t factor in much beyond this episode. Or will it? No, it probably won’t.
2. What is Elektra’s Motivation?
I now find Elodie Young’s Elektra nonchalant attitude to be entertaining. Who doesn’t love a girl who excitedly places bets with Matt about what they’ll find in the box car? However, I’m still scratching at trying to understand her as a character. Her stated motivation for this investigation of Roxxon is simply that she had money invested with them and then discovered they were up to illegal business. Now she wants to know that business was. However, her interest level comes off as merely curious instead of truly convicted, as if she’s using the entire thing as an excuse to re-enter Matt’s life. That might be the case, or she might be hiding something.
The most honest moment we’ve seen from her thus far was the devastated look on her face when Matt refused to kill the man she set up for him. That look was back on her face in “Semper Fidelis” as she commented that even with her physical scars Matt’s the only one who’s ever hurt her.
I feel as if we’ve made a nice breakthrough here, Ms. Elektra. Please come back in an hour for the next episode to dig deeper.
3. Who actually refers to someone as a “diplomat’s daughter” and “debutante”?
Foggy Nelson, that’s who. If that’s how he sees fit to describe Elektra, so be it. So what if it makes him sound like a comic book character. That’s what he is!
4. The Jaws scene
Sure. If you haven’t seen Jaws before.
Wait. There are people who haven’t seen Jaws?
Plenty of ’em.
That saddens me. So every time those people go swimming, they don’t automatically hear the Jaws theme in their head?
Actually. Good for them. I could do without that.
5. Marvel’s Female Gaze
Is there actually any reason for Matt to be shirtless and in his underwear in the aforementioned Jaws scene? The same could be said for Elektra. Why is she is suddenly in her underwear?
Logical explanations abound. It’s late. They’re about to go to sleep. They just came back from the train yard, and all of that decoy sand spilling out of the box car probably got everywhere. Clearly, they absolutely had to strip down to the absolute bare essentials after that. Plus, they were treating eachother’s wounds, thus that scene of him stitching up the cut near her neck. More importantly, the episode needed them half-naked so they could compare their scars and grow closer.
However, perhaps just as importantly it was simply about time we saw Charlie Cox shirtless. Shirtless scenes of muscle-bound male superheroes? That’s a Marvel specialty.
As TheMarySue argued after the release of Winter Solider and The Dark World:
Thor and Captain America and others are objects, put on display in the same way that women become an object to be spectated upon. You watch Thor wash his muscles and it breaks up the action for little reason besides eye candy. It reminds me of watching, for example, the Transformers films when the camera decides to get close to Megan Fox’s butt […] However, one could still argue that the purpose of these men in tight spandex is to appeal to the male power fantasy. This is also true. While heterosexual women or homosexual men can look at the characters as sexual objects, something to be desired, they can also be viewed as unattainable standards of what a man should be, a huge aspect of the superhero archetype.
Thanks to Marvel, we’re seeing a lot more shirtless men in our superhero movies and TV shows these days. A shirtless Stephen Amell was practically Arrow‘s entire marketing campaign in that first season, but would the CW have chosen to go that direction if Marvel, learning from the success of Zack Snyder’s 300, hadn’t turned Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth into sex objects and earned such an enthusiastic female response?
But can you really call it the female gaze when none of these movies have been directed by women, and only Agent Carter and Jessica Jones were created by women, although SHIELD and Arrow both have female co-showrunners? The male/female gaze is ultimately an assessment of authorial intent, born out of a film theory that because most movies were made by men the cinematic language which emerged treated women and their bodies as objects. However, what if a male director is the one who objectifies a male star (like Joe Johnston with Evans in First Avenger, Kenneth Brannagh with Hemsworth in Thor)? Is that them appealing strictly to the female audience and thus perpetrating the female gaze, or are they talking directly to a male audience and saying, “Don’t you wish you had muscles like that?” Plus, aren’t concepts like the male and female gaze inherently hetero-normative?
I’m not going to solve any of that here. I just know that Marvel doesn’t shy away from objectifying its male heroes, but they never go so overboard with it that it becomes a running joke like it did on Arrow. As such, a shirtless Charlie Cox is a welcome sight for those who’d appreciate such things, but in this context it also advances Matt’s emotional bond with Elektra.
On to the next episode: “Guilty As Sin”