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Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 : The Punisher (episodes 1-4)

Episodes 1-4:

1: Bang
2: Dogs to a Gunfight
3: New York’s Finest
4: Penny and Dime

A new vigilante has shown up in Hell’s Kitchen. This one doesn’t seem to value human life as much as Daredevil.

Recap

Several major groups of criminals are found gunned down or brutally murdered in Hell’s Kitchen. The most recent group to be taken out is the Irish mob. They are meeting together when a hail of gunfire envelopes them, leaving a spectacular bloody mess. One man, who goes by “Grotto”, manages to escape with his life. Grotto goes to the law firm of Nelson & Murdock for help because he’s been told that they believe in people. They are hesitant to take the case of a career criminal, but are forced into action when he passes out, bleeding, on the floor of Josie’s bar. Karen takes him to the hospital where she pretends to be his wife in order to protect his identity.

Daredevil starts searching the streets for clues and comes across some members of a Mexican gang that are hung up on meat hooks in a freezer. Before one of them dies, he tells Daredevil that this is all the work of one man, not a paramilitary group as some people believe. This mysterious vigilante ends up finding Karen and Grotto and opens fire on them, but Daredevil arrives before he can hit his target. They exchange blows, and the vigilante manages to shoot Daredevil in the face. His suit protects him, but Daredevil is knocked out for hours and even loses his hearing temporarily (which is a big problem for a blind guy).

While Matt is recovering from what Foggy has to pass off as an injury due to a “drinking problem”, Foggy and Karen are met by the District Attorney, Samantha Reyes. She tells them that the vigilante has been deemed the “Punisher”. Reyes tries to strong arm them out of representing Grotto, but Foggy holds firm. Foggy does reluctantly strike a deal with Reyes to have Grotto wear a wire and turn on some other criminal in exchange for witness protection. The whole thing turns out to be a trap set for the Punisher, using Grotto as bait.  The ambush goes sideways but, Daredevil is there to confront the Punisher again. Not wanting to let their opportunity slip away, Reyes orders her men to open fire on both Daredevil and the Punisher. During the fight, Daredevil’s senses go haywire as a result of his earlier injury. This makes it easy for the Punisher to subdue him and escape.

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Instead of leaving or killing him, the Punisher takes Daredevil with him. He chains him to a rooftop, where the two have it out over their ideological differences. The Punisher (we all know his name is Frank Castle), believes that Daredevil’s methods are ineffective. He believes that the people he puts down are irredeemable and that letting them live endangers the innocent. Daredevil believes that life and death is not their call to make. In order to make a point, Frank drags Grotto up on the rooftop and makes him confess that he killed a man. Grotto also confesses that he killed an old woman just for seeing his face. Frank tapes a gun to Daredevil’s hand and tells him that he’ll kill Grotto if Daredevil doesn’t kill him first. This seems to confirm Daredevil’s prognosis that Frank is unhinged. Daredevil uses the gun to free himself, but Frank still manages to kill Grotto before Daredevil can stop him. Frank then blows up a bunch of motorcycles in order to lure a biker gang out into the open. Daredevil does stop him from taking any of them out, but he then has to fight his way through the whole gang.

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After the ordeal with the bikers, an Irish gang leader named Finn shows up seeking retribution for the men that Frank shot. They tear through Hell’s Kitchen and quickly find the place that Frank is holed up. They just miss him, but Frank is alerted to the fact that he’s being hunted. Eventually, the Irish catch up to Frank and bring him in. Frank killed his son, so Finn plans to kill him. However, he offers him the chance to avoid torture by telling him where his money is. Of course, Frank has no interest in giving up the money. After inflicint quite a bit of pain on Frank, Finn is able to extract the information from him by threatening a dog. By that time, Daredevil’s been able to heal up and get some upgrades done to his suit, so he’s able to find Frank. Daredevil’s arrival allows Frank to escape and gain the upper hand on Finn. It turns out that Frank planned this whole thing to lure Finn out and ask him who killed his family. Finn responds with, “who cares” and Frank shoots him in the face (DIRECTLY IN THE FACE) before he and Daredevil escape.

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After they get out, Daredevil asks an injured Frank about the rhyme he says before he shoots, “one batch two batch, penny and dime”. It was his daughter’s favorite rhyme from a story he would read her before bed. He remembers that the last time he saw her alive she wanted him to read her that story, but he was too tired. After Frank spills the story behind his daughter’s death, he says, “I think I’m done red”. He’s ready to surrender just as the police arrive. One of the officers that gets there is Sergeant Brett Mahoney (Royce Johnson). Daredevil tells Mahoney that he needs to take credit for the arrest. That way people will see that the law in Hell’s kitchen isn’t impotent. The sergeant reluctantly agrees and let’s Daredevil go free.

After Frank’s arrest, Matt, Foggy and Karen are out drinking again. Karen walks Matt home in the rain. After really building up their flirtations through the first few episodes, the two finally kiss. After they break apart, Matt asks Karen out to dinner and she immediately replies, “Yes”. Matt’s feeling good about things as he walks into his apartment. However, he suddenly jumps as he realizes that there’s someone in his apartment with him. A woman, sitting on his couch, greets him and he recognizes her as Elektra.

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Favorite/Other/Notable Moments

  • After Reyes’ failed trap  for the Punisher, Foggy goes in search of Matt and ends up at the hospital. He finds Claire (Rosario Dawson), who’s trapped in the hospital because she tried to help Luke Cage during the Jessica Jones series.
  • While in the hospital, Foggy intervenes in a stand-off between two rival gang members. He’s able to convince both of them to stand down and stop frightening the other patients. This doesn’t really accomplish much of anything other than reiterating that Foggy has his moments.
  • Karen finds out that Reyes has a pattern of leaving her subordinates in the lurch when her questionable tactics backfire and uses that to leverage info on the Punisher from Reyes’ assistant. She discovers that Frank Castle may have an actual medical reason for being unhinged: he was shot in the head and left for dead. Whoever is responsible actually had Frank taken off of life support and tried to cover it up. According to someone who worked at the hospital, Frank was actually dead for about a minute.
  • During the episode 1 opening scene and the fight with the biker’s, Daredevil seems to actually be enjoying fighting. Several times they make a point to show a smile or smirk across his face while he’s fighting.

Commentary

Daredevil certainly loves its fight scenes in hallways. Daredevil taking on the biker gang was just a longer hallway fight scene with more room to move. I thought it was a great wink to an important scene in the first season while still making it bigger. It may have felt like the reason for the fight wasn’t really that strong from a story standpoint but, from an entertainment standpoint, it made complete sense. It also kind of fits that Matt actually seems to be enjoying being Daredevil more now. It’s interesting because that’s what Foggy was afraid of in Season 1, that Matt would become addicted to the thrill of being a vigilante.

Just like Matt, the show is really embracing the violence so far in this season and I love it. The Godfather-style scene where the Punisher takes out the Irish mob is great. Really, a lot of the action scenes are great. I usually don’t like action scenes that are staged in the dark because they become muddled. These scenes manage to work their way through the lack of visibility pretty well. Then there are moments like Finn getting shot in the face, which are just crystal clear.

I think a lot of this has to do with the introduction of Frank Castle, who’s already a hyper-violent character. Just like with Wilson Fisk in the previous season, they tried to make him much more human than his comic book counter part. We haven’t gotten as much of his back story, but we do know that he’s more a soldier than anything else. He’s also got a specific moral code about just taking out anyone who’s a scum bag. The scene where Castle takes out the store owner because he offers him child porn is a perfect example of that.

The one part of the story that I’m not really behind so far is Karen and Matt’s romance. On an emotional level, I’m with it because Cox and Woll have great on screen chemistry together. But, from a story standpoint, it just doesn’t seem to fit. This is probably because we’re spending much more time with Matt as Daredevil than as Matt Murdock. Because of that, and all the other craziness going on, there’s just not as much time to make it make sense. There is the emotional carry over from last season to fall back on but, at this point in the story Karen should be viewing Matt as the unreliable coworker who now has a drinking problem. I guess, that could be the kind of guy that Karen goes for, it just seems like the show jumped past their relationship making sense to it just needing to happen. Of course, they then immediately dropped Elektra into the mix, so the relationship might not actually go that far.

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