Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 5-7

Hello again! Welcome back to my look at Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil series, which just keeps getting better and better as it unfolds more twists and turns. Last time, I took a look at the series’ first four episodes, which introduced viewers to John Bernthal's Frank Castle (AKA the Punisher)—the vengeance-hungry vigilante that turned the lives of Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page upside down. In today's installment, I'll continue my look at the character arcs, Easter eggs, and events from my perspective as a comic fan, as I dive into Episode 5, “Kinbaku”; Episode 6, “Regrets Only”; and Episode 7, “Semper Fidelis.”

One of the great things that becomes apparent about Daredevil in this block of episodes is that it's a show that can be many different things—sometimes all in the same episode. As evidenced by Matt and Karen's date in Episode 5, it can handle a romantic subplot effectively. In Episode 6, we get a heist story with Matt and Elektra that was especially fun to watch, and in Episode 7, courtroom drama becomes part of the mix.

All of those elements are especially well done, but one of the plot elements that I'm really enjoying, which becomes especially pronounced in Episodes 5-7, is the mysterious conspiracies Matt, Foggy, and Karen stumble upon in their dealings with both the Punisher and the newly arrived Elektra. Last season, we knew who the villain of Daredevil was from early on—Vincent D'Onofrio's amazing portrayal of Wilson Fisk (AKA Kingpin)—but this season, it's not quite as clear yet.

In the Elektra story, longtime comic fans like myself are pretty sure they know who the villains are. Last season, with Episode 7, “Stick,” and Daredevil's battle with Nobu in Episode 9, it felt like the show was teasing the arrival of Daredevil's longtime comic foes—the demon worshipping cult of ninjas known as “The Hand.”

I think these three episodes bring that back in a big way. At the end of Episode 6, when Hirochi asks, “Who said I was Yakuza?” I started to get really excited. Plus, the dark, ominous hole that Daredevil and Elektra discover at the end of Episode 7 feels like something Demon worshippers like the Hand would do.

The discovery of the hole perfectly captures why I'm so excited about the Hand. I mean, they're fun bad guys, but what's especially great about them being here is that, if this is indeed the Hand, and they're up to something nefarious and mystical, it finally opens up the door for supernatural evil and horror in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That door will get kicked wide open on November 4th this year when Doctor Strange hits theaters, but if the Hand are here now, this is the real first introduction.

When it comes to the culprit behind the Frank Castle cover up that DA Reyes is helping orchestrate, I'm not as sure what's going on. Is this some labyrinthine conspiracy or a case of a government screw up being buried? I'm thinking it's the latter, and I'm thinking the other John Doe, whose autopsy records ME Temper said he altered along with the Castle’s family, is the key.

Watching our various cast members become entangled in these mysteries leads to some very interesting dynamics between them. Plus, Elektra's introduction in Episode 5 adds a lot of fun elements into the mix.

As Elektra, Élodie Yung is fantastic. She invests her character with a confidence and charisma that's so much fun to watch. At certain times, she's almost cat like in the way she enters a room, takes charge, and says or does something to provoke a reaction.

Yung also gives her character a haunting and hypnotic edge of darkness. You see it in the flashback scenes of Episode 5 where she appears to be almost turned on by watching Matt commit violence. It's there in the present day as well, and in Episode 7, Elektra says some things that get me wondering just how much darkness surrounds her and how much does she know about what's really going on in Manhattan with the Yakuza?

When Matt asks her where she went after he refused to kill Roscoe Sweeney, she tells him she went as far from him as she could. He then asks her why she didn't come back, and she replies, “Because you don't know what I know. And you deserve better.”

Did Elektra go off and get initiated into the Hand or whatever dark power is working with the Yakuza?

I wonder, because in the comics, after ending her relationship with Matt, Elektra did become a member of the Hand, but later quits their ranks. It would be just one of the many similarities between the MCU Elektra and the one from the comics. Others include her basic background, her fighting skills, and the fact that Yung looks a lot like her comic counterpart. The major difference I see is the fact that the comic Elektra is a little more mysterious and ethereal, whereas Yung's is more direct.

I don't mind though. It's led to some real fun scenes with Matt Murdock, and I hope to see her interact with more of the cast like Foggy or Karen. It would also be cool to see her and the Punisher collide as well. Those two characters recently met in a comic called Thunderbolts where they were members of the titular team and had a sort of romantic relationship, much to their teammate Deadpool's chagrin.

Elektra's dynamic with Matt in these episodes was, of course, fueled by his strong compunction against killing. In fact, Matt's belief that human life is sacred impacted almost all of his relationships in these episodes. It affected his relationship with Foggy and the Punisher, in that it was clear that one of the reasons Matt wanted to take the vigilante's case was because he faced the death penalty. It also affected his budding romantic relationship with Karen in that their first real fight occurred when Karen admitted that on some level, she could identify with, and understand, Frank Castle.

And, while I like Matt and Karen together (sorry Karen-Foggy shippers), I like that Karen stands up to Matt and calls him on his bullshit. In Episode 7, she doesn't hesitate to tell him that he let Foggy down by not being there for his opening statement. She also doesn't put up with him blowing her off after his fight with Foggy in the bathroom near the end of Episode 7.

Plus, I'm getting a sense that Karen may suspect that Matt has a connection to the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. Was she fishing for answers when she asked him if he remembered the night they met?

Karen's connection to Frank Castle and the dynamic between them is pretty fascinating and fun. It's clear that Karen feels that a good man is getting screwed over, and that's part of why she's trying to save him—but I have to wonder: in saving him, is she trying to save herself? Are her actions towards the Punisher motivated by her killing Wilson Fisk's associate, Wesley, last season (something that I don't think she's revealed to anyone)?

In Episode 6, she talks to Foggy about how Frank Castle is constantly reliving the murder of his family, and then in Episode 7, she chats with Matt about what happens when the law fails people.

Does Karen feel she has something in common with the Punisher, in that she, too, was victimized by a powerful criminal that the law did not stop, forcing her to resort to murder?

Does she feel that if she can keep him from losing himself and his life, that maybe she can deal with what she did?

It should be interesting to see how Karen feels when Frank Castle finally dons his signature death's head shirt and becomes the Punisher.

Speaking of which, Jon Bernthal continues to be great as Frank Castle/the Punisher. I was wrong with my prediction in my last installment. It looks like the Frank Castle aspect of him is not going out without a fight.

I think that's part of the reason why he's connecting with Karen. She helps him remember his old life and his family, especially now that those memories are becoming so hard to hold on to thanks to being shot in the head in the attack that murdered his family. I think there's a part of him that wants to let his crusade against crime go, but we all know that's not in the cards.

The Punisher doesn't get a happy ending.

I'm looking forward to some pretty powerful and haunting moments when Frank Castle fully embraces his identity as the Punisher.

Foggy gets some moments to shine in these episodes as well, duking it out with various characters, including the Punisher, ADA Tower, and the Jury when he delivers his great improvised opening statement. My favorite moment comes when he connects with a returning character from last season, Marci Stahl (Ami Rutberg). I like that Marci seems to be the complete opposite of Foggy in many ways, but she gets him. Right away she senses that Foggy is not entirely cool with Matt and Karen dating, because he has some feelings for Karen.

I also like that, in those scenes, they weave the threads between Daredevil and  Jessica Jones even tighter, establishing that Marci is now working at Jeri Hogarth's law firm. It sounds like Marci knows Jess, and that the fallout from the super powered P.I.'s initial Netflix adventure has brought her some scrutiny from New York's legal authorities.

So in Episodes 5-7, mysteries deepened, character interactions became more intense and took interesting twists, and the stage was some set for some explosive revelations. I'm very excited to see what happens next.

So, that's what I'm going to do, but join me back here in a few days for the penultimate installment of this edition of Binge-Worthy, where I'll look at Episodes 8-10 of Daredevil Season 2.

See also: Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 1-4

 


Dave Richards covers all things Marvel Comics for the Eisner Award-winning website Comic Book Resources and his book reviews and other musings can be found at his blog Pop Culture Vulture.

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