Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 11-13

Hello, and welcome back to the final installment of this edition of Binge-Worthy, where I'll look at the final three episodes of Daredevil Season 2 from my perspective as a longtime comic fan. We'll talk character arcs and choices, take a look at some of the many lingering questions that the finale raised, and I'll share some clues and Easter eggs you may have missed.

So let's get to it! These final three episodes: Episode 11, “.380”; Episode 12, “The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”; and Episode 13, “A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen” bring an epic Season 2 to a close and really hammer home some of this season's underlying themes—like the inevitability of change, the cost of fighting wars and how they can change you, and how who you are is forged not by where you came from, but the choices you make.

The Punisher’s arc in this season exhibited all of these themes, especially in the last three episodes. Good writing, and even better acting by Jon Bernthal, is on display as his character’s defining moments resonate powerfully.

In each of these reviews, I have incorrectly predicted the moment when Frank Castle dies and the Punisher is born, but it finally occurs in Episode 13, when Castle returns home, sits down at the table, and reads the newspaper headline: “Frank Castle Dead.” All of the choices he makes—especially the one at the end of Episode 12, when he shuts the door to the cabin in the woods and effectively shuts Karen out by executing his former C.O.—lead him to that moment.

It was awesome to finally see the Punisher in battle with his signature chest emblem. It was akin to the moment last season when Matt finally went into battle in his Daredevil costume. And, that final scene of him walking away from his exploding house and carrying the mini-gun—fantastic. Marvel and Netflix need to rush a Punisher show starring Bernthal into production now! At the very least, make sure Bernthal is signed on for Daredevil Season 3 (if, and when, those deals happen).

Of course, in these final three episodes, Matt Murdock also learns what it means to fight a war, and the danger of losing yourself in it. I think that danger really hits home in Episode 11, when Frank Castle—shocked to hear that Daredevil might try things his way—tells his old pal Red that once he crosses that line, he doesn't get to come back.

In Episode 13, when Matt tells Elektra that being Daredevil is part of who he is—part of what makes him alive—we get a sense of his identity and the choices he has to make in these last few episodes. This is strengthened even more in the final scene with Karen, when he chooses to let her back into his life by revealing his big secret to her.

Charlie Cox is fantastic in these final episodes, especially in the scenes where he deals with Scott Glenn's equally excellent and grizzled Stick. When Stick tells Matt he's proud of him, the smile he flashes is priceless and conveys the idea that, despite his mentor and surrogate father figure being a complete bastard, he still means the world to him.

It's unrelated to character arcs, but I do want to take a moment to say how great it was for me, as a longtime fan of the Daredevil comics, to see Matt finally get his telescoping billy club that serves as a grappling hook, projectile weapon, and nunchaku. It's something he's had for a long time in the comics, and it was so cool to see him swing on it when he's racing to save Karen.

Choice and identity is, of course, a big part of Elektra's arc as well. By revealing that she is the Black Sky—the antichrist-like figure the Hand worships—Elektra's arc becomes the classic nature-versus-nurture struggle.

This information makes the flashback moments where Elektra and Matt first meet—where she sort of reveals the darkness inside her—that much more haunting. It also makes her final moments on the rooftop that much more painful and powerful.

I love the way Elektra smiles and reacts to the news that Matt wants to run away with her if they survive their final battle with the Hand. And man, there must have been something in my room, because my eyes got all misty when she took that fatal wound from Nobu and told Matt she now knows how it feels to be good.

In that final moment, Elektra makes a powerful choice—the choice to be a hero and defy the destiny the Hand has planned for her. Unfortunately, the final scene of Episode 13 suggests that her choice won’t have the weight she had hoped, because her body is in Nobu's mysterious coffin. More on that in a bit. Let's talk about the arcs that Foggy and Karen follow first.

Karen goes from becoming a legal assistant to a very competent investigator to a journalist. She chooses to take a lot of the pain and torment she feels and try to find justice for a man who has fallen prey to the same forces that victimized her. Then, she chooses to take that desire for justice, and her longing to connect with her new home, New York City, and focus it into something that could help a lot of people—journalism. It's a fun arc that is beautifully realized by Deborah Ann Woll, and I think her late mentor, Ben Urich, would be proud.

Foggy, of course, also makes some choices about his identity. Essentially, he chooses to recognize something that we viewers already know—he’s a damn fine lawyer. He decides to dissolve his legal partnership with Matt, who pushes him away anyway, and sign with a big law firm. Compared to some of the other character arcs, it wasn't much, and I think it's one of the big failings of the second half of Season 2.

It felt like once the Punisher's trial ended, the writer's didn't have much for Foggy. Which is a shame, because Elden Henson is fun as Foggy, and I would have liked to have seen him interact with more characters from Matt's world—like Elektra and Stick.

The other failing—though it's not really much of failing, more of a surprise—is all of the storylines left open for Season 3. It's not something I was expecting, since Season 1 had a sort of self-contained ending. But, at the end of Season 2, so much has changed and a lot of the bad guys are still out there; it made me want Season 3 now! Like I said, not much of failing since the cast and crew of the show left me wanting more, but it did catch me off guard.

Let's talk about some of the lingering questions left over from the finale, starting with the Punisher. The big question, of course, is where are we going to see him next? Season 3 of Daredevil? His own show? Or somewhere unexpected like Season 2 of Jessica Jones?

Wherever he shows up, there's still a lot of story to tell with the Punisher. Not only do you have the tale of his next targets, but in Episode 11, Colonel Schoonover—AKA the Blacksmith—mentions that something happened to Frank and his men in Kandahar. What went down there? And, who else knows about it?

Another lingering question that some viewers might have is: what was with the secret disc marked “Micro” that Frank took from the picture frame in Episode 13? If you watch that moment with a comic fan like me, you might hear them cheer. That's because Micro is probably a reference to the comic book Punisher's most famous ally, Microchip.

In the comics, Micro is an expert hacker that secures the Punisher all sorts of valuable intel and serves as his quartermaster—maintaining his weapons and occasionally devising some Q-like gadgets. Is that the role the Marvel Cinematic Universe Micro will play, though? And, how much does he know about Frank Castle's past as a soldier?

The biggest question for Matt is, now that he's established how important Daredevil is to his life, what does he do next? Is he going to continue as an independent lawyer, now that Foggy has joined Jeri Hogarth's firm?

You can’t talk about lingering questions for Matt without talking about Karen, as well. How is she going to react to Matt's reveal that he is Daredevil? I like Matt and Karen together, so hopefully they can rekindle their relationship. At the very least, I hope they can stay friends.

Now that Karen is an investigative journalist that knows Matt Murdock is Daredevil, she's in the same sort of position that the comic book version of Ben Urich was in for many years. The comic book Ben was a valuable ally, often giving Daredevil street intel and moral support when things got tough.

I'm not just wondering what Karen will do next; I'm also wondering what has she done already? And when will some of her past deeds come to light? There’s the murder of Wesley in Season 1, but also the mysterious file that Ben Urich compiled about Karen. We get our first glimpse of it when Ellison gives Karen Ben's old office, and whatever was in it makes Karen cry. What happened in Karen's past that was so dark? Does it in anyway involve her brother, who is mentioned earlier in the season?

The question for Elektra, of course, is what happens now? We know the Hand is capable of resurrecting the dead, but by putting her in Nobu's sarcophagus—which I believe has the weird, foul black substances the Hand incubated in those kids—what will she become? In the comics, the Hand worships a demon named the Beast. Is the Black Sky the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of that? And, how much of Elektra's personality will remain intact if, and when, she is reborn as the Black Sky?

I’m also wondering who the red-haired woman working with Nobu in Episode 13 is? IMDB credits the character as Tyler (played by Maya Rosewood), but part of me wonders if this is the first we're seeing of the MCU version of a Daredevil comic villain named Typhoid Mary. In the comics, Mary only has a slight connection to the Hand from a storyline several years back, but Rosewood certainly looks like she could be playing Mary.

My final lingering question is about the fate of Foggy. Where are we going to see him next? Season 3 of Daredevil? Perhaps, Season 2 of Jessica Jones? By signing up with Jeri Hogarth's law firm, I worry about Foggy's safety. (If you want to know why, just watch Jessica Jones and read my reviews here.) Working with Hogarth's law firm means Foggy could show up in some Jessica Jones episodes, and I’d love to see Henson play off of Krysten Ritter.

So, there you have it! A fun and truly epic season of Daredevil has come to a close, leaving comic fans like me hungry for more episodes and excited for the next installment of the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Luke Cage, starring Mike Colter, which premieres September 30th!

See also: Marvel's Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 8-10

 


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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