Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 8-10

Hello, and welcome back to the penultimate installment of this latest edition of Binge-Worthy. If you've been following my reviews, you know that the episodes I'm going to talk about here made me very happy. Not only did we get the emergence of the Hand as I had hoped, but we also get Frank Castle embracing his destiny and the triumphant return of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk! For me, these three episodes—Episode 8, “Guilty As Sin”; Episode 9, “Seven Minutes in Heaven”; and Episode 10, “The Man in the Box”—were my favorites, so far. So, let's dive into them from my perspective as a comic fan and chat about characters, comic Easter Eggs, and where I think things might go next.

The return of Stick and the discovery of the Hand have sent Matt Murdock on an interesting arc. Comic book fans of Daredevil are used to Matt being impulsive, and often making big mistakes because of it. In these three episodes, we get to see the impulsive and rash side of the Daredevil of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because he pushes everybody away. Matt may think he's doing this for the right reasons, but someone should tell him he's in danger of becoming like his hated mentor, Stick, who does the same thing, as we saw in Episode 8.

I think what makes Matt such an effective crime fighter is his day job and his connection to his friends. They connect him to the city he wants to save. They make him compassionate and caring. However, if you push everyone away and play lone soldier on the wall, you risk losing both yourself and those for whom you are fighting.

I think this is what Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple is trying to communicate to Matt in Episode 10. I'm glad to see Claire return for another episode, especially one that shows how important she is to the larger superhero community in which she has become associated.

Claire doesn't just dispense advice about Matt's perspective—she also helps cheer him up and looks after the injuries he sustained in his fight with Nobu in Episode 9. That intense rematch left Daredevil seemingly as bewildered as the viewer, wondering how Nobu was alive and what exactly was in the giant casket he was wheeling around?

The comic fan in me is wondering if it contains Kirigi. In the comics, Kirigi is essentially the Hand's ultimate assassin. He can regenerate from almost any wound, and he makes life miserable for both Daredevil and Elektra.

So, while we get some answers about the Hand, there are still some things left shrouded in mystery for the last three episodes. I'm not exactly sure what the Hand’s master doomsday plan is, but I assume it has something to do with the “Black Sky” Stick keeps referencing and the creepy kids that are pumped full of unknown toxins.

The mystery surrounding the murder of the Punisher's family deepens and offers some interesting twists. I knew the DA's cover up had to do with the missing John Doe—he is revealed to be an undercover cop. But, the questions that still remain are:

Who is the Blacksmith? And who pulled the trigger on Reyes, M.E. Temper, and then tried to kill Karen?

As a comics fan, I think I know the answers. During the Punisher's trial in Episode 8, Foggy calls Colonel Ray Schoonover to the stand, a character who does have a comic book counterpart. Schoonover appears in a Punisher story from the late 80s, where it is revealed that he is Frank Castle's C.O. in Vietnam.

In that story, Schoonover—who was running for congress—tried to eliminate the soldiers that were once under his command, to cover up his former business as a drug dealer. He uses a professional killer known as “The Sniper” to carry out the hits.

I'm not sure if Schoonover is carrying out the hits himself, or if we'll be meeting the MCU version of the Sniper before Daredevil Season 2 is over. However, I am pretty sure that Schoonover is the Blacksmith, because it seems odd to bring the character into the MCU if they aren't going to tie him to his comic past? Also, why cast the awesome Clancy Brown as Ray Schoonover if you're only going to show the character once? Finally, in Episode 9, Dutton (played by William Forsythe, who is so good at portraying scumbag criminals) said the Blacksmith had a Middle East connection, and as Castle's C.O. in the Middle East, Schoonover certainly fits that description.

It will be interesting to see Frank Castle confront his ex-C.O., especially now that he's sort of embraced his identity as the Punisher. I absolutely loved the hallway fight scene (by the way, Daredevil Seasons 1 and 2 really do make a case for hallways being the most dangerous place in the MCU), and the Punisher's death's head symbol in the form of a bloody face print from a slain assailant was subtle and nicely done.

After surviving Fisk’s obvious set up, the Punisher is brought face to face with Wilson Fisk, causing another fight to ensue—one that Fisk easily wins. In the comics, Punisher occasionally targets Fisk, so it was nice to see them establish a rivalry between the characters. Plus, it’s always wonderful to see Vincent D'Onofrio back on the screen, as his portrayal of the Kingpin is incredible. I love that they kept his involvement in Season 2 pretty much a secret.

At the end of their confrontation in Episode 9, Fisk tells the Punisher, “I play the long game.” This is apparent when he seizes control of the prison in Episode 9, and we get to see more hints of that in Episode 10, as well—like when he tells Matt that he's going to systematically dismantle the lives of Matt Murdock and Franklin Nelson when he gets out of prison. Also, near the end of the episode, while thinking about the cut on the lip that Matt Murdock gave him when he scored a lucky face shot during their prison confrontation, he asks to see Donovan's files on Murdock.

In the comics, there's a classic Frank Miller and David Mazzucchellli Daredevil story, titled Born Again,where the Kingpin discovers Matt is Daredevil and uses the information to wreck his life. Are we seeing hints that Born Again may be adapted for a Daredevil Season 3?

Another question is: if that happens, what role would Fisk's lawyer play in such a scheme? Fisk's lawyer’s name is Donovan, which seems to indicate that he's the Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of a comic character named Big Ben Donovan. In the comics, Ben is a giant of a man who uses his physicality in conflicts with Daredevil and Luke Cage. Although he often makes poor choices that ally him with organized crime, which lead to these conflicts, he sometimes uses his legal skills to help Cage.

Ben Urich’s former editor, Mitchell Ellison (played by Geoffrey Cantor), becomes a prominent character in these episodes as an interesting ally to Karen Page. Cantor has been especially great this season, portraying Ellison as an old-school-style newspaperman. It's been fun seeing his reaction to crime scenes and how he encourages Karen in her hunt for the truth about Frank Castle.

Ellison and The Daily Bulletin—the publication he works for—are a character and concept that were created just for the show. I'm guessing that was because they couldn't use The Daily Bugle and much of its staff, since they are so tied to the Spider-Man character. I wonder—now that Spider-Man is about to make his MCU debut, will we start to see The Daily Bugle and its staff pop up in the Netflix shows?

While Karen embraces and nourishes her skills as a detective with Ellison, Elektra—the other woman Matt has feelings for—is also embracing who she is. After Matt pushes her away when he realizes that killing is a part of who she is, we see her get into a fight with Jacques Duchamps, an assassin wielding her signature comic book weapons, a pair of sai.

Elektra kills Duchamps with his own weapons, and then takes them for her own, but not before he reveals he was hired by Stick. This puts her in a very interesting position heading into these final three episodes: was Duchamps telling the truth, or was he an agent of the Hand being used to point Elektra at Stick—one of their biggest enemies?

There’s so much to be answered in these last three episodes, and I'm sure to have more questions about next season and how the end of Season Two will impact future Netflix shows. So, join me in several days as I bring this edition of Binge-Worthy to a close with my final thoughts on Daredevil Season 2.

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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