Monday, May 30, 2016

Daredevil Season 2, Episode 10, "The Man in the Box" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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At this point in Daredevil season 2, it’s pretty clear what is going on:  Daredevil and Elektra are facing off against a Hand conspiracy which threatens to unleash chaos on New York (and possibly beyond).  Punisher is trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of his family’s murder.  Matt and Foggy are having major fights over Matt’s inability to balance his vigilantism with their law practice.  Oh, and there’s also a major conspiracy behind the scenes which Karen is attempting to sort out.

And most of these plots continue on through “The Man in the Box.”  After this episode there will only be three left to review.  Consequently, we aren’t exactly seeing the conclusion of any plots in this episode, but from here we can see how they might conclude.

The episode opens with the consequences of Daredevil’s fight against the Hand at the “Farm” when he encountered the resurrected Nobu and freed a group of teens who were being used as blood-and-fluid donors.  The police arrive to investigate the facility, and Daredevil speaks with Brett (his police contact) and tells him to bring the victims to Metro General where he has a “friend” who can tend them off the records (for their safety).  Brett follows Daredevil’s instructions and brings them to Metro General, where Claire and a few other nurses set the victims up in a wing that is being remodeled.  I think my favorite aspect of this is that yet again we get to see how Claire works under “unusual” circumstances, such as using cold sodas in place of cold compresses.  She also pushes Matt and questions what he does, making him a better person and a better hero.

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While he is at the hospital, Matt hears over Brett’s radio that Frank escaped from custody (in the previous episode).  This puts the entire city into a panic—particularly the police and D.A. Reyes.  Reyes calls Foggy, Matt, and Karen to the courthouse with police escort because she thinks that they might have some idea what is going on.  Of course they don’t, but that doesn’t stop Foggy from expecting that Reyes will try to blame them!  This is when Matt puts the pieces together that Frank was on the same cellblock as Fisk—there’s got to be a connection there.  Before he can act on this information, they go to see Reyes in her office, and she finally lays out exactly what happened.  It turns out that she was responsible for the Central Park debacle, which was a sting operation intended to capture the “Blacksmith,” a drug kingpin.  She made the call not to clear the park before the sting because she thought it would tip someone off.  The undercover officer who infiltrated one of the three gangs was killed in the sting, and Reyes did indeed orchestrate a cover-up of the blown sting—covering up both the Castle family murders and the killed officer.  And now it’s all blowing up in her face.

Someone evidently placed an X-Ray of a skull in Reyes’ daughter’s backpack, which made her panic and send her daughter upstate to get her away from Frank.  However, the daughter is not the target:  it’s Reyes.  Matt hears a gun cocking and tackles Karen to the floor a split-second before bullets start flying through Reyes’ office window.  Foggy gets hit by a bullet, but Reyes takes about a dozen in the chest.  Foggy of course gets taken to Metro General to recover from his gunshot, while Matt goes to start tracking down Frank since it looks a lot like a Punisher hit.  However, before he leaves he stops to talk to A.D.A. Towers, who suspected the cover-up, though it started before he went to work for Reyes.  He is rattled by watching his boss murdered in front of him and is planning to skip town for a while.  The attack on the courthouse was quite well done.  It answered all of our questions—it was a ton of exposition—but it didn’t feel like a straight-up exposition dump because Reyes actually had a compelling motivation for revealing everything.

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Matt next goes to visit Fisk in prison to find out what he had to do with Frank’s escape from prison.  However, it doesn’t take long for Matt to realize just how powerful Fisk really is in the prison.  At first Fisk plays dumb, claiming that he had nothing to do with Frank’s escape, but the moment Matt threatens to have Vanessa’s visa revoked so she can never return to the city, Fisk shows his cards by breaking his handcuffs and attacking Matt.  And in so doing he reveals to Matt that he is in the process of rebuilding his power in prison.  So much for Matt’s faith in the legal system to punish criminals like Fisk.  So much for capturing the criminal and letting the system take care of him.

This crisis of conscience really drives Matt for the rest of the episode.  He spends the evening on the hospital roof to protect the Farm victims in case the Hand comes and tries to finish them off.  While there, Claire meets him on the roof and again tries to convince him to stop trying to be a martyr.  He’s trying to do everything on his own, and he’s trying to push aside anything and anyone that could distract him from his mission.  He even refuses to visit Foggy, who’s in the hospital below.  That night Matt’s vigilance finally pays off as a group of Hand ninjas attacks the hospital, shooting grappling hooks onto the roof and climbing the walls.  The episode ends with Matt gearing up to meet the ninjas while the Farm victims stand over the dead Gibson and watch the grappling hooks being shot past their window.  That last part is especially horrific as the five “victims” look like zombies standing with blank expressions while the world spins around them.

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Next we turn to Karen, who has the next major plot in the episode.  Following the attack on the courthouse, Karen immediately goes back to the Bulletin to talk to Ellison.  Interestingly she still doesn’t think that Frank Castle was the shooter at the courthouse (she’s pretty much alone in that), but she recognizes that if Frank was the killer, then M.E. Tepper is probably his next target.  And sure enough, when they arrive at Tepper’s apartment they find that it is already a crime scene:  someone shot it up with a high-powered rifle and killed Tepper.  Looking at the crime scene, Karen doesn’t think that it is Frank’s “style,” but Ellison seems to disagree.  Ellison makes the decision that they need to step back for now and let the NYPD know who else might be a target.  But first he sends Karen home with a pair of officers to protect her.  At first she doesn’t want to accept it because it’s different treatment than Ben Urich received, but Ellison is still feeling guilty for not doing more to keep Ben safe when Fisk went after him in season 1.

The police officers search Karen’s apartment, but they don’t find anything.  That’s because the threat isn’t inside the apartment but outside.  Frank is in the hallway and knocks the two officers out before entering Karen’s apartment while she is getting together their Punisher files.  When she hears Frank she pulls a .380 handgun out of her dresser and points it at him.  He tells her that he wasn’t the one who killed Reyes and Tepper, but she’s still not entirely convinced.  That changes pretty quickly when Frank tackles her to the ground just before someone starts shooting into the apartment.  She now believes him, and they escape together.

I really like Karen’s plot this season.  She is not a damsel in distress (even if both Daredevil and the Punisher pulled her out of the way of a high-powered rifled in the same episode); she is her own person and her investigation is actually important to the season as she is the one putting the pieces together for Frank.

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The final minor plot in this episode involves Elektra in the process of leaving the City.  She is chartering a plane to leave the country when a man strikes up a conversation with her at the airport.  However, this man attempts to kill her with a pair of sai, which she takes away from him and uses to kill him.  When she asks why he did it, he tells her that Stick sent him to kill her.  Why did Stick try to have Elektra killed?  We don’t find that out until later.

This is definitely not a bad episode, and I really like how it messes with Matt psychologically.  Not only did they discover that the D.A. has been covering up a blown sting operation that cost lives, but they also discover that the prison system isn’t even close to containing criminals.  How can Matt claim to uphold the system when the system itself is so flawed?  If this is the case, then it would stand to reason that the best way for Matt to ensure that justice is in fact being served is to take matters into his own hands even more than he already does as Daredevil.  Maybe the Punisher has the right idea.  After all, there’s no way that the criminals that Frank kills can come back and cause more problems!

What did you think of this episode?  Do you like Daredevil more when he is balancing both sides of his life, or when it’s all in shambles?  Let me know in the comments!

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