Monday, June 6, 2016

Daredevil Season 2, Episode 11, ".380" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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Things are really starting to heat up on Daredevil season 2.  It’s pretty clear that the system as it stands is broken, since the Punisher’s killing spree has had the best track record of actually punishing criminals for their crimes.  The D.A.’s office has been revealed to be corrupt.  The prison system has been completely bought and paid for.  What is a humble vigilante to do?

Of course, when the episode opens, Daredevil has more important things on his mind!

It starts off right where the last episode ended:  the Hand is attacking Metro General to recapture the “victims” that Daredevil rescued from the “Farm.”  They cut a hole in the glass to open one of the windows in order to get inside the hospital, where they attack Claire, another nurse, and a security guard, the other nurse.  Daredevil, however, arrives in time to save Claire and fights several ninjas while more of them get the patients out of the room.  Claire actually saves Daredevil by knocking one of the ninjas out a window, but is herself knocked out as well.  Somehow Daredevil manages to jump out, catch her, and swing them back into the hospital, something which really shouldn’t be possible.  But it’s a comic book TV show, so I guess it’s possible (it’s not that it can’t be done, but that the hospital isn’t tall enough for drag and wind resistance to slow her down so he could catch up).  Unfortunately, the Hand is able to escape with the patients, and Daredevil loses their trail.  This is a really good opening for the episode and really gets the blood pumping with all the excitement.  At the same time, Matt managing to catch Claire while they are falling out of a window does pull me out of it a bit.

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Claire’s primary role in Daredevil seems to be as Matt’s conscience:  she’s the one who tells him that he’s going about things wrong by pushing everyone away.  She’s the one who tells him that he needs to stop burning the candle at both ends.  She’s the one who calls him on his unnecessary martyr complex.  And she’s the one who tells him that he needs help.  I really like Claire’s character, particularly since we have a good idea that she will be serving as the connecting link between all the Netflix shows and she will be the one who brings them all together.  At some point, her suggestions that Matt find help will mean:  “You need to meet my other super friends.”

We next find out where Karen went after she and Frank escaped from her apartment (and who called Matt and interrupted his conversation with Claire).  Karen went to the police station where she made a statement to Brett explaining what had happened, as well as Frank’s role in saving her (though she leaves out that he knocked the two police officers out).  Matt is worried about her, particularly with Frank running around and seeming to be particularly interested in her.  Karen, however, doesn’t want Matt’s protection:  “I’m not yours to protect.”  Instead, she goes into police protection, which only lasts long enough for the police to check her hotel room and leave, at which point she goes down to the parking garage to meet Frank.  The two of them drive to a shady diner where they start talking about her history and the fact that she would pick a .380 for herself rather than something bigger—it shows a good deal of forethought, knowing her limitations.  This begs the question:  just how much practice does Karen have with guns?

Of course, then we get to the most mind-blowing part of their conversation:  Frank asks Karen about her and Matt.  He knows that Matt is Daredevil (he connected the voice), and so he knows that he is lying to Karen.  At the same time, he can kind of tell that she has feelings for him.  But how crazy is it for someone to be getting relationship advice from the Punisher??  I really enjoyed the scene with the two of them in the diner, as they share a good rapport.

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Frank didn’t just bring her there for coffee, though; he was actually using her as bait to draw out the Blacksmith’s men so he could start rolling up the Blacksmith’s organization.  Two guys show up, and Frank has Karen get everyone to cover.  Then Frank takes them both down brutally (seriously, all the goriest moments this season involve the Punisher) but keeps them alive so he can question them.  As soon as he knows about the Blacksmith’s boat, he shoots them in the head, killing them.  Then he tells Karen to call the police, take protective custody, and stay away from him.  I really enjoy all of the Punisher scenes this episode, particularly when he is doing Punisher things.

At this point we can turn back to Matt, who as Daredevil is trying to find the Blacksmith before Frank turns the city into a warzone looking for him.  His first stop is A.D.A. Tower, who is on his way out of town.  Tower points Matt toward a new rival drug importer in Chinatown who should have information about the Blacksmith.  And who is that rival importer?  None other than Madame Gao, of course!  Matt goes to talk to her, and she is willing to help him because hurting her competitor will help her.  She tells him about the ship by which the Blacksmith brings his drugs in.  This puts Daredevil and the Punisher in the same place (the docks) at the same time, looking for the Blacksmith.

And this is when the Daredevil and the Punisher billing returns:  Frank takes down the guards on the boat and finds one last boss on the boat, whom he tries to force into admitting that he’s the Blacksmith.  Matt, however, can hear from the man’s heartbeat that he is not the Blacksmith, and offers to help Frank track down the Blacksmith, even agreeing that they can do it Frank’s way this one time.  Frank doesn’t think it’s such a good idea, though:  “You cross over to my side of the line, you don’t get to come back from that.”  This time around they do not actually team up—Frank pushes Matt off the boat just before it blows up when more of the Blacksmith’s men arrive and shoot the boat—but it definitely shows a progression in Matt’s understanding of what he should be doing as a vigilante.  No longer is the Punisher someone whom he needs to stop; he’s actually doing the right thing in some circumstances.  But for now, everyone thinks that Frank was killed in the boat explosion.  (Spoiler alert:  he didn’t die).

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Foggy spends most of the episode still recovering in the hospital, but Marci shows up to cheer him up (Matt didn’t).  The biggest news from this scene is that Foggy actually came out of the Punisher trial looking pretty good, despite their catastrophic meltdown.  In fact, Marci offers to set up a meeting between Foggy and the managing partner of her new firm, which we can probably guess based on her previous namedrop of Jessica Jones as a private investigator who works with them.  I really like how they can use the minor characters like Brett and Marci to build the connections between Daredevil and the other Netflix shows.  At this point it’s just Jessica Jones, but we’re only a couple months away from the release of Luke Cage, and I’m excited to see how they connect that show in, considering that it will not be taking place in Hell’s Kitchen.

On the subject of connective tissue, we can also talk about Claire’s arc this episode.  First she makes the startling discussing that the ninja she knocked out the window was actually already dead and autopsied before she killed him.  How on earth does that happen?  The hospital has very little interest in finding out; they want to cover up everything that happened when the Hand attacked, including the cause of death for the nurse who was killed.  This of course rubs Claire the wrong way.  On top of that, the hospital administrator is furious with her for treating people off the books and putting the hospital in physical and legal danger.  Her supervisor convinces them not to fire Claire (though this is “strike 2”; going A.W.O.L. to treat Luke in Jessica Jones was “strike 1”).  However, because the hospital is trying to sweep everything under the rug, Claire just quits and walks out.  Now she no longer has a job:  this has to be what brings her to Harlem in time to play a little more of a role in Luke Cage (coming to Netflix September 30).

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The final note in this episode is the one that leads into the penultimate episode:  after Stick tried to have Elektra killed in the last episode, she is coming after him in this episode.  Stick finds out and sends away 2 of his guys with a mysterious artifact, but Elektra kills both of them (though one survives long enough to drive to Matt’s apartment).  The episode ends with Stick sharpening his katana while he waits for Elektra.

I definitely enjoyed this episode, especially the sequence with the Punisher taking out the two goons in the diner.  Karen and Frank talking about relationships in the diner was something that I did not think I would want, but I actually enjoyed it a lot.  I also like the hint at Daredevil teaming up with the Punisher:  it shows a major progression in Matt’s character from the beginning of the season, and it’s not necessarily a good progression.

What did you think of this episode?  Do you like seeing the change in Matt?  Let me know in the comments!

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