Monday, June 20, 2016

Daredevil Season 2, Episode 13, "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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So here it is:  the season 2 finale of Daredevil.  It’s been over 3 months since it first premiered, so I’m probably the only reviewer still talking about this who started when it premiered!  Season 1 gave us a great origin story for Daredevil himself.  Season 2 gave us a great origin for the Punisher, introduced Elektra, and gave us an interesting development on the front of Daredevil turning into a serious loner who pushes away anyone who gets too close to him.  While there are some things that cause questions, I really like this second season, and I really like its finale.

The episode begins with Nobu’s plans for New York City, which require capturing or turning Elektra.  And Daredevil is the only one who stands in the way of their goal.  So to get him out of their way, Nobu sends his ninjas to track down and capture 20 targets around New York City.  This is quite the ominous opening!

Before finding out what Nobu’s targeting, we return to Matt, who is bandaging Stick up and trying to convince Elektra that she can help him stop the Hand.  One thing this season has done a good job of is setting up Matt as the skeptic with all of the mystical elements.  It really is important in something like this to have a character who doubts and tests and who can be genuinely surprised when he discovers that all the mystical elements he’s been discounting are actually real.  Elektra is frightened of what the Hand would do in her name if they managed to capture her, but Matt urges her to help him in putting an end to it.  She agrees, and the two of them go to Melvin Potter to get a suit of armor for her.  I like how well they are incorporating Potter into Daredevil as his personal armorer.  By the time all’s said and done, I expect Potter to be providing body armor (and weaponry) for most of the Defenders, even if he never officially suits up as the Gladiator.  I also like how they finally give Daredevil the specialized billy club that he uses in the comics.  It does make a whole lot more sense for Potter to actually build it than for Matt to build it, considering that he’s blind!

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Once Elektra’s gotten her armor, they return to Matt’s apartment just in time for Foggy to call and let him know that Brett was roughed up at the precinct by people looking for police files.  Matt (as Daredevil) immediately runs down to the precinct to talk to him, and discovers that the Hand was looking for all the Daredevil files:  they wanted to know everyone he had ever saved.  That’s who the targets were.  And the Hand ninjas are keeping all their hostages on a bus driving around town.

Karen is one of the hostages, along with Turk Barrett.  Turk happens to be on an ankle monitor which he has been tampering with, but he is able to turn it back on and give the police a fix on their location.

Matt and Elektra go to the building, where they listen as the hostages are being unloaded.  Once the hostages are inside, a police car comes to investigate Turk’s house arrest violation—both officers get killed, but one has time to report it.  Matt goes into the warehouse by himself to rescue the hostages, and defeats all the ninjas (though he gets shot in the process).  Elektra eventually decides to join him, and they create an opening for the hostages to escape to the waiting police line.  Matt and Elektra start going up the stairs to find Nobu, and are chased by more ninjas.  Before going out on the roof to confront Nobu, Matt and Elektra have a moment together where he confesses that he needs her and wants to be with her.

While this is going on, Karen talks to Brett and tells him what’s going on, and he tells the rest of the police to shine their lights on the warehouse roof to give Daredevil some help.  It’s not exactly something either side needs—all the ninjas can “see” just fine in the dark—but it’s a nice show of solidarity, especially considering that the police were rather divided about the idea of vigilantes at the beginning of the season.

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The final battle is pretty awesome as Daredevil and Elektra take on Nobu and about a zillion Hand ninjas (seriously, where does Nobu get these guys from?).  The stunt work is good, and the plotting makes a ton of sense.  Nobu fights Daredevil to kill him and prevent him from stopping their plans, while the Hand ninjas attempt to subdue and capture Elektra.  Eventually it’s just the three of them fighting when Nobu takes down both of them.  He is about to kill Matt (who loses his helmet in the fight) when Elektra jumps in front and takes the sai meant for Matt.  Matt comforts her while she dies, and Nobu walks away.  However, this isn’t the end of the fight as there are still a ton of ninjas left trying to kill Matt.  This is when the Punisher shows up and we finally get that Punisher and Daredevil team-up we’ve been waiting all season for.  Daredevil keeps taking the ninjas down and making his way toward Nobu, and whenever one behind him tries to get up, Punisher shoots him in the head so he stays down.  I think this is the best way to incorporate the Punisher into something which can’t dial the gore up as much as Daredevil:  Let him have the sniper role where he stays back and provides covering fire for the rest of his team.  Daredevil works his way to Nobu and throws him off the roof.  At this point all the ninjas are down, and Punisher leaves with a “See you around, Red.”  Considering how much I like watching the heroes fight together, I really like this fight scene:  we get Daredevil and Elektra teaming up, Daredevil and Punisher teaming up, and it all fits their characters.

Then we get Nobu.  You remember that scene from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 finale when it looked like Garrett was going to come back as a rebuilt Deathlok?  They did that with Nobu.  His eyes open and he gets up after falling off the roof.  As he’s walking away, however, he meets Stick, who immediately stabs him and slices off his head.  I don’t think he’s coming back from that!

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At this point the episode moves into denouement for the season.  Foggy, who interviewed with Jeri Hogarth earlier in the episode, goes to work for her (more on that later this week).  Karen is now working for the Bulletin fulltime as a reporter writing a story about the vigilantes of New York:  “What is it, to be a hero?”  Frank burns down his house, though he grabs a disc marked “Micro” first.  Matt and Stick talk over Elektra’s grave.

One of the more shocking twists in this final sequence is the next-to-last scene, when Matt meets Karen at the old Nelson and Murdock offices.  He pulls out his Daredevil helmet and puts it on the desk in front of her:  “I’m Daredevil.”  I’ve seen a lot of different explanations for why he might have done this, but the one I like the best is that he is trying to bring her into his world.  A major focus of this season was on the contrast between Elektra (the exciting girl who’s all wrong for Matt) and Karen (the nicer girl who is much more supportive and better for him).  Matt pushed Karen and Foggy away and drifted closer to Elektra, but now that she is dead, he realizes that he needs that support, and he realizes that Karen wants to give it to him if he would only let her in.  Consequently, I see this as a cry for help:  he doesn’t want to lose her like he lost Foggy, and he wants her to know about this important part of who he is—the thing that kept him from really committing up until this point.  As such I actually really like this scene.

 However, the biggest twist comes right at the end:  the Hand dug up Elektra’s body and placed it in their urn.  Presumably this urn—and the liquid they spent the season filling it with—is what brought Nobu back to life, and now they are doing the same thing with Elektra.  I assume this means that Elektra will be the new leader of the Hand moving forward.

This season had a lot of high expectations after both its own stellar first season and an even better follow-up in the form of Jessica Jones season 1.  It was trying to introduce two new heroes and delve much deeper into the mythology and mysticism of the Hand.  In some ways it does get very bogged down in the difficulty of what it is trying to accomplish, but nevertheless it does a good job of moving its story forward.  The best parts are definitely the Punisher arcs, but it also gives us a good idea of Elektra’s character, history, and motivations.  There are some definite indications of where this story will go from here, and I will talk about those later this week.

What did you think of Daredevil season 2?  Which is your favorite character?  What do you want to see from these characters and plots moving forward?  Let me know in the comments!

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