TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - S2 Ep 12 "The Dark At The End of the Tunnel"
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EPISODE 12: "The Dark at the End of the Tunnel"
SYNOPSIS: Daredevil goes underground to save an old friend. Karen follows a dangerous lead. The law firm of Nelson & Murdock may have reached its final chapter.
REVIEW: This penultimate episode of Daredevil's second season is really two stories in one. Despite subplots featuring Foggy and Karen, this is an hour almost evenly split between the Daredevil/Elektra story and the Punisher origin. This season has served almost as a makeshift first season for The Punisher while Daredevil's story has taken a bit of a backseat. While the two disparate story arcs have crossed paths through the last eleven hours, it is in the twelfth that they take very separate paths that will drive the concluding chapter of the sophomore run of the show. It almost doesn't seem possible that these massive tales will be wrapped up in just thirteen episodes, but this single hour goes a long way to ending one and preparing the conclusion of the other.
In regards to Frank Castle's story, the search for The Blacksmith takes a final curve as Karen Page decides to pursue a different take on The Punisher story by telling about who Castle really was. She reaches out to Colonel Schoonover at his home to inquire about Frank's character as a soldier and a friend. While reminiscing, Karen notices a man in a photo with Schoonover and Frank was one of the bodies at the pier explosion. As Karen connects the dots, Schoonover pulls a gun and takes Karen outside. It is here that he reveals that he is in fact The Blacksmith and it was Castle's interference that led to this mess. Using war as an excuse for his actions, Schoonover forces Karen to drive until they are unexpectedly hit by an oncoming Frank. Castle drags Schoonover to a small cabin while Karen pleads for Frank not to kill Schoonover. Frank replies that he is already dead and Karen turns to leave. As Schoonover talks trash to Frank about the events that have taken place, Frank calmly shoots and kills him, essentially ending his hunt for revenge. As Frank prepares to leave, he finds a secret door in the wall that when opened unveils a massive cash of weapons and a body armor with the vague hint of The Punisher's skull logo.
One important key to the end of Castle's story is Schoonover's hint about something that happened involving Frank while deployed but no one reveals the story. This could be great fodder for a Punisher standalone series and I am sure it was not added by accident. Likewise, it seems like Elektra's existence has been bigger than we anticipated as we get flashbacks focusing on her training as a child. We see Stick and another leader of The Chaste discussing Elektra. Stick calls her girl while the other man refers to her as it. I saw the big reveal coming a mile away, but it is still handled quite well. In the present day battle, Elektra and Stick attack but are broken up by Matt Murdock. Before Elektra can kill Stick, he is taken by The Hand. Matt vows to find and save him but Elektra says she will kill Stick and if Matt gets in the way, she will kill him too. The hunt begins but not before Matt does some research on where The Hand could be hiding. He meets with Foggy at their office and Foggy suggest abandoned subway tunnels. Their partnership really seems to be at an end but neither is too broken up about it. While they both seem genuinely sorry to see the other go, it is for the best.
Descending below the city, Matt is immediately confronted by The Hand and does battle. Stick is being tortured nearby and whispers to Matt that he needs to go deeper than listening to their heartbeats or weapons and suggests focusing on their exhales. Matt does and injures a ninja, following his blood to find Stick. He rescues his mentor and is soon met by Elektra. Stick admonishes Matt for allowing her to follow him and says that because he did, they have lost the war between The Chaste and The Hand. Why? Because as Nobu so eloquently reveals, Elektra is Black Sky. Stick rescued her as a child and tried to raise her to fight for good rather than become the weapon The Hand believed her to be. Matt asks Elektra to make a choice to be good rather than accept her fate. Elektra makes her choice and they begin to fight back.
The Hand and our heroes fight with Matt and Nobu taking each other on, one on one. The battle is brutal, but the resurrected Nobu doesn't seem to have the edge now that Matt is outfitted with his Daredevil armor. This is a shorter fight but a well executed one that ends will Matt knocking Nobu over a railing and to his death. But, as we know, Nobu is much harder to kill than we thought. The villain's eyes open after Matt, Stick, and Elektra depart and as he stands up, he declares that Daredevil must die. While this may be the end of the episode, I did want to circle back to a flashback in the middle of the battle that shows Stick killing another leader of The Chaste. By doing so, he takes Elektra and gives her to a wealthy couple unable to have children. I assume these are the Natchios family which explains why this version of Elektra is not Greek like in the comics. It almost felt tacked on as a way to tie back to the comics, but I do appreciate this take on the character.
With one more episode this season, I am excited to see how things come to a head. There are questions remaining regarding whether Wilson Fisk's comment about investigating Matt will return, what that sarcophagus holds, how The Punisher will tie into the final fight, and whether or not Black Sky will be unleashed on New York. I like the stories and almost wish they were given their own episodes to let the drama unfold more deeply, especially on the Frank Castle side. After so much development, it feels a bit underwhelming that the big bad Blacksmith whom all of the organized crime groups could not discover or stop was so easily found by Karen and defeated by Castle. I also like the development of Elektra as Black Sky, but the will she/won't she tension about her allegiances felt like a wasted opportunity to inject some rifts between her and Matt. Still, there is another episode left, so I will reserve narrative judgement until the story is complete, but as a standalone hour this episode falls just short.
MARVEL UNIVERSE REFERENCES: No overt references this episode.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: "A Cold Day In Hell's Kitchen" - In the season finale, Daredevil is backed into the ultimate showdown for his own life — and the future of Hell's Kitchen.