TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 2 Episode 3 "New York's Finest"
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EPISODE 3: "New York's Finest"
SYNOPSIS: Trapped face-to-face with the Punisher, Daredevil wrestles with the morality of vigilante justice. Meanwhile, Foggy and Karen work to save the firm.
REVIEW: With Matt taken prisoner by The Punisher at the end of the last episode, we were all left wondering what would become of the first true interaction between these two characters when not actively trying to beat the living crap out of one another. Well, this episode does not disappoint as it essentially centers on the two Marvel characters learning about one another on a whole new level. Matt awakens on a rooftop, chained to a wall as Frank Castle looks on. He has unmasked the Devil of Hell's Kitchen because, as he tells Matt, he doesn't care who he is. We get to know a good deal about this iteration of The Punisher over this episode: a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, he views the crime in New York as something that cannot be treated but must be destroyed. He sees Daredevil as a half measure and is determined to prove it to Matt.
There is a lot of dialogue in this episode as Matt tries to explain to Frank that he is insane and that the criminals of the city deserve a chance at redemption. Frank does not see there being any way to rehabilitate evil. While Matt questions what loss could have led Frank to become The Punisher, we never get a clear explanation of his origin. They are interrupted by the super of the building, an older man. In an intense scene, Frank Castle pretends to be the brother of a troublesome tenant and chats about being in the service with the old man. All the while, Castle has his gun pointed through the door to blow away the civilian if Matt makes any noise. This is a very well structured scene that plays to both the duality of Frank Castle/The Punisher as well as giving us a code of conduct and ethics that he holds himself to. All through the episode, it becomes apparant to us the viewer how much Castle and Murdock share in common, even if Matt himself doesn't see it.
Matt calls out Frank after this incident, trying to reason with the vigilante that killing is wrong and they need to offer these criminals a chance to repent, even if that means sending them to jail. Instead of talking, after knocking Matt unconscious again, Frank duct tapes a revolver to one hand and brings a restrained Grotto to the roof. Frank explains to Matt that he has one bullet in the chamber and either has to kill Grotto or kill Frank to stop him from doing it. Matt refuses but Frank gets Grotto to admit to killing another criminal but also the old lady living with him. Matt pauses and questions Grotto's motives and Frank shoots him in the stomach. Matt breaks free of his chains and knocks Frank out after Grotto dies in his arms asking why he didn't kill The Punisher.
While all of these rooftop shenanigans have been going on, The Punisher has taken a shot at the Dogs of Hell biker bar across the street. When his shot was knocked off course by Daredevil, the pissed off bikers have begun to make their way up the stairs. Matt carries the unconscious Castle to a service elevator and proceeds to fight off the onslaught of bikers. What follows is a scene that is a blatant attempt to replicate the awe we all had at the hallway fight scene from the first season. This scene is a bit more elaborate and takes the action down a stairwell and into the lobby. In a few places, the edits are obvious which begs the question whether the director wanted this to look like a single shot or not. We still see the bad guys get up and keep coming which lends some more realism to this superhero series, but Matt is able to take more of a beating thanks to his armor. The fight concludes with The Punisher still unconscious and Matt victorious as he overlooks the firey bank of motorcycles out the front door.
In other plot elements, Foggy frantically searches for Matt and finds Claire Temple to see if she helped fix Matt. She didn't but the hospitals are overflowing with gang warfare casualities. Foggy manages to defuse a tense showdown between two thugs which impresses Claire. In the end, Foggy heads back home with no news of his friend. At the same time, Karen confronts the assistant D.A. about Grotto and he slips her some documents about The Punisher case. As Karen compiles the information, it becomes clear that they are dealing with someone wholly unstable. While the documents we see do not explain everything about Castle, we do get a look at a head x-ray that shows us a dark spot on Frank's skull. Could this be shrapnel? Cancer? It is unclear but I would be willing to bet that whatever that smudge is has set The Punisher on his current path and may contribute to his comic book powers which allow him to repress pain.
Through three episodes, Daredevil has yet to wow me with anything unique and special. The fact that the showrunners elected to go with another long take fight scene makes me wonder if we are going to continue to get more of the same this season or if something unique is coming. I don't want to sound ungrateful because this series is still a highlight of both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and small screen drama, but I was expecting the bar to be raised after the freshman runs of both Daredevl and the excellent Jessica Jones. The Punisher, so far, has been great and shows that after two poorly received films that there is still life in the character. I just hope things start to pick up some steam from here.
MARVEL UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Claire Temple makes reference to helping Luke Cage which took place during the first season of Jessica Jones.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: "Penny and Dime" - Karen uncovers shocking facts about the Punisher, who finds himself hunted by a powerful force in Hell’s Kitchen. Daredevil ponders his next moves.
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