TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 2 Episode 9 "Seven Minutes in Heaven"
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EPISODE 9: "Seven Minutes in Heaven"
SYNOPSIS: As the firm's trial spins out of control, a figure from Murdock's past returns to deliver shocking revelations about the future of Hell's Kitchen.
REVIEW: It was right around the ninth episode in Daredevil's first season that the narrative began to sputter. While I felt the freshman season stuck the landing, it wobbled a bit in the home stretch. Episode nine of this sophomore season may be one of the standout hours of the entire series run thus far and does so by flipping the format of the show a bit by giving us a lot more of Frank Castle and a heck of a lot more of Wilson Fisk while putting Karen, Foggy and Matt Murdock into more of a supplemental story. This change works wonders for the show by pumping up the adrenaline and adding some more mystery to what The Hand are planning. All together, I don't think you could ask for a more engaging hour of television.
The episode starts by flashing back to Wilson Fisk's initial incarceration which followed the events of the first season finale. Fisk is brought into the jail and reduced to nothing. The guards and inmates no longer fear him and another prisoner named Dutton tells Fisk that he is no longer the kingpin behind these bars. Fisk's attorney cautions his employer that his funds are depleting rapidly outside of the money set aside to take care of Vanessa. Fisk quickly realizes that he must take Dutton out of the equation after learning about Frank Castle. The two men meet and Fisk explains that Dutton was present at the murder of Castle's family and offers only the chance for vengeance. Fisk sets up Castle with the means to take down Dutton. The prisoner explains that the massacre was actually a part of an FBI sting operation. Dutton also says the criminal who set everything up goes by the name of The Blacksmith.
Castle, of course, kills Dutton. When trying to leave the cellblock, the guards lock Castle in and open all of the cells. Fisk appears and thanks Castle for doing away with Dutton and leaves him to his own devices. What follows is the most brutal fight in any Marvel Studios property. Like Matt Murdock's hallway fights, this is a long, continuous shot but with added brutality. The slit throats, eye gouges, and stabbings are graphic and come at a fast pace, cementing this as a far darker and more violent season than last year. The blood flows freely as we see Castle drenched in his enemies plasma. As the armored guards take Castle away, the tell tale Punisher logo can be seen in the pooled blood on his jumpsuit. This was pure Punisher and delivered on the potential this character has always had and was never fully explored on the big screen.
What really drives home the development of The Punisher over these nine episodes is his interaction with Wilson Fisk after the fight. Fisk admits he underestimated Castle and planned to have him killed but would rather set him free to enact the rest of his vengeance. Castle doesn't trust Fisk but also understands that Fisk is playing the long game with his plan and will benefit from having his enemies taken out during the rest of his sentence. Castle and Fisk have a fight that truly shows the physical power that the Kingpin has within his massive frame. At the end, Castle vows to kill Fisk the next time they meet and then calmly is led out of the prison and into the night. Fisk, meanwhile, sits by the bedside of the dying Dutton. Fisk eats a meal, now having become Kingpin once more.
In other stories, Matt bids farewell to Elektra and Foggy. With Elektra, Matt realizes killing is in her blood and he cannot stay with someone who embodies those values. I sincerely doubt this is the last we will see of Elektra, but it is a powerful way for them to part. Foggy comes to Matt and says they should shutter the firm for a few weeks but Matt makes it more permanent. Matt tells Foggy that he is Daredevil and that will not change, so it is better for his best buddy to get as far away as possible so he doesn't risk getting hurt. Matt then finds the feeble accountant from a few episodes back and learns he has been working for The Hand because they have his son. When Matt confronts the Roxxon/Hand thugs, he senses something in the building's basement. Heading down, he finds civilians being pumped of their blood which is going into a giant sarcophagus. The Hand refer to this event as The Rising, but we have yet to learn what that really means. At that moment, Nobu shows up and he and Daredevil fight. Nobu reveals his scarred face as he takes the sarcophagus deep into the basement. Having "died" last season, this is particularly shocking to Matt.
The other subplot this episode involved Karen as she investigates the Castle family massacre and learns from the medical examiner that the John Doe he hid was an undercover cop. Mitchell Ellison convinces Karen to wor at the newspaper as she investigates what is going on and gives her Ben Urich's office. There, she finds a folder with research on her life including a deadly car crash involving her brother, Kevin. Karen is reduced to tears as this seems to be the event that forced her to leave home and head to New York. Likely we will hear more about this crash later, but it is a nice, small moment to help build her back story. What really drove this episode home for me was just how strongly it used Wilson Fisk to push the narrative forward. Even with The Hand and The Rising becoming more significant, this was a strong hour for Frank Castle and continues to prove he should get his own series. Solidly acted across the board with some truly awesome action scenes, this is one of the better episodes of any Marvel series and instantly puts to shame every appearance of The Punisher to date.
MARVEL UNIVERSE REFERENCES: No overt references this episode.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: "The Man in the Box" - Murdock and Foggy get caught in the crossfire of the Punisher's revenge. Karen and Murdock dig for the truth in very different ways.