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TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 2 Episode 4 "Penny and Dime"

Missed an episode? Check out all prior reviews of Marvel's Daredevil here.

EPISODE 4: "Penny and Dime"

SYNOPSIS: Karen uncovers shocking facts about the Punisher, who finds himself hunted by a powerful force in Hell’s Kitchen. Daredevil ponders his next moves.

REVIEW: If you are a regular reader of my Daredevil reviews, you likely recall that just recently I said that this season was treading water and had yet to raise the bar in any way over last year. Well, I am happy to immediately stand corrected as this fourth episode represents one of the best hours of this series are ranks alongside some of the best stories the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to produce. Four episodes in and we already have a story arc reaching a conclusion, of sorts. While I would not be surprised to see characters wrapped up this week return later in the season, I am glad that thr showrunners elected to deliver a mini-arc rather than drag some plots out over the entire thirteen episode season. Much like the introduction of Luke Cage on Jessica Jones, this episode wraps up the origin of Frank Castle.

Taking inspiration directly from the 2004 reboot of The Punisher, this episode opens with the introduction of Finn Cooley, an Irish Mob boss who has come to claim the body of his deceased son, Peter, who died at the hands of Frank Castle in the first episode of the season. Finn starts out calm as he mourns his oldest son, but quickly turns and stabs a fellow gangster in the eye. This is a brutal scene and one of the most violent on the series to date as we hear the metal spike crunch and crack against the man's skull. The rest of the thugs immediately fall in line as Finn demands they find his stolen money and to bring him Frank Castle alive. Throughout this season, the violence has already been much stronger and more graphic than last year, plus much more profanity, giving this season an edgier feel that is fitting with the introduction of The Punisher.

This episode is, in essence, all about Frank Castle. It feels more like an episode of The Punisher series with a guest appearance by Daredevil. Over the first two-thirds of the episode, we see Cooley and the Irish Mob find Castle's base of operation and deduce who the vigilante is. Castle looks on from the sidewalk as if he didn't expect them to find him. He then heads to a carousel where he sits and ruminates until the ride shuts down and descends into darkness. Then, Cooley and his thugs surround Frank and inject him with something to knock him out. Frank fights off as long as he can but eventually succumbs. When he awakens, he is in Cooley's clutches. The Irish criminal begins to torture Frank, taking a drill to his foot. But, Frank does not give up. It is not until Cooley threatens a dog Castle rescued that he gives up the location of the stolen money, a van parked in Hell's Kitchen. Of course, this turns out to be a trick and the bomb planted in the van takes out Cooley's men and the money. Cooley is pissed but Frank has retrieved the razor blade he hid in a wound on his arm and kills the thugs and Cooley. Laying on the ground, Frank reveals he planned everything to confront Cooley for killing the Castle family. Cooley doesn't recall the murders so Frank shoots him point blank in the face and we see every grizzly detail. Brutal and also foreshadowing that fans of The Punisher comic character will be familiar with.

While Frank is in the middle of his vengeance, other characters have been busy, too. Matt, Karen, and Foggy attend Grotto's funeral. At the funeral, Father Lantom and Matt discuss the morals of Daredevil versus those of The Punisher and Matt contemplates his future as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. Matt keeps up appearances that he doesn't know the truth about Grotto and he and Karen continue to grow closer. Karen also reveals what she learned about Castle from the files given to her by Blake Tower and follows her instincts which lead her to a nurse who was there when Frank Castle sustained the head wound that would result in him dying for a brief minute before returning home. She then follows the clues to the Castle home in suburban New York where she comes across photos of Frank's family in happier times along with bouquets and condolensce cards. Karen gets away before some men catch her in the house, but she begins to piece together why Frank became The Punisher. Matt also pays a visit to Melvin and gets his new, upgraded armor. Investigating the site of an Irish Mob attack, Matt runs into Officer Mahoney who tells Daredevil that he is the problem in the city as the people don't trust the police any longer.

Matt heads to the site of Frank's imprisonment and aids The Punisher in taking down the warehouse of thugs. Matt stops Frank from killing anyone else and helps the vigilante escape. They head to a cemetery together where The Punisher admits he may have misjudged Matt for being a pussy and proceeds to share his story about coming back from the war to his wife and children. He also goes into detail about holding his dead, mutilated daughter's body. The monologue is gut-wrenching and Jon Bernthal solidifies why he was the perfect choice to balance Frank Castle's pathos. He is at once an unstoppable warrior as well as a human being. Matt finally sees Castle as what he could have become. When Officer Mahoney arrives, he takes both men into custody but Matt explains he doesn't want any credit. He wants Mahoney to get promoted and for the people of the city to trust the police again. He also hints that his time as Daredevil has come to an end. Mahoney lets him go and takes Castle away. Later, Foggy, Matt, and Karen enjoy drinks together and celebrate the capture of The Punisher. Foggy sees the connection between Matt and Karen and at the end of the night they go their separate ways. Matt walks in the rain with Karen and the two finally kiss. Matt asks her out to dinner the next night and Karen says yes before taking a cab home. The episode ends with a content Matt opening a beer in his apartment before realizing someone is in the room: it is Elektra.

By far the most rounded episode of Daredevil to date, this hour completes The Punisher story arc over four episodes. For anyone who has seen the trailers, this season looked to have two major stories and this first one is now complete. I am sure we have not seen the last of Frank Castle this season as indicated by Karen's theories that the District Attorney may be hiding more about the vigilante. But, having Matt Murdock contemplate hanging up his horns and finally kiss Karen only to run into his former flame Elektra feels like the beginning of another season. Comic book readers know that stories don't always last a full year and sometimes cover only certain issues. Now, we are entering another part of the story that should see the return of The Hand and Stick as well as refocus on the Yakuza from last year. Hopefully, these two halves come together for a blockbuster finish to this run, but time will tell if that is true.

MARVEL UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Finn Cooley is a major villain in the Garth Ennis penned reboot of The Punisher for Marvel's MAX imprint.

EPISODE GRADE:

 

NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: "Kinbaku" - A former lover arrives in Hell's Kitchen and turns Murdock’s world upside down. Karen digs for the truth about the Punisher.

Source: JoBlo.com

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