So yeah, busy week! I honestly don’t know where the days went. And, while I was gone, the news came out that Jon Bernthal has been cast to play Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher in the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil. I think it’s a great casting choice, but what I like even more about this announcement is that it confirms that Castle is set to appear.
While I’m not the biggest Punisher fan out there, I think the stories in which both The Punisher and Daredevil appear have tended to be very interesting, and it also – hopefully – means that season two will remain pretty grounded. What are your thoughts? Feel free to use this post for any and all comments you might have about the casting or anything else going into next season. It seems apt as we’re getting ready to round this up.
It’s Ben Urich’s funeral (I guess he was a Catholic too?) and his casket is being carried to the grave site. Present are Matt, Karen, Father Lantom and, of course, Ben’s wife Doris, along with Ben’s editor Ellison and a female employee from the paper. After the intro plays, we cut straight to after services have ended. Karen goes to talk to Ben’s wife, and the two do some bonding. Karen is feeling guilty, but Doris tells her how Ben felt about her and that he wasn’t the type to ever get pushed into something he didn’t want to do. Meanwhile, Matt and Father Lantom trade a few words before Karen comes by to pick him up. In his conversation with the priest, Matt is hard on himself for not stopping what happened to Ben.
When Matt and Karen get back to the office, Karen tells him that Ellison was among the attendees at the funeral. She seems conviced that he was taking bribes from Fisk, though Matt points out that there is no evidence to that effect. The conversation turns to Foggy, and Karen is very disappointed that he didn’t come. Matt tries to defend him, adding that what’s going on between the two of them is his fault. Karen is also worried that Fisk will find out that she was with Ben at the nursing home. Matt vows to keep her safe, and promises that everyone who’s in bed with Fisk will get what they deserve.
Vanessa is back with Wilson, still recovering. Fisk is reviewing some transactions that aren’t adding up, and he tells Vanessa he’ll have Leland take a look at them. Later that day, the two meet and Leland goes over the status quo and the necessity of finding something to replace the off the books revenue from the Gao’s heroin trade that went up in smoke. When Fisk asks about what happened to Gao, Owlsley tells him she’s gone, adding that she might not have been the ally they thought she was.
At this point, Fisk shows Owlsley the irregularities. When the latter tries to explain them away, Fisk notices that Owlsley’s hands are shaking, and that he’s sweating. Owlsley is forced to admit to something that is not the whole truth, and Fisk confronts him about Wesley and the poisoning and the benefit. When Fisk now learns that Vanessa was the target, he kills Owlsley by pushing him down a shaft, this despite Owlsley at first trying to use his leverage: He has Hoffman stashed away, as part of a scheme that depends on Owlsley checking in every twenty-four hours. When it’s all over, Fisk instructs his men to sweep the city and put a bullet in Hoffman’s head.
Matt is seen working out at Fogwell’s gym, punching the heavy bag, when Foggy enters. Matt briefly stops what he’s doing and the two talk about what Matt’s been up to, namely paying a (failed) visit to Ben’s editor. Matt then confronts Foggy about missing Ben’s funeral. Foggy says he was on the way way but got a call from Marci, who has been helping him copy files from Landman and Zack. This frustrates Matt who thinks it’s too dangerous; he is the one who needs to stop stop Fisk and doesn’t want anyone else getting hurt.
When Matt heads for the door, Foggy reminds him about the state he was in after the last time he went after Fisk, and that he might end up dead. When Matt doesn’t know what else to do, Foggy reminds him that they should be using the law, like Matt himself had told Foggy and Karen. When Foggy talks about a “we,” Matt says that he thought Nelson and Murdock were over. At this point, it’s clear that while Foggy was the one who came to Matt, he’s not sure they can move past what happened, and he says as much. Matt suggest that maybe, even if things are not as they were, they can find a way to move forward.
Said and done, the two go to talk to Brett Mahoney, bringing a new batch of cigars for his mother. Brett talks about how things are bad around the precinct and when Matt asks him to explain, Brett talks about his meeting with the man in the mask a few days ago and that what he said had got him thinking. Matt and Foggy tell him that they, and the man in the mask (obviously), were working with Ben Urich, and the three of them discuss the connection to Wilson Fisk. Foggy mentions Ben’s discovery about Fisks mom, and that that might have been what got Ben killed. When another couple of cops walk by, Matt overhears them talking about going to find Hoffman. When Brett walks off, Matt tells Foggy what he heard. They realize what this means. If they can get to him before Fisk, he could blow the whole thing wide open and expose Fisk.
Matt, Foggy and Karen are back at the office, just like in the good old days, looking into where Owlsley might be holding Hoffman by going over the documents Marci was able to get out of Landman and Zack. Karen is happy that they’re all together again, and Foggy comments that it’s “a start.” When Karen wonders about how Matt and Foggy found out about Owlsley holding Hoffman, they improvise a story about meeting with the man in the mask whom they met somewhere in some alley.
Next, Karen finds what the missing piece of the puzzle they’ve been looking for, a property that was removed from the records from one day to the next with no change in balance, an attempt to hide that it was taken off the list of prpoerty holdings. When Matt gets the address, he takes off under the pretense of wanting to bring the information to Brett Mahoney in person. Before he goes, Foggy stops him, realizing what he’s about to do. Matt says that this is where the law meets reality. If he doesn’t find Hoffman, Fisk wins.
Fisk gets a call about Hoffman’s whereabout and instructs the caller to send in a team. He smiles looking out his car window, safe in the knowledge that things will be taken care of. Next, we go to where Hoffman is being held. While his keepers are getting their takeout dinners, Fisk’s crooked cops arrive on the scene. Hoffman shuts his eyes in anticipation of the bullet that will surely pierce his skull at any second, but instead he can hear shots being fired in some other direction and the sound of fists pounding. He opens his eyes to find the man in the mask taking out each of the men who were coming to kill him. After it’s all over, Matt sits down and has a little chat with Hoffman. He instructs him to turn himself over to Brett Mahoney, and makes a very persuasive argument for why he should do exactly as he’s told (because having Matt stalking you is a very bad thing).
Hoffman is next seen walking into his old police station, saying that he needs to make a statement. This takes us to the scene where he’s giving his statement to people from what I presume is the U.S. Attorney’s office (or some similar agency). At his side are Nelson and Murdock representing him, with Karen cheering silently from the sidelines.
While Pavarotti sings in the background, a montage of different scenes play where people connected to Fisk finally get what’s coming to them. Turk is being chased by police, the dirty cops are weeded out, the woman at the paper (a certain M. Caldwell) is taken from her desk and arrested. Marci sees her boss being arrested in the parking garage at Landman and Zack, and finally, Randolph Cherryh is lead out of a building.
Vanessa watches everything unfold on TV. Fisk realizes that there’s nothing to prevent his arrest, but he’s got a plan and he needs Vanessa to do something for him. Before the police arrive, he’s got one last thing to show her: An engagement ring. Fisk is dragged away, arrested for racketeering. Outside, the press is waiting and Fisk is put in the back of a police van.
Matt, Foggy and Karen are having drinks at the office and celebrating. They make a toast to the ones they’ve lost, to Elena and Ben.
In the van, Fisk tells the story from the Bible, about the good Samaritan. He ends with the realization that he is not the Samaritan, or even the priest or the levite, but the one of “ill intent.” By the time Fisk finishes the story, there are other cars joining them and his van comes to a stop. It’s a rescue mission orchestrated by Fisk himself.
We go back to the office where out three friends at the law firm are receiving the news. Karen feels foolish for the way they believed that Fisk would go away that easily. They rush outside and as Karen is in a cab, she is reluctant to leave Matt behind. Foggy promises to get him a cab and runs after Matt, sending Karen on her way. Matt asks Foggy to trust that he knows what he’s doing and takes off in another cab.
One of the guards in Fisk’s van is in on the heist. The other isn’t and is shot when he tries to intervene and play hero. Finally free, Fisk steps out of the van and walks over to another truck and gives the men on the ground his orders.
Meanwhile, Matt has put on his black costume and goes to Melvin Potter’s shop to pick up his new and improved outfit. Next, Matt is up on a rooftop, in his new costume, listening for clues to Fisk’s whereabouts, and hearing something over the radio (either from the source, or from the receiving end; it’s a little unclear what’s going on here).
Fisk’s van is seen pulling into some kind of garage where he gets out and is transferred to another van. Next, Matt hears the broadcast coming from Fisk’s van and takes off. Fisk instructs Vanessa to leave without him if he’s not there in twenty minutes. It doesn’t take long before the transport is interrupted by Daredevil – yes, we can call him that now – who throws his billly club through the car window, causing it to swerve and topple over. Fisk emerges and Daredevil makes himself known. He’s shot at, but evades the bullets easily, and adds some billy club action to the mix. Finally, he and Fisk are alone. Fisk, cornered, gives a little speech about what he wanted to do for his city.
What follows next is a scene of hand to hand combat that sees both of them getting some very violent punches in until Fisk seems to be getting the better of Matt, furiously beating him over and over with a metal bar. In standard Murdock fashion, Matt gets back up and finishes the fight just in time for Brett Mahoney to show up. Matt lets Mahoney know that he’s the man in the mask whom he met before, and hands Fisk over to the law. Vanessa is still waiting when Frances announces that they have to go. Vanessa takes out the ring in her pocket and puts it on her finger before boarding the helicopter without her beloved Wilson.
Next day,outside their office, with Matt and Foggy at her side, Karen reads about “Daredevil” in the papers, and the three joke about it. Foggy finishes putting up the new sign outside their building and Matt runs his hand over it, joking about them being “avocados at law,” in reference to the scene from the law school flash back in episode ten. Foggy then says he’s about to go see Marci, whom he may or may not be getting back together with. They talk about Fisk and how it may be a year before he can be sentenced, though Matt assures them he’s where he belongs.
When Foggy leaves, and Karen announces that she and Matt should be getting back to work, Matt points out that there’s been something in her voice, and it’s still there despite Fisk being put away. Karens puts it down to the deaths of Ben and Elena, and everything else they’ve been through. Matt talks about them moving forward and offers Karen her hand. At this point, the entire scene screams of Karen realizing something (but I can’t quite figure out what and it drives me nuts!).
Next, we see Fisk in prison, wearing all white and staring up at a wall that looks very much like the one from the painting and his childhood. The scene looks like it’s taken straight from the comics. In the very final scene, we see Matt in his new Daredevil outfit, listening from a rooftop. When he hears a scream, he runs for it, and leaps from the building. And that’s the last we see of these guys until next season!
This final episode is by no means weak, but the rushed feeling of the last 20 minutes drags it down quite a bit and causes a dip in quality that places it in or near the bottom of the all of the episodes for me. It starts out strong, though, and contains some favorite scenes of mine (notably the “opera arrest montage”), but almost everything that happens after Matt puts on the costume is not as flawlessly executed as what we’ve come to expect from this show.
Right after finishing the season, I was actually a bit concerned that this would spell the end of the grounded Daredevil we had come to love, as things seemed to steer away from crime series with a superhero element into full superhero. Getting Matt into a proper superhero outfit should allow him to move a little differently, but I think the fighting style looks a little too different from what’ we’ve seen previously to work as a seamless transition from “The Man in the Mask.” The dialogue also suffers a bit in comparison to pretty much everything up to this point.
Speaking of the costume though (because I know a lot of you might be itching to talk about that), I’m actually mostly fine with it. It looks nice from most angles, though the mask is maybe a little on the heavy side. I will say this though: Considering that 1) people don’t look nearly as nice in spandex in real life as they do in comic books and 2) that having a more protective outfit makes A LOT of sense in the context of this show, and Matt’s repeated injuries, it is inevitable that the costume designers would have to go for something new. Is it as elegant as the classic red outfit? No, but I can’t really see that happening. It’s funny though how a lot of people who were complaining about the black costume probably grew to really like it by the very end. I know I’m one of them.
What I really like about this show, something which becomes clear in this final episode, is how Fisk’s eventual downfall isn’t only a result of Matt’s vigilante activities. Sure, there is a lot of information that he comes by as the Man in the Mask, but that’s far from the only source of intel. Karen and Ben started their digging early on in the show, and Foggy eventually got involved too, not to mention Marci who evidently got them the last piece of the puzzle that they needed to find Hoffman.
It is a sign of great respect for Matt’s professional life, and all the people in it, that both of Daredevil’s ways of operating were crucial parts to achieving the end goal. Certainly, only Daredevil could do what was needed when Fisk decided to escape police custody, but getting him that far took a lot of paper work. The complete Daredevil experience makes use of both sides of Matt’s life, and in that regard, this show definitely delivers.
I’m a little confused about what exactly Matt is hearing, and from where, when it comes to tracking Fisk down at the end. I’ve made my preferences known when it comes to Matt’s superhearing passing the line into something more akin to psychic awareness before so won’t starting beating that horse again, except to just mention that I find it hard to figure out what exactly is going on. Matt may actually be quite close to the source of these sounds.
The only other minor thing that stood out to me, for very different reasons, is when Matt goes to Melvin Potter’s shop to pick up his costume. When Melvin opens the box to show Matt, he makes no attempt to pretend to be looking at it, which I found to be a pretty interesting touch in its simplicity. In the comics, there are references here and there to Matt “faking” sightedness as Daredevil, where he reminds himself to act as if he can see, but here he seems unbothered by the notion that his behavior would strike someone else as unusual. On the other hand, it’s well inline with how he’s been conducting himself in costume througout the season. He doesn’t carry himself like an average blind man, of course, but neither does he appear to be navigating by sight.
(Accessible) gadget watch
Well, Matt is back in the office working which usually entails reading and/or computer work. Nothing new in that regard, except that I think this is the first time I’ve actually seen him use his computer keyboard for anything. But I guess that now that we’re at the end of the season, this would be where I give the handling of this area two big thumbs up. That’s not to say that I don’t want to see Matt do much more office (i.e. legal) work next season, in and out of court, but so far so good. If these guys want to keep the lights on, they should want that too. 😉
Easter egg watch
we finally got our Stan Lee cameo, in the form of a picture hanging on the wall behind officer Mahoney when Hoffman comes in to turn himself over to the police. When Fisk switches vans, you can see the brand names Atreus Plastics and Summerville Department Stores printed on the sides of the cars. Both are (obscure) companies in the Marvel Universe. Read more at ComicBookMovie.com.
There’s also this very clear look at the Stilt-Man legs in Melvin Potter’s workshop:
Father Lantom: “How are you holding up?”
Matt: “Like a good Catholic boy.”
Father Fantom: “That bad, huh?”
Foggy: “You go after him in the mask again, he might kill you. Or you might kill him, which would probably have the same effect on someone as Catholic as you are.”
Matt: “We? Thought Nelson and Murdock were over.”
Foggy: “There’s nothing I want more than to find a way back to where we were, but… I don’t know if we can.”
Matt: “No, we can’t. But maybe we can find a way to move forward, Foggy.”
Brett: “The way things are going around here, I’m thinking of taking an early pension. Move my mom somewhere warm.”
Foggy: “Be a shame. The only cop on the force we know for sure is honest.”
Brett: “Never see Serpico? Honest cops are usually the ones get shot in the face.”
Fisk: “It’s funny, isnt’ it, how even the best of men can be deceived by their true nature. It means that I’m not the Samaritan. That I’m not the priest, or the Levite. That I am the ill intent who set upon the traveler on a road that he should not have been on.”
Foggy: “I think the horns are a bit much.”
There were no obvious candidates in this episode, but I’m going to give the final honors to Foggy, for two reasons. First of all, despite missing Ben’s funeral, he was the bigger person in his and Matt’s relationship and sought out Matt first. Secondly, Foggy did so without any clear indication that he was ready to forgive his friend. This means that he was willing to set that aside for the sake of what was still going on with Fisk. In the comics, Matt and Foggy’s relationship has usually been on Matt’s terms, and I think Foggy is showing some real integrity here. I can’t wait to see where next season will take them, and am glad that this show found a way of letting Foggy in on Matt’s secret relatively early, without handwaving away the magnitude of the effect on their relationship.