Time for my second review! Let’s dive right in, shall we?
We start with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it view of the crime scene at the hospital before cutting to Foggy who is on the phone with Karen. He hasn’t seen or heard from Matt since the night before. When he reaches an area that has been cordoned off by police, he overhears information about what building the shots were fired from (when Castle tried to take out Grotto in the previous episode). Believing this to be his best chance of finding Matt, Foggy starts bluffing his way into apartment buildings near the site in question, and after an impressive amount of running up stairs finds Matt unconscious in his Daredevil outfit on a roof. When Foggy frantically calls on Matt to wake up, he seems to come to, though just barely.
After the theme plays, the two have somehow made it to Matt’s apartment. Foggy is in the kitchen, the Daredevil costume is on the floor, and Matt is on the couch asking his friend for some aspirin. Foggy is not happy and Matt is his usual defensive self. The two start arguing, with Matt downplaying last night’s incident, and Foggy seemingly about ready to have his friend committed. Matt is eager to get back in the game, but Foggy convinces him to at least take the day off and rest.
We cut to Grotto and Karen who are waiting in a room at the police station when Foggy barges in. When asked, he tells the others that Matt took a sick day. With Matt’s condition clearly weighing on him, Foggy starts questioning Grotto about what he knows about the attacker. Grotto says that he’d brushed off the stories he’d heard about this just being one shooter as rumors – a “ghost story.” Brett arrives next and asks Foggy and Karen to step outside, and shares what he knows about the shooter. He’s an independent, a vigilante. But, unlike Daredevil, he leaves the streets bloody.
Back in Matt’s apartment, our very own vigilante is getting a glass of water when his senses suddenly spiral painfully out of control. If the sound effects are any indication, Matt experiences ringing in the ears and the sounds around him randomly register as disproportionately loud. Matt fumbles with his glass of water and drops it, and by the time it hits the ground, there’s no sound at all. An increasingly panicked Matt finds the nearest wall to lean against and soundlessly starts calling for help.
At the precinct, Foggy and Karen face their own challenges in the form of District Attorney Reyes and assistant D.A. Blake Towers, and Foggy starts sweating bullets the moment they approach. Reyes is getting ready to steamroll them and get to their client when Foggy, once again, shows what he’s made of. When Reyes comes with thinly veiled threats, Foggy threatens to call the U.S. Attorney’s office and goes on to lay out their terms. Karen looks on approvingly while Foggy shows off his negotiating skills.
When Foggy and Karen finally sit down with Reyes, assistant D.A. Towers, and Grotto, Reyes is not pleased with what Grotto can offer, and tells him they need more. Towers explains that they want Grotto to wear a wire in order to rope in an Edgar Brass whom Grotto has had dealings with in the past. Grotto is very reluctant, but Foggy realizes that it’s his best bet and tells him as much. To give Grotto a sense of the real threat, Reyes and Towers show him crime scene photos from the sites hit by the man now known as The Punisher, and let him know that he doesn’t let anyone get away. They insist that what they’re offering is his way to save himself.
Next, we go to a murky pawn shop where the owner has just finished dealing with a shady customer when Frank Castle walks in. Castle is looking to buy an “NYPD mobile communications rig.” He ends up with that, and more, paying for the goods with wads of cash. Happy to come across a customer with money to spend, the store owner makes the mistake of offering Castle various genres from his porn collection. As it turns out, the Punisher does not approve of child pornography and, just as he was heading out the door, turns back around and grabs a baseball bat. We only get to imagine the fallout after that first sound of blunt object meeting human flesh.
At the office, Foggy and Karen try to catch up with some office work and Foggy gets the dubious pleasure of going through their ovedue bills. Karen goes over the morgue reports from the Punisher shootings. When Foggy comes over to talk to her, she clearly has a lot on her mind. She talks about her streak of bad luck and wonders aloud whether she deserves all the bad things coming her way? Foggy does the best he can to console her.
We’re back at Matt’s place where he’s still in the same spot we last saw him. It’s hard to say how much time has passed, but I’m guessing at least a couple of hours. He suddenly hears faint knocking in the distance. He snaps his fingers, and breathes a huge sigh of relief at the sound, before getting up to open the door. It’s Karen. The two hug it out after the ordeal she’s been through, and it’s probably safe to say that Matt may have needed a hug too at that point. When Karen enters Matt’s apartment and sees the shattered glass on the floor, she is left wondering what’s really going on with him, and she confronts him about it. Things get tense between them, but she ends up giving him an offer to listen whenever he feels like talking. Karen then goes through what happened with the D.A. and the conversation naturally turns to the Punisher. Karen suggests that they – and Daredevil – may have “created” him by allowing for vigilante justice, and that he really cold be any one of them. This is obviously uncomfortable for Matt to hear, and he gets noticeably defensive about Karen’s line of reasoning.
As soon as Karen leaves, Matt decides that he can’t wait any longer and throws on a hoodie and goes to see Melvin Potter, hoping that Melvin can repair the mask that was damaged by the bullet that grazed it. Melvin says that it looks like the Punisher took a warning shot; that he could have finished Matt off, but didn’t. The mask turns out to be a challenge to repair though, so Potter agrees to make a new one, while patching the old one up in the meantime.
While waiting for the repairs to his mask, Matt goes, as is, to the scene where the Punisher attacked the Irish and literally sniffs around. He carefully follows the trail of a wounded – and now missing – dog until he hears the sound of a police radio nearby. Going inside, he finds the dog that castle brought with him from the crime scene, before coming across what looks like the entire Punisher arsenal.
So what is Frank Castle up to? Well, he’s paying the Dogs of Hell another visit, gunning down a group of people at a site where stolen trucks are processed and broken down for parts. The last person to see – or hear – it coming is a man in headphones washing the blood off their newest acquisition.
We briefly check in with Matt listening to the radio at “Punisher Central” when he picks up the communication relevant to the Grotto situation, which is where the story takes us next. Grotto is scared for his life, but Karen and Foggy comfort him and try to convince him this is his best available deal. When Grotto asks for a kiss for good luck before going outside, Karen jokingly gives him the finger. Once the D.A. gets the ball rolling, Foggy and Karen quickly start getting suspicious that this is not the deal they signed up for. It turns out that the D.A.’s office had been intending to use Grotto as bait for the Punisher. Meanwhile, Caste has recognized the trap for what it is and sends them decoy truck with a dead man in the driver’s seat.
While Castle is enjoying the view from his watch position on a nearby roof, Daredevil arrives on the scene. The D.A. and her team get wise to their location and Foggy watches in horror on the monitors as his best friend fights the city’s most recent scourge. He runs outside as soon as Daredevil and Castle vanish from view after falling through a glass ceiling. Mid-fight, Matt’s hearing starts acting up a bit again and that’s when Castle presumably takes his chance to grab Daredevil and get away. The only trace Foggy finds of his friend is a blood smear on the floor beneath the spot where they disappeared.
This is yet another very solid episode that bravely defies convention by spending significantly more time on character building than on straight action sequences. Matt doesn’t even get into his costume until the very end, and Castle is mostly hidden from view. That doesn’t mean that “Dogs to a Gunfight” doesn’t pack a ton of tension though, because it definitely does. I’ll get to the heart pounding scene of Matt in his apartment under the “Senses watch” heading, but aside from that, one of the most memorable scenes this episode is the one with Frank Castle in the pawn shop. Not only is it a great character moment for Frank, who clearly abhors crimes against the innocent, but it’s actually even more riveting to not get to see what happens to the store owner, than if we’d gotten the whole scene.
Sure, there are a few longish talking heads scenes that mostly exist for reasons of exposition, such as much of the dialogue at the precinct with the D.A.’s office, but there is a lot of information that needs to reach both the characters, and us viewers, before we can move forward.
This is another great episode for Foggy whose conflict with Matt is starting to reach a boiling point. Which, of course, doesn’t stop him from running out to find his friend for a second time at the end of the episode. Karen, too, has a lot of questions about what is going on with Matt. One thing I have to give kudos to the writers for is having Karen question that Matt keeps using his blindness as a defense for all the cuts, scrapes and bruises. I’ve always been a little uneasy about how casually this is done in the comics, since it really makes actual blind people look completely incompetent. An occasional accident is not outside the realm of plausibility, but constantly getting into trouble is.
Karen’s most important character moments have little to do with Matt, however. The events of the first episode have her more rattled than usual, and the lingering trauma of last season is obvious. How Castle starts to figure into her thinking is an interesting development that, thus far in the story, makes sense.
If there’s a theme for Matt this time around, it’s vulnerability. His mask cracks, his head almost cracks, and his body fails him again at the end of the episode, making him an easy target for the Punisher. When he goes to Melvin Potter to have his mask fixed, and Melvin asks him whether he’s ready to go out, Matt asks “Do I look ready?” while looking downright defeated. It’s rare to see Matt be this honest with anyone, let alone himself. He should be thanking his lucky star that he actually listened to Foggy’s advice to stay home and rest. That they don’t manage to do just a little bit more with this, though, is one of the weaknesses of this episode. I’ll return to that below.
Two scenes clearly stand out this episode. Of course, the scene where Matt’s hearing completely goes on the fritz isn’t so much an example of his heightened senses at work as the complete opposite of that, but I’m still putting it under this heading.
This scene is interesting for several reasons. The first thing that hits me is that this is something that’s never actually been done before in the comic. Sure, there’s the story from the Waid/Samnee run when Matt is poisoned while in Latveria and goes on to lose all of his remaining senses. There’s also the story from the first Miller run when he loses his (separate) radar sense in an explosion. That time, Stick helped him get it back and I was half-wondering as I was watching this scene for the first time whether we’d get to see Stick appear early this season.
Even with the points of comparison mentioned above, however, this scene is unique. First of all, Matt doesn’t have a separate radar sense of the classic Silver Age variety in this show, which lies closer to the Bendis run in its understanding of what Daredevil’s spatial ability really is. This means that in this scene, he essentially goes from having superhearing and at least some “vision” to a very real state of total deaf-blindness in a matter of seconds. This should scare the crap out of him. And it does, obviously. Seeing the “man without fear” reduced to sheer terror certainly makes an impression on the viewer, but I have to wonder what the reasoning behind this scene was when so little of its impact appears to carry over into the rest of the episode.
By my guess, Matt’s hearing is probably gone for at least a couple of hours. What is he thinking during that time? Though he’s clearly very relieved when his hearing returns, you’re left wondering: Has this, or something similar, happened to this character before? And, why is he not even more shaken by this? Given the gravity of the situation, it doesn’t seem instill any greater sense of humility in him.
The second scene that belongs under this heading is the one where Matt is tracking the smell of the dog’s blood back to Frank’s secret hideout. As you might imagine, I cheered when I saw this scene for the first time. As much as I’m the first person to complain when Matt does something that should be beyond his powers, I’ve always found it puzzling that he doesn’t use his nose more often. Here’s a perfect example of what can be done that doesn’t seem too crazy. His sense of smell really should be his second most important sense, after hearing, when he’s out doing Daredevil stuff, and it’s nice to finally see someone do something interesting with it.
Easter egg watch
I didn’t really catch anything this episode, except for the photo of Stan Lee in the background at the police station which we first saw at the end of season one.
Of course, there are also a couple of connections to Jessica Jones that are worth pointing out. D.A. Reyes first appeared in that show, and Brett also mentions Clemons, who was also a character in Jessica Jones.
And, while this isn’t an Easter egg at all, I have to admit I smiled when the junkie tried to sell an “IKEA phone” to the owner of the pawn shop. But that’s just because I’m Swedish. 😉
Brett: “I’ll tell you what Clemons used to say. You’ve got to treat witnesses like mushrooms – feed them shit and keep them in the dark.”
Foggy: “In either case, he’ll be requiring legal representation, which will be provided by the law firm of Nelson and Murdock. To put it in layman’s terms: Cut the shit, lady. You’re dealing with us.”
Karen: “How many times can I hear that you fell down the stairs or you walked into a door?”
Matt: “You know I’m blind.”
Karen: “And you know that I’m not an idiot.”
Karen: “There’s something about this city that makes good people want to shoot their way out of bad situations.”
Foggy, hands down. I’m sure a lot of viewers are starting to feel that Foggy could be more supportive of Matt’s extra-curricular activities, but in this episode he gets more cardiovascular exercise than he’s probably seen in ages while looking for his friend, whom he finds passed out on a roof. That he’s feeling a bit frustrated by Matt’s lack of understanding that things could have turned out much worse is understandable.
Foggy is also really starting to come into his own as a lawyer. Despite Reyes’s attempts to intimidate him, Foggy is able to pull himself together and do everything he can for his client. No wonder Karen is impressed. She should be.