This is the episode where the Punisher reaches peak badass, Karen goes full Ben Urich and Daredevil gets a new mask. He also very cleverly conveniently talks Brett out of arresting him by pitching it as a favor to Brett. Well played, Murdock! More on that and much more below.
In a follow-up scene to the massacre we witnessed in the first episode, members of the Irish mob are gathering to bury their own. Finn, a higher up from Ireland, played by the always intriguing Tony Curran, shows up and makes quite an impression. His son is among the dead, and when one of his associates tries to smooth things over, Finn kills him with an ice pick to the eye. As one does. His next order of business is to hunt down the man responsible for killing his son and stealing his money, and the gang proceeds to beating their way closer and closer to the Punisher’s secret lair. Before we cut to the intro, we see Frank watch them exiting his hiding place. He knows he’s been found out. And, they’ve taken back his dog!
After the intro plays, we catch up with Matt who is busy getting ready when Karen, wearing all black, shows up at the door. While she helps him with his tie, the two do some bonding and Karen reveals that she used to help her brother with his tie, offering a small peek into Karen’s past life. Curiosity piqued.
We next cut to Matt, Karen and Foggy who are attending Grotto’s funeral. The sermon is given by fan favorite Father Lantom who talks about a man, deeply flawed, who had given generously to the collection in an attempt to redeem himself. When they exit the church, Matt stays behind to talk to Father Lantom. Matt admits that he feels guilty for not being able to prevent Grotto’s death, and seeks forgivness for not doing more.
We’re back with Frank who is busy slicing open his own arm and wrapping it in gauze. Next to him on the floor is the suitcase full of money he took off the Irish, and his next order of business is to place it in the back of a van. He’s up to something, this guy.
After the funeral, the staff of Nelson and Murdock are back at the office and Karen is giving Matt and Foggy a summary of what she’s been able to find out about the Punisher, paying special attention to the X-ray image of Frank’s skull with a bullet hole in it. Karen suggests that there may be more to the story, and that Reyes could be covering something up. While Foggy goes to answer a phone call, Karen and Matt talk about the Punisher, and Karen admits that she’s intrigued by the story. When she jokes that she may be insane, Matt says she’s compassionate. When Foggy calls Matt over to discuss a case, they suddenly find that Karen is missing and that she’s taken all the files with her.
Matt, as Daredevil, decides that he can’t wait any longer for the new mask Melvin is making for him and heads over to his workshop. Melvin, knowing that his one client would be impatient, has indeed finished it and also made him new and better gloves. He also seems to be busy on his own project, sketching away at something we can’t quite see, and showing Matt the new armor that’s hiding under his shirt. A potentially awkward “blind moment” for Matt turns into a nice little Easter egg for us.
So, where did Karen go? It turns out that she’s chasing down a lead, which takes her to see George Buck, a nurse who was fired from Metro General. He was on duty when Frank Castle was brought and tells her the story of how Frank basically returned from the dead, on his own, and despite an order to not resucitate. When he came to, he asked George to take him home, which he did, and that cost him his job.
We next find Frank watching a merry-go-round in a park when the music stops, the lights dim, and the people on it go home. It doesn’t take long before the Irish appear to bring him in. Despite putting up a good fight, killing a few people in the process, Frank is overcome by a dose of tranquilizer and taser guns.
Brett is processing up a murder scene when Daredevil appears, asking questions about the whether the Punisher was responsible. Brett, somewhat reluctantly, mentions that it’s the Irish are looking for the Punisher. Before Daredevil takes off, he gets a stern talking to from Brett who says that people like Daredevil are part of the problem, that they make the uniform meaningless and send cops chasing crime rather than preventing it. Matt insists that they’re on the same side. Before taking off, he catches a call on Brett’s radio which gives him the location of the scene where the Punisher was taken down by the Irish.
After getting the address from the nurse who was fired from Metro General, Karen is seen breaking into Frank Castle’s house. In subsequent scenes, we see Karen looking around the house and finding all the signs of family life. There is a room where a little girl called Lisa used to live, and photos of Frank with his wife, daughter and son, as well as evidence of Frank’s military service. Everything has been left exactly the way it was.
While this is happening, we go back to Daredevil who is now at the scene where Castle was taken. He hears someone alive and breathing, dragging himself out of there. Catching up with him and twisting the man’s wrist, hard, Matt manages to get information out of him.
Meanwhile, Frank has come to and finds himself face to face with Finn. He’s tied to a chair and beaten up. Finn wants his money back and is willing to dole out a lot of pain to get it. Frank doesn’t seem fazed, even when Finn takes a drill to his foot. But, fear not, Frank. Whether you asked for it or not, Daredevil is on his way and is taking out the guys keeping watch. Frank actually seems to be taking the torture quite well, until they bring in the dog Frank rescued. When Finn threatens to torture the dog, Frank yields and tells them where to find the money.
Two of Finn’s men are then sent to find the the money and it’s right where Frank said it would be. Of course, there’s a catch and he’s rigged the briefcase full of cash to explode and we see the whole van go up in flames. Just as Finn is listening to this happen over the phone, Frank fishes the razor blade he’s hidden in his arm(!), and cuts himself free. Play time is over, and none of the people holding him stand a chance. Before shooting Finn’s face off, he unsucessfully tries to get information on who was there the day his family was killed. Just as he’s fighting his way out, Daredevil shows up to help out, though he insists on a no killing policy.
When the fighting is over, Daredevil helps the Punisher to a nearby cemetery where he catches his breath. Frank is thinking this might be the end of the line for him. Matt asks him about the rhyme he says before he pulls the trigger. Frank is shocked he can hear that, but finds himself telling Matt the whole story about it being out of his daughter’s favorite book, and then about the last day of her life. Matt sits down and listens.
Just as Frank finishes his story, the cops show up. When Brett goes to arrest Daredevil, he tells him to take the collar, make it seem like he was the one who brought Frank in. Brett agrees, and lets Daredevil go (uhm, how “generous” of you Matt). Daredevil insists that people have to know the system works.
Matt meets with Foggy and Karen at Josie’s where they watch the news reports about Frank’s arrest. They’re having beers and making a toast to Brett who is now the hero of the hour. While Foggy goes to get them another round, Matt makes a move on Karen. Foggy watches from the bar and seems to be taking it well. When he and Matt step outside, Foggy jokes that he needs to watch out or he might just end up happy. When Foggy goes home, Karen offers to walk Matt home in the rain, and the two share a kiss outside Matt’s apartment. Matt asks Karen if she’ll go out with him, and she agrees. Matt has a big grin on his face when he gets home. Well, until he notices someone in his apartment and identifies her as Elektra.
This is easily one of my favorite episodes of the season. Sure, the Irish gang is a bit of a cliché, but I actually like that they are able to hunt Frank down, even if he one-ups them in the end. It reminds us that even very skilled characters, like the Punisher (and Daredevil for that matter), may be difficult to catch or injure, but certainly not impossible. And, it reminds us that the people they are both up against are not complete idiots.
This episode is not only big on action – and intense pain – it has some of the better character moments of the entire season. Frank has a great episode (more on that at the end of the post), Karen steps her game up to really start following in Ben Urich’s footsteps – which incidentally includes interviewing people at seaside locations – and Matt finally acts on what has started brewing between him and Karen. To the many people who claim these two have no chemistry, allow me to disagree. It’s also great to see the writers break with comic book tradition and have Foggy be relatively okay with Matt and Karen getting closer. Their love triangle may have been interesting back in the sixties, but we don’t need to see that again here.
Matt gets some serious food for thought this episode. It starts with his scene with Father Lantom, where we learn that Matt struggles with guilt and feelings of simply not being or doing enough. When he talks to Brett, he gets another reminder that his way of righting the wrongs around him are not without consequences, some of them negative. Learning that he may be undermining the general trust in the criminal justice system, and the credibility of the police force, is obviously not something that he should be taking lightly as a lawyer. He needs very desperately to believe that what he is doing is in the interest of the greater good.
I thought the scene where Brett lets him go at the end was pretty interesting. When Matt, as Daredevil, talks Brett into basically lying in his police report so he can take the credit for the Punisher’s arrest, while also letting him get out of his own arrest, that’s a pretty big step. It’s him bending the system to preserve the system, while realizing fully that there is no way he can fit inside of it. I’m not suggesting he was ever that delusional, but it suggests that some of what Frank had to say to him last episode sank in. He doesn’t wear a badge, what he does can never be officially sanctioned.
Not much to comment on this episode, except to say that I really liked the scene where Daredevil and the Punisher are fighting alongside each other and Daredevil grabs behind him to stop Frank from beating someone to death with a hammer. This is a reminder that is able to more easily attend to things happening behind him than the average person would be. And it just kind of looks cool.
I think I mentioned the scene where he, belatedly, discovers Elektra in one of the podcasts for the trailers. I’m still thinking that he should have noticed her earlier, but that’s entirely due to the inevitable smell of her which I think would be fairly noticeable. However, I do like that they’re not treating Matt’s senses as infallible, or that they have it appear as if he’s always walking into a lit room, metaphorically speaking. Listening for certain sounds should and does take some active attention, and he doesn’t just “see” her there. I’m thinking this would be especially true for his own apartment. In an environment he’s intimately familiar with, he wouldn’t have to focus his senses as much as he would in an unfamiliar environment. That, of course, makes it even more likely he’ll miss something.
Easter egg watch
The most obvious thing this episode is what happens at Melvin’s workshop. Of course, we know from last season that this place is full of goodies, including Stilt-Man’s legs! Now, it seems like Melvin is working on something that may lead him to the Gladiator down the line. I kind of hope they leave this one alone, the Melvin character is fine just the way he is, but the little teases are perfect. In this episode, we see Melvin show Daredevil his new body armor which carries the familiar pattern from the comics. Matt subtly avoids commenting on it, but I very much doubt he’d have any idea what he was looking at – or the significance of it – even if he could see it. This one is for the fans.
Father Fantom: “Guilt can be a good thing. It’s the soul’s call to action. The indication that something is wrong. The only way to rid your heart of it is to correct your mistakes and keep going until amends are made. I don’t know what you didn’t do or what you should have done, but the guilt… The guilt, means your work is not yet finished.”
Finn: “You wanted this.”
Frank: “No, I counted on it.”
Matt: “No killing.”
Frank: “Altar boy.”
Frank: “I guess I was wrong.”
Frank: “You being a pussy.”
Matt: “Don’t get all sweet on me now, Frank.”
Brett: “I don’t know what you are, but I know you ain’t him.”
This is another episode I’m going to have to give to Frank Castle. Not only is he able to endure a ridiculous amount of pain, which I have to admit is impressive, he also shows a very human side this episode. He can’t stand the idea of his dog being tortured, and the story he tells Matt about his family just breaks your heart. There was a time when life had something very different in store for Frank, and it’s is incredibly sad that he was robbed of that future. Jon Bernthal does an amazing job with this character here.