You may think I’m crazy for reviewing an episode that came out over a year ago, but what better way to get caught up, work through my issues with the tail end of Daredevil season two, and prepare for The Defenders?
After just re-watching all of episodes six through thirteen in preparation for this review though, I’ve realized its probably wiser to cover all of the rest of them in a single post, just looking at the major themes and developments. That would be less time-consuming, and help me squeeze in other types of posts as well before The Defenders hit in less than three weeks. If there’s time, I’ll even try to do a post on Luke Cage as well. He’s the only one of the Defenders that I haven’t at least discussed in his own post.
Following the format of all of my previous reviews, however, this one too contains a fairly lengthy episode recap, before I get into the analysis of things. Considering how long it’s been since the episode first aired, I’m guessing some of you might actually need the reminder. If you want to go directly to the rest of the review though, here’s a skip link to My thoughts.
A bunch of of Yakuza fighters on motorcycles arrive at Elektra’s apartment. They get their guns, enter her building and find a suited-up Matt and Elektra waiting for them and dropping from the ceiling. A long fight sequence ensues. When they’re done, a giddy Elektra asks Matt if he’s hungry.
After the credits roll, Matt and Elektra are seen having breakfast together. Matt is impatient, and annoyed. Elektra is hungry. Matt is wondering what she’s really up to and how she knows about him. Elektra reveals that the Yakuza have ties to Roxxon that in turn is part of the mess on her business side, and that Matt can evidently be identified by the shape of his ass. Matt eventually tells her to get lost, but she gets his attention when she mentions that the Yakuza never left after Matt thought that Daredevil drove them out, and that they should deal with them together. Matt finally agrees, but finds the need to lay down some ground rules: Nobody dies.
Karen, with Foggy present, is questioned by the public defender assigned to the Frank Castle case, a certain Mr. Roth, and he appears to be fresh out of law school. Karen finds a lot of errors in his statement and finally refuses to sign it as is. During this encounter, Matt arrives, and the public defender reveals that the case will be over just as soon as he gets Karen’s signature and Castle pleads guilty. They also learn that he’ll likely be extradicted to Delaware, a state which – unlike New York – has the death penalty.
With the death penalty on the table, Matt immediately becomes interested in taking the Punisher’s case, to at least get a plea. Foggy isn’t too crazy about the idea, or creating a conflict with District Attorney Reyes. Karen, meanwhile, wants to know why Reyes is so eager to see Castle dead. When Karen leaves the room, Foggy is free to speak more openly about why Matt, of all people, should think twice about wanting to defend him. The two have a discussion, and Foggy finally gives in.
The trio go to the hospital and find a sea of reporters in the lobby. When they reach Frank’s floor, they meet a newly promoted Brett who politely points out that the area is restricted. Foggy and Matt explain that they’re looking to represent Frank Castle and that his current legal representation isn’t up for the job. Brett warns them that they’re committing career suicide, but let’s them through.
They all enter Frank’s room, and Matt lays out their strategy. We learn that Frank doesn’t hold lawyers in particularly high regard because of the people they defend, but Matt makes a good argument. They don’t have to be there, and are not taking his case for money, fame or free advertisement. Matt explains that when Frank sustained his original gun shot wound to the head, a do not resusciatate order was placed on him, and Foggy adds the bit about the shoot-to-kill order a few days earlier. Someone in the DA’s office wants him dead, and their law firm wants to know why.
When Frank is still hesitating, Karen walks up to his bedside and shoves a picture of his family in his face. Just as Frank starts asking about why Karen was in his house, DA Reyes arrives and starts making threats. She claims that it would be a conflict of interest for Nelson & Murdock to represent Castle since one of his victims was a client of theirs. Matt very elegantly retorts that it would be hard for her to argue that since their dealings with Grotto appear to have been erased from public record. Brett then shows up to confirm that Castle has now agreed to become their client.
Matt, Karen and Foggy go to a nearby room to start drawing up a legal strategy when Matt is called away by a driver sent over by Elektra. Matt is forced to come up with an explanation, that he forgot a meeting with the new mysterious client. When Matt goes to leave, he gives Karen a kiss on the cheek and Foggy becomes wise to the fact that Karen and Matt have something going on. Karen walks Matt to the elevator.
Matt finds Elektra in her car outside, and she immediately insists he put on a change of clothes and accompany her to a gala where they are going to steal a secret Roxxon ledger. Matt, who was ready to get out of the car, immediately changes his mind as Elektra describes the strategy. Their way in is a Roxxon accountant without fighting chops. They need to get his keycard to access a secret floor.
Back in the hospital, Karen and Foggy are going through Castle’s case and they’re finding the charges against their client to be worse than they’d imagined. The arraignment is a couple of hours away, and Foggy is visibly distraught at the magnitude of what they’ve gotten themselves into. The two of them go to speak with Castle, and get confirmation that Castle is ready to plead guilty, but he will only speak to Karen alone. Frank wants to know how much Karen knows about his family, and Karen reads from the fake police report that was written up after his family was killed. To proceed, Karen needs more information from Frank himself, and he probes his memory for details, placing the Irish, the Mexican cartel and the biker gang at the scene. When Karen gets up to leave, Frank asks her to stay.
Matt and Elektra have arrived at the gala, and enter the bar area, where Elektra draws attention from the crowd. They chit-chat, grab some drinks and are approached by a Mr. Hirochi, a man of obvious importance at this event. Elektra then identifies their target, Stan Gibson, at the bar. What should have been easy, becomes less so when Elektra goes to pick-pocket Stan’s key card, and Matt, just in time, overhears some radio traffic indicating that Stan is under surveillance. When Elektra concludes that they have to get him alone, Matt comes up with a clever idea to grab a glass of wine, and “accidentally” spill it all over Stan who has to rush to the men’s room to get it cleaned up.
Back in the hospital, Frank assures Karen that she was never in any danger and that he “only hurts people who deserve it.” If Frank had wanted her dead, she would have been dead. The two have a conversation about why he wanted Karen to say, and Frank reveals that he never went back to the house after his family was killed. He wants to know what she saw there, and Karen relays her observations, each bringing new memories for Frank that he shares with her. She gives Frank the photo of his family, and he gratefully accepts, thanking Karen for helping him remember.
Once Stan is in the men’s room at the gala, Matt follows, takes out his security guards, Stan himself and gets the keycard. He and Elektra take the elevator upstairs, where Elektra puts a device on the surveillance system that will erase the recordings and loop the footage on the security cameras. Matt, quickly realizes that floor is crawling with security guards and leads the two of them down a staircase until the nearby men can pass.
Foggy is back with Karen and Frank and brings good news from the arraignment: The death penalty is off the table since the state of Delaware doesn’t have the evidence to charge and get Frank extradited. He’s also pleaded with the DA to get the sentence down to one life sentence with the possibility of parole in 25 years. The bad news is that the DA insisted that Frank be put in general population, which is more upsetting to Karen than Frank. Thinking this is the best deal they’re going to get, Foggy gets Frank to agree to take the deal and plead guilty.
In the next scene, when the DA and a judge are brought in, Frank has a change of heart and, after a long pause, angrily declares that he’s pleading not guilty. Confused, Foggy asks Karen what changed since he agreed to plead guilty three hours ago. Karen says that maybe he just wanted the truth about the cover-up. As she does so, they see the reporters outside and realize that they’re headed into “the trial of the century.”
We’re back with Matt and Elektra who make their way through the building, ducking behind corners as needed, while Mr. Hiroshi is beginning to wonder about Stan Gibson’s whereabouts. Assured that he’s in the men’s room, he waits a while longer before becoming concerned. Finally at the right location, Elektra points Matt to a safe that he opens before sitting down at the desk. Elektra doesn’t find what she’s looking for and frantically searches the room. Just as Gibson is discovered in the men’s room, Matt identifies a strange sound coming from a wall, which leads them to a hidden switch leading to a hidden room. Matt points her to the most likely drawer, and she finds the ledger, just as Matt hears trouble coming. Knowing they’re about to be caught, they have no other option but to hide in a conference room, await company and fight their way out in an amazingly sexy fight scene, made even more exciting by the fact that we can only catch their shadows through the faded glass.
They sneak down one level, and hide out. When they’re spotted they pretend to be a drunk couple making out. The guards, suspicious of the two take out a flashlight and shine it in Matt’s eyes, to determine whether he really is blind. With this confirmed, the two are able to escape. (Though Matt can thank his lucky star that he doesn’t have light perception, or he would have been royally screwed by that flashlight test…)
Back in their car, Elektra starts reading through the ledger. She finds evidence of drugs, weapons and human trafficking, but something, presumably even more sinister, is written in code. Matt is intrigued, wondering what they could possibly be hiding. When Elektra asks, “Same time tomorrow?” Matt responds with an amused snort.
Our poor friend Stan Gibson is called into Mr. Hirochi’s office where he’s questioned about his involvement in the evening’s events. His guards are killed while Gibson pleads for his life, swearing that he has nothing but respect for the Yakuza. Hirochi, very ominously asks him. “Who said I was Yakuza?”
Matt returns home and finds Foggy waiting for him. Foggy tells him about everything that’s gone wrong, with Frank pleading not guilty, and Reyes pulling strings to get a speedy trial. With Frank agreeing to this, they’re set for a trial that starts the following week. After telling Matt he hopes that his schedule is clear, Foggy storms off and leaves Matt to ponder this turn of events.
All in all, Regrets Only is a very solid episode. It’s well paced with well-written dialogue, and plenty of dramatic moments, all beautifully packaged.
Beginning at the end, though, this episode is in many ways the beginning of the end for Nelson & Murdock, and Elektra is the one who sets things in motion with her promise of excitement that Matt finds impossible to resist, even when he knows that means ignoring other responsibilities. Up until now, Matt has seemingly been able to somewhat balance the two sides of his life, even though we all sense the lingering tension between Matt and Foggy from last season’s Daredevil reveal.
Later in the season – more on that in my next post – Foggy has to own his part of the blame for escalating the conflict and finding himself unable to really accept that Matt needs to be Daredevil, or even listen to him, but at this point, it’s pretty much all on Matt. He was the one who talked Foggy into even taking on the Punisher case, but when there’s actual work to be done, Foggy is the one who has to carry it all by himself. That’s not to say that Matt’s intentions weren’t good, or that what he and Elektra are doing isn’t important and worthwhile, but if Foggy feels more or less abandoned at the end of this episode, no one can blame him.
Still, Matt does get to do at least some lawyering in this episode, in a very memorable scene where he goes up against first the Punisher, and then DA Reyes. In light of this other discussion we’ve been having on the TOMP Facebook page, that touches on, among other things, “who is the real Matt Murdock?”, I would point to this scene as one that, to me at least, virtually screams “Matt Murdock!” The way he uses Reyes’s rather sloppy way of covering her own tracks against her is a pure joy to behold. It’s easy to forget that Matt actually is a good lawyer, and an all-around intelligent person, and has a real eye (no pun intended) for strategizing and manipulating the opposition. When their encounter is over, Reyes is momentarily beaten, and while I’m sure Matt gets a bigger kick out of giving someone a physical beating, this must have felt like a very satisfying win to him.
When Matt takes off to follow Elektra, leaving Foggy and Karen to deal with the Punisher (in Matt’s defense, the intensive work of going through massive amounts of paperwork – of the actual, physical kind – is not really a task he would have been effective at), we get to what is the absolute highlight of this episode: Matt and Elektra crashing a party to go after a coveted Roxxon ledger. Everything about this part of the episode is gold and a big part of the reason I would rank episode six as one of the best of the season.
Elodie Yung delivers an incredibly sexy Elektra, and every step of their plan is well-executed (even when improvised), and downright elegant. There’s Matt’s clever trick to get to the keycard, the perfect division of labor between him and Elektra in keeping watch and digging around, the beautiful conference room fight scene, and the clever trick at the end where the two just barely escape.
What Matt and Elektra are doing tends to overshadow a lot of other things going on in this episode, but Frank also has some interesting stuff going on. He and Karen are starting to form some kind of relationship, so there is that, but my favorite Frank scene this episode is the one where he shouts a very, let’s say colorful, not guilty plea to Reyes.
There’s an interesting juxtaposition between the playfulness of Matt and Elektra’s story and the agonizing trauma that just oozes out of every scene with Frank Castle in it. Not only is Frank suffering, everyone who enters his room somehow gets sucked into all of it. No wonder Karen and Foggy are acting as if dealing with their client is emotionally taxing, even more so than it is hard work. The lighting and, more importantly, the dramatic bass tones of the music help underscore the threat of the Punisher, and his barely contained chaos, when he’s up against Reyes.
The interplay between Matt and Elektra is very interesting in itself, and even more so when looking at it just a few weeks before the premiere of The Defenders. This is the first time we see Matt go into action with someone else, and it happens to be someone with whom he is intimately familiar. There’s no need to explain anything, and the two fall into a pitch perfect division of labor that doesn’t waste a word between them. Matt keeps a constant ear out for anyone passing by and then goes on to crack open a safe, while sitting passively and nonchalantly by as Elektra visually scours the 13th floor office for the missing ledger. When she strikes out, he picks things back up again by noticing a peculiar electrical signal behind the wall, revealing a hidden room. I have to admit I’m a little unsure of how he’s supposed to pick up the contents of the different drawers with such specificity, though. As I’ve mentioned before somewhere, I don’t terribly mind a limited ability to “see through things” on Matt’s part. An empty box, for instance, would reflect sound differently than one filled with dense materials. But for someone to narrow this down to “paper” specifically, there would have to be a scent portion to it as well.
There’s a great deal of inconsistency generally in this show when it comes to Matt rather randomly identifying things, people and the guns they’re carrying through very solid materials or at great distances, on the one hand, but can’t detect the presence of a secret room using the same technique in this episode. All this while only being able to detect ninjas if they make a sound (as we learn in later episodes), a notion that is even more ridiculous in this context than when Frank Miller introduced it in the comics. I know I’m usually the one to point out when Matt’s senses are “too good” to make sense, but I’m just as happy to point out when his senses are portrayed as too week (for anything else he can do to make sense). The latter just doesn’t happen nearly as often. 😉 Anyway, I’ll have reason to return to the silent ninja dilemma, since it’s a little outside the scope of this post.
Back to the good stuff though, because I’m thinking (hoping?) that this level of seamless cooperation will be on display in the Defenders as well, at least as the members of the team get to know each other. Matt has some very vital and unique abilities to bring to any team effort, but should have little trouble deferring to others when needed, especially for information gathering that is highly visual in nature. From what I’ve gathered from set photos from The Defenders (mild spoiler warning), Matt and Jessica seem to be involved in some common detective work in the early episodes of the show. When he can hear, smell and detect things she can’t, and she can see things he can’t, they’ll be more effective together than alone. And then they can go for a beer. 😉
One more thing before we drop this section, is the first scene at the gala when Matt points out that Elektra must look nice (see Quotes below). I’ve written a post before on why Matt being able to gauge attractiveness is not the least bit weird, and why I think he’d go about it exactly as explained in this scene, so check that out if you haven’t read it before.
Easter egg watch
Nothing much to report this episode. There’s more talk about Marvel’s “big evil corporation” Roxxon, of course. There’s also a scene where Matt mentions his taste in music, after Elektra asks him if he likes jazz, and says that he prefers ’90s Top 40. I’ve seen people point to this as an example of yet another nod to the 2003 Daredevil movie, and its rather infamous soundtrack. It may very well be. See my post from last year for more of these nods to the movie.
Matt (about the Punisher): “His methodology is clearly wrong, but in his own kind of way, he was trying to do something noble.”
Foggy: “Is this about saving a man? Or saving a vigilante?”
Matt: “He’s a person. Like you, Foggy. Like me. And he shouldn’t have to die.”
Foggy (to Brett, about the Punisher): “So we thought he’d respond to our strategy of, you know, keeping him alive?”
Matt: “You must look nice.”
Elektra: “How would you know?”
Matt: “Turned a lot of heads. Raising a lot of heart rates.”
Elektra: “Not bad, Magoo”
Foggy: “I hope your schedule is clear, buddy. ‘Cause The People versus Frank Castle starts next week.”
It’s tricky to pick one for this episode. On the one hand, I’m inclined to say Elektra, again. She seems to be the only character who actually ends the episode with an untarnished “win.” Matt has to come home after an evening of fun – and it really was fun for him – and face Foggy. Foggy, on the other hand has had a really shitty day, and has every reason to be incredibly disappointed in Matt. Matt knows this. Later in this season, Foggy will start to come down hard on Matt, even harder than Matt actually deserves, but at this point in the season, Foggy is being about as fair as he can be.
Of course, I don’t usually base these “star player” ratings on the perceived success of the character, but on who has the most star power. In this regard, I think Frank Castle also shows some interesting character development, whereas Karen fills the role of facilitating that, more than anything.
Hm, when all is said and done, I think I’ll give this to Elektra though. She is the big influencer in this episode, and her power over Matt leaves a big mark.