For an episode titled “Karen” this did not disappoint. Pervious seasons have hinted that Karen’s done things she’s not proud of and it always seemed like she was running away from something. Now we finally have a complete understanding of her mysterious family history.
The first 30 minutes of the episode paint a picture of the life Karen had before we meet her in the first season. She seems to be extremely stressed out because of the precarious financial situation her family is in. To supplement their income Karen’s started writing essays for college kids and selling drugs with her shady boyfriend. And to help her cope with all this she’s also started using cocaine. It’s clear that the family loves each other, but the death of their mother has been difficult for everyone.
The Karen in this episode is very different from the Karen that we know and love, but there are still a lot of similarities. Just like when she became a journalist because she didn’t see anyone writing about the corruption in the city, Karen took on the role of running the family business when her mother passed. And throughout the flashback you can see the mental toll that this takes on her. Partly because of what she’s doing, but also because of the incredible acting by Deborah Ann Woll. Her love and passion for the character shines through in what has become an incredibly nuanced and often heartbreaking performance.
Since she was first introduced, Karen’s always been a pretty tragic character. And this episode further develops that idea. She left home to forget about all the tragedy in her past only to get caught in Fisk’s web of crime. However, instead of running away Karen chose to stand her ground and worked with Matt and Foggy to put Fisk behind bars. But now that Fisk is after her again and she has to flee in order to survive, she remembers her old life. Karen has been through so much hardship that we often forget some of it.
Many fans have wondered about Karen’s past because it plays a very important role in the comics. While quite different than what we saw in this episode, Karen did have a history with substance abuse in the comics as well as some other and more tragic vices. Fisk ends up using this as blackmail in order to extract the identity of Daredevil. This ends up being what kicks off the famous Daredevil: Born Again storyline from the 1980s. However, this episode did a great job of taking inspiration from the comics rather than shoehorning in a storyline that wouldn’t have made much sense with what had been previously established.
After the flashback Karen talks to Father Lantom and asks how to live with such monumental regrets. He tells her that no matter what you’ve done, you have to believe that you can still be redeemed. This seems to resonate with Karen because it’s possible that that’s what she’s been looking for these past few years/seasons. She’s been so passionate about exposing Fisk and helping people because she’s looking for redemption from her involvement with her brothers death.
Karen continues to put herself in danger when Dex begins threatening the church-goers. She tries to get as many people to safety as possible and later puts herself in harms way to distract Dex from hurting Matt. While she does make it out of the episode unscathed, Father Lantom isn’t so lucky. His last words are inline with the character saying, “Matthew, forgive us.”
While Matt does put up a good fight, he’s eventually beaten and only survives because of Karen’s intervention. But despite his condition he still wants to pursue Dex. The episode then ends with Matt defeated and in Karen’s arms. I guess we’ll have to wait until the next episode to find out the severity of his injuries.
5 grams out of 5.
This episode did a great job with both the character heavy opening that delves into Karen’s past as well as the fight sequence at the end. It’s also great to finally learn more of Karen’s history because it’s only been hinted at in previous seasons. And the payoff was everything we could have asked for. It was well written, beautifully acted, and incredibly tragic.
- Karen whispering instructions to Matt and telling him where to direct Dex’s attention was really cool. It’s a great way of utilizing Matt’s abilities in a unique way.
- I guess that kid’s Korn shirt is Daredevil‘s version of Blockbuster.
- While I’m really sad that Father Lantom died, he went out in a very heroic way. I just hope that Karen doesn’t blame herself for Lantom’s death since it was his choice to save her. But she probably will.