Have you seen episode 8 yet of Daredevil season two? If you haven’t, you probably should go watch that, first. There are spoilers ahead. Are you trying to read this instead of watching episode 8? That’s so sweet. But my words are nothing in comparison to the acting on this show, so you really should give it a watch.
Warning: Lots of stuff happens here, so this got a bit long.
Where episode 7 masterfully weaved Matt’s two lives together, Episode 8 pulls them further apart, in a way that makes the Daredevil side feel less like the real world, and the real world kicks Matt in the groin, repeatedly. Matt’s falling into the hole that he’s been creating and grasping for anything to hold on to along the way.
Speaking of holes, the episode starts right where the previous episode ends, with Daredevil and Elektra standing over a giant one, waiting for the flashlight to land. Finally, Matt hears it hit the bottom, claiming that it has to be at least 40 stories deep. What I loved about these little moments between Matt and Elektra was how familiar Elektra was with Matt’s capabilities, and how they were just able to work together as a team, complimenting each other, with very little explanation. No matter where their relationship has been, or where it is going, there is no denying that there is a bond between Matt and Elektra that he doesn’t have with anybody else.
Immediately, they are attacked by ninjas. Matt and Elektra stand behind a column when he tells her that he has a problem – he can’t hear their attackers. Matt’s officially fighting blind. This is an awesome detail from the comics that I missed in Season One. Once anybody knows Matt’s weakness, they play on that, and this is the first time we see an opponent intentionally taking advantage of his blindness in battle.
Elektra tells Matt to listen for the weapons, leading into a full on fight with Elektra and Daredevil taking on the gang of Yakuza ninjas. Our Hell’s Kitchen power couple is almost victorious, until Matt yells to keep Elektra from killing one of the attackers, distracting her just long enough to get gashed in the abdomen. With Matt distracted by her injury, the Yakuza gets the upper hand. Our heroes are just about to lose the battle when a sword through the body of a ninja attacker saves Matt. It’s Stick, to the rescue.
Luckily, Stick has a driver, and Matt sits with Elektra in the backseat of an antique Chrysler that appears to be shipped in straight from Cuba. Honestly, when they started with this car on the road after the opening credits, I thought the show had jumped back in time, maybe giving us Stick’s backstory. Alas, it was only the continued pursuit of ninjas, who Stick and Matt fought off as they sped down the road. Most impressively, Matt catches an arrow just before it hits his face.
Stick’s mystery car (seriously, did he steal it from Agent Coulson?) arrives at Matt’s apartment with Elektra in his arms and Stick barking orders for household items, toilet cleaner, whiskey, baking soda, pliers, and hot tea. Why Matt has pliers, I don’t know, but he gets everything for Stick, and puts water on for the Tea. Matt comforts Elektra, who takes a break in her constant moaning to apologize that she hasn’t told him something. They relocate to Matt’s bedroom where Matt questions Stick’s healing methods.
Those blades were poisoned, she’ll be dead in 20 minutes if I don’t pull some serious juju out of my ass.
Stick’s juju looks painful, but I’m sure that toilet cleaner straight into your abdomen isn’t something any amount of baking soda can make comfortable. Matt prays at Elektra’s side, panicking. Stick tells him to listen to her heartrate – it’s steady. Stick takes one of his sheets and rips it to make a bandage – purely out of spite, he’s always hated Matt’s fancy sheets. Then he asks for the tea. He takes a sip, and Matt realizes that was the only reason for the tea. Stick dickery at it’s finest, all around. I loved it.
With Elektra in the clear, Matt talks to Stick, who reveals that he’s known Elektra for a while. The only reason Stick survives is that he convinces Matt that he is the only on that can keep “Ellie” alive.
Meanwhile, Karen wants to know why Matt isn’t at court, and Foggy says that he told him not to show up. However, Foggy didn’t think Matt would actually listen. Karen wants to know what they had been arguing about, but instead of giving Karen any answers, ever, we cut to the courtroom where Colonel Ray Schoonover is being sworn in.
Foggy interrogates the Colonel, asking him how Frank won the Navy Cross. The colonel tells the story of a compromised mission, where the officer in charge didn’t look after his soldiers and sent them into an ambush situation where Frank saved the day. DA Reyes tries to insinuate that the Colonel’s praise had no value, since he wasn’t there when all this happened. The Colonel clarifies that he was the idiot officer in charge, so he was there. The DA’s argument is blown. Victory for Foggy! I think. I’m still not sure how an explanation of how he efficiently killed 32 people with a smile on his face helps his defense.
Back at Matt’s home for wayward ninjas, Stick is being cryptic and earning punches from his conscious protege. Stick, as usual, provides lots of mystic mumbo jumbo about this mysterious war that Matt just doesn’t care to hear. It’s a nice scene between Charlie Cox (Daredevil) and Scott Glenn (Stick), and reminds us of how excellently these two work off of one another. Stick, although quite the jackass, does try to do the right thing from time to time, and Glenn does a fantastic job as the character, not only with the physicality (dude is a real life badass!), but also with the complexity of the character.
All right, you’ve been using this war as an excuse since the day I met you, and you still haven’t told me a goddamned thing about it. You know what I think?
I think you’re full of shit. I don’t think there’s any war. I think you’re a sick old fighter dying to hit people so you can make up stories to justify your behavior. And then, you rope in the woundedsot hat you can sit back and watch them throw away their lives, and you can feel important.
As Matt voices what we’re all thinking, Stick goes on to explain more about the war, including the terrible past that brought it on in the first place. It’s a rather out-there story, one that is entirely understandable for Matt to brush off, but it does a good job at setting up the story going forward. (Side note: When Matt says the story concerning immortality that Stick talks about sounds ridiculous? Stick points out the very basis of Christianity is that one man pulled this off. Touche.)
He continues to explain more about The Hand, and the Black Sky, something we were briefly introduced to in episode seven of season one, but something that looks to be playing a much larger part this time around. We know that The Hand is after the Black Sky, but no one is actually sure just what the Black Sky is capable of as one has never been activated. It’s worth noting here that this story-line does lead to some confusion when referring back to the first season as Stick calls the kid at the pier the Black Sky before killing him. This season, they make it seem as though none of that ever happened with the way the conversation is worded. Here’s to hoping there’s some mention of this going forward.
Stick goes on to say that The Hand made enemies, particularly one kid who took down The Hand when they invaded his village. As The Chaste, this kid grew up to put together his own army. Matt, once again, writes the whole story off as Stick simply glorifying himself and justifying violence.
You can kill, die, or sit on your ass and watch Hell’s Kitchen burn, but this war is bigger than you, or me, or any of our problems.
And you’ve pulled Elektra to your side, haven’t you?
Welcome to the world kid. Elektra works for me.
Back at the day-job Matt no longer bothers with, Foggy interrogates a doctor regarding Frank’s bullet to the head. It’s a relatively boring courtroom scene until the kid in the back starts screaming about Frank killing his dad. The moment shakes up Frank, who looks genuinely sad. This is one of the reasons Jon Bernthal‘s portrayal of Frank Castle has proven to be the best portrayal so far. He does a good job at not only becoming The Punisher, but also at managing to still be a fully-realized characters with vulnerabilities and complexities.
Back in Matt’s home for the world’s most dysfunctional ninja family, Matt is in his bedroom, where Elektra is recuperating. He asks Elektra if he was a mission when they first met, to which she admits he was. (Of course, Stick trained her, like he did Matt. He wanted her to convince Matt to forget about his friends and city, but she fell in love.) It’s one of my favorite scenes, hands down, between Cox and Elodie Yung, as we see a sense of vulnerability from both Matt and Elektra. It’s also where she admits to being proud that Matt managed to retain some sort of good after she tried, and failed, to corrupt him ten years earlier.
Why are you so good?
Yes, There is a light inside you. I tried to snuff it out in college, I’m so lucky I failed.
Of course, Stick interrupts this soft moment by opening the door to the bedroom to reveal Karen standing there, only for her to get a full view of Matt and Elektra in his bedroom. She quickly explains that Foggy needs his help interrogating Frank, and runs off, clearly angry and hurt. As my fellow team members have noted, the writers have done a fantastic job with Karen this season, and Deborah Ann Woll has continued to shine as she has established herself a large part of this story and not just a damsel in distress.
Back in court, there are protesters with signs (and Matt, for once!), ready to see The Punisher sentenced for his crimes against Hell’s Kitchen. Foggy makes it clear that he’s not there as a better lawyer or person, but because he’s as crazy as Frank. As he gives Matt the game plan and what he needs from the interrogation, and it’s more than obvious how little Matt knows about the case. When Frank walks in, the officer that sits him in the witness stand whispers in his ear to remember what he wants. Matt conducts the most awkward interrogation ever, with no cooperation from his client. So Matt decides to be more combative, with a proud speech about how much New York needs heroes. In this moment, Frank decides the hero he wants to be.
Yeah those uh, those people. The ones I put down, the people I killed? I want you to know that I’d do it all again. This is a circus, all right? It’s a charade, it’s an act. It’s bullshit about how crazy I am. I ain’t crazy! I’m not crazy. Okay? I know what I did. I know who I am. And I do not need your help. I’m smack-dab in the middle of my right goddamn mind, and any scumbag, any lowlife, any maggot piece of shit that I put down, I did it, because I liked it! Hell, I loved it! I’m sittin here, I’m… I’m just itching. I’m itchin to do it again. And you think, what, you think you’re gonna send me to a nuthouse? Some doctor, they’re gonna get me to stop from doing what I want to do? Well that aint happening! Not on my watch! You call me the Punisher, ain’t that right? The big bad Punisher. Well here I am!
In this moment, Frank embraces his role as The Punisher. And I immediately found myself wanting to see a Punisher spin-off announced by Netflix. When Bernthal allows Castle to go unhinged, he does so perfectly.
Elektra is also in the mood to break up with folks, crawling out of bed to have a heart to heart with Stick. While he wields a giant knife that he uses to cut his magical apple, she orders him to leave. With a few cryptic messages about what he’s protected Elektra from, he returns to his magical antique car and tells his driver that it’s time to get the band back together.
Matt gets home to see that Stick has left a knife in his coffee table. Elektra tells Matt that she made her choice, that Matt is the only person in the world that thinks she is good. She notices that Matt lost today – more than just the case, but that he didn’t lose her. She apologizes, and asks how they would make it work. Matt kisses her on the forehead and tells her to rest, stepping out of the bedroom. After taking a moment to listen to her, he turns and is hit by an arrow.
A ninja is on his upstairs landing, Matt’s eyes dilate, and the fight is on. He dodges the next arrow, but continues to fight with the first one through his body. We are treated to a lovely fight scene, with Matt flipping over tables to get out of the way of shurikens being thrown (Hello, Brewster!). Once he’s got the upper hand, Matt asks who the ninja works for, but as he is threatening the attacker, realizes that it is just a kid. Of course, just as Matt is reeling in this realization, Elektra walks up and slits the boy’s throat. Talk about a hell of a way to showcase just how different their morals are.
“What did you do?” Matt asks. “This is who I am.” Elektra responds.
“Do you still want me?”
And as great as the bits with Elektra are this episode, it’s the second half of the episode that really pushes this into “great” territory. More specifically, the scenes with Castle and a certain returning character from season one..
We see Frank who is dressed in white and in the process of being checked into prison. The same officer that whispered to him in court leads him through hallways where the other prisoners are obviously not his fans. They shout, throw things, and we see that the security cameras are being disabled. He’s let to a more empty hallway, then into a yard. The tension builds as Frank walks up to a man bench pressing a ridiculous amount of weight. The man puts the weights on the stand, and turns.
It’s Wilson Fisk. “I see you got my message.” he says, before the episode ends.
Honestly, I knew that Fisk was returning this season. I saw Vincent D’Onofrio on the streets of Queens back in October, dressed in prison clothing and headed off to set with Jon Bernthal. Knowing it was coming didn’t make that moment any less dramatic. Fisk and Castle together, in a somewhat confined space, left me jumping up and down in front of my TV. Thank baby Jesus I didn’t have to wait long to see what happened next.
I give this episode 4 arrows through the heart out of 5. There was a lot of exposition and long monologues in this one where I spaced out, but really, the one arrow shortage is because of Stick’s magical props. Why does he have an antique car? Why doesn’t his apple turn brown? Why am I more interested in these things than The Chaste?
But the episode does move things forward, and it has some really fabulous moments. Karen learns about Elektra not too long after Foggy, Frank accepts the title of The Punisher, Matt learns that Elektra loves killing, and we get to see Fisk. With all of that, I could probably be bribed into knocking it up to 5 arrows. How about 4 arrows and a cup of green tea?
- I thought you were a Catholic Matty – isn’t your belief system based on one man pulling that off?
- “Let’s get one thing straight, you aren’t here because I think you’re a good attorney, or person.” GO FOGGY.
- Frank’s outburst. While it was because of sabotage, it was still awesome for him to listen to Matt’s passionate speech about how much New York needs heroes and respond with promises of a killing spree.
- Karen isn’t taking Matt’s shit. Nope. Great follow up to Foggy not taking Matt’s shit.
- Elektra isn’t taking Stick’s shit.
- Matt flipping through the air with an arrow through his chest.
- FISK FISK FISK.