Some spoilers lay ahead. Not going to give away any key plot points or surprises. I will discuss some specific scenes, but that's as deep as I'll dive.
Episode One: "Bang"
The first episode of the season starts the exact way that it need to. Right off the bat, pre-opening credits we get a quick wake-up call in the form of "Hey look, it's Daredevil and he's still doing things."
Just like that, we're up to speed on what the crews been up to. Foggy be worryin', Karen be cleaning up the boys' mess and Daredevil be kicking some bad-guy ass.
It's the same way we get introduced to Jon Bernthal's Punisher; They warned us that Bernthal stole the show before this season dropped, and holy shit, they were underselling his performance as Frank Castle. It's clear right from the get-go that he successfully tapped into this character in way hardcore Punisher fans have been dreaming of.
The scene at Mercy Hospital is a chilling reminder that The Punisher will achieve his goals at any price necessary. Seriously, this scene made me sit back and think "Oh, they actually went for The Punisher."
They immediately show you that The Punisher is bad dude with no equal - They build his appearance beautifully by rarely, if at all in any substantiality, showing his face in the first episode.
The big payoff scene at the end is the cherry on top to one hell of an opening episode.
Episode Two: "Dogs to a Gunfight"
You know how I told you how impressed I was by the way the creative team built the tension behind The Punisher? Rarely showing his face, not giving us a solid look at him.
Welp, take note because Marco Ramirez and Douglas Petrie just wrote the book on how to capitalize on that type of build.
Punisher takes out what appears to be a biker gang. This is fantastically shot; they don't show him tearing through this gang instead we just hear it while the camera focuses on a one-eyed gang member cleaning the semitrailer that they just boosted.
Metal music blares through the one-eyed man's factory-grade headphones ... and then boom ... one of his buddies splatters against the truck. He slowly turns around and we get a solid, full-body slow-motion walkup shot of The Punisher as metal shreds in the background.
This leads into an impressively choreographed and shot fight scene between Daredevil and Punisher. Slow motion shots in the rain while police rain down on them with lead. It's an extremely tense scene and continues to build the mysterious feud between these two vigilantes.
My one gripe with the pacing of the plot was that I felt like the relationship between Daredevil and the police should have been further explored. I'm not talking a crazy amount, I'm just saying I think they missed an opportunity to build the police department's feeling of "I'm not stopping crime, I'm just chasing it and cleaning up after your mess."
While they eventually capitalize, I felt this viewpoint and plot-point could have been investigated further. Enough griping here because I don't want to take away from a truly intense and engaging episode.
This one ends on a cliffhanger as the build to one of Daredevil's most-famous comic book storylines is about to come to life.
Episode Three: "New York's Finest"
The title picture as this episode loads gives it all away. Yeah, it's time for the "Welcome back, Frank" inspired one. I've been waiting for this since they started teasing Bernthal as Castle, and how the shit did this exceed expectations?
Here was my original reaction to finding out this scene was coming to the small screen: Welcome back, Frank: First look at Jon Bernthal in Daredevil is a doozy
Check out this image-by-image comparison Netflix vs. book:
This is some of the best dialogue Daredevil has shown not just early on in season two, but in the series' entirety.
As I messaged to Grant in the middle of episode two, "Bernthal and the writing is making me remember why I love Punisher so much." That feeling is much stronger just five minutes into episode three.
We get two very extremely different characters who believe what they believe through-and-through just talking it out on top of a roof.
I love how Punisher calls Daredevil "Red" as he stitches his wounds from the fight in Episode Two. He's drinking coffee from a military issued coffee container as he says to DD, "they always said you don't hear the bullet that hits you."
These lines aren't Shakespearean or anything like that, but it's the delivery, setting and character that makes them resonate with the viewer. We've been waiting to learn about this incarnation of Frank Castle since the season started and now is the time we get to learn.
They give us a slow burn as these two trade verbal punches.
"Why didn't you take my mask off?" Daredevil asks him right off the bar.
"Don't give a shit who you are," Punisher responds.
These two are better together than I could have ever imagined.
Classic Punisher lines follow: "What I do I just do. Out of necessity," "We don't get to pick the things that fix us."
And then the bomb: "You're one bad day away from being me."
Dramatic pause followed by a noise and an old man yelling.
"Someone's coming? I better make a run for it." Punisher sarcastically says.
That's a beauty of a transition - These two, Bernthal and Cox, are vibing off each other and I'm about to start vibing with myself as a result.
That's all I want to talk about from this one. It's goddamn good and there is so much more than just the rooftop scene, but it's the highlight of the season, so far.
Episode Four: "Penny and Dime"
I was wondering when the directors and showrunners were going to start toward making Castle come off as somewhat of a sympathetic figure to the newbies jumping blindly into Hell's Kitchen.
We get damn dark and violent in this one. They sealed the fact that they perfectly encapsulated The Punisher during the ... (Spoiler warning)
scene in which the Irish mobsters have him captured and chained up. The ringleader, power drill in hand, taunts Frank with the weapon. Castle looks him up and down and asks "You gonna do it, or you just going to talk about it?"
You badass. Facing death, no fear. Facing torture, no fear. He feels pain, but he doesn't fear it.
That's what makes Frank, Frank.
There's not much I can dive into without giving it all away but this is when we get sympathetic Frank, crazy Karen, smart-thinking Matt and Foggy doing work. Foggy is low-key getting shit done in this season, and Elden Henson is shutting skeptics up.
His character is not just the chunky, funny, thoughtful best friend. He's turning into a kickass attorney who is becoming more of a hero each episode.
The relationship between Daredevil and Punisher actually evolves more with fewer fists, punches, guns and chains. Frank even admits that he was wrong about "how big of a pussy" Daredevil is.
Baby steps, guys.
We get a huge payoff scene before we get a literal bomb of shock dropped on us. While I was disappointed with a couple little things they did with sub-plots, the build of the main story has been masterfully paced.
They did what they did at the end of this episode at just the right time. It was the type of shake up the story needed after some brief stabilization.
I'll review the season in increments so catch up if you haven't, you crazy cats.