This is a field filled with spoiler landmines from the final four episodes of Daredevil's second season:
Episode Nine "Seven Minutes in Heaven:"
Netflix has used its flexibility to its greatest advantage in the pre-opening-credit scenes in Daredevil. They are fitting so much substance into these scenes, which makes them feel like both a catch-me-up and a dramatic set-up at the same time.
In episode nine, right after the dramatic return of Wilson Fisk, we get a look back and reminder of just how powerful, persuasive and intense this guy really is. He's the biggest and the baddest. Fisk is bench-pressing an amount that would make Brock Lesnar blush.
We don't just see his strength and ability in persuasion, but how quick-acting he truly is when he sinks his teeth into something. He finds a way to manipulate Frank Castle, and he executes the plan brilliantly.
In short, Fisk uses the mystery behind Frank's family's murder to use The Punisher to gain power. Frank kills the current prison head honcho, and Fisk decides double-cross him and locks him in a hallway with a shit ton of pissed off cons.
Important Nerd Note: Wow, they perfectly replicated Mitch Gerads' art. Way to follow source-material, guys:
For the squeamish, now would be the time to look away from the screen. Frank brutally kills these dudes while wearing a white prison suit. Here are my embarrassing cell phone notes I took while watching:
After just seeing "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," seeing how simply Marco Ramirez and Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explained why Frank was wearing the white prison get-up and not just having it be, is enough to make me happy.
"The new guys wear white." OK.
Frank massacres a bunch of people in this white suit, which exemplifies the violent nature of the scene because, as some of you know, red really sticks out when it comes in contact with white.
While Frank is making people's jugular's explode, the inner-feud over at the offices of Nelson and Murdock is similarly blowing up. In the span of three episodes, Matt has gone from dating Karen, being cool with Foggy and teaming with Elektra to having absolutely no one.
He has pushed them away, as much as you can possibly push the people you love away.
We're at the point in this season, where the shit is bursting at the seams but, so far, it's still flowing, organized and not disorienting. We've got Elektra, Fisk, Karen, Punisher, Foggy, Stick and the bad guys fighting for screen time and it's starting to be a little much.
At this point of the season, Karen, Punisher and even Foggy have earned some extra screen time and I think it was a minor disservice to mute that just to move along some plot points for the sake of moving them along. Marvel deserves some credit for the development of Karen and Foggy's characters. In season one, they were just kind of there in the background as a crucial backbone to DD's origins, but that's it.
We've reached the point in this series where I, and others, are clamoring for more Foggy and Karen. The viewers are treated to not just background characters, but two that are becoming more independent while breaking away from the reigns of the destructive friendship with Matt.
To put it simply, we have more people to actually care about, and that matters a great deal.
The drama remains high thanks to Matt Murdock's crumbling personal life and Frank Castle being unkillable. I'm hoping we start to see some path-clearing at this checkpoint of the season.
Episode 10 "The Man in the Box"
I think a more appropriate name for this episode would be "shit hits the fan -- a lot of shit."
Frank is out of prison following another well-played Wilson Fisk power move.
Reyes, the District Attorney, is killed while spilling some beans to the trio from Nelson and Murdock in her office. Foggy takes a shot to the arm, but Karen and Matt escape unscathed.
This all leads to one of the more powerful scenes in this entire series, and not just the second season. Matt Murdock, the attorney, not the vigilante, does to visit Fisk in prison. The scene showing Matt walking down the hallway as Fisk's attorney reads him a long list of can and can nots, is a great building block of what's to come. Fisk has a contract ready for Matt to sign, and the damn thing is written in braille. It's just a nice powerful that they snuck in just to remind us of who the hell we are dealing with.
We don't get much Fisk, but when we do, we remember it.
These two eventually start beating the shit out of each other and screaming ... in prison. Another subtle reminder that Fisk can -- and will -- do whatever he wants. While Fisk shows his hand, Matt bets the whole house to get him to admit to being involved with Frank's escape.
He, just as Fisk did with Frank, uses family and loved ones as leverage. Matt promises Fisk that his beloved Vanessa would never set foot in New York again if he doesn't cooperate. It's a realization that slowly sinks in, but damn, Matt Murdock just used Wilson Fisk's own tactics against him.
Episode 11 ".380"
Flashing lights and ninja fights, ah yes, this is what home feels like. Matt is defending the hospital from an attack, but the people he is defending aren't exactly reciprocating the favor.
This is 100 percent an episode meant to set the season's finale up, yet still has some substance. We take a long time to actually get to the substantive scenes, but once we do it's done well and done with purpose. I think that -- other than the hella strong Frank Miller influence -- is my favorite aspect of this series.
Yeah, we might have some unnecessary speed bumps and stop signs in the moment, but once this show goes to hit you with something, they fucking bring it. Everything has a purpose and they treat their viewers with respect. The hardcore Daredevil fans are pleased while the new tourists in Hell's Kitchen leave just as satisfied.
I wish moviemakers could understand this is what most of us want. Please the people who have loved these characters for years while leaving the door wide-open for newbies to wander in. Don't expect your viewers to know everything coming in, but find common ground where you're not treating them dumb.
Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Marvel has mastered this.
Karen and Frank end up going to a goddamn diner together. I was truly annoyed about his at first because Frank's face is mutilated, he just escaped from prison and the trial of the century, but yeah let's drink all the black coffee we can.
Turns out, it was all a part of Frank's bloody plan.
We do get treated to a real connection taking place between the two, as Frank comes right out and claims Karen loves that blind lawyer.
"He's the kind of man who hurts people, not like you, but he damages them," Karen says.
He goes on to say that he would give anything to feel the way Karen feels about Matt -- good and bad -- about his wife. It's truly heartbreaking stuff as we are getting The Punisher most of us have been hoping and praying for.
After a couple more truth bombs, Karen realizes that she was used as bait.
I need to give a shout out to the fantastic camera shots of the guys coming to kill Frank as they walk into the diner. Some playing around with some perspective and reflections in a dramatic setting never hurts, and as I said earlier, when the DD team goes for it ... they go for it.
We get another massacre scene in the diner, but it leads us to another fantastic meeting -- and dialogue -- between DD and Punisher.
DD: "Maybe just this once ..." long pause followed by DD performing The Sign of the Cross "your way is what it's going to take."
Punisher: "You cross over to my side of the line, you don't come back from that ... Ever"
If this episode was good for one thing, it was the fact that it showed us that DD is willing to do whatever it takes to take down The Hand. It builds the drama and makes it seem much more of a threat. I haven't been a huge fan of the limited build to The Hand -- when compared to the build of Fisk from season one -- but DD's urgency is building the antagonist through reaction without a strong plot-induced background.
Episode 12 "The Dark at the End of the Tunnel"
For those waiting for a little Elektra origins, here you go.
I absolutely love the opening sequence of this episode.
We see a young Elektra fighting full-grown adult men in a chaotic fight scene in the forefront, but if you look to the background it almost comes off as a high school hallway during class. There are some people calmly going about their business as a young girl is literally beating the shit out of 20-something dudes.
Immediately sucks you into the episode in "what the shiiiiiittttt" fashion.
I love a little cinematic curiosity. Where are we? What are the stakes?
We see the relationship between Stick and Elektra develop, and how he was truly a flawed father figure that protected her. Later on, we learn that the two escaped from this mysterious place and how she ended up with her wealthy family.
A guy tauntingly blows a kiss at young Elektra, which pushes her to lock him in an armbar and pound the fuck out of his face with repeated backhands.
Stick explains that it is wrong to kill one of their own, which she responds with "It didn't feel wrong."
It's fantastic foreshadowing to lead into our current Elektra and Stick feud. *(He tried to have her killed because The Hand wants to use her as a weapon)
They have clearly painted what they want Elektra to be. A person at battle with herself, what she believes in and what she feels. A classic inner-battle of good vs. evil.
DD is hellbent on stopping Elektra from killing Stick, which produces the passionate scene where Elektra kisses Matt and says "If you get in my way, I'm going to kill you too."
All of this was before the opening credits. These first 5-10 minutes has more substance than most shows on television right now.
Hey! More Foggy!
This episode did a great job in showing the Nelson in Nelson and Murdock become his own man. He's a badass. He's sticking up for himself, he's trying to make a life without Matt.
A friendship, partnership and brotherhood bond has fallen apart, yet Foggy is picking up the pieces to his own life and not just trying to superglue Matt's back together. During the two's discussion in their office, Foggy non-nonchalantly leads Matt to an abandoned railroad where The Hand's assassins have taken Stick. It's a reminder that these two are better together than apart.
We get a little more General Wade Eiling from The Flash ... ugh ... I mean that Colonel dude from Frank's military days. Karen, who has quickly not only gotten a job in journalism but her own office (HA!), meets with him at his home.
From the tone of their conversation to the colonel's demeanor, we know something isn't right before we're even sure we know it. The entire time I'm bracing for sniper fire to rain in through the open blinds at his home.
He ends up pulling a gun on her in the classic "you should have just left this alone" time-filling scene. We don't need this scene. We don't need more corruption, we're at the point of the story where we need some more results. I understand they are trying to give us a peak into Frank's past, but it's taking a little too long with this scene.
Punisher eventually saves the day and kills the colonel in "one-shot, one-kill" fashion after T-Boning Karen and Eiling (shit I did it again) into oblivion. One thing I wanted to point out, was that Karen is better at selling her injuries than half of WWE's main roster.
Meanwhile, DD is in the tunnels racing Elektra on the path to Stick. The Hand's assassins can mask their heartbeats to hide from DD, but we get the treat of seeing them play around with their swords to hide their location.
Not only is this well done, but the scene with Stick softly speaking to DD giving him advice from an unknown distance away. It's amazing to see how far these two have tapped into their abilities and other senses.
The tracking tactics are enough to make Ted Nugent jealous. Just really good stuff and an effective manner in how they put them on display. This show nails the little things like that.
Well, "hey, that's pretty neat" scene shifts to a torture scene pretty quickly. Not just any torture scene, but they are fucking sticking knives into sticks fingers vertically ... like under his fingernails into his finger vertically.
Between Karen and Punisher, Foggy and new job prospects, DD and Elektra racing to find Stick first and some nasty ass torture scenes. This episode was jam-packed full. So far, in a good way. So far.
Call me Freddie Foreshadowing.
Episode 13 "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen"
This finale, while eventually a satisfying one, feels like its sole purpose is to set up season three. You know? We've got some loose ends to tie up, but the focus is on the future.
What's next for Elektra? How about Matt, Foggy and Karen? Shit, what's Frank going to do next? It feels like we're already seeing them establish a future without having defeated each of their immediate threat or challenge.
It's a satisfying yet frustrating take at the same time, we want to see a look into these people's future but we also want to see them handle the task at hand. Pun fully intended.
We're veering a little off focus, not terrible, but noteworthy and noticeable. There feels to be an element of satisfaction missing from this season's finale. We all knew it was going to be hard to top last year's, so take it with a grain of salt, but something feels a little "meh, is season three out yet?"
You know, I think it might be the compilation of cliche' scenes of characters slowly moving on. Karen is a journalist now (BECAUSE IT'S JUST THAT EASY), Foggy sold out, Matt is lonely, Frank is about to commit some postmortem arson on his home, but gets distracted by a can of spray paint and his bulletproof vest.
It just screams, we care about right now but let's tease the fuck out of you.
I want to make a point to give Élodie Yung a well-deserved pat on the back for her portrayal of Elektra. Stick with me now:
Melvin gives Matt a new weapon as a present, it's a badass detachable, police baton. As Matt is trying it out, Elektra goes "Where's mine" like a jealous younger sibling. Perfect delivery and it brings me to my point.
Daredevil is a dark, violent show, but it's subtle humor that can make it so special and take it to the next level. Elektra has become its most complex character while replacing Foggy from the first season as Daredevil's comedic relief.
It's kind of blowing my shit. (Actual notes, not sure what it means)
In the final act, we jolt back into focus in explosive fashion. The music is prime. The shots are great. The emotion and danger are real. Here is everyone DD has ever saved, taken captive by the hand.
The two embark on a rescue/kill Nobu mission. We are treated to an emotional moment between these two. Huge fan and fanboy to how they have portrayed, built and whatever with this duo and relationship. It's good. Matt essentially professes his love for Elektra:
"Wherever you run, I'll follow. You're the only one who gets it.. There's one thing in this world that makes me feel more alive (than New York), and that's you."
"But I'm the black sky, Mathew."
"Yeah and I'm the devil of Hell's Kitchen."
It's a fantastic, emotionally lead-in to the finale's mystery ending. Elektra takes Nobu down, but she goes down with him. Punisher shows up in head-noddingly badass fashion.
We get the basic wrap-up after Stick beheads Nobu after he comes back to life ... again.
FALSE ENDING ROUND 2: So happy they didn't dick us around on Matt's big reveal to Karen. It's a satisfying end to a season while setting up a great big load of "what's next" between these two.
REAL ENDING: The Hand dug Elektra up and the pieces of that pre-historic tomb are finally starting to make sense. They have done a beautiful job with the supporting figures in this season. They perfectly captured Punisher and Frank Castle while showcasing Elektra's heart-wrenching inner battle.
She just can't escape who she is.
I give season two of Daredevil 8.5 pelvic thrusts out of 10.
(Now the official Court of Nerds rating scale.)