The Marvel Takeover - Day Three: Daredevil Season 2 Recap
The Four Color Ark
THE MARVEL TAKEOVER
DAY THREE: DAREDEVIL SEASON TWO
Face it True Believers, The Marvel Bullpen has taken over The Four Color Ark this week and we are deep into our examination of the Netflix Marvel series in advance of the premier of The Defenders! When last we saw Matt Murdock he had taken down the Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk and taken on the mantle of Daredevil, defender of Hell’s Kitchen.
SEASON 2 RECAP
We are thrown into the deep end right from the start with the aftermath of Season One – Fisk is gone, as are the Yakuza and Chinese Tong which has resulted in a fight over the smaller gangs to fill the power vacuum created when Daredevil flipped the table and burst onto the scene publicly. It is in this turmoil that we find out entire gang hideouts are getting completely wiped out by what appears at first blush to be an army, but we quickly uncover that it is, in fact, a one man army named Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) – otherwise known as The Punisher who is out to rid New York of organized crime in retaliation for the murder of his family. Castle is waging a one man war to take down all of those responsible for the death of his wife and kids, and caught in the cross hairs is a mobster named Grotto who came to Nelson & Murdock for protection so that he could turn states evidence on the gangs. Punisher and Daredevil collide at a sting set up by the NYPD and the two manage to work their way through sniper fire until Murdock is wounded and captured by The Punisher, who chains the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen to a chimney on a rooftop and tapes a gun with a single bullet to his hand. When he wakes up Castle gives Murdock a choice, use the bullet to save Grotto by killing the Punisher; serve justice for the people by killing Grotto; or do nothing and live with the choice that his inaction led to the Castle’s murder of Grotto. As Castle lays out his options, Murdock makes the argument to Castle that he goes too far – pleading with the broken man to back down. Even though they are both vigilantes they are both on opposite sides of the dividing line over murder. Showing Castle that he refuses to kill or be forced into any of the choices he has been given Daredevil creates a fourth option, he uses the gun to shoot the chains holding him down and leaps into action to try to save Grotto, but it is too late: the Punisher has already shot the gangster.
Diving into a massive melee with the gang known as The Dogs of Hell, Murdock knocks Castle unconscious and then has to fight his way through the entirety of the gang to get to safety, in what quickly becomes known as “The Stairwell Fight” Murdock shows all the deftness and tenacity he displayed in the Season One “Hallway fight” with an unloaded gun duct taped to his hand. On his way down the stairs and out to safety Murdock does all the things that Castle accused him of, of using the city as his playground, of violently beating those in his way, of being just as bad as Castle himself.
People are getting close to figuring out who The Punisher really is: the cops, the irish mob and even Karen Page. The Irish mob track Frank to a carousel in the park and torture him, he turns the tables and is about to murder the mobsters who have him hostage when Daredevil shows up and helps him escape, Castle confides in Murdock about the murder of his family and turns himself over to the police.
Nelson and Murdock agree to mount Frank Castle’s defense, and just when they start prepping the case like a well-oiled machine poised to represent a broken man who is potentially just as much a victim as he is a murderer – Matt Murdock’s ex-girlfriend Elektra Natchios (Élodie Yung) arrives on the scene and shifts Matt’s world off its axis. Daughter of the Greek Ambassador, Elektra and Matt met when Matt was in college, and the two became a unique pair who sought adrenaline highs together until one night Elektra manipulated Matt into a disastrous confrontation with the man who murdered his father. Years later Elektra has returned seeking Matt’s help fighting the Yakuza. Manipulating him just as easily she pulls him into her deadly conflict with the Yakuza in New York.
Karen Page forms a bond with Frank Castle as they prep for his trial, and she learns more and more about the truth of what happened the night his family was killed. Running around with Elektra isn’t all that great for the daytime career of Matt Murdock, as he misses the opening day of the Castle’s trial and generally becomes absent at the office. Castle refuses a plea deal and refuses to use PTSD as a defense because he feels that would be an insult to actual sufferers of PTSD. Against recommendations from Foggy, Frank pleads not guilty. Elektra tries to help Matt’s case by torturing a confession out of the medical examiner who altered the death certificates of Frank’s wife and kids – and Matt confesses to Foggy that the confession is invalid because of Elektra which drives the final nail in the coffin of Matt and Foggy’s friendship and partnership. Castle is convicted and sent to prison, and Nelson & Murdock: Attorneys at Law is dissolved – leaving Matt far too much time to get involved with the increasingly dangerous machinations of Elektra. Following a trail of clues that Elektra refuses to fully reveal to Matt, the pair end up in an abandoned building where they find a deep and mysterious giant hole that goes down seemingly forever.
Ninjas show up to attack Elektra and Matt, and the pair is saved by Matt’s former mentor Stick, who it turns out has sent Elektra to track down the evil Ninja Assassin group known as The Hand who are responsible for the hole and may soon strike against Stick and his group known as The Chaste. The three of them follow the trail of the Hand even as it becomes more apparent to Murdock that Elektra grows more bloodthirsty and dangers with each encounter, until they discover a Hand facility known as The Farm where it turns out Nobu has returned from the death Matt Murdock delivered him to in Season One. On The Farm, Matt and Elektra find several children who are being used as incubators for a chemical weapon; Matt gets them to the hospital where Claire Temple is a nurse so that the children can receive treatment, but the Hand show up to retrieve the children. There is a fight between Daredevil and the Hand, but ultimately the children leave willingly and go back to the Farm where they pour their blood into some sort of ancient device.
In prison Frank Castle encounters Wilson Fisk who uses Castle to take down the Kingpin of Ryker’s Island and when he realizes that Castle would be of more use on the outside – he arranges for The Punisher to escape. Meanwhile, Karen is still investigating the truth and cover up related to Castle’s family and it leads her to discover that it was all a part of sting operation and it points back toward a man codenamed The Blacksmith. With Castle on the outside, hits are ordered on anyone knowing too much about The Blacksmith or Castle himself, and Frank saves Karen from the bullet meant for her.
Elektra’s bloodthirst comes from the fact that she is the mythical “Black Sky” weapon of The Hand, and that she has a destiny that could destroy the world. He sends assassins to kill her, and the two assassination attempts – the one on Karen and the one on Elektra – collide in Chinatown near the drug warehouse of Madame Gao. Elektra survives, Karen survives, and so does The Punisher – even though Karen says Castle perished in the massive fracas. While the massive fight is going on, The Hand capture Stick.
Karen begins to consider Castle’s past so she can write a story about him for the Bulletin to show the whole of who Frank was as a person rather than just the monster everyone has seen on the news. This leads her to interview Frank’s former commanding officer from the marines a retired Ray Schoonover (Clancy Brown) who she quickly discovers is The Blacksmith. Before she can attempt to escape, Punisher shows up and kills Schoonover and takes Karen back to the city.
Nobu is still alive and shows up to reveal Elektra’s origins as the Black Sky, Elektra considers joining them but Murdock convinces her that whatever destiny the Hand claims she has – she can choose her own. Together she and Matt help Stick escape the Hand and get him to the safety of Murdock’s home. In retaliation, the Hand kidnap several people close to Daredevil or whom Daredevil has helped. Murdock and Elektra track down where the Hand are keeping the hostages and fights with a massive number of Hand ninjas to attempt to free them. There are too many ninjas to fight and they have the upper hand, the ninjas are about to kill Daredevil – but Elektra sacrifices herself to save him. Still there are just far too many ninjas for Matt to handle, it seems the hostages will all be killed – until shots ring out revealing The Punisher has come to this site to help Daredevil. Between his own fighting and Castle thinning the heard with his guns, Matt is able to rescue the hostages. Stick tracks down Nobu and cuts his head off, preventing him from coming back a third time. Murdock decides that he will choose to continue to follow a path of emotional attachment rather than the cloistered philosophy of Stick – to that end he reveals to Karen Page that he is Daredevil. Finally, the Hand digs up the body of Elektra and places her corpse in the strange device the children on the Farm poured their blood into.
If Daredevil Season One is a straightforward, slow burn introduction to the character of Matt Murdock and the often-seedy underbelly of Hell’s Kitchen; Season Two is a no holds barred deep dive into that world that doesn’t take any time to make sure you’re familiar or comfortable. The introduction of Jon Bernthal as The Punisher and Elodie Yung turns this season into an exploration of the tightrope that Matt Murdock walks every night he puts on his red horns and goes out to protect Hell’s Kitchen. Without compassion, he is just as dangerous as Frank Castle, and without temperance he is just as much an adrenaline junkie as Elektra – both characters are used as a mirror to reflect what a much darker version of Daredevil could be. Additionally both Bernthal and Yung turn in incredible performances, in particular Bernthal’s standout turn as Frank Castle that earned him his own forthcoming series.
The third appearance of Rosario Dawson severs her ties with the hospital she works at and sets her up to make a move to Luke Cage where she will be a much more active participant in the events of the series.
Overall this season of Daredevil is excellent, but not quite as powerful as Season One.
TOMORROW: SWEET CHRISTMAS!
FRIDAY: SWORN ENEMY OF THE HAND