Good grief. New rule for this season of Daredevil. Wait until the season finale before declaring a best episode of the season. At this rate, there’s a solid 7 vying for ‘Best Of’ honors and I can’t even imagine how this one can get topped.
Sure the natural temptation is to just gorge on this season in one prolonged binge watching session, but this episode proved this season is best enjoyed in small morsels to fully appreciate what’s been an exceptional run with no signs of letting up yet.
One of the comic book trademarks with Kingpin is his use of highly skilled assassins to help retain his position of power in Hell’s Kitchen. This episode took a fresh approach with that strategy. We started taking a glance back in the past as Wilson Fisk first arrived in prison. In typical Kingpin fashion, Fisk began establishing a power base by having his attorney take care of the family members of his fellow inmates. It was a shrewd and sensible move considering fellow inmate Dutton (William Forsythe) views Fisk as a threat to his control of the prison. This season has been so exceptional I wasn’t itching to see Kingpin return, but this opening sequence was a reminder a Daredevil season can always be improved with a random Kingpin appearance.
While we never did get that Green Arrow Escape from Super Max movie, Punisher’s spin on it was probably going to surpass it anyway. Watching Frank savagely rip into Dutton and his bodyguard before taking out Dutton’s crew was intense. This was exactly how the Punisher would respond in prison. Before taking a shiv to the gut, Dutton told Frank the carousel gang shootout was a sting operation gone bad, which is now beginning to put some necessary pieces into place. We’ve already seen a screwy undercover operation under Reyes’ watch and now we can safely assume she was involved in the incident that cost Frank his family.
The Punisher/Kingpin ‘alliance’ was brilliant. Fisk engineered Frank’s escape so he could essentially weaken his competition and Frank could get justice for his family. I appreciated that both guys stated this was an arrangement of convenience, but Fisk really showed why whether behind a desk or a prison cell, he’s the Kingpin. He’s pretty much got The Punisher on payroll without having to spend a penny.
Matt continued his how to turn friends into enemies kick and took an aggressive ‘it’s not you, it’s me, I’m not changing who I am so you should leave’ stance first with Elektra and then when Foggy dropped by to determine their next move. You’ve gotta feel for Foggy who’s just always tried to do right by his friend, fight the good legal fight and his consistently been burned for it all season. This guy needs a drink and a night out with Marci.
I love the use of Karen this season. She hasn’t been stuck on a love triangle carousel waiting for her spin of relevance. Instead she’s been doing her own thing investigating the truth behind the Castle family tragedy. The constant evolution of her character made her transition to investigative reporter feel organic. This wasn’t an out of nowhere ‘let’s find something for Karen to do’ curveball from the writers. That’s been her MO almost since her introduction. It was a nice touch that she’d be working in Ben Urich’s office. I wasn’t a fan of the show offing Urich, but the show runners have really made it have a deeper meaning than simple shock value. His loss still reverberates with characters like Karen. Urich discovered whatever secret Karen is still keeping from Foggy and Matt.
Karen tracked down the medical examiner who revealed the John Doe at the shootout was an undercover officer who was taking part in the sting operation involving the three gangs. More importantly, Karen’s story arc is intriguing because the writers haven’t made it feel second tier. It’s definitely a vital piece of the puzzle that hopefully can be used to get the Nelson and Murdoch team reunited.
It says a lot about the work done making all the subplots meaningful that Daredevil mostly took a backseat this episode without it being an issue. His investigation of The Hand continued as he tracked down their accountant Stan who revealed he was only helping them because they kidnapped his son. At The Hand HQ, Daredevil discovered people trapped in cages being drained of their blood to feed … something. Before he could dig deeper, Daredevil encountered an old foe — Nobu — who clearly looked better than he did the last time he faced Daredevil. This was yet another stellar Daredevil vs. elite level Hand soldier battle and in Nobu, this was a more closely contested fight than some of the other Hand soldiers.
That final scene where Nobu says there is no such thing as being dead to The Hand was killer. Now how in the world can Daredevil hope to defeat an immortal opponent?
Rating: 10 out of 10