Karen arrives at a very interesting point of the season. We’ve watched Matt Murdock stumble, seen Wilson Fisk become The Kingpin and the good men he’s taking down in his wake in Foggy and Ray.
Now we get an extended flashback sequence looking at how Karen’s choices brought her to Hell’s Kitchen.
When she should have been at college, Karen only attended the parties to make some cash selling drugs for her dealer boyfriend Thomas. She had to make some choices since she was running her family diner, Penny’s Place. Her father wasn’t a savvy businessman, but Karen helped to keep everything together.
Her young brother, Kevin, was basically the perfectly little brother who pushed her to return to Georgetown and avoid being stuck in their nothing happening town. Karen might as well have a Born to Lose tattoo on her forehead as she’s fine slumming with Thomas. She feels resigned to staying in town to keep the diner afloat despite hating every second of it. How can she leave with her father making risky investments like buying an expensive new grill?
Karen finally reaches her breaking point and lashes out at her father cruelly saying her mother was dying there long before she got cancer. And in a final act of defiance, Karen scratches off her mother’s final lottery ticket her father framed. ‘Mom lost again. We all lose. Now we know.’ That was pretty strong dialogue in another great showcase scene for Deborah Ann Woll.
Desperate to stop Karen from flaming out and dying from an overdose, Kevin burns Thomas’ RV. Can’t say he didn’t have that beat down coming, but Karen shoots Thomas in the arm so he’ll stop. Karen’s high/buzzed/whatever so her driving skills are spotty at best. They’re so spotty she never sees the barrier until it’s too late. Kevin instantly died in the wreck. The local police officer writes her out of the report so she won’t go to prison — her family’s already been through too much. Yeah, that would definitely be enough to warrant pops not inviting her up for dinner.
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In the present day, Fisk is still stewing over that last bit of information he got from Karen about Wesley. And now he’s got a psycho to unleash on her wearing a Daredevil costume. This season is setting up nicely for Matt to reclaim the costume while Dex understands the symbolism of wearing a costume.
Father Lantom thinks Karen would benefit from going to mass, but it’s easy to understand why she thinks she’s irredeemable. It won’t matter soon as Dex as Daredevil arrives in the church looking for Ms. Page. Matt had a big decision to make — stay at Fisk’s lair and kill him or save Karen.
Maybe it wasn’t that hard? Matt arrives just in time to stop Dex from killing Karen, but not without a cost. Lantom sacrifices himself and dies in Karen’s arms. I kinda like that Dex’s shtick isn’t that he never misses, but he’s so skilled he’s surprised when he doesn’t hit his target.
I also loved that Matt is ready for Dex this time and is far more alert and aggressive. With an opponent who will use anything from rosary beads to collection plates, you can’t give him a second to think. Lantom asking for Matt’s forgiveness with his faint dying breath was a nice touch.
With the episode title and extended focus, this sure seemed to set up Karen’s final episode. On one hand she’s proven too valuable to the cast to kill, but Daredevil established way back in Season 1 that no one is untouchable. Maybe not even Matt?
In their third encounter, Dex gets the drop on him and nearly skewers him if not for a last second rescue from Karen. I’m sure we’ll get plenty of think pieces declaring this Karen’s big feminist moment, but it more elegantly reinforced that Matt needs people no matter how much he wishes otherwise.
This was another highly entertaining episode that provided some useful backstory for Karen and delivered on another brutal Daredevil/Bullseye battle.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Anna Kooris/Netflix