PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Television

Daredevil: Season 2, Episode 13 - "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen"

Elena Zhang

Daredevil's season finale sets up some interesting stories, but fails to resolve any of them.


Daredevil

Cast: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Jon Bernthal, Elodie Yung, Stephen Rider, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D'Onofrio
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 13 - "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen"
Network: Netflix
Amazon

As Daredevil's season finale, "A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen" does a good job in advancing several stories and character development. Unfortunately, it fails at resolving any of them.

Everything about this season felt like a setup for either next season or a spinoff. Nothing was fully resolved; nothing was fully explained. I'm not talking about stories that leave some mystery to ponder, or stories that are so complex that they can’t be tied up with a neat little bow. No, I'm talking about a story that was fractured, with main characters hardly interacting with each other at all, and plot points that were constantly brought up and then dropped. This kind of storytelling made it really hard to care about the finale, which wasn't so much a finale as it was a stepping stone for a story that was never finished.

The Hand plot was the most egregious part of this season. Little of what they did or said made any sense. Let's start with the Black Sky. Do we know what this is yet, or what it does? No. We only know that it's a weapon that brings about great destruction, and it's something worshipped by the Hand, and yet nothing Elektra (Elodie Yung) has done so far makes it seem like she's any different from a highly skilled ninja with a penchant for killing. Also, there’s apparently more than one Black Sky, because we saw one of them last season. Exactly why it's so imperative that the ninjas capture Elektra is never fully explained. Perhaps the Black Sky is activated once they resurrect her, which they were doing when they put her body in the sarcophagus. Even so, that story isn't a part of this season.

Another reason why this season felt so unbalanced was because there was no clear villain for Daredevil (Charlie Cox) to battle against. At first, there was the Punisher (Jon Bernthal), but he was quickly dismissed as a villain, instead becoming more of an anti-hero. Then there was Elektra, but she also quickly became Daredevil's ally. Finally, there was the Hand, which wasn't introduced until much later in the season, and only became a true foe after Stick (Scott Glenn) had to sit down and tell Matt the story. By having the whole mystic and ancient battle be explained in an exposition scene instead of being shown throughout the season to be a threat to the city made it even harder to care about.

For that matter, why were they in New York City anyway? Daredevil has consistently talked about how much he loves his city, how he’s so tied to its inhabitants. His nickname is "Devil of Hell’s Kitchen", for crying out loud. Yet the main villain he was fighting this season had no ties at all to the city. Stick kept saying that the Hand has big plans for the city; we never saw a sign that this was true. So they dug a big hole in the city, which was never explained. So they kidnapped some people in the city for their blood sarcophagus, and killed anyone who got in their way. They could've done that in any city in the world; why New York? Nothing about this story had any kind of real or personal connection to the city that Daredevil claims to love so much.

If you argue that Nobu (Peter Shinkoda) was the real main villain of the season, that also makes little sense. He only shows up for the last few episodes, he shows no motivation for anything besides killing Daredevil to capture Elektra (again, for some unknown reason). Indeed, if Nobu really was the main villain, why did Stick kill him off in a brief scene that was played for laughs? Hardly a climactic fight worthy of a season finale.

Now, regarding Matt's character development this season. After watching the finale, I get the sense that Matt has quickly gotten over his policy of not killing criminals, because he had absolutely no problem with both Elektra and Frank killing ninjas right in front of him, and expressed no moral quandaries when he threw Nobu off of the building.

What exactly made him change his mind on something he so strongly believed in the entire season? It's very unclear. Was it Elektra? Did his love for her make him more lenient of killing criminals, especially after that one ninja sliced her belly? Possibly. Even then, it's a pretty huge turnaround to happen so quickly, and with little discussion afterwards. In any case, I suppose it's a good thing that he’s okay with killing certain criminals now, as he was bordering on hypocritical and illogical for a long period of time.

Matt also revealed some pretty big character changes that seemingly came out of nowhere when making plans with Elektra. He told her that she was able to bring out a part of him that no one else could, and that without her, he didn't feel alive. This is a huge difference in opinion from earlier in the season, when he told Elektra to leave town because he knew she was a psycho killer. Their relationship reveals an interesting dynamic: she makes the vigilantism more fun for him, and he makes her think more about morality. I’m not sure Matt's getting the better deal here. One thing's for sure: Matt felt better when he was with her because their relationship was built on total honesty. Elektra points this out to him when she says, "You don't let anyone in."

With that, Matt finally learns that he needs to get in touch with humanity once more. I'm not sure what it says about Matt that it was Elektra who finally got through to him, and not Foggy (Elden Henson), his supposed best friend. With Foggy looking like he'll be joining another law firm in the future, a reconciliation between the two friends seems unlikely.

Either way, Matt realizes that he needs to be honest with the people he cares about, and so he finally reveals to Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) his identity as the masked vigilante. I think this is a great plot development, and will lead to many great stories in future seasons, but only if they don’t revisit a Matt and Karen romance. I think Karen was completely right to dump Matt as soon as she realized she couldn’t be with someone who had a habit of lying. Just because Matt came clean now (at his ex-girlfriend’s behest) shouldn’t mean that they can be a functional couple. Besides that, Matt and Karen have zero romantic chemistry between them, as evidenced by their painfully awkward and brief courtship.

This season, as I’ve stated before, would’ve benefited much more from a focused storyline comparing Daredevil and the Punisher. The first few episodes certainly pointed to an interesting discussion about vigilante justice and the right to dole out punishment outside the law. Unfortunately, these questions were dropped quickly in favor of mysticism, which had no moral nuance to it at all. This was a flat end to an incoherent season, but there were glimmers of greatness that still make me excited for the future spinoff shows that await us.

Other Thoughts:

Nobu's "Your city belongs to no one. And she belongs to us!" made me cringe.

The Jeri Hogarth (Carrie Ann Moss) cameo was wonderful, and is making me itch for the future Defenders show.

The scene when Frank visits his old house was the only scene this episode that carried any kind of emotional resonance. Well done, Bernthal.

"What is it to be a hero? Look in the mirror and you’ll know." Karen's article was a bit corny, and didn't feel relevant at all to the finale.

Elektra did, in the end, become more than a one-dimensional character. Her continuous struggle to accept herself while everyone around her was telling her to suppress her nature was interesting and somewhat compelling. Her death provided a little bit of closure to her storyline, at least.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.