Daredevil's latest episode carefully examines the varying heroes of Hell's Kitchen.
DaredevilCast: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Jon Bernthal, Elodie Yung, Stephen Rider, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D'Onofrio
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 3 - "New York's Finest"
With "New York’s Finest", Daredevil’s third episode presents the viewers with a diverse array of heroes that work for Hell's Kitchen, each with their own methods of cleansing the streets of filth and grime.
We finally get our first morality discussion between Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and The Punisher (Jon Bernthal), and it didn’t disappoint. Daredevil's entire stipulation is that he refuses to kill people, as he believes that even criminals deserve a second chance at redemption. While we know intrinsically that Matt's right, it's hard not to give in to the attraction of Frank's argument. The Punisher appeals to the visceral side in all of us: that strong, emotional desire to see enemies get their due.
Not only is the punishing aspect appealing, so is Frank's logic that if these criminals aren't killed, they will just go back on the streets the very next night to kill again. This must strike a nerve with Daredevil, who most likely struggles with the seeming futility of his efforts on a daily basis. That’s what makes The Punisher such an engrossing villain: we can easily relate to him, even if we might not want to admit it.
Their argument comes to a head when Frank gives Daredevil a gun, forcing him to make a choice: either shoot Frank, or Frank will kill Grotto (McCaleb Burnett). Frank wants Matt to truly understand his position, which is to kill the criminal, or the criminal will kill another innocent, and it’s a terrifyingly compelling argument. Although Matt managed to free himself, while refusing to comply with the ultimatum, Frank's ploy to set the gang members on Matt's trail could also be seen as a way to force Matt to kill in order to escape alive.
As far as action sequences go, I believe we finally have a contender to last season’s corridor fight. Seemingly filmed in one continuous take, the camera followed Matt from the rooftop, to a hallway, then finally all the way down a spiraling staircase as he beat gang members with a chain, one by one. It was truly an impressive feat of choreography, although it did drag just a tiny bit towards the end.
While it's refreshing to see that the show isn’t dragging out the battle between Daredevil and The Punisher, it does seem to indicate that their ultimate showdown must come sooner rather than later. Having laid out each vigilante’s arguments so plainly, and making it clear that it would be nigh impossible to sway either party, all that remains is for Matt to put him behind bars. Of course, it would be interesting if Matt's eventually forced to kill The Punisher, thus proving his point. "You’re only one bad day away from being me," Frank tells Matt.
But actually, who needs Daredevil or The Punisher, when Hell's Kitchen has its very own Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson)? There’s no need for all of this vigilante violence, or discussions on the ethics of murder. Foggy can stop a fistfight with the mere power of his words, people. Get Foggy on a loudspeaker, and criminals from miles away will run in fear. But seriously, folks. In these past few episodes, Foggy has shown real strength and reserve, relying on his knowledge of the law while keeping his cool in the face of danger. He's the hero New York deserves.
Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) was a breath of fresh air. She's got a good head on her shoulders, with a clear focus and passion for her work, and a no-nonsense attitude towards anyone who would try to deter her. It didn't really make sense for her to initially refuse to help Foggy, though. Her argument that helping people gets her in trouble was pretty weak, especially since all she had to was make a quick search for Matt in the hospital records. She also changed her mind fairly quickly, so her whole speech about getting dumped on was a little pointless.
New York's neglected hero, Karen (Deborah Ann Woll), has been showing some real initiative lately, going after the assistant district attorney in order to protect her firm and her client. However, it’s unfortunate that she was essentially forced to step up because Foggy and Matt are too busy playing in their secret boys' club, leaving Karen to do the legwork for their law firm. I know her courage and fortitude can only be strengthened through her independence, but it still would be nice to have her more integrated with the main characters’ storylines.
Did anyone else feel like Daredevil struck a nerve when he called The Punisher insane? Perhaps Frank has a history of mental health problems.
As much as I enjoyed Daredevil mocking The Punisher with his "Boohoo, everyone has lost someone" speech, Frank’s retort had a lot more weight to it: "Loss doesn’t work the same for everybody".
Karen finds an x-ray of Frank's clearly damaged head, which was a very clever and subtle way to introduce The Punisher's iconic skull symbol.
The flashback of Matt's time at the orphanage was beautifully shot, with tons of somewhat overt religious imagery. I do wonder what the nun has to do with the story, though.