You know it’s going to be a terrible day when you wake up chained to a chimney on a rooftop. That’s how the third episode of season two of Marvel’s Daredevil, “New York’s Finest,” started. Punisher dragged Daredevil back to the most well-armed lair in the history of ever for a chat. It was obvious from the beginning he intended to have a gentlemanly talk with Daredevil because he left Matt’s mask on—despite thinking the mask is a coward’s accessory. While the episode wove in and out to touch base with Karen and Foggy and ended in an epic fight, it was mostly about Punisher and Daredevil having a first date of sorts—except neither of them really swiped right.
I don’t want to say the pacing was inconsistent, because it’s fine for the story to ebb and flow. I enjoyed the almost leisurely talk between Punisher and Daredevil. That said, the story is moving along in a different way than most series. It’s not bad or good yet, it simply is and it’s a point to be considered.
Punisher and Daredevil covered pretty basic territory in their talk. The similarities between the vigilantes can’t be ignored, so it was smart to address them head on. We quickly found out Punisher—who finally revealed his name to be Frank—has righteousness on his side, and it’s possibly more dangerous than any gun he owns. He has a job to do. He was so matter of fact about his methods (killing anyone who has done wrong), it almost made his actions normal, if that makes sense. He talked about his work as casually as someone would talk about making copies on a Xerox machine. He’s never seen himself as part of the problem or as a “bad guy.”
Daredevil tried to bring up topics of reform and justice, but Punisher wouldn’t have any of it. My favorite part of their dialogue was how each of them judged the other. They’re two vigilantes, both breaking the law and certain their way is the right one. Daredevil thought Frank was unhinged for not giving people a second chance, and Frank looked at Daredevil—or Red as he likes to call him—as weak for hiding behind a mask and not stopping criminals permanently.
The whole forgiveness business was just one way Daredevil attempted to get to Frank. He also went down the tough love route and explained that everyone has lost someone. But Frank was beyond all of it. I don’t know if any amount of talking could convince him to see another path—he proved himself to be a focused soldier.
Their chat ended with Daredevil working his way free from the chains and landing in another fight. And by the way, my gods did Jon Bernthal and Charlie Cox perform the hell out of their scenes. They were raw and genuine and played off each other exceptionally well.
But back to that fight. Matt wandered into was with an entire biker gang, and while it stretched on and on, it felt to be a bit of an homage to the hallway fight scene in season one. Though the choreography and stunt work was indeed impressive and a blast to watch (and also a welcome change in this dialogue-heavy episode), I’m not sure the scale was necessary. I don’t want there to be a “one extra awesome fight scene” per season quota or anything. If they did that and kept trying to make it bigger and better, Matt would have to fight the entirety of Hell’s Kitchen at some point. That’s not to dismiss the incredible effort put into creating and filming the stunts because the battle was quite the spectacle.
- Karen displayed real gumption by yelling at Reyes. It was a futile effort, but I respect her for not caring and trying anyway.
- Claire complained about how she got the night shift, a.k.a. the shift from hell, because she tried to help Luke Cage. She has run out of patience. Apparently, it’s a theme in Daredevil in season two: no one has any fucks left to give.
- I truly appreciate all the tiny but important moments of heroism we get from Foggy. It would be easy to write him as strictly the bumbling goofball, but he has scenes where he gets to nail it and be awesome.
- Matt sure knows how to take a beating.
- “I’ll do what’s required.” – Punisher
- “I hit them, and they stay down.” – Punisher
Ah, simple truths from the Punisher. He should really publish a motivational workbook.
Did you come away from this episode with any empathy for Punisher? What did you think about this hallway fight? Sound off in the comments or come talk to me on Twitter.