Daredevil Recap: One-Man Army


Dogs to a Gunfight
Season 2 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating *****
Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle. Photo: Patrick Harbron/Netflix

Daredevil’s not dead, despite that whole “getting shot in the forehead” thing. Can you imagine how ballsy that would be, though? I mean, I’m not sure there’s any scenario in which that would be a good idea.

Foggy Nelson, however, does not know any of this, and is understandably freaking the hell out. Matt’s missing, and he knows Daredevil faced off against the man who came gunning for Karen and Grotto. Searching the rooftops, he finds Matt, barely conscious, with a bullet that should have killed him embedded into his helmet.

Bringing him home, Foggy angrily offloads on Matt about his stubborn refusal to quit being Daredevil, but Matt remains convinced he’s doing the right thing — even as he lays on his couch, badly concussed. Matt is in even worse shape than he thinks he is, as he finds himself going deaf when Foggy leaves, leaving him sidelined and scared for most of the episode.

Foggy, however, is not done being angry at people. He joins Karen and Grotto at the police station, feeling certain that someone — Grotto, even — knew that just one man was wiping out those criminals, not an outfit. Grotto says he heard things, but didn’t believe them, while Foggy and Karen are given reason to believe that the District Attorney’s office knew about this one-man army.

D.A. Samantha Reyes (Michelle Hurd) is brusque and definitely hiding something as she rushes in and immediately attempts to sweep Grotto away as a client, but Foggy stands up to her, keeping Grotto under the counsel of Nelson and Murdock. Unlike in the premiere, this is a terrific Foggy scene, confidently played and believably delivered by Elden Henson. Foggy works best when he takes advantage of his unassuming appearance to lull people into complacency, before sharply jabbing back with hella legal swagger. It’s great.

Reyes (and her assistant, Blake Tower, played by Stephen Rider) admit that they have no real grounds with which they can just take over Grotto’s case, so Nelson and Murdock have to work with them. However, they still want Grotto to wear a wire and meet with a high-ranking mobster, a guy named Brass. If they refuse, Grotto will just be cut loose, and the man who killed all of Grotto’s pals will definitely find him, because that’s what he does. They know him at the DA’s office, and even have a name for him: the Punisher.

Sidebar: I love that the show just out and calls him “the Punisher” without too much explanation. It’s been a funny tic of superhero movies and shows to avoid giving comic-book characters their comic-book names, since no one really invents silly code names in real life for anyone except serial killers. Which the Punisher kind of is, I guess. So Daredevil is just having its cake and eating it too.

Anyway, Karen seems to be holding up admirably enough, given that she was just chased through a hospital by a man with a shotgun the night before. But she’s not totally okay, and goes to Matt’s place to offload — just in time for him to recover from his scary bout of deafness, which left him bleeding from the nose with a shattered glass on his floor. Karen sees the glass and knows something’s wrong, and it’s not the drinking problem Foggy has been using as a cover. She extends her help, offering to be there whenever he’s ready to talk, before catching him up on the insanity of the day.

Karen is also the first person to articulate what will most likely be the thematic core of Daredevil’s second season: that the Punisher was their doing, and that violence can breed worse violence. “There’s something about this city that makes good people shoot their way out of bad situations,” she says.

Even though he’s in no shape to be doing much of anything, Matt immediately goes about trying to track the Punisher down, while the Punisher simultaneously gets ready to move in on the Dogs of Hell. At the same time, Foggy, Karen, and the D.A. stand by as Grotto gets wired up for his meeting with Brass — until Foggy becomes suspicious. Good hunch: The whole thing is a setup, and the cops want to use Grotto as bait to lure the Punisher out. Except the Punisher is ready for them — and so is Daredevil, who comes roaring in for round two.

Daredevil’s second fight with the Punisher is almost on par with the first, except I wish it was maybe a minute or so longer. During the brawl, the cops receive the order to open fire on the Punisher even though Daredevil is in the way, adding an interesting dynamic to the action: Daredevil actively tries to keep the Punisher out of the line of fire while simultaneously trying to subdue him. It adds a layer of desperation to the fisticuffs (and sweet baton ricochets) that comes across in a great physical way. Unfortunately, the sequence is much too short to relish in that desperation. That’s a pity, because the choreography remains clear and confident.

The fight ends with both combatants crashing through a skylight. They’re both in pretty bad shape — only Daredevil, already concussed, isn’t really capable of bouncing back. The Punisher takes him hostage and the cops storm in to find them both missing.

Devil in the Details:

Copycats. One of the things Foggy learns at the police station is the presence of copycat vigilantes, whom the cops call “devil worshipers” for emulating Daredevil’s crime-fighting. This is both something that sounds tired (being a plot point from The Dark Knight) and something that should be explored more (since The Dark Knight only engaged with it on a superficial level). Here, it only gets a mention, and I find myself wanting more.

Pawn-shop punishment. The first truly good look we get at the Punisher is when he goes into a pawn shop, looking for police scanning equipment. It’s a pretty mundane encounter … until the proprietor discovers the Punisher is interested in products that aren’t entirely legal, and starts offering all of his illicit wares, including child pornography. When the Punisher hears this, he is visibly disgusted, locks the doors, and grabs a baseball bat to do what he does best. That’s really all you need to know about the character, succinctly broken down in a two-minute scene.

Safety first. Before Matt goes on the hunt for the Punisher, he brings his damaged helmet back to Melvin Potter, the man who made his costume. Potter can only patch it up, but tells Matt that only a new one will keep him safe. Nifty way to replace Daredevil’s weird helmet, which has not grown on me over time.

Karen Page, badass. After Grotto gets wired up for the episode’s climax, he asks Karen for a good-luck kiss, because he’s still kind of a scumbag even though he’s been scared straight. Karen sweetly walks towards him, gets real close, and gives him an exquisitely delivered middle finger. Expect to see GIFs of this one.

Daredevil Recap: One-Man Army