Daredevil left us with a lot of lingering questions from "Seven Minutes in Heaven," but "The Man in the Box" isn't really concerned with answering them. We don't know the purpose of the Farm (although we learn its victims aren't just for blood, but also the incubation of toxic chemicals) or the giant sarcophagus in it. We don't learn how Nobu survived — although we can surmise Stick was right, and the Hand has some trick up its sleeves to cheat death. And, by the end of the episode, we still have no real lead on the Blacksmith's identity.
Instead, we have a new mystery: Someone is killing every person involved in the Frank Castle trial and framing the Punisher himself. D.A. Reyes is first to go, gunned down in her office in front of our favorite Nelson & Murdock lawyers, right after word of Castle's escape got out and she asked them to help track him down.
Before Reyes dies, she admits to her mistakes. Karen was right: The Carousel Massacre was a sting gone wrong, a big, blundered operation meant to smoke out the Blacksmith. In the aftermath, Foggy goes to the hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, Karen goes to chase down a hunch that Castle isn't responsible for Reyes's death, and Matt goes to prison.
Yeah, prison. On their way to see Reyes, Foggy told Matt that Frank was sent to cellblock D when he was locked up — and because Matt keeps tabs on the people he puts away, he knows that Fisk is held in that exact same cellblock. (Can people find that sort of thing out? Or is this just a Daredevil thing?) Naturally, he concludes that Fisk is the only man who could've managed to spring Frank, and decides to pay him a visit.
Have I declared any scene in Daredevil's second season to be the best in the series so far? If I did, forget it. It's this next one.
Matt's confrontation with Wilson Fisk is riveting stuff, full of menace and tension and that je ne sais quoi that has been missing all season long. In Fisk's absence, Daredevil abandoned the deep, violent character study that characterized season one in favor of a more straightforward action series. The story is far more propulsive, but also far less complex. Daredevil is, essentially, a different show — or, as a friend pointed out, not really the show its moody, evocative opening credits imply.
Murdock isn't just there to tell Fisk that he knows what happened to Castle. He also lets him know that Fisk's wife, Vanessa, tried to make her way back to the United States the other day — and he can make sure that never happens "with one envelope and six dollars postage." He's pouring salt on Fisk's wounded ego, asserting the power he — a blind nobody who runs a nothing law practice — has over Wilson Fisk, a man described in "Seven Minutes in Heaven" as someone who never saw a throne he didn't want to sit in.
This infuriates Fisk, who snaps his cuffs off with ease and proceeds to beat Murdock, bellowing a promise that he will "personally dismantle the lives of the two men who put me here." That's freaking scary, and it really makes me hope that if Daredevil gets a third season the announcement is followed by the words "Vincent D'Onofrio" and "Born Again."
You want these things too, trust me.
Meanwhile, Karen and Ellison investigate her hunch that someone else is killing people and framing the newly free Punisher, but their first stop — the medical examiner who told them the John Doe was a cop — has been shot up. Karen would be dead, too, if Frank Castle himself hadn't shown up at her apartment to save her from the mysterious assassin, thereby seemingly proving himself innocent.
Following his confrontation with Fisk, Matt has taken to brooding in his Daredevil costume atop the hospital where Claire Temple works. He was able to convince Detective Mahoney that the Farm victims needed to be taken there, off the books, and the most put-upon nurse in New York City agrees to help them do that. It also happens to be where Foggy is recovering, only Matt won't visit him because he's totally forgotten how to be a decent human being.
Claire tries to tell him as much, but Matt won't hear any of it — he's totally unmoored, disillusioned by seeing everything he does undone. Nobu is still alive, Fisk is just as dangerous in prison as he was out of it, and Castle is back on the streets. He doesn't believe in the law anymore, or that he should have friends. The Daredevil life is the only life for him.
Once again, because Claire is probably the most sensible character on this show (and again: criminally underused, I mean seriously, this is freaking Rosario Dawson), she reminds Matt that he's acting like a freaking stupid asshole. Matt is too busy using his Catholic guilt superpowers to listen and just stays on the rooftop.
Which is probably a good place to be, because by the end of the episode, Hand ninjas begin firing grappling hooks up the hospital walls to lay siege to the place. And, also, the Farm victims are creepy zombies?
In other words, get ready for a big fight.
Devil in the Details:
- Speaking of fights. There's only one in this episode, and it involves Elektra. As she tries to do what Matt told her to — disappear on a fancy private jet — she's attacked by an assassin, sent not by the Hand, but by Stick. (I honestly have no idea what that guy even wants anymore.) She kills him with his own sai, and now Elektra has sai, which is a big deal for anyone who wondered if she would ever start to look like her comic-book counterpart.
- Matt is a dick. But I kind of understand him. Don't get me wrong, we're supposed to be pissed at him, but it's rare to see a show let its protagonist be a total jerk for clear reasons (i.e., his stubborn refusal to give up being Daredevil due to feelings of guilt and questions Elektra/Punisher have forced him to ask himself). He's refusing to look honestly at himself because he's scared of what he'll see, and, in turn, he's letting himself get pulled headfirst into dangerous situations. That's how he ends up making such dumb decisions, like threatening a man who already wants to ruin him. The only problem? The show needs a compelling character who isn't a jerk to balance all this out, and it doesn't really have that.
- One more shout-out to Rosario Dawson. How does a show cast an actress as good as Dawson, then fail to do anything interesting with her? I really don't get it. On the bright side, it's a fun meta-joke that her character's default attitude is, "I don't have any time for your nonsense."