The cliffhanger at the end of “Semper Fidelis” was one of the goofiest things I’ve ever seen on a television show. (As a person with boundless enthusiasm for a guy who wears a horned mask and fights crime with sweet flips, it’s fair to say I’ve seen some pretty goofy stuff.) After all the efforts of the last two episodes, with the Yakuza hot on their trail every step of the way, Matt and Elektra finally discover … a giant hole in the ground? And the episode ends with a flashlight being dropped down the hole? And the flashlight doesn’t land until the start of this episode?
Well, that is just hilarious.
Anyway, I forgive Daredevil for this bit of absurdity, because our heroes are immediately attacked by freaking ninjas.
I have been waiting so long for Daredevil to get serious about its ninjas. The series has been very open about how much it’s influenced by the Daredevil comic — specifically Frank Miller’s acclaimed, character-defining run. And if there’s anything you ought to know about Frank Miller circa Daredevil, it’s that he freaking loves ninjas. As do I, it turns out.
But I digress — NINJA FIGHT! As far as Daredevil fights go, this opener is really good and introduces a new wrinkle: Daredevil can’t hear their heartbeats or hear them breathing, rendering him effectively blind until it’s too late. Elektra tells him to focus on the sound of their weapons, which helps him hold his own, but he still has a hard time fighting. The ninjas just keep on coming.
Things fall apart, however, when Elektra is about to kill a ninja and Daredevil intervenes, leaving her vulnerable for a nasty slice right up her torso. Once she’s down, Daredevil is easily overwhelmed and nearly done for … until Stick appears out of nowhere, killing all the ninjas and saving them both.
Stick! Remember that guy? The dude who trained Matt to fight blind, but is also an unrepentant killer and not really on great terms with his former student? He’s back, and after a grisly scene in which he treats the poison in Elektra’s wound, he’s got a lot to tell Matt. He fills him in on the big details: There’s an ancient struggle between a clan of warlords known as the Hand, which found the secret to immortality, and a rival clan known as the Chaste, which was started by a small boy seeking revenge. And that boy is strongly implied to be Stick.
Matt doesn’t buy any of it, but the huge lore-dump makes it very clear that Stick knows Elektra, and that she was working for him when they met in college all those years ago.
Matt is furious about this, asking if he was a mission to her, which she doesn’t deny, but she also says that she really did fall in love with him against Stick’s explicit demands. She believes the Hand is a serious threat that needs to be taken out, and Matt is willing to follow her on that crusade, but only if she does it his way — without killing.
There is some pretty painful dialogue about how Elektra sees “a light inside” Matt that she tried to snuff out, but it’s kind of balanced out later by Elektra’s pained delivery of how she wants to be with Matt, “the only person in the world who believes [she’s] good.”
That’s jumping ahead a bit, though. The People v. Frank Castle is still underway, albeit without Matt at the moment. Foggy and Karen manage to score a big win with the testimony of Frank’s commanding officer from his time in the Marines, who tells a story about how Frank saved his entire squad by single-handedly taking out over 30 enemy combatants. It seems like momentum is turning in Frank’s favor — the prosecution is completely unable to pick any holes in the officer’s testimony — until a kid in the gallery screams that Frank killed his father.
After an expert witness testifies about the sort of mental damage a bullet to the head can do, Foggy decides the best course of action is to put Frank on the stand and ask Matt to question him. Karen agrees to go to Matt’s place to tell him about their plan, but that doesn’t go too well. She finds Matt inside with Stick, with Elektra recovering in his bed — but she doesn’t know that Elektra is recovering. She doesn’t know a lot of things, and at this point, she doesn’t care; Matt has been so dishonest that she no longer wants to deal with him. Although some of the leaps Karen takes in this scene are kind of big, her conclusion is not wrong. Matt may need to keep some secrets, but he still needs to trust his friends, and he simply hasn’t.
Matt does show up at court the next day, for what it’s worth. Something’s wrong, though: As an officer brings Frank to the stand, he hears him whisper in his ear to “think about what he wants.” So, in the middle of Matt’s “questioning” — it’s in quotes because Matt decides to lecture about vigilantism instead of actually questioning Frank, which I’m not sure is actually allowed at this point? — Frank blows up his own case, bellowing about he knew exactly what he was doing and would do it all over again. If this were a boxing match, he just threw the fight.
Still not on speaking terms with his co-workers, Matt returns home to find Elektra in bed and Stick nowhere to be found. Matt leaves her in his room and shuts the door behind him, right before he gets shot with an arrow by a ninja hiding in a corner of his apartment’s unreasonably high ceilings.
What follows is probably one of my favorite fight scenes, because it’s the only time we’ve seen Matt fight in plain clothes. It makes for a nice contrast: A suited-up dude taking on a ninja in close quarters is a really cool visual, and it also serves as a constant reminder that Matt’s more vulnerable without his Daredevil suit. His arrow injury only adds to the desperation of the scene, which is a staple of Daredevil’s best fights. In the end, Matt is just barely able to win.
He tries to interrogate the ninja, but pauses when he finally hears his heartbeat; it’s just a kid. Elektra suddenly appears from Matt’s bedroom, then slits the kid’s throat. She looks up at Matt, her voice quavering.
“This is who I am,” she says. “Do you still want me?”
And that’s when Matt succumbs to the poison.
Devil in the Details:
- Seriously, Elektra. What is going through your head right now? Matt had that guy! He was fine! There was no reason to kill him! I thought you wanted to be good! This makes no sense.
- A new job for the Punisher. The episode doesn’t actually end in Matt’s apartment, but in prison, as Frank Castle is admitted as an inmate. Then, we get a twist worthy of any Marvel post-credits scene: The dirty cop who whispered to Frank in the courtroom takes him into the prison gym, which is empty save for the one guy who wants to meet with him. It’s … WILSON FREAKING FISK.
- That is so cool! I KNOW, RIGHT?!