Sunday, 20 March 2016

Review - 'Daredevil', S02E04 - 'Penny and Dime'

After mistakenly labelling the previous episode as the end of what, I suppose, you could call the 'Daredevil v Punisher' arc in my last review, I do have to admit that this episode actually felt like a much more fitting conclusion to that particular story-line. There was such a strong sense of finality to this episode, in fact, that I could have easily imagined it serving as a perfectly respectable season final - yet, of course, we haven't even reached the half-way point of the season, yet. This is especially interesting, to me, since it clearly suggest that this second season, as a whole, is set to be structured very differently to what we saw in either the first season of Daredevil or Jessica Jones - with the season being made up of mini-arcs which, while connected, are also essentially self-contained.

Though, of course, whether that proves to be the case still remains to be seen. For now, let's just focus on this episode, in particular.

Considering how active the Punisher has been in his one-man war on the various criminal organisations in Hell's Kitchen, it was probably inevitable that there would eventually be some organised attempt at retaliation - and, that is exactly what we had with this episode. Finn (Tony Curran), a dangerous and sadistic Irish mobster whose son was one of those previously gunned down by the Punisher, arrives in Hell's Kitchen clearly intent on getting revenge. His methods are brutal and efficient - with his men leaving a trail of bodies in their wake as they follow the clues that eventually lead them to the Punisher, himself. Of course, it isn't just his dead son that concerns Finn, here - there is also the matter of a briefcase full of money that Frank took with him after his initial attack. As much as Finn might want revenge, he clearly wants his money more - and, he is more than happy to make use of some rather creative torture to get it.

So, now, after three episodes of firmly establishing him as a significant antagonist, the Punisher needs help. Fortunately, Matt manages to pick up on the trail of dead bodies left by the Irish mob, eventually realises that their current target is Frank Castle - and, unwilling even to let a man who has caused so much damage die, Daredevil sets out to rescue the Punisher.

Finn may have only been intended to appear in a single episode - but, he was still a surprisingly effective villain in his brief time on screen. Sure, he wasn't really given anything in the way of elaborate back-story - but, to be fair, this wasn't really the sort of character who needed one. In his brief time on-screen, Tony Curran did an impressive job of building up this character into a convincing threat - and, most importantly, someone who the audience could actually accept as a significant challenge for the Punisher.

But, of course, the Punisher wasn't going to give up, easily - willing to endure even an electric drill to the foot (in a particularly bloody scene), rather than give in to Finn's demands. Sure, the idea that, after everything he had willingly endured, the Punisher would be willing to give up the location of the money in order to save the life of a dog he had adopted came across as a little corny (though, as a dog lover who saw, and enjoyed, John Wick - I get it) - but, then, it all turned out to be a part of Frank Castle's plan, anyway.

The idea that the Punisher would have actually allowed himself to be captured, and brutally tortured, all so that he would have a change of coming face-to-face with Finn was fascinating - but, of course, the most intriguing part is that we never did find out why it was so important to him. It's clear that, with the season seeming to move past the conflict between the Punisher and Daredevil, the mystery of what actually happened to Frank Castle's family seems set to take over as the character's main focus - and, it also seems as though Finn was somehow involved. But, clearly, that is a mystery which isn't going to be resolved until later in the season.

While Daredevil's rescue of the Punisher wasn't quite as impressive as some of the action sequences that we have already seen this season, there was still quite a bit to enjoy in those brief moments of action. Those too-brief moments in which Daredevil and the Punisher have reason to fight side-by-side were especially entertaining - and, those moments where Daredevil had to pause in his own efforts to physically prevent the Punisher from killing anyone added a great touch of dark humour.

Of course, it wasn't actually the action that was the true high-light of this episode - but, rather, it would have to be the chance for the audience to finally receive some deeper insight into who, exactly, the Punisher really is. A quiet moment between the two vigilantes toward the end of the episode, in particular, would have to stand out as possibly one of the best moments of the series, so far - with Jon Bernthal doing a fantastic job with an in-depth, and very emotional, monologue as he finds himself moved to reveal some details of the family he lost to the man who had just, quite possibly, saved his life.

Karen, meanwhile, continues with her new-found pro-active streak, as she works to uncover more information about Frank Castle - gradually piecing together what seems to be an elaborate cover-up involving Frank Castle and, possibly, the tragic death of his family. What is the purpose of this cover-up? Well, obviously, that revelation is still to come - but, it is definitely intriguing. It's also a fairly clear indication that Frank Castle's role in this season of Daredevil isn't actually over - it just seems set to change, somewhat. Given the fantastic performance that Jon Bernthal has given in the role, so far, that is something that I am definitely grateful for.

But, with this first, largely self-contained, plot-arc coming to an end, there is still the matter of what is next for this season of Daredevil. Oddly enough, we are know four episodes into the season, and I honestly have no idea where things are headed - though, the sudden appearance of another well-known comic-book character, Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), in the final moments of this episode does give some intriguing hints.

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