Sunday, 20 March 2016

Review - 'Daredevil', S02E05 - 'Kinbaku'






When taken together, it is easy to imagine the first four episode of this season of Daredevil serving as its own, essentially self-contained, mini-series. There were still loose ends and unanswered questions, of course - and, there is still plenty of room for further development for the Punisher, as a character. But, overall, those four episodes told a clearly defined story which reached a logical conclusion.

With that in mind, it is probably fitting that the fifth episode feels as though it could be the start of any entirely new season. This is an episode which is, clearly, intended to set a new story in motion - one that is obviously intended to revolve around the equally mysterious figure of Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung). As such, there is an obvious need to introduce her to the audience, along with revealing the lasting impact that she has already had on Matt Murdock. While the need to cover so much ground does, unfortunately, make this the most uneventful episode of the season, so far, it is still clearly important ground which does need to be covered - so, it was still for the best that the episode was willing, and able, to take its time, here.

With Elektra reaching out to Matt in the present, it is obviously the perfect time for a series of flash-backs to show how they met, in the first place. And, I have to admit, it was these flash-backs that were the true high-light of the episode, here. They were certainly more interesting than anything we saw in the 'present day'. First of all, we had the simply joy of Matt and Foggy trying to crash a high-class party - which is, honestly, something I would have liked to see a bit more of. Then, there was Elektra and Matt, themselves - who, after meeting at this same part, seem to find themselves instantly drawn to each other.

The idea that each could offer something of the 'danger' and 'excitement' that the other clearly craved was an element that was played pretty strongly in these flash-back scenes - and, it worked well. Their relationship was convincing in a way that Matt and Karen's blossoming relationship, in the present, hasn't quite managed to be, yet. Although, that being said, I do have to mention one element which really didn't work, for me - that being the slow-motion sex-scene, set to overly dramatic music. Honestly, that was a bit much.

Of course, as strong as Charlie Cox and Elodie Yung were together, in these scenes, it was inevitable that we would also see the moment where their relationship soured - since, after all, there was still the need to explain the anger that Matt felt over Elektra's re-appearance in the present. That moment, when it came, was definitely a strong one. The idea that Elektra could, and would, track down the thug who had killed Matt's father, and that she would offer him up to Matt, was a moment that fully brought out the sense of danger in Elektra that had only been hinted at before. And, the idea that the end of the relationship would be caused by Matt's refusal to murder him was especially fascinating. Clearly, the Punisher wasn't the first person to ever test Matt's resolve - and, in the end, these two simply didn't understand each other quite as well as they had thought.

All of this was very interesting but, unfortunately, the 'present day' story-line concerning Elektra's return had the feeling of treading water, as it worked to set up a conflict which wouldn't actually occur until the next episode. Here, we have Elektra reaching out to Matt, claiming that she needs his help, as a lawyer rather than a fighter. Her father's company, it seems, has become tied up in the shady dealing of the Roxxon Corporations. As it turns out, though, Elektra doesn't actually require Matt's help, at all. Elektra's true purpose is to draw Matt into her own conflict with the Yakuza who, it seems, are still active in Hell's Kitchen despite Matt's best efforts in the first season. There is a hinted at connection between the Japanese branch of Roxxon that Elektra is dealing with and the Yakuza which does, at least - so, there is some sense to the sudden shift, at least. Though, what that connection actually is hasn't been revealed, yet.

Although the 'present day' scenes between Matt and Elektra aren't quite as compelling as what we see during this episode's various flash-backs, there is still a genuine tension between them that makes their time on-screen together fascinating to watch. Elodie Yung, meanwhile, has managed to do a great job of bringing this dangerous, and slightly damaged, character to life. While I'm not really in any position to comment on how closer Elodie Yung's version of Elektra matches up with her portrayal in the comics, what we see on-screen, here, is still fascinating.

Regarding the supporting cast, though - while Foggy doesn't have much to do in this episode, Karen is able to continue with her investigation of the secrets surrounding Frank Castle. With District Attorney Reyes making good on her threats to turn on Matt and Foggy's small firm, and seemingly set on painting Frank Castle as little more than a violent psychopath to the media, Karen has become convinced that the only her only course of action is to uncover what seems to be a fairly significant conspiracy. Karen's efforts have already uncovered the tragic death of Frank's family, and his own near-death experience - and, now, she seems to have uncovered the exact moment in which all of this occurred. Of course, the actual reasons why any of this would be covered up still remain to be answered.

This was, clearly, something of a transitional episode for Daredevil, as the season begins to move beyond its first arc and begins to set the scene for what is still to come. While this, by necessity, means that this is also a much slower paced episode than anything we have seen, so far, it was also never dull - and, the plot-lines that have been set in motion, here, are genuinely fascinating. Not only do we have Daredevil being drawn into Elektra's conflict with the Yakuza, but there is also the promise of interesting new developments for Frank Castle, as the character begins to make the transition from straight-forward antagonist to the complicated 'anti-hero' he is usually portrayed as. Sure, it might be a little disappointing to stop and consider how little actually happened, on either front, in this episode - but, these are still plot-lines that I am eager to see play out in more detail as the season progresses.

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