Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Review - 'Daredevil', S02E06 - 'Regrets Only'

The previous episode of Daredevil might have taken its time, somewhat, in developing Elektra, as a character, and in revealing the details of her past relationship with Matt to the audience - but, this episode wastes no time in picking up on the plot-threads set in motion, there. Beginning with the Yakuza riding through the streets of Hell's Kitchen, the episode soon gets right to the action - providing the audience with a great little action sequence that gives us our first proper look at Elektra, in action. Sure, it might have come across as a little silly that this group of hardened thugs, apparently, only brought a single gun with them (leading to a straight-forward action sequence when that gun is, inevitably, taken from them) - but, it was still a scene as well-choreographed as anything else we have seen on Daredevil, so I'm willing to let that little detail slide.

From there, Elektra outlines her suspicions about a connection between the Japanese branch of the Roxxon Corporation and the Yakuza, and draws Matt into a reluctant alliance as they put together a plan to steal some important information. It is a plan which includes some fairly classic 'heist' elements, as the two are required work their way through a high-class party and steal the key-card they need, before slipping away to find Roxxon's secret ledger.

There was quite a bit to enjoy about seeing Matt and Elektra working together, here - even if their mission did lack some of the action and excitement that we have had from previous episodes. After so much tense drama, though, the fact that this first team-up actually brought about a significant change in tone, by playing out more as a fairly light-hearted 'caper' than a truly dangerous mission, which made this episode a lot of fun, though - with the interaction between Matt and Elektra being the clear high-light.

The previous episode might have made it clear that there is something dangerously unhinged about Elektra (she did, after all, end their relationship in the past because Matt was unwilling to kill) - but, it is also difficult to deny that the sheer enthusiasm she displays when she is in her element is a lot of fun to watch, even if that element might happen to be highly dangerous situations. Even Matt seemed to be won over, by the episode's end - not seeming nearly as reluctant to admit that there work wasn't actually done as he might have been earlier.

While Matt and Elektra's plot-line, here, added an element of genuine fun to the episode, there was still plenty of time for drama, as attention was turned back to Frank Castle. Following his arrest, Frank was, of course, entirely absent from the previous episode - but now, having finally regained consciousness, his trail can go ahead. The only problem, though, is that the public defender assigned to his case doesn't seem capable, or even particularly willing, to build a decent defense for his client. On top of that, District Attorney Reyes is still exerting pressure - clearly intending to see Frank convicted as quickly as possibly, as she plans on using his case to boost her own career.

With the witness testimony that Karen is asked to sign turning out to be entirely inaccurate (intended to make the Punisher appear more violent and unhinged than he already is), and the death penalty even becoming a possibility, Matt and Karen come to the conclusion that their small firm should represent him - with Foggy, very reluctantly, agreeing.

While the idea of Matt and Foggy representing Frank Castle is interesting, in itself, it is actually Karen's continued efforts to uncover the mystery of the tragic deaths of Frank's family that proves to be the most fascinating element, here. Rather than being angered by this, the knowledge that Karen is trying to uncover what really happened, and has even visited his family's home, seems to cause Frank to latch on to her, to some extent. Much to Foggy's obvious discomfit, Karen ultimately becomes the only one that Frank is willing to talk to - and, the two begin to develop an odd rapport. Both Jon Bernthal and Deborah Ann Woll are great in these scenes - with Karen displaying a very believable mix of discomfit and sympathy as she finds herself alone with the Punisher while Frank, for his part, goes out of his way to convince her that she was never in any real danger. When their conversation turns to Frank's family, and the reveal that Frank has been unable to bring himself to return to his old home after their deaths, the episode takes another genuinely emotional turn toward humanising the Punisher - with Karen outlining what she saw at the Castle home, to help Frank remember.

This mix of pure fun, with Matt and Elektra, and genuine dramatic emotional, with Karen and Frank, might seem like an odd one - but, it works out rather well for this episode. With the 'Yakuza' plot, we had an entertaining heist, and some great moments between Matt and Elektra (along with the revelation that it might not actually be the Yakuza, after all) - but, as much fun as it was, the threat they pose still feels vague and undefined, for the moment. With Frank Castle, though, we had a much more interesting, and straight-forward, plot-line - one which managed to delve into the increasingly complex emotions of this character in a very satisfying way.

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