Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Review - 'Daredevil', S02E07 - 'Semper Fidelis'

Over the past couple of episodes, Daredevil seems to have settled into a comfortable groove with its telling of two very distinct, yet equally fascinating, stories. First, we have Elektra drawing Matt into an increasingly tangled web as they investigate Roxxon Corporation, and its connections to the Yakuza. Then, we also have the trial of Frank Castle, which is going ahead despite Foggy's best efforts, following Frank's unexpected decision to plead 'not guilty'.

In this episode, though, these two separate story-lines begin to bleed into each other in some very interesting ways - most obviously, through Matt, himself, who is clearly stretching himself a little too thin in his efforts to play the part of both 'lawyer' and 'costumed vigilante'. Matt's lack of focus on the trial becomes so significant, in fact, that Foggy is even required to step in for him when it is time to deliver the opening statement - something that Foggy, clearly, isn't happy about, considering that he never wanted to take the case in the first place. This results in a fairly significant level of tension between the two long-time friends, which eventually erupts into full-blown argument with the revelation that Elektra has taken it upon herself to interfere with the case in a misguided effort to help Matt - threatening a key witness behind the scenes, and almost derailing the trial, entirely.

Even before this, though, the trial of Frank Castle isn't going well - with Frank's refusal to use PTSD as a defence (since, he feels, it would be an insult - not to him, though, but rather to the people who truly do suffer) leaving them with few other options. With no real idea of how to proceed, and receiving very little in the way of support from his partner, Foggy is largely left to improvise - and, to his credit, he does manage to perform rather well. Elden Henson has another in an increasingly long list of stand-out moments, here, as he effectively sell's Foggy's largely improvised opening statement - even if Frank Castle wasn't quite as impressed as the jury, or the audience, may have been.

But, then, their flimsy case seems to fall apart entirely, when Elektra's interference becomes known. Realising that the autopsy reports of Frank's family don't quite match up with Frank's own account, Matt and Foggy come to the (not unreasonable, given what they have already learned) conclusion that they have been falsified. Intending to trap the Doctor responsible on the stand, Matt is left stunned when he arrives already either to confess - having been threatened the night before. Rather than agreeing to declare a mistrial, though, the Judge orders that the autopsy reports are inadmissible as evidence, and declares the Doctor's testimony stricken from the record - leaving Frank's defence in an even more precarious situation as the trial is forced to continue. This results in another genuinely great moment of drama for Matt and Foggy, as Foggy finally expresses his frustration and anger - with Charlie Cox and Elden Henson each doing a great job of showing these two friends falling out in a manner that felt painfully real.

Karen and Matt encounter some difficulty of their own, also, when what started out as a perfectly pleasant dinner ends in an argument in which Karen declares that she might actually agree with the Punisher's methods, after all - leaving Matt stunned, and bringing their evening together to an awkward conclusion. This latest revelation does, of course, build on something that has been hinted at since the season began - and, in fact, even extends back to the first season, when she willingly killed Wesley in order to save herself. Clearly, Karen is going through her own development this season, as she seems to identify more with the Punisher than she ever has with Daredevil - even as she seems to feel conflicted about her own inadvertent admission that his methods seem to work. It seems fairly obvious that there is still much about Karen that hasn't been revealed to the audience - and, given what a great job Deborah Ann Woll has done on the series (particularly this season), I would definitely like to see her receive more focus as the season progresses.

As strange as this may be to say, though, once again the 'Yakuza' story-line just isn't quite as interesting as the court-room drama of Frank Castle's trial - and, once again, I suppose I would have to attribute that to the fact that the threat Matt and Elektra are investigating still feels vaguely defined. There are some strong hints that that is about the change, though, as Matt and Elektra's efforts to translate the encoded pages of the ledger that they stole in the previous episode more tense confrontations with heavily armed thugs - before ending on the strangest hint of all, a massive and impossibly deep pit dug within the building that Wilson Fisk acquired for Nobu back in the first season.

Matt may still believe that they are investigating the Yakuza but, following the reveal that ended the previous episode and this episode's reveal of the strange pit dug for some unknown purpose, it should be clear to the audience that we may be about to see a return to the more 'supernatural' elements hinted at in the previous season (with fans of the comics, of course, already having a clear advantage here - since they would already know plenty about 'the Hand'). Matt and Elektra's side of the story may dragged a bit up until this point - but, this new development has me very interested in seeing how things progress from here.

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