Ricky Church reviews the third episode of Daredevil season two…
When there is one hero who has sworn against killing and another who sees the black and white value in taking life, its inevitable for them to have that philosophical conversation debating their beliefs. ‘New York’s Finest’ dealt primarily with Daredevil’s and Punisher’s beliefs in the justice system, a conversation fans had already gotten glimpses of in the trailers for Daredevil.
First, I have to mention the basis for this conversation is straight out of comic writer Garth Ennis’ Punisher run, specifically Punisher #3 published in 2001. The nods to this issue were particularly strong, from Daredevil being chained up to actual lines lifted right from the page. Much in the way that Season 1 was influenced by Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil, Season 2’s portrayal of Punisher seems to be influenced by Garth Ennis. This is anything but bad news as Ennis had a great handle depicting Frank Castle.
Their conversation was great, allowing both character’s to have valid points of view. Their philosophical battle allows the audience to really get behind both of their stances; even if you agree Castle is taking things to far, you can understand his reasoning, especially after the twist that Grotto, the informant Nelson & Murdock have been so adamant to protect, was in fact not as innocent as he led them to believe.
This was also a good time to really get to know Castle. Though he’s appeared in the previous two episodes he hardly spoke any lines, simply appearing as an intimidating and deadly force, and this was a great chance to see what made him tick. Jon Bernthal gave an excellent performance as he displayed the anger and cunning brutality within the character. Though you have to wonder, given Punisher’s stance on killing only the guilty, would he really have pulled that trigger on the old landlord had push come to shove? My answer is probably not, but it adds to the character that you may not be able to predict his actions, especially after he put Karen and other innocent civilians in danger at the end of the premiere.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s go into the episode’s climax, one I’m sure everyone will be talking about. Going into this season, one question that was on everyone’s mind was “will they be able to top the hallway fight from Season 1’s ‘Cut Man’?” Well, that moment just came and, boy, did it deliver! Giving Daredevil not one, but two handicaps by having one hand taped to an unloaded gun and the other still chained up added a lot of tension to the scene. It was cool to see him use both weapons as a means to defeat so many enemies. The tracking shot down the stairwell looked amazing, though there could have been a little bit of CGI trickery there as opposed to ‘Cut Man’s straight up stunts. Nevertheless, it was a great couple minutes as he moved from floor to floor, doing whatever he could to take down his foes, punctuated by a quick fight with the biggest gang members after the tracking shot completed. Some my say it was simply recycled from ‘Cut Man’, but the handicaps added a new layer of tension as and Daredevil was arguably given even smaller space to fight. It was an excellent sequence and will probably standout from the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, we also got some great material from the supporting characters. Foggy once again stood up and showed how he could be a capable lawyer (and character) without Matt or Karen around, as he talked down to thugs in the hospital wing. It was a great moment for him and I really like the stronger focus they’ve given Foggy and actor Elden Henson. Rosario Dawson’s Claire also came back and it was nice to see her actually interact with Foggy (since it happened off screen last season). She again showed some strong characterization and it was also nice to hear her reference her guest stint on Jessica Jones. Hopefully she will be utilized more this season than she was last.
Overall, this was a great episode that shined a light on the philosophical differences between Daredevil and Punisher, making you question which one was really in the right. Since this is the point Castle is becoming more involved in the season, I hope his characterization will be explored and that Ennis’ work will also be utilized onward.
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