Wow, holy sh*t. I remember in my last Daredevil review I predicted things would go “balls to the wall” soon… Well, here we are. If fans wanted more of last season’s “Cut man” episode, they won’t be disappointed.
This episode opens with a bizarre dream like sequence, with Matt being treated for his wounds by a mysterious nun (comic book readers probably know who that is). Soon it cuts to Daredevil chained to a brick post on a rooftop. Frank Castle greets Matt as he assembles his military hardware. Matt attempts to learn more about the motives of Castle and reason with him, much to Castle’s annoyance. From here, we’re treated with great dialogue exchanges from the two. Castle reaffirms what he’s doing is the only logical action, while Matt fiercely condemns the former’s brand of justice. Frank believes simply putting away criminals is a short term solution at best, only adding to a cycle of endless violence. Matt counters that no one has the right to judge who lives or who dies. Frank tells Matt “I think you’re a half measure…you’re one bad day away from being me”. Frank eventually forces Matt to put his ideology in practice. He tapes a revolver with a single bullet in the chamber to Matt’s hand, drags a captured Grotto, and beats him mercilessly until he confesses he had killed an innocent old lady. Castle gives Matt a choice: either he shoots Frank in the head or Castle will simply shoot Grotto. Unable to betray his moral convictions, Matt opts to shoot off his chains and tackle Frank. However, not before Frank shoots Grotto in the chest, killing him.
Later, Foggy attempts to find Matt by talking to Claire at the hospital. The ER is packed with victims of the Punisher, so crowded that a fight nearly erupts between two rival gang members. Luckily, Foggy’s silver tongue manages to reason with them before anyone more people get hurt. Meanwhile, Karen is doing everything she can to save the Nelson & Murdock law firm. In the process, she begins to unravel more about the back-story of the Punisher.
High speed, low drag
This episode ramped up the tension and pace to 11. Easily the highlights of this episode are the exchanges between Matt and Frank, Foggy talking down the two gang members, and the final apartment complex fight. We really get to learn more about the Punisher character’s motives and personality this time around. What’s great about this conversation is the fact the viewers could easily get behind either character. Matt could be seen as the one being reasonable, since he advocates for second chances and not losing one’s humanity. Frank sees justice as black and white. You stop the threat quickly and permanently so that there won’t be a chance anyone else can get hurt again. It’s a classic case of warring superhero ideologies, but done in a very convincing manner. And this is made all the more better by the fact this scene is a direct adaptation from Garth Ennis’ Welcome Back, Frank Punisher story arc. Some changes were made of course, but the overall message was still intact.
Once again, Foggy proves his courage to stand up for others by his words not his fists. I appreciate that this scene wasn’t some sappy and unrealistic “feel good” moment. Foggy didn’t stand there and somehow magically convince these two felons to change their criminal ways. He simply used common sense and spoke to their need of self-preservation. If only all lawyers were as pure of heart like Mr. Nelson.
And now comes the main course of the episode… Charlie Cox had described this scene to be the hallway fight from “Cut man” but on steroids, and good lord was he right. The viewers get to experience a seemingly one shot take of Daredevil fighting an entire apartment stairwell’s worth of angry biker gang members, all while Matt has an empty revolver duct taped to his right hand and a chain wrapped in the other. The whole time, the fight choreography is impressively convincing. Matt tries his best to keep each combatant in a single file, so not as to be surrounded and overwhelmed (basically what you’re supposed to do in a multiple attacker scenario). At the same time, he is forced to adapt and use his current handicap as fighting tools. For instance, we see him using his chain to grapple enemies at long distances and break lights as well as using his “gun hand” to smash faces in with. Generally speaking, much like the hallway fight last season, none of the techniques look overly “flashy” or “clean”. What I mean by that is, often times in fight scenes, the moves executed look far too perfect, as if the characters are under no stress at all and can fight at tip top shape, despite the overwhelming odds facing them. Also, often incredibly impractical techniques such as the overused spinning kicks are implemented. It’s simply not believable. Instead, in Daredevil we can clearly see our hero becoming steadily more exhausted throughout the fight. He uses more close-ranged boxing, head-butting, and only executes a spinning kick to finish off an opponent. In many ways, Daredevil’s fighting ability could mimic a real life, well-trained martial artist.
On a side note, an observant eye could probably spot when the camera cuts throughout the fight. Using the same techniques used in the acclaimed Birdman film, the cinematography is set up so as to give the illusion of a one shot. In reality the editors and cameramen are using cleverly placed moments in between takes and splicing them together to appear seamless. At any rate, it still looks amazing.
This was easily the best episode so far. The episode contained top notch fight sequences, intriguing dialogue, and further character development. Aside from a minor continuity issue on the rooftop (when Matt is chained up with the gun taped to his hand, in one instance, the gun suddenly disappears), this was superbly shot. “New York’s Finest” is the sort of episode that threatens to drag viewers into the abyss of binge-watching.