NEW YORK’S FINEST -10/10.
Do you remember the fight scene from season 1 of Daredevil? You know which one I am talking about, THE fight scene. A long-take fight sequence with multiple assailants in the confines of a hallway. That sequence featured some of the most incredible fight choreography we have ever witnessed. It was the scene that people showed their friends to convince them that they needed to watch Daredevil. Well the bar has just been well and truly raised by a long-take hallway/stairwell/lobby fight that formed the climax of episode 3. It is a testament to the show that this stunning sequence wasn’t even the best part of the episode, instead it was a simple conversation between Daredevil and The Punisher that helped this episode to earn the first ever perfect score KOGITFW has ever dished out.
After blacking out during their last fight, Daredevil wakes up to find himself chained to a chimney by Punisher. Having battled physically the men now engage in a philosophical dual. Matt argues for the value of life and the need for hope in others, Frank counters by pointing out how ineffective Daredevil’s tactics are in the long term. As he puts it “You hit them, they get back up. I hit them, they stay down.” Unable to escape from his chains, Matt does his best to get inside the murky mind of Frank Castle. He recognises that Frank is an ex-soldier and that he must have lost somebody close to push him so far over the edge. But Frank has no interest in a free therapy session, just as he has no interest in knowing who Matt is under the mask; he’s only brought ‘Red’ here to prove a point.
While Daredevil and Punisher enjoy some quality bonding time, Foggy and Karen find themselves fighting battles of their own. Having run out of all other options, Foggy heads to the hospital in search of Matt. There he finds Claire, who is dealing with the sudden escalation in gang violence inspired by Punisher. He helps to defuse a stand-off between two rival gang members and Clare shows her gratitude by searching the hospital database for any sign of Matt. Meanwhile, after receiving an angry call from Grotto, Karen does her best to ensure that Nelson & Murdock doesn’t take the fall for Reyes’ mistake. After convincing Reyes’ assistant to hand over the Punisher files, she discovers an x-ray of a bullet damaged skull belonging to an “F, Castle”.
The conversation between Matt and Frank takes an intense turn when the building’s elderly super comes to investigate the noise. Frank threatens to kill him if Daredevil makes so much as a peep, but agrees not to harm him unnecessarily. Frank reveals his real name while convincing the man to leave him be, but he doesn’t seem concerned about secret identities and masks as these are options that a soldier doesn’t have. Daredevil accuses Frank of being unhinged and vows to stop him from killing, this amuses Frank and he knocks Matt unconscious. When he comes to he has a gun taped to his hand and Frank is holding Grotto hostage. Frank gives Matt a simple choice: either he shoots him or he will kill Grotto, either way Matt will have a death on his hands. Matt uses the single bullet in the gun to shoot the weak link on the chains but he is unable to stop Frank from killing Grotto.
Matt is also unable to stop Frank from shooting a grenade at the Dogs of Hell clubhouse (he really likes messing with those bikers), destroying their bikes and causing them to charge on the building en masse. Daredevil knocks Frank unconscious and begins to make his escape when the bikers pile into the building threatening the old man and forcing Matt to take on an entire gang. This incredible fight sequence forms the centre piece of the episode. Matt proceeds to lay waste to all of the Dogs of Hell with one hand taped to a gun and the other wrapped in chains. Matt fights his way through the hall, down the stairs and to the lobby, where he collects the still unconscious Punisher. So that’s round three to Daredevil, sort of anyway.
This was an absolutely fantastic piece of television that was bookended by two very contrasting confrontations. The moral stand-off between Daredevil and Punisher was incredibly engaging, especially as Frank made a very good point. It has often been pointed out that Batman has the blood of all of Joker’s victims on his hands and the same could be said for Daredevil’s new relationship with Punisher. He could have saved Grotto, but he didn’t. Was it due to his desire not to kill or perhaps he was swayed by Grotto’s last minute confession to the murder of an innocent? This episode was a gift to comic fans as it featured a direct page to screen adaptation of Garth Ennis’ amazing ‘Welcome Back, Frank’, which comes highly recommended if you would like to learn more about The Punisher.
The exchange between Frank and Matt gave both actors a chance to shine, but we really haven’t begun to get into the meat of who The Punisher is. I mentioned Garth Ennis earlier, he is a writer who managed to bring a lot of depth to Frank Castle, who can often be a very two dimensional character when reduced to little more than a badass with cool guns. Daredevil did an amazing job of exploring the psyche of Wilson Fisk, there is no reason to suspect that they won’t do exactly the same thing with Frank. But before I wrap this up I need to talk about that fight scene a bit more, there really is no other show that can match the choreography on Daredevil. It makes Arrow look like the power rangers! With ten more episodes to go, how are they possibly going to top that?