KINBAKU – 7/10.
They say that love can kill you faster than any bullet and while Matt Murdock can certainly dodge bullets he seems less able to dodge love. This episode slowed the pace somewhat, allowing us to catch our breath after the intensity of Daredevil’s battle with the Punisher, but it still had the inescapable feeling of the calm before a storm. The episode took the form of a dual love story, focussing on Matt’s burgeoning romance with Karen and his shared history with Elektra. Like Punisher, we very quickly become acquainted with Elektra: she’s an enigmatic and charismatic figure and her presence is enough to ease the transition away from Frank Castle, although the ripples of The Punisher are still very much present in the story.
We flashback to Elektra and Matt’s first meeting ten years ago. Foggy and Matt try to break into a fancy party hosted by Elektra’s wealthy father, Matt is instantly attracted to the bored socialite but she seems less interested in him. However he assures her that he could surprise her, intrigued Elektra invites him to join her for a spin in a stolen sports car; it really is the perfect introduction for the character. Our next visit to the past comes weeks later with Matt and Elektra’s courtship in full swing. Matt takes her to Fogwell’s Gym where he talks about his father and how he was murdered by The Fixer, Roscoe Sweeney. It is also here where Elektra forces Matt to reveal his abilities to her, it seems she has abilities of her own and they spa together before making love in the boxing ring.
Relations between Matt and Elektra are much frostier in the present day. Picking up where episode 4 left off, Matt bluntly asks what she is doing in his apartment. She claims to have missed him but Matt dismisses this as nonsense, eventually she admits to needing his help. Her father had done some bad deals with the Roxxon Corporation and following his death they now control the majority of his estate. She asks Matt to represent her at a meeting with Roxxon at the Yukitami Building but he says no, demanding that she leaves his home. Despite his rejection Elektra still transfers a large sum of money into Nelson & Murdock’s account, much to the delight of Foggy. The firm is feeling the strain as Reyes continues to try to pressure them into corroborating her version of Frank’s story.
Karen takes it upon herself to discover the truth about Frank, so she pays a visit to Ellison at The NY Bulletin. It still hurts that they aren’t using the Bugle as the shows paper, and it hurts even more that Ben Ulrich was removed from Daredevil at such an early stage. Karen searches through old copy and discovers an article about a shoot-out in Central Park between The Mexican Cartel, Dogs of Hell and the Kitchen Irish. There is no mention of Frank or his family, but this is most definitely the day that changed everything for Frank Castle, the entire thing reeks of a cover up due to Frank’s military past. Matt also does some digging of his own, following Elektra to her meeting and watching from the rooftops as she uses an electronic device to hack Roxxon’s servers.
Elektra walks a dark line, as we discover in the next flashback. She convinces Matt to break into a mansion that she claims belongs to one of her father’s associates. But Matt soon discovers that the true owner is none other than the man responsible for his father’s death, Roscoe Sweeney, who had been living in luxury under a false identity. Elektra presents Roscoe as a gift for Matt, tying him to a chair and encouraging Matt to release all his anger on him. She enjoys watching him beat the defenceless criminal but the experience is far less pleasurable for Matt. Despite Elektra’s encouragement he refuses to kill Sweeney, choosing to call the police instead. Elektra seems disappointed by Matt’s refusal to kill and vanishes, leaving him all alone.
Back in the present, Matt enjoys a romantic evening with Karen. His relationship with Karen is far warmer than the sensual connection her shares with Elektra. They are sweet together and as a viewer it is very easy to root for them. They start their date in a fancy restaurant but Matt suggests that they relocate after he receives a call from Elektra while Karen is in the bathroom. After the date Matt goes to confront Elektra at her apartment, he accuses her of trying to manipulating him for her own gain, then and now. But their argument is interrupted by the arrival of Roxxon’s Yakuza forces. Matt has no desire to fight but Elektra leaves him very little choice, if they want to survive the Yakuza then they are going to have to work together.
This episode served as the perfect introduction to Electra; we now know who she is, thanks to some expositional dialogue we know that her family has some dark connections, we know that she has a hold over Matt and we know how dangerous that could be. It seems as if the middle section of the season will focus on Matt and Elektra’s battles with both The Yakuza and each other, this isn’t a bad thing at all. As well as this there are still the ongoing narratives of the cover up surrounding Frank Castle, and the district attorney’s self-serving plans for New York’s vigilantes, including The Punisher, Jessica Jones and eventually Daredevil himself. But that is the least of Matt’s worries right now as he once again finds himself fighting alongside a partner he neither wants nor trusts.