THE MAN IN THE BOX – 8.5/10.
As we enter the third act of the season we find Matt becoming an increasingly isolated figure. This is an incredibly dangerous place for him to be; his friends are his anchor, that one thing that stops a Daredevil from becoming a Punisher. Elektra is gone, Foggy is gone, even Karen has gone, and Matt now finds himself facing insurmountable odds as he takes on The Hand, a resurrected Nobu and an escaped Frank Castle. But while he wages battle on multiple fronts an unseen enemy is growing ever stronger in the form of Wilson Fisk. I assumed that Vincent D’onofrio would only be returning for one episode to further Frank’s narrative. But it appears as though I was wrong and Kingpin will play a major part in the tail end of this season.
After making his grim discovery at The Farm, Daredevil convinces Detective Mahoney to move the drained captives to Claire’s hospital so that he can keep them safe from Nobu and The Hand. But he is distracted from this mission by the news that Frank has escaped from prison. The next morning Reyes summons him to her office with Foggy and Karen. Reyes is understandably shaken by Frank’s escape as he most definitely has a very literal axe to grind with her. The corrupt DA finally admits the part she played in the deaths of Frank’s family; she set up the sting to capture The Blacksmith and chose not to clear the park of civilians. When Blacksmith didn’t show it descended into a shootout between the Cartel, Dogs of Hell and Kitchen Irish, the rest is bloody history.
Reyes fears for the safety of her family after discovering an x-ray of Frank’s skull in her daughter’s school bag. Karen tries to explain that Frank would never target a child, but she is cut short when someone opens fire on Reyes’ office. Foggy takes a bullet to his arm but gets off a lot lighter than Reyes who bleeds to death over Frank’s casefiles. Convinced that Fisk played a part in Frank’s escape Matt decides to pay a visit to his old nemesis. Kingpin plays innocent, but Matt proceeds to press his buttons by threatening to take legal action to keep Vanessa from returning to America. This enrages Fisk; he attacks Matt and vows that he will rain down hell on Nelson & Murdock and all of New York upon his release from prison. It’s is an amazing rant that is perfectly delivered by D’onofrio.
Having been rejected by Matt, Elektra heads to a private airfield to get away from New York, The Chaste, The Hand and pretty much everything else. She finds herself flirting with an attractive Frenchman at the bar. However the conversation soon takes a sinister turn when he reveals that he knows exactly who she is and what she is running from. She asks if he is there to kill her and receives her answer when he attacks her. He is a skilled opponent but Elektra manages to disarm him, using his own sai to end his life (it was awesome to see Elektra use her trademark weapon). She tells him that The Hand doesn’t need to come after her, she has no interest in the war anymore. With his dying breath the failed assassin reveals that it wasn’t The Hand that sent him, it was Stick.
Matt isn’t the only one trying to track down Frank. Karen visits Ellison at The Bulletin and together they decide to pay a call on the medical examiner, they arrive to a crime scene with the ME dead in a pool of bullets and blood. But Karen isn’t convinced; the carnage there and at Reye’s office doesn’t fit with Frank’s precision kills. She believes that someone is trying to frame him, her suspicions are confirmed when Frank shows up at her apartment. Whoever it is that’s killed Reyes and the ME opens fire on them and Karen only survives thanks to Frank’s quick thinking. Wilson Fisk is doing some thinking of his own over dinner; Matt managed to punch him in the mouth during their scuffle and it was enough to set Kingpin’s mind in motion, he asks his lawyer to bring him Matt’s file.
Back at the Hospital, Gibson’s son finally wakes up but something isn’t quite right. Matt stands guard on the rooftop and despite Claire’s best efforts he refuses to visit Foggy, who is resting up on one of the wards. Claire tells him that The Hand didn’t just drain the captives, they put some mysterious element back into their blood, using them as living incubators. This is exactly the kind of horror that is beginning to push Matt towards breaking point, he is starting to question himself and that isn’t a good thing. Claire returns to the ward where she discovers the captives have all woken up and murdered Gibson, they move in freaky unison chasing her away. At the very same moment Matt prepares himself for battle as The Hand launches an attack on the hospital.
This was very much a breather episode, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it felt as though Matt’s confrontation with Fisk was the only real moment of significance. Reyes’ death felt a little too thrown away, but that could be by design. Someone is clearly trying to cover their tracks and I wouldn’t be surprised if the conspiracy led back to the military. After all, who else would have the authority to give a ‘do not resuscitate’ order for Frank? Plus Clancy Brown is a pretty big name to only use in one scene. But it was the prison visit that helped to elevate this episode beyond simple filler on the road to the finale. Wilson Fisk represents everything that Matt fears, the total failure of the system. Now Fisk’s full attention is on Matt Murdock and Kingpin is nothing if not focused.