“New York’s Finest”
Written by Mark Verheiden
Directed by Marc Jobst
Matt wakes up chained to the roof of some building. The Punisher would like a word with him about his methods. Matt tries to get information about him, but he doesn’t learn much more than what he can guess with his senses: he’s a soldier who’s acting like he’s still at war. Foggy desperately wants to find Matt, so he finds Claire to see if she knows where he is. She doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean Foggy doesn’t get a chance to be awesome. He deadpan lawyers at a couple of rival thugs trying to tear the ER apart until they both back down. An old man from the building Punisher has Matt chained up on pokes his head out through the roof access door, and Punisher threatens to shoot him if Matt makes any noise. Matt doesn’t. We learn Punisher’s name is Frank. Karen goes to the Assistant D.A.’s office to try to get help from him so his boss won’t destroy Nelson & Murdock out of spite. He gives her some files, which she spends the rest of the episode poring over back at the office. Frank has also captured Grotto, and he tries to force Matt to shoot him by duct taping a gun to his hand. He forces Grotto to admit to murdering an old lady because she saw him doing a hit for the Irish. Matt still won’t shoot him. He shoots his chains instead, but not before Frank can shoot Grotto, and then shoot the gas tank of one of the Dogs of Hell’s bikes, because they’re in a building across the street from their headquarters. They all come charging to take out whoever just blew up two of their bikes. Grotto dies on the rooftop. Matt knocks Frank out, and he tries to get away with him, but the Dogs of Hell catch up. He has to fight his way through them, and by the time he makes it out, Frank has escaped. Karen finds an x-ray in the D.A.’s file of a skull with a bullet hole in it. Whose x-ray is that?
Frank scoffs at Matt for playing his little hero costume games when he’s never been to war. But Matt’s about to be plunged into Stick’s war. I think this might be the connection I wanted between the two plotlines in this season. The first time I watched it, it felt like there was nothing tying the two main stories (the Punisher and Elektra/Stick/The Hand) together, but even if there’s not much of a literal connection between the stories, there might be a thematic one. Frank basically told Matt that he would inevitably turn into someone more like him, especially if he had to face war. Which is exactly the gauntlet Matt is going to have to go through. Will he come out the other side still the Daredevil, or will the demands of war rob him of his moral and ethical code?
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
Matt is exactly the kind of vigilante you’d expect from a devout Catholic/brilliant lawyer background. He just tries to plug up the gaps in the justice system without breaking any commandments in the process. Frank, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of vigilante you’d expect from someone with the background of a soldier whose family was murdered. The only solution is for the bad guys to die, because the justice system is too broken to trust they’ll rot in prison. Hmm. Maybe Matt is actually Neutral Good, and Karen’s the Chaotic Good one.
Foggy continues to have an amazing amount of guts! I suspect his purpose this season is to show that there’s a third option Matt could take: he could just believe in the law and be the best lawyer he can. Instead of beating the crap out of criminals, simply not taking crap from them. Matt is so caught up in the ethics of vigilantism that he completely misses that Foggy is remarkably effective at stopping violence just by being good at the system.
Karen is very good at pulling threads and finding leads. She knew the ADA would not be a loyal ally to Reyes, and she got valuable information because of it. She made more progress in the case than Matt or Foggy did (though, admittedly, Foggy was mostly just trying to find Matt and make sure he wasn’t dead).
Frank is like an American soldier version of Stick or something. He uses the same word to describe Matt’s no-kill vigilantism: half-measures. Stick is fighting his mysterious war and doesn’t want to talk about it enough to properly justify it. Frank is a veteran who scoffs at people who think they understand war but doesn’t really try to explain either. They’re both cryptic, hyper-pragmatic, utterly merciless warriors. And they both think Matt needs to either become one of them or get out of the warzone entirely. Chaotic Neutral, I think. Addition, as of watching The Punisher S1: Okay, knowing Frank better now, there's no way he was serious about threatening that old man. He only kills people he believes deserve killing, not people who happen to witness stuff (considering that was Grotto's worst crime, it'd be particularly hypocritical to condemn him for that if he actually meant the old man harm). In fact, I think he likes the old man, a former Marine himself, much better than he likes Daredevil.
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The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.