“The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”
Written by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Douglas Petrie
Directed by Euros Lyn
We get Elektra’s backstory! She was beating up multiple adult dudes when she was twelve. She almost killed one of them, and Stick had to explain why one doesn’t kill one’s own allies. In the present, Matt arrives to break up Stick and Elektra’s death match, and then random ninjas show up to break it up even more. The ninjas kidnap Stick. Matt wants to find him to save him, Elektra wants to find him to kill him. Matt takes a tip from Foggy and tracks the ninjas into abandoned underground railway tunnels. Ellison convinces Karen the story about Frank still matters, so she goes to Frank’s colonel’s house to interview him. But she realizes halfway through that this man is the Blacksmith, so she tries to get out before he realizes she’s onto him. The ninjas have figured out that Matt hears their swords, so they’re not using those anymore. Stick tells Matt to listen for their breathing. Wait, what? That’s what Matt couldn’t hear because they were controlling their breath! Shouldn’t he be able to hear their heartbeats?! The Blacksmith makes Karen drive them away from his house so that he can shoot her and dump her body somewhere inconspicuous, but Karen knows Frank is nearby, so she goes kinda slow. He slams into the car with his huge truck, on the passenger side of the car. Stick is getting fingernail tortured by the Hand. Elektra and then Nobu join Matt and Stick once Matt is about to drag him out of there. Turns out Elektra is a Black Sky and Nobu wants her. Back in the flashbacks, the dude Elektra almost killed came back to finish her off with a knife, so she killed him instead. One of the other mentors asked why Stick didn’t kill “it,” and Stick killed that mentor instead. In the present Nobu and all his men swear fealty to Elektra. Matt points out that if she’s going to side with him, he’ll be her enemy and she’ll have to kill him. Or, she can choose him and save Stick. She saves Stick. When Karen stumbles out of her totaled car, she sees a trail of blood leading into the woods. That’s the Blacksmith, staggering away from Frank. Karen tries to convince Frank not to shoot him, but Frank drags him into his little cabin and blows his brains out. Then he finds a ridiculous stash of guns in a secret room in the cabin, and a bulletproof vest with a vaguely skull-shaped pattern on the front. Matt fights Nobu and possibly kills him for the second time? Nope. He’s still alive. Maybe the rules of lethal force are different when your opponent is immortal.
The fragmented plot becomes more of a problem, not less, as the season moves into the climax. Disparate plots are supposed to merge awesomely for an uber-climax, not splinter into completely unrelated things. Ugh. And I’m still not sure why I should care about the Stick/Elektra/The Hand plot in the first place. But even the Punisher plot is not without flaws. For instance, we got a lot of tell and very little show about the impact of the Blacksmith on Hell’s Kitchen. Honestly I think the best way to go would have been to make S2 the Punisher season, with one episode building up the Stick/Elektra/The Hand plot to come into serious play in S3. That way, we could’ve done more with the three gangs and the Blacksmith and seen what kind of horror he was wreaking on the city and how it was different/worse/better from Fisk. Instead, he’s just this barely-mentioned villain partially responsible for the death of Frank’s family, and Frank just kills him. He gets like ten minutes of screentime as the Blacksmith, which is about the same amount of screentime he got as the seemingly nice colonel.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
Why is Karen so determined to believe Frank is a good man? Does it have something to do with her backstory? WHAT IS HER BACKSTORY?! Are we meant to agree with her about Frank, or are we meant to be unsurprised when he kills the Blacksmith even after she begs him not to? Because I don’t think it was very surprising, but I also think Frank is a surprisingly sympathetic character.
So Elektra does have some kind of primal bloodlust in her. She’s almost fiendish. But I’m still not sure why that merits the kind of reaction she gets from the Hand. What the crap is a Black Sky and how is that the Hand’s greatest weapon? She only seems unbalanced, not Doomsday Device-y.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.