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As the show reaches its climax, there’s a definite sense that the plot’s speeding up again after a few slower (though still gripping) episodes. So let’s tackle the various threads in turn.
First, The Hand’s attack on the hospital. A great fight scene, and one with a genuinely unexpected ending as the blood-bank rescues turn out to be either brainwashed, mystically controlled or in on the whole Hand thing. We see evidence that one of the Hand ninjas appears to have been autopsied already in the past, giving us a slight nudge towards considering their claims about being able to grant immortality. And although Claire’s bosses are mad about her actions, they get paid off, forcing her to quit in moral outrage. Does this mean the Night Nurse will have her own practise next time we see her? Let’s hope!
And it’s not that ninjas aren’t fun, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being upset by Frank Castle being back in action. Even though his incredibly bruised face looks really painful. Karen and Frank have developed a surprising and unexpected rapport, to the point where you can sort of imagine her turning up if they do a solo Punisher series. As Caroline Siede pointed out over on her AV Club review for this episode, it’s interesting to see her contrasting relationships with Matt and Frank. One’s always lying to her, causing emotional pain, the other doesn’t hide what he is but constantly puts her in physical danger. But by the end of this episode she’s probably realised that neither is ideal, especially once she’s come face to face with the brutality Frank’s capable of.
We finally get to see Daredevil and the Punisher back in action too, and that remains a fantastic pairing. The new lawless vigilante version of Matt even admits to the Punisher that – this once – he won’t stop him doing what he thinks is necessary. In some contexts this would be an upsetting misjudgement of the character, but I feel like the series has followed through with its themes and philosophy to earn Matt the right to make that decision, whether he means it or not.
After the way last season ended I wasn’t expecting a return from Madame Gao this time around, so the fact that she turned up for a scene was a nice little treat. I’m not sure how invested I am in knowing who the Blacksmith is right now, though. It doesn’t seem like there’s a narratively satisfying candidate in the cast, and it also suggests that if Frank can find and kill the guy, his war will be over. I’m not mad keen on Frank getting resolution for his family’s death, because then you have a difficult question to answer about what motivates him to keep going. I’m hoping they’ve got something good in story, but I have to admit, I’m not totally sure there’s any ending to this story that’ll satisfy me more than seeing the Punisher keep doing what he’s doing.
Finally, Foggy and Elektra also get a little time this episode to move their arcs forward too as the season prepares for a big close. I’m a big fan of Foggy in this series so I’m enjoying that he’s getting some actual recognition and an incentive to step out of Matt’s shadow, given how badly his friend has been treating him. And as for Elektra, she finally confronts Stick about him sending guys to murder her. There’s a conversation that’ll go well.
I have to admit, I didn’t spot any comics references in this episode – though Matt diving out of a window to save Claire mid-fall is classic superhero territory of the kind I’d quite like to see more of. Daredevil’s at his best when he’s being an acrobat as much as a brawler, and since the TV show prefers a less agile Daredevil I’ll happily take any scraps that come from that direction!