Please remember to keep spoilers for future episodes out of the comments!
This was kind of a strange episode. Perhaps motivated by the need to wrap up Frank’s storyline without having it steal time from the end of Matt’s, this instalment sees Frank finally track down and confront the guy who made his life a misery: The Blacksmith. And it turns out to be Colonel Schoonover, Frank’s old commander. That guy we met for like three minutes that one time.
I’m probably not alone in thinking this isn’t a particularly satisfying reveal, though it also isn’t like they had anywhere else to go with it because this series wasn’t exactly stuffed with characters who had any kind of personal connection to Frank. I’d have quite liked them to have discovered that the Blacksmith was Wesley, but mostly because I find sort of a grim comedy in the idea that Karen shot the guy the Punisher had been trying to kill for years. And let’s face it, it would’ve only been marginally less boring an answer than this one.
This does make me wonder whether Frank will even be back for the finale. I’m kind of expecting him to turn up and gun down tonnes of ninjas, but this episode plays it like his story is over. He doesn’t really have a reason to go after The Hand, now that he’s got closure, so I’m not really sure whether it’ll even happen. Any future Punisher series is going to have quite a job separating the character from his single-minded quest to take down the people who killed his family, that’s for sure, since the only other crook he killed in this series was that one peddling child porn, and that came across as more opportunistic than anything.
It’s also sort of surprising to learn that Elektra is the Black Sky. We’re not really sure what that means at this point – just that she’s a target for them and can be “their deadliest weapon” – but how does that square with what we saw last series, when Stick killed a child the Hand believed to be the Black Sky? Is there more than one? He’d know if there wasn’t, after all.
Still, I enjoyed the exploration of Elektra’s backstory, and this episode reaffirms that Netflix Stick is a big softie compared to Comics Stick. That relationship is portrayed really well, and it adds a new dimension to all of the characters involved. Though Elektra’s “you were a mission but I did what I promised not to and fell in love” confession is such a wretched cliché that one wonders how the actors managed not to roll their eyes.
Still, I’m interested in the hints here that Elektra might end up leading The Hand. That did happen in the comics for a time, though it turned out to be a Skrull imposter (New Avengers #29-31 tells that story. Sort of.) It’d be an interesting direction for the character, though let’s be honest: if she doesn’t end up dead in the next episode I’m going to be very surprised because Elektra’s one of those characters who can’t show her face in an adaptation without that beat coming up almost instantly.
The mystical tone of this episode – specifically Nobu being alive again – did make me appreciate how the MCU can help the believability of a series even without overt references to specific elements. As in the comics, I already believe that this is a world in which mysticism rubs shoulders with street-level vigilantes, so I don’t feel like the tonal shift has been too ridiculous. Although maybe I’m just being generous because I’m a huge Daredevil nerd already.
One last thing I will say about this episode: the amount of people dying in it meant I really started to feel my mortality. I think I’m getting some form of PTSD from witnessing all these lives being snuffed out in service of some pretty bizarre ideals and justifications. Can’t we all just get along?!
Weirdly, I feel like there wasn’t a lot of Daredevil in this episode, and when there was he was largely just standing around waiting for other people’s plots to advance. Presumably next episode will be pretty Matt-heavy, though, so maybe that’s why. Like last series I think they might struggle to make the ending match the run-up, but at this point I’ve already seen everything I ever wanted out of a Daredevil series so if it’s even a half-decent conclusion I’ll be happy.