Please remember to keep spoilers for future episodes out of the comments.
Episode One ended with Matt being shot in the head. Luckily his bulletproof mask kept him alive (take that, comics version, with your stupid cloth mask) but he’s not in a good way. His senses are fading in and out and he’s struggling to control them. Well, I guess that’s one way of nerfing your protagonist. Though this sort of plot can come across a little too convenient at times if it’s badly handled so fingers crossed.
But let’s not get negative, because so far we’ve got no reason to expect bad things. The Punisher’s hospital attack on Grotto has left everyone shaken – not just the cast members, but the authorities as well. There’s a genuine sense that this guy is dangerous, and we believe it because we’ve seen it. Never mind hiding in the shadows, he’s out in the open from the very start.
If I had any main criticism of Season One it was that there was an over-reliance on Kung Fu and not much Legal Fu, so you can bet I was pleased to see Foggy laying some lawyerly turf all over the D.A.’s garden – even if their deal did turn out to be a double cross. It’s a shame Matt doesn’t do more of the lawyering because that dichotomy is kind of at the heart of the character, but I’m glad the show is putting more of it in there. And hey, as subplots go, Karen and Foggy defending an actual person is far better than the paper shuffling Foggy and Karen did most of last series.
Thematically, this episode also plays up to the notion that Daredevil is inspiring copycats, and whether his moderate actions are a catalyst for something worse. Matt’s always had guilt and responsibility issues, so one imagines he’s not going to be super into the idea that he’s causing problems like this. It’s interesting, though, that they’ve kept references to the wider MCU at bay during these discussions. Superheroes are talked about in very vague terms only. All things considered, it’s better for Daredevil if it doesn’t tie itself too hard in knots over the existence of characters beyond the Netflix portion of the MCU.
Spending more time with the Punisher in this episode was also great, as we get a good look at his ethos. He’s happy to commit crimes when he has to (such as buying a police scanner with stolen money) but as soon as the guy fencing hardware crosses into child porn, he’s crossed a line. He’ll shoot up a criminal family, but he’ll take care of their dog afterwards. Proof that the Punisher does have a moral code, even if it’s not one most of us agree with.
There weren’t any comics references to pick up this time (that I’m aware of, at least) but returning cast members from the Netflix series include Melvin Potter, who has presumably been called upon to give Daredevil’s costume a much-needed overhall, and D.A. Samantha Reyes, who turned up in the final episode of Jessica Jones. Karen also mentions that Hell’s Kitchen makes “good people want to shoot their way out of bad situations” which obliquely recalls her (not entirely cold-blooded) murder of Wesley last series.
Of course, Episode Two ends more or less the same way Episode One did – with Matt coming out on the wrong end of an altercation with the Punisher – but this time it seems like the Punisher’s taken him for what we can only imagine will be a brief friendly chat. Personally I’m looking forward to it.
Read James’ viewing notes on the previous episode, Bang, here.