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While you can completely see the creative decisions that went into keeping Wilson Fisk mostly off-camera for this series, this episode can’t help but make you wonder whether it was the right choice. Starting with a flashback to Fisk entering prison after his trial, we see how he applies his own superpower – the ability to exercise control – to the point where he’s able to get away with basically anything.
In particular, it was fun watching him play off The Punisher. Unlike Matt, Frank isn’t interested in verbal jousting and Fisk seems to respect his single-mindedness. I’m not sure that translates well into Fisk changing his mind as soon as he realises he can’t actually kill The Punisher in jail, because letting a guy like that escape after you just betrayed him seems like a bad move. Maybe he just didn’t want someone as dangerous as Frank in the next cell over, but I’d have liked to have been a bit clearer on what was going on in Fisk’s head there.
In terms of action sequences, Frank’s prison slaughter might be the best yet this series. Daredevil does love its confined spaces action, but when the guy in the centre of the fight isn’t the main character and doesn’t have super powers it feels a lot more like it could go wrong for him at any moment. For me, that’s a key ingredient in making any fight exciting.
Outside the prison, we get some good interactions between Foggy and Matt, and the shutdown of Nelson & Murdock is a surprising twist. Maybe they’ll be up and running by the end, maybe not, but this series looked like it was building to the underdogs triumphing, and suddenly in the space of a couple of episodes they’ve imploded instead.
At least Karen’s investigative skills are finally being put to good use as she finds herself at the Bulletin, stepping into Ben Urich’s old role. This is a development I didn’t see coming at all, but it makes a lot of sense to me. The growing conspiracy around Frank’s family’s murder really intrigues me because I’ve got no idea where it’s going. Clearly, something big happened, but what’s so bad that it could be worth covering up to this extent?
And finally, the episode ends with Matt’s investigations taking him to a place where the Hand are collecting people’s blood for some sinister purpose. Well, that’s pretty creepy. As is Nobu’s reappearance, though as soon as Stick mentioned immortality last episode, that seemed like it was a given. Though it does make you wonder how you kill The Hand, if being burned alive won’t do it. I imagine a Highlander-style head collection is how, though I can’t see Matt going through with that…
Comic-wise, there’s not a huge amount being drawn on here. The Blacksmith isn’t anyone I’ve heard of from the comics, and I don’t remember The Hand ever collecting blood either. Fisk in prison has happened before. He, Matt and Frank were all incarcerated together during Ed Brubaker’s run, in Daredevil (1998) #82-87, the story collected as “The Devil in Cell Block D”. Definitely worth a read if you like the idea of the Kingpin in jail.