This article contains spoilers for both these episodes and the episodes that came before it.
Moving forward with this series, I’d like to tackle the various episodes in more bite-sized chunks so you aren’t hearing the same criticisms being repeated with each installment. For those who have read my previous reviews, you have probably determined that I’m not the biggest fan of the series, and you’d be right about that. This doesn’t mean that I don’t find some redeeming and enjoyable additions to the narrative, just that it doesn’t live up to my expectations, something that I’ll cover once this series is done.
That being said, let’s get into it.
When I started watching this episode, I had to check to make sure that I hadn’t skipped one. That’s how utterly confused I was by the jump in time, perspective, and location that episode four just kind of throws at its audience. One second Punisher is passed out at the hands of an angry Daredevil, the next he’s just kind of… out in the world doing stuff. A lot was suggested at the end of the episode, like the Punisher was going to be brought to jail or that he and Daredevil would talk further about what occurred on the roof. Even seeing a follow-up as to what came next would have been helpful.
This confusion only intensifies as the episode goes on, as, once Punisher starts escaping from the Irish mob, he and Daredevil begin to work together, having banter and, while not exactly palling around, are comfortable enough with each other to work side-by-side. This is a huge tonal shift from the last episode that isn’t well explained, expanded upon, or really delved into in any regard. There’s some good character work with the Punisher at the very end as he speaks in the graveyard, as well as the interesting developments with Daredevil and his relationships with the cops, but otherwise this episode isn’t terribly noteworthy. Karen does some more investigating, but we get a pretty clear idea at this point as to what’s going on, feeling like it only reaffirms information that was already moderately clear. And Foggy is shown to be all the more useless, as his character is slowly declining, both in the sense of lacking things to do and lacking any enjoyable traits. He’s a good character but is being misused in a way that makes me dread seeing him on screen.
This is probably the best episode yet, and I feel like the fact that there’s no action sequences makes a huge contribution to this fact. All the fights so far have felt mundane, with almost every character reusing the same impractical attack (where they flip in the air and slam their fist or foot into someone’s skull to knock them out) and a feeling of detachment from the rest of the narrative. Not only that, but the fights often last a bit too long, feeling more like padding than content.
Instead, this episode is all about romance. Yes, I know, not the most appealing of topics to cover in a superhero set story, but it’s the first episode where I feel Daredevil is actually developing. There were hints at this in episode three, suggesting that he might give in to an overly violent attitude, but that has dropped off, at least for now. And with most of this series being about the Punisher and his background, Daredevil can feel like a side character in his own series. Luckily, rather than detracting from this, the introduction of Elektra acts as a way to develop Matt, revealing bits and pieces of his past that help us better understand his journey to become Daredevil.
Elektra is a hateable character and is written as such. There’s no real vagueness about it, and it’s clear that she’s the closest thing to a villain that we’ve had so far. And while she is going to be interacting with Matt for some time moving forward, it’s clear that she’s being developed to be the antagonist the series has lacked in many ways, despite the district attorney occasionally showing up. Here we get to see a lot of her, how she interacts with Matt, and many of her motivations.
Karen acts as a nice antithesis, as Matt and Karen’s date intertwines with flashbacks to the romance with Elektra in a way that isn’t disruptive, instead adding to the atmosphere. It can feel forced at times, but it’s charming to say the least, making me feel how the characters do in a genuine way.
Despite all the positives, there’s one HUGE negative that really bugs me to no end; the fact that Matt feels a compulsion to not tell Karen or Foggy about Elektra. There is literally no purpose to this except to create false drama and issues later. Matt has no reason to hide this, as it would help explain where the large sum of money came from, cover for his secret identity with Karen (perhaps explaining some of his absences), and allow Foggy to understand and support Matt moving forward rather than being obnoxious.
Juxtaposed to episode five, episode six seems to seek out ways to irk me. Rather than taking all the good character work done in the last episode and doing something with it, this episode looks to make drama to push the series forward. Foggy and his reactions to the Punisher developments and Matt and Karen’s relationship, the unnecessary mystery behind Matt’s meetings with Elektra, the Punisher suddenly pleading not guilty for currently unexplained reasons, the mysterious code that needs to be deciphered, and Matt’s continued unwillingness to stop looking into the “Yakuza” with Elektra are all contributors to this. This coupled with a lot of things that just don’t make sense, such as Foggy knowing more than he should (as the previous conversation should at least have been shown) and the incredibly fake-feeling fight scene at the start of the episode, made me shout at the television once or twice.
What doesn’t help is that due to the over-saturation of Marvel news online, I have a pretty good feeling of what some of the developments of the next couple of episodes are going to be, thanks to the titles of click-bait articles and the like. While this isn’t innately bad, I feel as if these plot points, if they come to fruition, aren’t being developed well.
Regardless, I can’t help but be a bit peeved at the predictable and monotonous pace the series has taken. While not necessarily bad, this season feels more like it was developed for traditional TV than a specialized “channel” such as Netflix, lacking the creativity, artistry or any interesting vision that the first season offered.