This article contains spoilers for both these episodes and the episodes that came before it.
Episode 7: The Filler Episode
Episode seven feels like a huge waste of time, with viewers basically seeing everyone do the same things they have been for the last couple of episodes. Daredevil and Elektra sneak around investigating the ‘Yakuza,‘ Foggy complains and lacks confidence in himself despite being great at his job and Karen continues to have hope for the Punisher, the trial and the firm as a whole. Oh, and Matt continues to be a terrible friend and lies about basically everything for no reason.
Much of this episode takes place in the courtroom, as we move towards forwarding the plot in a way that we haven’t seen in a little while. It all feels a bit heavy-handed, though, as the episode starts with obviously conflicting notions of what the Punisher is all about.
This episode also commits one of the cardinal sins of film/TV, with the dreaded “BWAAAAH” sound effect blaring as the Punisher is first brought into court. It’s out of place, cliche, frustrating and doesn’t belong here.
We also finally see some progress with Matt actually admitting that he’s meeting with Elektra, which I hope would allow the secret/reveal plot point to come to a conclusion or at least move to a more interesting dynamic other than dominating the interactions between our core three characters. What I found was that this only worsened the situation, only perpetuating what is one of the more contrived ideas in the show.
All in all, this episode doesn’t progress much in terms of anything. Foggy’s still mad at Matt, Karen’s still unsure of what’s going on, Elektra’s still a jerk and Matt’s still conflicted with everyone else. Some of the progress in court is nice to see, but when the outcome of the trial is so obvious, it feels like it hardly matters (more on this in the next episode’s explanation).
Episode 8: The Reveal Episode
With the show having moved past the mid-way point, and the last episode giving us very little to chew on, it’s finally time to have a bunch of progress shoved in our faces so the show can start moving towards a conclusion. What were these revelations? Let’s take them on one at a time:
1. The ‘Yakuza’ is actually the Hand, an ancient organization bent on taking over the world, but specifically Hell’s Kitchen for whatever reason. This I already knew to a degree, as there was talk of the Hand’s involvement in the series since the first season. And for those unfamiliar, I feel like this adds very little, as they’ve already been established as a villainous organization.
2. Stick is back in town and actively fighting the Hand. Considering where we left the character in the last season, this makes sense, although I wish he wasn’t used as this obnoxious deus ex machina at the start of the episode. Additionally, his writing and overall characterization feels very flat and tame in comparison to season one, as if his purpose here is almost exclusively exposition, which is more or less the case.
3. Elektra has worked for Stick all along. This I honestly didn’t expect whatsoever, and it was interesting to see how this reveal affected our characters. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t change anything that’s been established, nor Elektra as a character. Elektra, as a whole, is a simple character with straightforward goals, and while this could have changed that or revealed other hidden goals, this only cements the fact that she looooooooooooves Matt and wants to be with him, despite her past. This also adds to some silly drama where she debates revealing her “real” self to Matt, even though her idea of this is killing someone and saying “here I am.” Both Matt and the audience have already basically seen this, making the point moot and feel like filler.
4. Karen finds Matt with Stick and Elektra. While this isn’t a reveal for us, it’s a reveal for her, and one that was bound to happen. The stupid misunderstanding trope has been waiting to pounce, and thanks to the contrivance of Stick answering the door, it has come to fruition. It’s obnoxious and frustrating, but at this point it had to happen.
5. The Punisher makes a deal with the cops, resulting in him pleading guilty. At first, I was intrigued by this, but when I thought about it, Matt, Foggy and Karen were destined to lose the case, due to one factor–Punisher’s character. If the Punisher was let off scot-free, he wouldn’t be the Punisher anymore. His character is all about doing whatever needs to be done no matter what it might cost, with little concern for himself, and a large part of that is him being on the run. There is almost never a time in the comics when the government isn’t chasing him in some capacity, either acting as a roadblock or encouragement to keep moving forward with his plans. Throw in the ensuing drama between our lead characters, and it’s a no brainer. It’s hard to see the case closing in any other way.
6. The Kingpin‘s involvement with the Punisher stating that he’s guilty. This honestly took me by surprise and made me giddy for the first time since the series started. The Kingpin is such a fantastic character that I couldn’t wait to see what he had been up to between seasons, so much so that I jumped right into the next episode.
Overall, there’s a lot of contrivances that cause unnecessary drama, but some of this is softened by the plot progress and reveals that give us something to think about moving forward rather than leaving viewers in a limbo state.
Episode 9: The Prison Episode
This is by far the best episode of this season yet. The Kingpin’s involvement alone sold me from the first minutes. This is largely due to the interactions we get to see from within the prison walls, with Wilson Fisk rising to his former stature of control and slow calculation. His interactions with the Punisher are incredibly enjoyable, as we see Fisk play Castle like a fiddle, knowing just what to say and how to direct him in a manner that gets him to do exactly what Fisk needs him to. I was worried that Kingpin’s character might suffer at the hands of the writers, but thankfully his brutal anger and speech patterns are kept intact in such a manner that makes every scene he is in a joy.
This also leads to the best fight scene so far in the season, with the Punisher brutally killing a large cabal of thugs in a jail hall. It’s well shot and has an energy and intensity other episodes have lacked. Something that did bother me, though, was the unnecessary slow-downs mid-fight that detracted from the speed and excitement the battle had generated, pulling me out of the experience each time it happened.
(Warning: Video contains graphic violence)
Meanwhile, outside of the prison walls, the plot proceeds as expected, unfortunately. Matt rejects Elektra due to his ethical code, something that we could see coming from a mile away. Matt and Foggy begrudgingly decide to start the process of disbanding their law firm due to Matt being a jerk per usual, as was to be expected. Karen continues to not want to give up on the Punisher case, going to the newspaper to do further research, unsurprisingly. Luckily, Karen’s scenes pack a nice amount of emotion and interest to keep me interested and allow for some progress with her starting her work as a journalist with the newspaper.
Episode nine gave me the most to enjoy by far, and I hope that, with a lot of the obligatory plot points out of the way, we can see some more originality and interesting topics tackled rather than circling the same concepts repeatedly.