Marvel's Daredevil Review by Henry Tran

Marvel's Daredevil 2.04: Penny and Dime

Marvel's Daredevil 2.04: Penny and Dime

Written By:
John Kelley
Directed By:
Peter Hoar

This episode was a game changer, in my humble opinion. Just look at all of the material that had to be unfolded here. While opening on the funeral for Grotto wasn't necessarily the best idea (he wasn't that memorable a character within the fabric of the show's narrative), it does lead to a wonderful philosophical discussion between Father Lantam and Matt regarding Matt's ongoing Catholic guilt complex. Then the episode becomes an all-out hunt for the Punisher by three or four different parties. It culminates with more insight, and likely sympathy to follow, into Frank Castle's tragic background. While it still doesn't necessarily give the precise reason for him to engage in the killing spree, the perspective is changed in a big way. Then Matt and Karen take their relationship to the next level in one of the most romantic, most beautiful scenes in the show's short history.

 


 

The focus on the Punisher naturally starts with the Kitchen Irish gang, still reeling from the wholesale slaughter of many of their top members. The opening scene is actually not set in a cliched Irish wake, but a somber funeral with the gang surrounded by a bunch of coffins. It's here that the show introduces Finn, the head of the Kitchen Irish, who vows to get revenge on the Punisher for not only killing most of the gang, but also murdering his oldest son. The show tries at several points to make Finn an interesting (or at least somewhat colorful) foil for both Daredevil and Punisher to eventually fight in making him go a bit crazy. In a fit of rage, he desecrates the dead body of his son, flipping over the coffin, letting the body fall to the ground. It's really outlandish, although somewhat effective in demonstrating how the Punisher made Finn so unhinged. So throughout the episode's run, the Kitchen Irish bluntly badger and intimidate various people who have been rumored to run into or had seen the Punisher around Hell's Kitchen.

 

It's not subtle -- and the Irish's information-gathering methods do mirror the extreme feeling of the instance where Finn drives a drill into Frank Castle's foot -- at least, not as quiet and subtle as Karen's dive into the Punisher's past. The Irish capture the Punisher via some real brute force methods that do prove effective to a point. It was a little extreme, and I thought that Castle would be portrayed as invincible if he just kept coming despite having three tasers in him, but he relented. The Punisher's air of relative invincibility does get on the tiring side (seriously, does he feel no pain from getting repeatedly punched?), and that's only broken by the fact that Finn drives a power drill into Frank's foot (!) The inevitable consequence of which has him limping for the rest of the episode.

 


 

While Karen's look into the Punisher's past doesn't do much for the story of the episode beyond showing viewers the book Frank used to read to his daughter, the hunt for the Punisher pays off with Matt's rescue from the clutches of the Kitchen Irish. They both escape to a nearby cemetery where, after the cops stop chasing them, Frank relays his entire backstory to Matt. It's delivered well by Jon Bernthal, full of the right emotional beats and triggers in how he got lost in the joy of the secret homecoming from deployment to surprise his daughter at school. How he was just happy to spend time with his wife and daughter, and a big piece of him was lost when his family was killed and he'd never be able to keep the promise of reading to his daughter again.

 

Yes, it's overly saccharine, and not all that much of a change from the backstory that defines every iteration of the Punisher, but it still proves quite effective. I even liked the moment when Matt makes the decision to give all of the credit in capturing the Punisher to the police, then putting all of the destruction left behind by him on Daredevil so as to make it clear at least to the people of Hell's Kitchen that the police have been doing their jobs the right way. It's a noble gesture, a necessary sacrifice that I think Matt does in order to absolve himself of the guilt he had at the beginning of the episode of not being able to do enough to save Grotto and others like him. This is what heroes do, embracing the dark so that others can enjoy the light.

 


 

So with his superhero alter ego shouldering all of the sins and destruction left behind in his wake (I had the brief thought that the show had actually killed off the Punisher, though it now seems like he will just be out of commission for a while), Matt is left to be free and happy. So he makes a move to advance his relationship with Karen into something beyond being just friends and co-workers. It's a pity that it doesn't last that long a time, but boy, does everyone involved nail it down. A dark and frequently brooding superhero finally gets the girl he's been pining for. It's fashionable now to hate on the Ben Affleck-led film version of Daredevil, but one of the things I think the film got right was Matt showing Elektra what he experiences as a blind man when it rains. He does get to "see" the world around him, and the rain seems to enhance his already-heightened senses. This was based on actual research and testimonials from blind people. Here, like in the film version, Matt's just allowed to be happy with seemingly no current external threat to either party. That is immediately tested with the appearance at the end of this show's version of Elektra Natchios.


Our Grade:
A
The Good:
  • Another dive into Matt’s Catholic upbringing and guilt
  • A strong if conventional look at the Punisher’s origins
The Bad:
  • Will Elektra add or subtract to the chemistry of the series?

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Marvel's Daredevil by - 4/13/2016 6:35 PM152 views

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