Of course by now you should be in full Netflix binge mode and you’re spurred on to find out what happens to Matt Murdock in Episode 3 “New York’s Finest”. This episode surely brings home the dichotomy of the two Marvel Knights and the one distinction that separates there otherwise similar brand of justice.
The first scene, well plays well to the theme of Catholicism and religiosity, a dream state where Matt is tended to by (a flock?) of nuns (a group of nuns, not sure why I think nuns are birds [must be the penguin colours [[sorry just really waffling here]]]). Then reality ensues to find Daredevil awakening violently from unconsciousness, chained to a chimney on the roof. The religious significance of Devil in chains, like that of the biblical Devil who is chained for a Millenia in the pit ( of hell’s kitchen) before being loosed by an angel of God isn’t lost on us. Essentially, this device places The Punisher, who put Matt there in chains, in the favour of God. This marriage of this powerful imagery with Christian religiosity becomes more concrete when, as Daredevil desperately tries to escape his chains, Castle lets him know that “…the only way you are walking free is if I want you to”. Then ensues the philosophical musings.
Both these men stand on the divide of what form of vigilante is just, a thematic strand that we can expect to see a lot of in 2016 superhero-themed movies, and this one promises to be enjoyable.
On the one hand is Daredevil, who goes outside the confines of the very law he practices in the day to seek justice by his fists at night; a contradicting existence, surely, that points to the failing, easily-corruptible institution that is NY law.
And on the other hand is The Punisher: a blight of nature that doesn’t subscribe to the idealistic notions of law Murdock does. A law Murdock knows deep down is failing. Otherwise he wouldn’t be dressed up as a Devil, owning and embodying the mantle given to him by the media… the “Devil Of Hell’s Kitchen”.
On this rooftop, the Devil chained to a chimney, Castle busy tinkering with weapons and military-grade munitions, Murdock uses the only weapon available to him to de-escalate Frank: his method of persuasion.
But Castle has a few choice words; Frank sees Daredevil’s methods of dealing with criminality a nihilistic revolving door of misery. A “half measure”. The Punisher’s methods however present a permanent, brutal solution to those who affiliate themselves with organised crime. No ‘legal loopholes’ to meander through. No double jeopardies. No technicalities. Just the unwavering left hand of righteous indignation.
The two Marvel Knights do find common ground for a brief moment though: a Catholic childhood and how the city of New York makes gods and devils out of men. Like Gotham is to Batman.
And whilst Daredevil tries to persuade The Punisher of his flawed method of dealing with criminals through killing, The Punisher has a more practical approach in bringing Daredevil to understand that his ‘one shot, one kill’ method is something The Punisher does not take lightly.
After a heated argument between The Punisher and chained Daredevil lead to a knock-out bludgeoning object to the head (Hollywood movie 101, like that could never cause fractured skulls, brain damage and / or death [whatever you do, don’t call Frank insane]), The Devil comes to and finds a gun taped to his hand, with the Punisher having returned with a little gift: Grotto, the Irish Mob runner who escaped during the botched sting in Episode 2.
He gives Daredevil a choice, kill the scum Grotto (who turns out to have carried out a mob hit which ended with him killing an old lady who saw his face) or to stop The Punisher from killing Grotto by shooting him. Daredevil opts to shoot his chains free, but by then it’s too late; Grotto gets a Punisher bullet to the chest.
But for some reason the Punisher feels Daredevil to be less of a threat to him as he takes the least opportune time after a short beat down to reveal his real mission on the rooftop; he is across the street from the Dogs Of Hell Bikers club. He draws them out with a Hollywood bullet to their bikes(the ones that explode vehicles) and now we have angry bikers traversing across the street and up the stairs towards the Marvel Knights. Daredevil takes the time to choke and knock out the Punisher which leads to an added dynamic of attack and parry.
It seems Daredevil has an affinity to portray long fight takes in narrow, restrictive spaces. We follow a bloodied but charged Murdock armed only with his chains (we’re sure there’s a metaphor there somewhere) and empty revolver duct-taped to his other hand. Daredevil brings badmen into his world of pain and blindness, using his chains to knock out lights and battling his way down narrow corridors and a (fight or) flight of stairs. This particular fight scene was good, compared to the genesis of the Old Boy-esque fight scene explored in Season 1; camera angles and movements were better choreographed and executed.
And while there were sweet moments like this, there were a few ‘clumsy’ moments too. With Daredevil gone MIA with the Punisher, Foggy goes to employ the help of Night Nurse Claire Temple in finding him. But dealing with a surge in gang / Punisher violence has her more than busy and Foggy turns medical assistant for the night. The clumsiness comes with an awkwardly long, robust speech from Foggy in a crowded medical room where two gangsters face off with surgical tools about to rip each others hearts out. Two heated career criminals about to go at it and you had time to cleverly tell them your profession, how much time they’d get if they went through with killing each other and to stop the violence… all with an air of pompousness, is a bit of a stretch. But on the upside, we get to see Rosario Dawson again, and slipping in a bit of a recount of the events with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage is always a salute to fans who have been keeping up with their Netflix subscriptions (Hey! I watched that series!).
Meanwhile, with DA Reyes threatening to pin the botched sting squarely on the shoulders of Nelson and Murdock’s law firm, Karen Page’s Punisher-intrigue sprouts new wings when the Assistant District Attorney ‘gives’ Page a file containing a treasure trove of images and documents into Frank Castle’s crimes and essentially his mindset and past. Karen loves her some note-taking. And ending on a head scan of a Frank’s skull with a gunshot wound was a nice touch.
Episode one and two is usually the grace period of series to build a bit of backstory, and in that sense Daredevil now seems to be getting into the nit and grit of both narrative paradigms and fight cinematography.