Week of April 9, 2023:

Guilty as Sin (Daredevil s2 e8) released March 18, 2016 (where to watch)
Seven Minutes in Heaven (Daredevil s2 e9) released March 18, 2016
Scott Hardie | July 21, 2023

Guilty as Sin: Must the episode title contain a spoiler? I guess there's not much to spoil, as this is easily the weakest episode of the season yet. The car chase at the beginning is weirdly dull for what should be an action highlight. (Come on, it's the MCU, there's no room for a joke? It's a car chase with two blind guys.) I want to know more about this poison that the Hand inflicted upon Elektra Natchios that is so deadly that her heart will stop within minutes but that can also be counteracted by things found in the apartment of a man who is never home and doesn't keep much food on site. The joke of Stick asking for tea only to drink it himself is a cliché, but I'll take any humor where I can get it at this point. I still have no idea how Matt Murdock scoffs at the idea of the Hand and the Chaste being locked in some ancient conflict when killer ninjas chased him across Manhattan, and Matt's reluctance to believe in something increasingly obvious does not flatter him as the show's hero. (Are we supposed to assume that his doubts are rooted in his religious beliefs? The show has yet to indicate why he's so determined to deny reality.) I also don't understand how Karen Page arrived at Matt's apartment without him realizing it; does she also possess a ninja-like ability to muffle her heartbeat?

All of that said, there is one element of the Hand story that I liked in this hour, which is the revelation that Elektra only romanced Matt in the first place as a "mission" from Stick. That's exactly the sort of manipulative, perfidious act that we would expect from Stick the way that Matt has talked about him, and it goes a long way towards justifying Matt and Elektra's complex feelings about Stick, as well as (unintentionally I assume) explaining why the two actors possess so little romantic chemistry. Even now, Elektra seems to choose Matt less because she likes him and more because he promises to mend her damaged self-esteem. The bloody execution of the teenage (non-mutant) ninja hurdle at the end was a good conclusion to the episode's story, forcing Matt rather quickly to accept the consequences of his foolishly optimistic choice.

As for Frank Castle's trial, it's frustrating to see the whole thing lost because of circumstances beyond the heroes' control; I'd have preferred to see Nelson & Murdock (more Nelson & Page at this point) lose the trial because of their own mistakes or character flaws. Colonel Schoonover's testimony is good stuff, partly because Clancy Brown is so charismatic and partly because this series needs a ray of light (no pun intended) once in a while. I don't know much about law, so I'd like to know more about how Castle's trial was definitely lost because of his outburst, when his attorneys should at a minimum be able to argue for a mistrial. (4/10)

Seven Minutes in Heaven: This episode's good enough to justify the forced ending of the previous one. I don't agree with every creative decision that the show has made regarding its portrayal of Wilson Fisk, but he is both captivating and dynamic, and the series needed his presence again to give it a shot in the arm. His curse-your-sudden-but-inevitable-betrayal moment with Frank Castle in death row was good, and so was the ultra-bloody fight scene that followed, which might be the MCU's single most violent scene ever. I could have done without the skull image that formed on Castle's jumpsuit, another instance of the show inserting the Punisher logo into improbable places for no apparent reason, something that far too many maladjusted teens and adults do in the real world.

The scene where Daredevil easily takes out Stan Gibson's guards demonstrates one of my irritations with the Hand, which is their malleability depending on the needs of the plot. They're so deadly that one teenage member can sneak undetected into Matt Murdock's apartment and lethally poison him, but so weak the next day that Matt can take out several of them despite their job requiring them to stay on alert for this particular armored vigilante. It's really boring to have an enemy whose threat level varies so wildly like this, because it means that the story is driving them instead of the other way around. Rather than posing an existential or meaningful threat to the hero such as forcing him to question his values, they feel like mere obstacles meant to slow him down depending on how much progress the writers want him to make at that point in the plot. I expect to have more complaints to come about the Hand, who have quickly established themselves as some of the MCU's most boring enemies this side of the Dark Elves. The return of Nobu at the end feels less like a dramatic reveal and more like a tacit acknowledgement that the Hand ninjas don't work as antagonists and need a face that the series otherwise forgot to provide for them.

Other thoughts: At last Karen and Foggy do the appropriate thing and accept that Nelson & Murdock is over. Karen getting Ben Urich's old office is a nice touch, with a few MCU references in the room, and so is the acknowledgement of the death that Karen caused in her youth. Fisk's lawyer Benjamin Donovan is only doing his job by warning Fisk about spending the last of his funds, but the actor Danny Johnson has a warmth that suggests (to me anyway) that Donovan really cares about Fisk's well-being. (7/10)

Erik Bates | October 14, 2023

Super quiet ninjas aside, I think the reluctance to believe Stick's story is because he's Stick, and Matt just doesn't trust a word coming out of his mouth. But yes, the evidence is rather piling up in Stick's favor to the point that it doesn't take a lawyer to see he maybe has a legitimate argument.

I'm not a big fan of the love triangle setup, but they may have solved that problem with Elektra's throat slashing of a teenage ninja. When Karen popped into Matt's apartment and unexpectedly found him with Elektra, we can fortunately say that this is not one of those situations that would have easily been clarified if only Karen would have let Matt explain, because let's be honest, the explanation would have caused even more anger and confusion than what Karen thinks she saw.

I'm also, for the record, not a fan of Matt and Karen as a couple. I've been rooting for a Foggy/Karen connection, and I hope it may still come to be.

To the trial -- I don't know if Castle's outburst would have been grounds for a mistrial. Of course, I'm not a lawyer. I could see it as grounds for an appeal should he lose, as he could argue (with new lawyers) that his previous lawyers were incompetent by calling him to the stand and provoking the outburst in the first place.

Erik Bates | October 15, 2023

Seven Minutes in Heaven:
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Partially because I find I am enjoying Wilson Fisk more and more as a character. Partially because he's capable of showing us that Castle isn't the invincible badass they've been building him up as. I completely missed the skull on the jumpsuit imagery, Scott. I'll have to go back and check that out.

Scott, between you referring to the "Teenage (non-mutant) Ninja hurdle," and the fact that this shadow organization is called "The Hand" I simply cannot get rid of the imagery of these teenage kids being members of The Foot Clan.

Also -- Stick... Splinter. I mean, c'mon guys.

I'm interested to see where the Murdock/Nelson/Page group goes from here. Karen will surely find out eventually who Matt is, right? I mean, it's just a matter of time.

Erik Bates | October 16, 2023

Also, I'm really hoping the blood draining immortality cult doesn't turn out to be in the basement of a Cosmic Pizza.

Scott Hardie | October 18, 2023

Aha, great point about why Matt doesn't trust Stick. That makes a lot of sense, because Stick has lied to him many times about some pretty important things. Stick arguing that all of those lies were in service of a greater purpose does not absolve him. Still, it's pretty obvious at this point that he's right that the Hand exists and is planning something huge, so there's a point where Matt just looks obstinate for continuing to reject it.

Deborah Ann Wohl has little romantic chemistry with Charlie Cox; to me, she has only scarcely more with Elden Henson, but I suspect you're not the only shipper for that pair. I appreciate that TV Karen is given plenty of material to make her a well-rounded character, with subplots of her own that are about more than just swooning over which of the (very much not boyfriend material) attorneys at her firm might someday become her boyfriend. That's the way that comic book Karen was portrayed for many years, useful as nothing more than a potential love interest. TV Karen could carry a spin-off series of her own at this point.

I laughed out loud at your PizzaGate joke. :-) The fact that what's portrayed on this TV show is fantastical and inconceivable as a real event, and yet still not as ridiculous as what QAnon thinks, says a lot.

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