Week of April 16, 2023:

The Man in the Box (Daredevil s2 e10) released March 18, 2016 (where to watch)
.380 (Daredevil s2 e11) released March 18, 2016
Scott Hardie | July 22, 2023

The Man in the Box: As far as I can tell, the jailhouse confrontation between Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock is considered one of the highlights of the entire series, and I can see why. It really conveys how terrifying Fisk's hair-trigger rage can be. (One of the actors described doing a scene with Method actor Vincent D'Onofrio as "like being locked in a cage with a gorilla," because he may be calm now, but you feel like he could suddenly turn on you and beat you to death with his bare hands.) I don't know whose idea it was for Matt to resist by pushing his hand against Fisk's face while an enraged Fisk barks threats at him, but it's a hell of an image. Fisk's season-two presence may have been small so far this season, but he's making one hell of an impression.

But in my mind, there's an even better scene in this hour, the rooftop conversation between Matt and Claire Temple. She's the voice of reason, and in a show about bull-headed men stubbornly trying to will themselves through battlefields of their own choosing, she feels uniquely reasonable. Every bit of advice that she gives to Matt is correct, and he's a fool not to listen to her. His determination to suspend his career and friendships is meant to demonstrate his bravery and commitment to his calling, but she's right that they anchor him to some sense of normalcy; Frank Castle became who he is by losing similar things, and earlier in the season, Frank himself pointed out that Daredevil is one bad night away from becoming him. I'm sure there are some viewers who take Matt's side in this rooftop conversation with Claire, seeing his devotion to the cause as a positive and Claire's advice as a nagging distraction, but the series has been mature enough in the past to portray Matt being wrong, and I think that's the intended takeaway from this scene too. (Aside: This excellent video is about Star Wars instead of Marvel, but it makes a very good argument for why we need to retire these old tropes about defiantly self-certain men who ignore women's advice and go on to save the day with violence all by themselves. In the movies, that creates heroes; in real life, that creates suicide bombers and mass shooters.)

Why in the world does Stick want Elektra dead, so soon after saving her life? Surely spurning him recently does not warrant a punishment of death. And why send such an accomplished assassin after her, when the war against the Chaste is finally breaking out? Wouldn't Stick want every hand on deck now (no pun intended)? And why doesn't the assassin simply poison her drink? This Chaste-Hand subplot gets dumber with each passing episode. On the other side of the episode, the horrific shooting in D.A. Reyes's office and the crime scene at M.E. Tepper's apartment really conveyed a sense of events spinning out of control, partly because Reyes started acting like a human being instead of a broadly-sketched villain. The shooting at Karen Page's apartment is another satisfyingly tense and twisty scene in an episode full of them. (8/10)

.380: Does anybody else understand Claire's angry moralizing in the scene where she quits the hospital? The anger I get: She has many reasons to be pissed off by now and for this to be the last straw, but if that's the intended takeaway from the scene, I missed it. Instead, it sounds like she's trying to make a moral stand, as if the hospital not publicly disclosing that a man who attacked the hospital had autopsy scars is some kind of uncrossable red line. Really, Claire? This is the hill on which you'll die, when you're surrounded by mountain-sized moral transgressions? It feels like the series needs her to quit the hospital (does it?) and so the writers are trying to force a confrontation that doesn't add up.

That diner scene with Frank and Karen: Damn. Karen stifling a scream as she's forced to listen to the wet sounds of Frank repeatedly stabbing a man to death is not an image that I'm going to forget any time soon. On the other hand, the dark bruises on Frank's face are getting a bit ridiculous; is there any scene in the series in which this man's face is unblemished? At this rate I expect his entire head to be one massive bruise by the season finale. At least the cassette tape of "Shining Star" got a laugh.

I get why Karen helps Frank; she's sympathetic to his cause and believes he's righteous. And I get why Matt stops Frank from killing the fake "Blacksmith" on the boat; he can't stand the idea of an innocent-ish man dying for Frank's vengeance. But I don't understand Matt agreeing to do things Frank's way "just this once" as they partner up to find the real Blacksmith. Whether or not the taking of a life is ever justified is the central moral dilemma of the series, and Matt spent half of season one wrestling with a responsibility to kill Fisk despite his moral objections. The show keeps nudging him up to the line and it's plausible that he might cross it, but here? Now? To buckle in this one brief moment of partnership and essentially say, "ok, fine Frank, let's go kill some guys so you feel better" just rings false. What a strange choice for those of us invested in the progress of Matt's moral arc. (7/10)

Erik Bates | October 21, 2023

The Man in the Box: What an amazing episode. Plenty of tension and surprise moments, and... just... feelings. I felt myself becoming just as frustrated with Matt as Claire did. I wanted to shout at the TV, "Come on, you dumb bastard. You can't do this on your own, and everyone seems to know it except you!"

I'm honestly surprised Fisk didn't kill Matt. I think the only reason he didn't is because of the blatantly obvious plot armor that comes with having the show named after your character. But were this to be literally anybody else, their skull would be crushed into that table. Fisk is a terrifying individual, and I find myself liking his character more and more every time we get to see him.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of this season shapes up, because like you said, Scott, things are spinning out of control for our heroic trio.

Erik Bates | October 21, 2023

Scott, someone in the comment section of the YouTube video of the jailhouse encounter video said that Matt was playing the part of the scared blind guy. I think, to an extent, that was true. But I also still feel that he was not in control of the situation, and things could have gone sideways real quick on him.

Erik Bates | October 21, 2023

.380: Why waste time with a glass cutter to gain entrance, when there's already sirens going off and everyone is on alert? Did they think that someone would hear glass breaking over the sound of the ridiculously loud alarm system in the abandoned wing of the hospital?

Scott, with as much as Matt gets his ass kicked, I'm surprised his face doesn't look more like Frank's on a regular basis. Instead, he gets a full-on beat-down and shows up to work the next day with a cut lip (and many scars on his torso, to be fair). There's an inconsistency in how the show portrays this type of damage.

Or maybe Frank is on blood thinners. That might explain it :)

Is this the end of Claire on the show? Is that why they orchestrated her exit? I hope not, partially because I have enjoyed her as a character, but also because Rosario Dawson is a great actress and addition to the cast.

I appreciate Frank warning Matt that crossing the line to "his way" of doing things is something you can't come back from. But to your point, Scott, about this being a strange time and place for him to make that decision, I'm not so sure it's entirely out of place. The moral arc of Matt's character has taken a drastic turn in the past couple episodes, most notably with his decision to essentially cut ties with his moral compass support team. The more he separates himself from Foggy and Karen (and Claire), the more he becomes what he has tried so hard to avoid becoming. Frank is a loner with nobody to ground him. Karen has tried, but to his point on that rooftop, once you cross that line, you never come back from it. He crossed the line well before Karen, et. al., came into the picture, so there is very little (if anything) that could be done to bring him back.

But there's still hope for Matt.

Even Frank realizes that Matt needs someone to keep him on track, even if it's him that has to do it. Who saw that coming?

I'm just going to say this: I'm not interested in this Hand/Chaste war thing going on. Is there a tie-in to the greater Marvel universe here? My nitpick here is that Daredevil is the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, much like Spiderman is your friendly neighborhood Spiderman. To be fair, Daredevil is taking on more dark subject matter than ol' Spidey, but the idea to me is that he's grounded in Hell's Kitchen, or the general area of Midtown Manhattan.

"Frank! Why?" asks Karen.

"Have you met me?" says Frank, somewhere in the distance, probably.

Side note: Stick is doing an incredibly shitty job at sharpening that blade. If you're going to do a close-up of the blade on the stone, at least make sure the edge is actually TOUCHING THE STONE.

Scott Hardie | October 24, 2023

Good points as always! I wish I had thought of that about Matt's moral support network, and the glass cutter. :-)

Agreed about Matt's bruises. He said something in season 1 about learning from Stick how to heal his body faster with meditation, but the show never established how that works or how quickly, and I don't recall from the comics. Wikipedia, fan wikis, and Marvel's official bio do not mention the ability. I can't believe that it would heal him as quickly or effectively as the show portrays without being a bigger deal, an aspect of his character that would get touched on more often.

You said you're not into the Hand/Chaste war, and wondered whether this is just setup for something else in the MCU. I feel you! I don't want to say more, even behind a spoiler warning, but your reaction is the same as mine: This story doesn't work in the form that made it to TV.

Scott Hardie | October 24, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Luke Cage. Reveal it.

Want to join the discussion? Log in or create an account to comment.

Return to the main menu of The MCU Project.