The Last Stand of Daredevil and Elektra (Featuring: The Punisher)

This post covers Daredevil Season 2: Episode 13 and is extremely spoilery for the entire season. Find more Daredevil episode recaps here.

THE STORY SO FAR: Matt makes terrible life choices, breaks up the band, and spends a lot of time punching ninjas. That boy needs a stick to hit people with. Show: get on that.

 

EPISODE 13: A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen

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It’s fitting that while this season has ranged all over the “city” of Hell’s Kitchen (including, gasp, visiting other boroughs of New York!) it all pretty much comes down to one building, one rooftop, and the street below it.

A couple of really significant things happen off-screen in the early part this episode—hasty editing? Pushed for time? Not on Netflix, surely.

Anyway, those things are:

  • Sgt Brett is beaten up and threatened for the official police files on Daredevil, including info on everyone he has officially saved.
  • Karen is kidnapped by the Hand along with 20 other former rescuees from Daredevil’s long resume, to be used as bait.

These are both important character scenes, I would have thought! Still, the Brett thing happening offscreen does give Foggy an excuse to call his boo estranged best friend Matt Murdock and give him a head’s up.

Daredevil then calls on Brett, who is getting even sassier and more world-weary (if that was possible), to discuss the missing files. Daredevil is actually surprised that the police know enough about him for this to count as a security breach. Oh, honey. Did you not think they were paying attention?

Meanwhile, a miserable Karen travels on what must be the longest bus ride in Hell’s Kitchen’s history (seriously, are they riding around in circles? It’s not like they’re making stops!) along with the other hostages and their violent captors. Because she is a brilliant if brand new investigative journalist, she learns that the man beside her is on house arrest, and has a convenient tracker cuff on his ankle—less conveniently, he has hacked it, but she eventually convinces him to reactivate the tracker.

Before we get to the grand finale action-packed stand off in a lone Hell’s Kitchen building full of dark corners, stairwells and a conveniently flat rooftop, here are an assortment of cool character scenes that the episode gives us, in no particular order:

  • Foggy has lunch with a fancypants corporate lawyer who is wooing him to the dark side to her company with a massive salary and partnership offer on the table OH LOOK IT’S JERI HOGARTH. Lovely crossover from Jessica Jones and another great thread pulling together before the franchises unite in the giant robot format of the Defenders (Daredevil is the leg, Jessica Jones is the liver) I’m pretty sure this means that Jeri and Marci are on each other’s speed dial, and possibly that Marci cashed in a big favour to make this happen. Will we see Foggy in Jessica Jones Season 2?
  • Matt takes Elektra shopping, which is to say he introduces her to his costume designer, the awesome Melvin. In Daredevil’s world this is basically a proposal of marriage, yes? Elektra gets some new hot body armour (that still exposes her upper arms because getting slashed by ninjas is her thing) and Daredevil finally gets his iconic night stick.
  • Speaking of sticks, the other Stick is tied up in Matt’s apartment. I like this as Stick’s default status.
  • Frank finally returns to his family home, sits at the table, clears the dishes, and breaks our hearts. And then he goes off to the shed to remind us that he’s a bad guy. Really truly super bad. Seriously. Not just in need of a cuddle and a good therapist. Totally bad, got it? (Alternative title to this post: Frank Castle Needs a Hug)

Back to Karen, who has finally transitioned from the Bait Bus to the Bait Building. When Karen’s seatmate’s tracker is discovered, he is in the process of having his foot cut off (BECAUSE OF COURSE) when Daredevil crashes the party.

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I lost track after that, I’m sorry, there were a lot of fight scenes and they were all very well staged, but they’re not exactly recappable (except for the part where Elektra totally got slashed on the one part of skin that she left exposed, back to that later).

When Karen and the hostages are released from the Bait Building (after a sweet but slightly unnerving interaction between Daredevil and Karen where she is terribly polite but isn’t sure why he’s being so intense about their reunion), Daredevil and Elektra are swallowed up by ninjas and end up hiding in a broom closet, talking out their feelings. They’re both feeling very pessimistic about the outcome of this battle, despite the fact that they both usually tear through ninjas like they’re bowling pins.

I guess it must be the last episode or something.

Brett’s response to Karen emerging from the building with the other hostages is priceless, especially when he calls her ‘Page,’ really, Brett? Not on first name terms yet? I don’t know why A03 is full of Karen/Frank fanfic when they could be writing stories about Karen and Brett being snarky with each other. (Though I do appreciate that the Karen/Matt tag has seen way less action than usual this fortnight, and also that the ship name for Karen & Frank is Kastle.)

Yes, the first thing I do after finishing a show is to check out who is shipping who, doesn’t everyone do that?

The battle continues, once Elektra and Matt have stopped teasing each other about the romantic getaway they could take if teleportation was an option and they were completely different people (seriously, planning a romantic trip away during a gun battle is like announcing that your retirement starts tomorrow, stop that right now!).

Battle highlights:

  • Not Nobo dying again because that’s old hat, but Stick cutting his head off to make sure he doesn’t come back this time.
  • Frank turning up late in the game to pick off Matt’s assailants and Matt totally letting him.
  • Matt justifying the entire narrative push of this season by killing someone for the first time—not in a remotely satisfying or glorified way, but as an important (uncomfortable) narrative moment for his character.
  • Then there’s the Elektra thing. Because of course, Elektra dies.

I say ‘of course’ as if it was inevitable, but honestly it didn’t feel that way except that the Internet spoiled me for it a couple of days back. Looking purely at the narrative set before us, and based on the kind of show this is, it was just as likely that Frank would be the one to redeem himself through sacrifice, and Elektra would descend to even darker places.

Instead, we get a remarkably soppy death scene from Elektra, in which she not only takes the blow to save Matt, but talks about being ‘good’ and how much it hurts—great lines, but I’m not sure we honestly got enough Elektra time to justify virtue being a major concern for her.

Apart from anything else, it’s been several episodes since Matt played the ‘you’re not Good enough to hang out with me’ card, and their most recent interactions have made it clear that he’s coming around to the idea that bad girls vigilantes have more fun.

I have a lot of thoughts about Elektra, and her portrayal in this show. For the most part I think her character has been revealed in fascinating layers, and I was with the character right up to the point where she turned her back on being Black Sky and the army of ninjas last episode. Matt’s not that good a lawyer to change her path so quickly… or is he?

I don’t have a problem with Elektra dying—I’m all for female characters dying to serve their own narrative (as opposed to fridging, which I don’t think this is though the whole thing of her frozen body being stolen and put in a mystical sarcophagus is definitely pushing those buttons for many viewers), and Elektra mostly keeps her own narrative agency (as much as you can as a supporting character in someone else’s show), not to mention the fact that it’s pretty clear that whole immortality thing isn’t a red herring, so I’m sure we’ll see her again.

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No, my main concern with Elektra is her fight choreography.

Yes, really.

The actual fights are great—Elodie Yung is a top notch performer and conveys the deadly skill and ruthlessness of Elektra very effectively, though dialogue, poise and controlled violence.

But for some reason, in multiple fight scenes (notably when she is fighting alongside Daredevil), there’s always something to remind you she’s human, she’s vulnerable. When she was stabbed with the poisoned sword a few episodes back, that came at the end of a fight in which she also had the wind knocked out of her at one point. Many of their most intimate moments together have been him taking care of her—like sewing up the slash on the back of her neck. In this episode, she is slashed on the arm.

Maybe I’m overreacting about this. But I feel that someone like Elektra—someone who doesn’t have a dayjob beyond being a rich woman, someone who stayed with Stick longer and trained in a far more committed way than Matt, someone who has been killing people since she was twelve years old and was designed as an ancient weapon… well. Shouldn’t she be better than Daredevil? Not just at being a ruthless killer, but at not taking damage along the way?

Part of me wants to argue against myself, because the trope of the flawless female fighter (no emotions, no abdominal protection, perfect lip gloss, let’s go fight ninjas!) is in itself problematic, especially in superhero narratives.

But here’s the thing: Daredevil is defined by his ability to take a beating and keep going through it. Also, despite their visit to Melvin, he has better protective gear than she does. But I’m not sure why the fight scenes have been reminding us all along that the ninjas are capable of hurting Elektra, when her death scene would have been all the more powerful if we had never seen them draw her blood before that moment.

I don’t even know if they did it deliberately. But the narrative of this season definitely shows us that Elektra is more physically vulnerable than Matt, even while telling us that she is more ruthless, more dangerous, more broken. The dialogue has been all about the damage she does to other people, and yet there are so many scenes that revolve around him tending to her hurts and not the other way around.

Ahem. Back to the mop up, once the battle is over.

Stick and Matt manage to stage a funeral/graveside moment for Elektra that is even more awkward than the Grotto one earlier this season. Nice. Bet neither of you thought to cut her head off like you did with Nobu.

Karen has been suffering from writer’s block for so long that it’s now Christmas, and Mitchell taunts her as editors have always taunted writers about such things, and pretends to solve her creative issues with whisky.

It is kind of hilarious that she was personally involved with the hostage situation but has been procrastinating for so long that the ninja/Daredevil story isn’t even news any more. Type faster, Karen!

She finally writes a story with approximately zero news content but a whole lot of sentiment about heroism in Hell’s Kitchen, which is probably appropriate for Christmas, and is certainly fitting to the footage of a silent Frank Castle burning down his home, and then walking away from the burning suburban house wearing a classic Punisher skull design t-shirt.

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Foggy and Karen reiterate their friendship over drinks at Josie’s, but they miss Matt too much for it not to be super depressing, and then Foggy brings everyone down by rolling out his new gold-plated cheque book and settling the Nelson & Murdock tab. Josie is shocked but hopefully she will recover quickly and enjoy the holiday home she can now afford.

Because Matt is incapable of letting go of anything, he summons Karen to their old office and finally tells her the truth about being Daredevil. About thirteen episodes too late.

Still ominous chords, whatever.

I would like to think that he’s doing this because he recognises that it’s unhealthy when the only person who truly “gets” you is a dead assassin you once dated in college. But that may be giving him credit he doesn’t deserve.

Seriously, if they make that conversation happen off screen and don’t devote an entire episode (of Season 3!) to Karen saying WTF and throwing empty coffee cups at Matt while she works through her rage, I will be devastated.

Mind you I pretty much want Season 3 to be about Matt and Karen repairing their friendship in order to rescue Foggy from having a well-paid job with health insurance. In the mean time, RIP Nelson and Murdock (and Page), you were the cutest OT3 ever and if I was your client I would totally have paid you in pie.

Thanks everyone for following all the nightsticks, ninjas and angst with me over the last seven blog posts! I look forward to enjoying the next several original Marvel series on offer from Netflix:

  • Sweet Christmas: Luke Cage Looks Good In A Towel
  • Sorry You Got Your Hopes Up But Iron Fist is Still A White Guy
  • Jessica Jones Promises Never To Smile Again Because That Was Super Creepy
  • Trish Walker Pwns You All
  • Night Nurse’s Superhero Fixit Shop
  • Foggy and Hogarth: Attorneys-At-Evil

and of course…

  • Who Thought It Was A Good Idea To Put These Bozos on a Team Together? Now The City Is On Fire.

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a Marvel Comics tragic, and a Hugo Award winning blogger and podcaster. You can hear her novelette “Fake Geek Girl” at the Sheep Might Fly podcast, and she writes comics reviewson her own blog. You can find TansyRR on Twitter and Tumblr, sign up for her Author Newsletter, and listen to her on Galactic Suburbia or the Verity! Doctor Who podcast.

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