Daredevil: Dogs to a Gunfight

"They're calling this one The Punisher."

That's probably what they should have called this episode too.

Like Wilson Fisk last season, the show is taking its time to introduce Daredevil's new foil. Here we have a total of three scenes featuring The Punisher as opposed to last episode's one. Each scene displays his tactical efficiency and bloody resolve, from his dealing with the world's most despicable pawn shop dealer, to slaughtering some of the Dogs of Hell offscreen, to using the ambush the police set for him to draw out his target. It's this kind of patience, subtlety and building of tension that I so admire in this gripping comic book adaptation.

Dogs to a Gunfight is all about building up the threat that The Punisher represents, to the criminal element in town and seemingly anyone else who gets in his way. Most of all, the threat he represents to Daredevil himself. When Karen suggests that Punisher could be a direct result of Daredevil, Matt strongly disagrees, stating that "it's not the same." But is Punisher really that different from Daredevil? According to the police, his methods of cracking down on crime are proving even more effective than our blind hero's. Matt's strict adversity to murder and killing of any kind is an important part of his code, he is a good man, a merciful figure who draws lines he will not allow himself to cross. I don't think Matt's about to compromise his strong Catholic morals for swift productivity. Not yet anyway.

And what's even more interesting to me is how this affects Karen Page. She's not only troubled by the revelation that Daredevil's actions last season (and her support of them, by proxy) have since incited a wave of vigilantes including the murderous Punisher, but that she could be a potential victim. Lest we forget, Karen is still a secret murderer. Her dialogue in this episode suggests that she feels guilty, like she might "deserve" to be punished. It's scary to think that Karen could become a target of The Punisher, and Mister No-Kill Daredevil, for that matter; I'm betting neither would really fault her for it if they found out she killed Wesley, though.

Needless to say, our hero did not die when he was shot in the head at point blank range and fell off a building. He does have a problematic concussion. That doesn't go well with heightened senses, and we are given a horrifying scene of glass-shattering-induced deafness. One of the aspects of the series (and Daredevil, in general) that most fascinates me is how a blind man deals with having abilities like Matt's. That scene was a prime example. It put us right in his shoes. The pain, the disorientation, the silence, the fear. And Matt is supposed to be the man without fear.

He snaps out of it after awhile, though, and assumes it's time to go to work again. Immediately. You should be dead, Matty. This gives us a familiar scenario: Matt goes out and fights crime when he ought to be recovering.

With Matt taking "a sick day" for most of the episode, Foggy and Karen are left as our two central characters. I don't mind this at all, since I feel they carry this show just as well as the superhero it's named after. Here the two try to protect their client Grotto and find out more about the one hunting him. According to the D.A. files, few bad guys ever manage to slip away from The Punisher. He finds them and he kills them. In other words, he's like The Terminator. Or Liam Neeson.

Speaking of that D.A., Reyes, she seems to have taken Wesley's crown of Chief Cold Smug Bureaucratic Person for this season. She makes her disdain for Nelson & Murdock plain from the moment she walks in, only deigning to speak to Foggy as if they're on the same level after he hits her with his own leverage. Leverage or not, he and Karen are still unable to foresee Reyes setting up Grotto in the ambush until it's too late.

An ambush which The Punisher anticipated and used to his advantage. Or, at least, he would have. Before he can take the kill-shot, Daredevil intercepts Punisher and the two have another hand-to-hand fight amidst a raining water tower and a barrage of (poorly aimed) gunfire. They eventually crash through a skylight, stagger to their feet and circle each other like ravenous wolves. It's the coolest moment in the episode. Then Matt's concussion flairs up again, stunning him, leaving him vulnerable, and Punisher apparently decides he's gonna make off with this glitchy weirdo. Leaving Foggy, Reyes, and the cops scratching their heads and wondering, like I am, how silly that surly bull of a man must have looked running around with a guy in a red devil costume spazzing out on his back.

So I'm a bit disappointed. Right when we get to our big Daredevil v. Punisher moment, it goes pretty much like the last episode before ending abruptly. And I've seen the next episode. Ahhh, JD, I'm so envious!

All in all, we're still feeling out this season; it's mostly just an introduction to The Punisher so far, not that I mind. We've still got eleven episodes to go.

Bits and Pieces:

* According to Officer Mahoney, the police are calling the new wave of DD-inspired vigilantes "devil-worshippers." That's kind of funny.

* I like how the first scene with Punisher sees him doing a little shopping, albeit, for illegal merchandise. Just casually sipping his coffee and seeing through the scumbag clerk's "self-defense." That whole scene had to have been a shoutout to Falling Down.

* I think Matt should have tipped the cops off to The Punisher's hideout full of heavy artillery and explosives. Maybe he felt bad for the pitbull.

* Grotto is in the wind. Considering Karen gave him the finger right before he found out he was played, he probably isn't going to come rushing back into our heroes' arms. Making his chances of survival a lot slimmer.

* Punisher seems to be an equal-opportunity kind of guy, as well as determined. His stubborn pursuit of a mere lowlife like Grotto leads him to purchase a useful police scanner, lay a beating on a creepy neo-nazi, take out an entire gang of bikers, and use one of them as a decoy to misdirect the police. Like I said, efficient if not overzealous.

* Loved Matt's bloodthirsty grin as he and Punisher stared each other down at the end. The fact that Daredevil enjoys fighting like any good ol' Irish boxer is another unique aspect to his character that I adore.

Quotes:

Grotto: You saw him, the guy's a grim reaper.

Foggy: How do I look?
Karen: Uh, semi-professional... No! Foggy, I'm kidding! You'll be fine.
Both Foggy and Karen prove this episode that they share a very awkward yet ever-present sense of humor, usually when under duress.

Karen: How long can I tell myself this is all just bad luck? Fisk, and now this guy, I mean, what if I'm drawing this stuff my way?
Foggy: You're not. You're going to be fine. Punisher's just a nickname.
Karen: Yeah, well, what if I deserve it?
Seriously, we've gotta learn a bit more about Karen this season. I want this, but part of me also dreads it. If I know my comics history, life is never a sweet bed of roses for Karen Page.

Matt: Well, you know I'm blind.
Karen: Yeah, and you know I'm not an idiot.

Karen: There is something about this city that makes good people want to shoot their way out of bad situations.
Matt: ... You think this Punisher is a "good" person.
Karen: No, I just think... he could be any one of us.
Karen seems to be relating to The Punisher. I'm thinking it must be how she copes with her guilt over gunning a man down herself.

A pretty good episode, but I think it's still warming up for something better. I don't think, I know, because I'm watching this season as fast as I can. Very happy to be helping write reviews for Daredevil. Three out of four photos of dead men.

6 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

I do love the way the Punisher slowly comes into focus over these first few episodes. It's such a great way to introduce a character.

I wonder if Reyes counts as a villain, too?

Mark Greig said...

Say what you want about Frank Castle, but at least the guy is kind to animals.

Billie Doux said...

Who is Frank Castle?

Foggy is awesome. Matt needs to learn what to do with a sick day. And... cliffhanger!

Logan Cox said...

Billie, (Spoiler) Frank Castle is The Punisher's real name.

Josie, I am definitely counting Reyes as a bad guy for now.

Kakashi Sensei said...

One of the things that worked best for me in this whole Season is "The Punisher". And how Bernthal brings him to life - such great acting! We already see the complexities of his character, which make mw wonder: who are the bad guys and who are the good guys here?

Foggy and Karen are a great pairing and their scenes always work - but the "sick day"-thing also makes me worry that Murdock's secret nightlife might endanger his dayjob. The more professional and caught up he becomes as vigilante (he was so much more winded usually in his Season 1 fights) the less the lawyer thing seems to matter to him. That's another topic of this Season: Who is Matt Murdock really?

Marianna said...

I loved seeing Foggy in his legal element!

Why didn't Matt call Claire when his hearing went funky? Probably because Rosario Dawson wasn't available, but I prefer not to think that way.