Episode 6 and 7 could be described as “The Calm before the Storm.” And in a hot day in Hell’s Kitchen it almost feels like the city could use a little rain and thunder. It’s roots are sunk deep, it’s buildings are strong and made to stand against the elements. Aptly named “No Regrets” and “Semper Fedelis” the two are intense episodes, full of emotion driving the plot forward to it’s exciting conclusion.
ELEKTRA HAS A PLAN, BUT IS IT FOR A DATE OR FOR JUSTICE?
When last we left Elektra she was curled up like a cat in Matt Murdock’s apartment, a sort of period to the sentence that began with Frank Castle’s rampage in episode four. No Regrets has them teaming up officially. She emerged from the shadows into the story like smoke with a casual “Hello Matthew” and a proposition that she needs a lawyer. Needing a lawyer turns into needing a partner for some fascinating fight sequences where the two battle like Batman and Catwoman. While Anne Hathaway treats batman like an annoyance however, Elektra is glad to have a partner in crime and everything about her actions goads Matt into more battle. If Catwoman is Batman’s darker foil, then Elektra is her younger more vibrant sister. They do battle with the Ninjas sent by Roxxon.
Side Note: Am I the only person who hopes that Netflix might tackle Roxxon as introduced by Agent Carter? In the Comics Roxxon led into Leviathan, and with Agents of SHIELD and possibly Marvel’s Most Wanted tackling HYDRA it’s a nice little yin-yang of story telling. At least for me. Am I the only one? Probably? Okay.
IN WHICH KAREN AND FOGGY ARE IN LAW AND ORDER.
Before retiring to where Elektra enlists Matt in her quest for finding out the truth and where her money is going. We see a great deal of Elektra’s Fire to Matt’s water but she succeeds in goading him into becoming her unofficial partner. Matt’s a good man who’s made some bad choices in trying to find himself. It’s not that she takes advantage but he senses a potential sense of danger and doesn’t have the common sense to tell her to get lost. We’ll touch on that later.
It’s worth touching on the next time we see Foggy and Karen for two reasons. The first is that we see a slight feminist thread in Daredevil that’s picked up on in Episode Seven. The DA proudly proclaims that he’s a big believer in “Protecting Women” while Karen thanks him sarcastically. This comes into play in episode 7 in a statement about what it means to actually protect someone.
The second reason why this is important is that it introduces the character of DA Reyes, played by Michelle Hurd. While you might recognize her as a Jessica Jones veteran and a former Law and Order Detective, what good she manages to do is phased out by a bumbling and inept attorney who attempts to unsuccessfully fabricate a statement for the woman he’s so big on protecting. Matt and Karen smell something fishy and convince Foggy that they should offer their services to Frank Castle.
FRANK CASTLE AND JUSTICE, THE STRUGGLE COMES TO THE MCU.
The debate about Frank is a microcosm of a much larger debate soon to be gracing all of our film screens about the lengths that we all go to protect one another, and it’s a debate that Matt’s thrust his firm firmly into – one that puts him square at odds with the District Attorney. “You’ve made some powerful enemies” Matt says. Frank’s enemies become Matt’s enemies the moment Frank takes him as his attorney. Reyes places Nelson and Murdock squarely in her targeted sights.
Meanwhile Elektra still has her sights set on Matt. As Reyes attacks Foggy, Elektra attacks Matt with a plan to steal a secret Roxxon Ledger. The plan is bold, daring, and has shades of her older sister in fiction, Selina Kyle. They’re going to a party to steal it. While there’s no Sousixe and the Banshees playing over the music, Matt does manage to make an impression on several guests. Supposedly they’re protecting the city. It’s Great, its fun…
Is it protecting the city however? We see another meeting between man and woman with Frank and Karen. “You were never in any danger.” Frank says, “I only hurt people that deserve it.” “Do you think he deserved it?” asks Karen, “I do.” While Matt has moral compunctions about what he does and Elektra is (seemingly) unburdened with feeling beyond selfish compulsion, Frank is absolutely clear about his reasons for doing what he does. Karen takes on the audiences role confronting a character who’s significance isn’t lost in a world where gun toting individuals are very real, and very dangerous.
We at the Marvel Report want to go on record, or at least I’d like to go on record by saying to anybody responsible for the emmys that if Bernthal is submitted for anything from Daredevil he deserves it. At no point should you root for Frank Castle but you find yourself wanting to, at no point should you agree with Frank Castle but you find yourself attempting to. He humanizes a type of person that has become very prevalent in the past several years in a simple conversation with Karen about the home he abandoned.
A PERSON IS A PERSON, NO MATTER HOW ANGRY ACCORDING TO KAREN PAGE. (AND WE LOVE HER FOR IT).
The exchange is simple but heartfelt and what gets you is Frank’s seeming – lack of caring. He never once tears up, He never once seems angry. He’s quietly committing all of the details she’s given him to memory. It humanizes him to Karen and I personally feel it gives her a reason to support him. Human beings stand behind people who stand with causes. If a cause is wrong, in personal experience that history supports, people can change him. Karen seems resolved to try and change, to save Frank Castle. Had he been more morally gray I don’t know if she would have been as supportive even with her history but in saving Frank, Karen seems to believe she can save herself.
Also, Plastic Dinosaurs? Plastic Dinosaurs.
Karen and Foggy offer Frank a deal. 3 life sentences but the state won’t kill him. Frank considers it, seemingly accepts it, but the moment that Reyes the DA returns he pleads not guilty, effectively tossing Karen and Foggy to the wolves while meanwhile Matt – who might have been able to talk Frank out of this or possibly done something to prevent the trial of the century – we’ll never know – is busy playing Batman Returns with Elektra.
Apart from some very cool fight scenes the biggest delivery that we get out of their trip to 1992 is knowledge that Roxxon has some very unusual allies, namely some folks who are “Not Yakuza”. To me it stands to reason that this could be a form of Leviathan still. While Leviathan had it’s roots in Russia in the comics it could very well represent the other half of the Axis powers with HYDRA representing the German Half.
Their not date ends with them getting a ledger that will become the focal point for Matt’s storyline in episode 7 while his lawvacado bro and girlfriend fight for their reputations and possibly their lives. As much as I enjoyed Elektra I personally spent most of this hoping he’d stay in his lane and stay out of DC comics territory. Foggy apparently feels the same way feeling isolated and abandoned. The episode ends with a brooding looking to the sunset while Matt gets a little serious and broody. Something ironically fitting for the top half of episode 7.
I’m gonna get a little serious here, so bear with me. Episode 7 deals with some pretty serious scenes. Semper Fidelis is intense.
FRANK CASTLE: THE SURPRISINGLY FEMINIST MOMENT THAT MADE ME A DAREDEVIL FAN.
It’s hard not to deeply appreciate Daredevil tackling some of the nitty and gritty values that make up the Cinematic Universe, mostly because when the characters were written these issues weren’t so much in the public light. The idea of vigilantes, of gun-toting maniacs, of men and women taking the law into their own hands for what they believe was a good story. As the world has progressed however the stories have become reality, and the responsibilities of the storytellers to address how these things affect reality is paramont. We stand on a foundation that’s crumbling beneath us and we have to make choices – the central theme of episode seven of Daredevil.
You can no longer have a man with a gun charge in and save the day like the punisher, nor can you have people take the law into their own hands like daredevil without demonstrating that there is a degree of isolation and immorality to what we are doing. When society becomes fractured, it is up to the storytellers to show people the edges so that we can knit them together. Nowhere is that more true then in Hell’s Kitchen, the world in microcosm. Episodes 7, 8, and 9 are frighteningly realistic. In the opening montage the varying opinions of the jurors could be talking about any of the domestic terrorists that have sparked media attention and outcry.
COMMON SENSE LAW IN NEW YORK CITY:
To understand this, we have to look briefly at Common Law, the basis for the United States legal system. Common Law originated in Britain, and when I was taking legal classes to me Common Law always translated to common sense law. Don’t do this because history has shown that it can produce negative results. Don’t do this because it affects the group, the tribe, the whole of the organization, the family. In essence common law should almost be called common sense law, ingrained in our DNA from our ancestors who learned that eating people is not okay, sleeping with close relatives produces physical damage to offspring, hurting children is never an option, and killing our own must be regulated and controlled.
It’s a debate that weighs heavily on our conscience. It’s one you could go into extensive detail on. Notice that it’s largely women who support Frank Castle in that opening montage, women who have the most reason to be afraid of assault, the most reason to be afraid. Perhaps it’s that which connects Frank and Karen the strongest. Their relationship delivers some of the strongest emotional scenes of episode 7. The weakest members of the tribe who have been betrayed by the strongest. Karen as a woman who’s been forced to survive and is trying to find faith in the system again, Frank as a person betrayed by the system. At the heart of their dialogue the two characters find a common ground in people who common law and common sense betrayed.
Frank feels more betrayed by it then Karen. Like a cog that’s suddenly found itself out of place of the machine, Frank Castle is angry and almost devolving. In a stunning performance from Jon Bernthal he delivers a look at a man who sees the law for a flimsy yet desperate attempt to provide order to chaos. It’s the crux of Matt and Frank’s relationship, civilization versus animal behavior, the line we walk every day on a day to day basis. To Frank, Karen is civilization and he has hopes that she will be able to remind him that civilization matters without manipulating people. Semper Fedelis translates to ever faithful. In their way both Karen and Frank are faithful to a system that’s betrayed them, something that Matt sees and is trying to fix.
40 SOMETHINGS IN THE DESERT WITH MATT MURDOCK.
However it’s Matt who needs to be reminded of his faith in this episode as Elektra emerges as an almost devil on his shoulder. Matt, the paragon of the system is being tempted to abandon his friends when they need him most, abandon Frank who in episode 6 put his life in his hands, for the promise of “helping” others. Helping others to Elektra so far seems to be acting like True Vigilantes and Elodie Young delivers an almost manic catwoman like performance. You see Miller’s hand in her character’s creation and the chaos she introduces into Matt’s life – seemingly in the name of good is terrifying. She’s Matt’s ID personified, his inner darkness. As they go about seemingly trying to “help” hells kitchen it almost feels like her attempts to do good are merely dates where she can encourage his baser instincts.
While Frank and Karen deliver emotional pathos throughout the trial and we’re introduced to Frank’s former commanding officer who paints a picture of Frank as the ultimate soldier within the system, the perfect cog within the machine, a man happy with his orders, Elektra encourages Matt to dance along the line that Frank is crossing by hunting down the answer to the mysterious cypher discovered in episode six. No matter what Elektra’s politics however, Matt’s treatment of the professor is well deserved. While one could argue that sitting above the city she tempts him in an almost biblical sense with the power of doing good and indulging in his darker side, the two do real work.
Foggy takes a stand and realizes that he can stand without Matt Murdock, almost striking a blow for sidekicks everywhere. He delivers an opening statement as pointed as Castle himself, blunt and to the point and while it’s not the greatest it does drive the point home to the jury. A good opening statement should introduce the facts of the case, not interject flowery speeches. That’s for the closing and Foggy’s gonna need all the help he can get because Matt is still “at work” with Elektra.
That work leads them to the shipping yard where after a battle with some ninjas Elektra and Matt share a touching moment. Matt is caught between an angel and a devil, but with Elektra at her weakest we see her as human, someone the law perhaps has forgotten or doesn’t really understand. Has she ever tried to be as faithful as Matt, Karen, and Frank? Only time will tell.
It’s Karen however who reminds Matt of good, and asks Matt where he stands. Does he stand with protecting the weak and innocent, and trying to do good? How far will he go to do it when the system in the MCU seems to be fundamentally broken. Matt doesn’t get an opportunity to decide that. He’s let himself fall too far and been too tempted. Matt can’t play both sides. While Foggy and Karen decide to squeeze a crooked medical examiner, the examiner comes clean and reveals that he was hurt by a mysterious woman. Elektra, in a misguided effort to help, has squeezed him first. The Examiner’s testimony is coerced, and common law – “People shouldn’t be forced to harm themselves.” Comes into play. It’s the essence of the legal system. There is no truth if a person is forced and all of the hopes that they have of finding out what happened to Frank’s family are dashed thanks to Matt’s temptation and a (seemingly) broken system.
THE DICHOTEMY OF GOOD AND EVIL ACCORDING TO MARVEL’S CINEMATIC UNIVERSE.
It’s worth noting that this is when the first cracks appear in Elektra’s foundation and her manic catwoman persona starts to crack.
Foggy tells Matt to sort out his priorities, Karen tells Matt that she can’t deal with him, and Matt in an effort to control goes to battle his seeming demons in the form of Elektra who reveals that he’d have to dance with darkness to protect the ones he loves and the city he’s claimed. The episode ends with them standing over a pit to the underworld, the ground of society crumbling beneath Matt Murdock’s feet and he might have to fall to save it. For a city made to stand against the elements, something earth shaking is coming that will change it. Forever.
Ponder all of this true believers and wait for our review of episodes 8&9!