Daredevil Season 2 Episode 13 Review: “A Cold Day In Hell’s Kitchen”

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*Daredevil Season 2 Finale Spoilers Ahead*

I’ll be honest – it took me a while to figure out why I felt simultaneously in love with and vaguely “meh” on the Daredevil Season 2 finale.

The episode consisted largely of brilliantly comic book build up to an equally brilliant comic book final battle. After updating their wardrobe with gifts from their friendly neighborhood vigilante supply outlet (including the coolest bit of hand to hand tech I’ve seen since Oliver Queen’s fold-em-up bow on Arrow), Daredevil and Elektra hit the streets to take on The Hand and save the civilians they have kidnapped, including Karen. A battle ensues, the civilians (and Karen) are saved, Matt declares passionate intention to follow Elektra to the ends of the Earth, Elektra subsequently dies (ish), Punisher arrives conveniently 30 seconds too late and also right on time, and Nobu ends up decapitated (no ‘ish’ required on that dead declaration) by Stick. Foggy gets hired to work at the law firm from Jessica Jones and Matt reveals his Daredevil identity to Karen at the end of the episode.

All in all…a lot happens. But almost none of it leaves a lasting impression on the overarching plot of the season and the seasons to come. Hence the simultaneous love/meh relationship I have with the episode.

Let’s break it down.

The Love

The power and strength in this episode comes from it’s characters. And to be perfectly frank, that alone outweighs the meh-ness for me. Daredevil has always excelled at creating provocative character dilemmas and finding a way to touch on truth and humanity despite the intrinsic, unrealistic nature of the series. Yet we can argue that it is, perhaps, the most realistic of the Marvel series’ out there. If we must rate them, I venture that Daredevil and Jessica Jones are on par for providing us the greatest look into the sides of humanity we inherently shy away from. Through their cords of connection to the Marvel universe, we can explore different facets of humanity that, for the most part, we don’t expect to see in a superhero show. I myself shy away from the series like Breaking Bad and Oranges is the New Black. I cannot deny the superb storytelling behind these series’, but they expose me to a world I want to know nothing more about. If I’m going to watch television, I’d prefer the Agents of SHIELD Inhuman mythos or the metahuman infrastructure of The Flash. I want to escape reality for a few minutes. It doesn’t mean that neither Agents of SHIELD or The Flash provide us with truly beautiful, meaningful, and powerful moments shining on humanity…but there’s something about the way Daredevil tackles the same questions in this dark, gritty, murky world that reaches me when I least expect it.

Take, for instance, the scene between Matt and Elektra at the beginning of the episode. Elektra is standing (literally) on the precipice of her future. She has just discovered that she is, and has always been destined to be, the Black Sky – the enigmatic bringer of death and destruction that The Hand has been searching for to lead them in their crusade against the perceived filth of the world. Elektra is faced with the daunting prospect that her life has never been her own and that she has always been destined to do terrible things. It provides her with answers. Though we still do not know the nature of her destiny, she understands now why she’s had so much trouble turning away from the darkness inside of her. She can use the “Black Sky” as an excuse for her cruel nature. Matthew, however, argues the opposite. He presents her with the evidence of the previous episode – she saved Stick. She allowed the good in her heart to overcome the darkness and in doing so, she has forged her own destiny. To paraphrase the Disney movie Brave, she has the power to change her own fate and healing her soul. It’s a beautiful sentiment and one that also mirrors the changes we’ve seen in Matthew in the past few episodes. He has fallen, more and more slowly, into the pit of the Daredevil, losing himself (and his friends) to the devil’s snare. But if Elektra can rise above the ocean of despair in front of her, so too can Matthew.

Then there’s Karen – a casualty of the war that Daredevil has waged on the city and The Hand. Personally, Karen’s stories have always been monotonously plot driven. “We need someone to uncover this weird secret.” Karen. “We need someone for Matt to love who is generally speaking not evil.” Karen. “We need someone to connect us with Frank.” Karen. But over the past few episodes, I think we’ve finally gotten past that. “We need someone to uncover the truth behind the devastating nature of the enemy”. Karen. “We need to show the audience what Matt is losing and how far he has fallen from himself.” Karen. “We need a desperate plea for humanity next to a most inhuman person.” Karen. No longer does she feel like a forgotten character used for forgotten story-lines; we’re finally seeing her truly representing what Matthew has to fight for. Her bravery feels less foolish, her humanity less contrived. Bottom line is, she is willing to accept that Daredevil will save them but at the same time, relies upon her own ingenuity to facilitate it. Refreshing not to have a damsel in distress.

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Ultimately, however, my favorite part of this episode comes in that little corner scene between Matthew and Elektra. Is it clear to me that Matt loves Karen? Of course – but not with the depth that he breathes for Elektra. They are connected through both their light and their dark. Initially, Matt felt only the pull of her darkness. “We corrupt each other”, he had said. Seeing her rise above the devastating truth of her nature, however, reminds him that that “corruption” goes both ways and that perhaps the word “corruption” is inaccurate. Instead, his influence on her and the light he shines towards her proves Elektra with the greatest possibility of redemption she has ever had.

If they make it out alive.DDV-mat-and-elektra-plan-for-future

Here’s where the punch-fight-win-lose plot part excels. Both Matthew and Elektra are genuinely convinced they may not see morning. As the audience, we buy it. They are facing their greatest enemy to date, as neither their skills nor their ‘super-powers’ seem to be enough. Sitting at the top of those stairs, I think I knew rather instantaneously that at least Elektra would not make it out alive. But as the fight progressed (and knowing that the Punisher was on the move), I had lowered the fatality level from red to yellow. It was a little bit of a shock, therefore, when she was killed, but the shock was built only out of the momentum of the fight.  Am I bummed she’s dead? Not really…because there’s no way she’s really dead. Am I bummed that when she returns we may not have the same capacity-for-redemption Elektra? Yes. After all the commitment she, the character, Matthew, and the show put towards her redemption, I hope we don’t see Season 3 rehashing exactly the same story.

And this leads me to…

The Meh

What is season 3 about? What questions am I supposed to be asking? Why should I come back for next season at all? This episode wraps up some story lines with effervescent clear saran wrap. Sure, we get some answers but they’re fuzzy and generally unenthusiastic. I have no motivation to speculate who The Hand is and what the Black Sky is supposed to do. I can guess (pretty definitively) that Elektra will return. I have completely forgotten that Wilson Fisk is still a player in this game (PS, friendly reminder that Wilson Fisk is still a player in this game). I have little to no interest in the future of Foggy, which is a genuine bummer since I really do enjoy his character. There are some questions I want answered next season that we can still look forward to – what happened to Claire? Is she really fired? What will Karen say about Matt’s multi-season deceit? What is the Punisher’s Micro nod? But ultimately, I had to think about those. I find that, for me, a solid season finale leaves me with one burning question that drives me nuts. I suppose the “is Elektra really dead?” question was supposed to be it, but to me, it seems lukewarm. The rest are all smaller, understated curious-face emojis that I wish I had more interest in learning more about.

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Overall, the finale is a solid, beautiful character episode that I enjoyed eons more than last year’s finale. I’m a character growth kind of gal, so in a normal episode, I would set the the love/meh at a 85/15 ratio. However, given that this is a season finale, it lowers the love and raises the meh to a 70/30. I guess I can give it some extra credit, though, for the stunt work and the fact that Karen knows about Matt. So 80/20 is my final verdict. That’s a B-…equivalent to a captivating body in an essay but a cruddy conclusion that fails to tie the captivating body together. Does it make me hypocritical that I would have complained if it were all plot and no character? Possibly, but I think we could have found a balance that gave us more to look forward to. The final verdict lies in the truth that I enjoyed Season 2…but have little desire to see where Season 3 goes.

For now.

What were you thoughts on the Daredevil Season 2 finale? Is my meh misplaced? Leave your comments below!

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