Thursday, March 31, 2016

REVIEW: 'Daredevil' - Matt and Elektra Crash a Party While the Firm Gets a New Client in 'Regrets Only'

Netflix's Daredevil - Episode 2.06 "Regrets Only"

A lethal foe returns with a vengeance. Foggy and Murdock risk the firm to ensure justice. Karen sees a different side of the Punisher.

At times, Daredevil can struggle with being too self-serious and grim. When the formulaic and familiar storytelling beats are told in a very serious way, it only makes them more of a drag on the narrative. The start of this season was very dark but also felt very reminiscent of stories that have been previously told elsewhere. This show wasn't doing enough to distinguish itself in a way that gave this story enough meaningful and genuine stakes. The action was enough to prop up some of these narrative flaws. But it wasn't enough. And then, Elektra joined the season and was immediately a welcome change of pace. She brings such a different style and energy to the tone of the show. It's much needed too. She's fun and light-hearted while still capable of taking down a number of trained bad guys. Her appearance has helped reinvigorate the narrative as it prepares to took a look at things from a macro level.

Elektra brings a completely new story arc to the season as well. She is ruffling some feathers from within the Yakuza - aka the Japanese crime syndicate from last season. She put Matt in a position where he had to embrace his darker qualities in order to continue to survive. Between the two of them, they are quickly able to handle the assassins who come to her apartment. It showcases that both are skilled warriors who are capable of taking on this enemy. It's just such a different story avenue than the rest of the season up to this point. Matt is keeping Elektra contained for now. He's not letting anyone else know that the Yakuza are back in town and are likely up to no good once again. He wants to believe that Elektra will leave and never come back as long as he helps her with this one small mission.

This episode shows just how strong a pull Elektra still has on Matt. He is frustrated with how she continues to manipulate him into doing whatever she wants. He was forced to fight because of her. She treats that as nothing out of the ordinary. She has seen what he's been doing for Hell's Kitchen as of late. She knows that he is Daredevil. She knows that he is still capable of handling whatever threat comes his way. But she also acts as if he will help her no matter what. It could come across as arrogance. But it actually plays as light-hearted charm. She is having fun with all of this. She enjoys getting Matt to partner up with her again. Plus, it allows both of them to dress up and crash a fancy party at the Roxxon Corporation in order to steal the ledger filled with illegal activities. That entire sequence is a lot of fun because it shows just how well Matt and Elektra compliment each other in the field. She has the knowledge of the players while he has the skills to actually get them to where they need to go. Plus, it's just great seeing how easily he uses his blindness in order to get people to not take him seriously as a threat.

These last two episodes have also worked really well because the balance with Matt as a character has improved so much. The show is finally remembering that he is both a lawyer and a vigilante. He has the ability to help this community during both the day and the night. Sure, his two lives complicate each other. But it's still a balance that is important to the foundation of the character. Last season was almost entirely about the creation of Daredevil as the hero that Hell's Kitchen needs right now. All of the legal aspects were largely relegated to Foggy and Karen subplots that were mostly extraneous and very hit or miss. But here, the opportunity presents itself where Matt can make a difference by serving as the Punisher's attorney for the upcoming trial.

It's a pretty unexpected twist too. As Foggy explains, both Matt and Karen should have personal reasons for not wanting to be anywhere near Frank Castle. He shot at Karen through a hospital and he chained Matt to a rooftop clinging to life. But this is something that Matt wants to do because he believes that Frank shouldn't receive the death penalty for his crimes. It's him continuing to show a respect for all life. He knows that there is still good inside people. That's why he doesn't kill anyone when he roams the streets as Daredevil. But this twist also puts a new spin on the whole story as well. Everyone is quick to judge and punish Frank. He is guilty of these crimes and Reyes is pushing for him to get the death penalty. She wants to make a name for herself with this case. And yet, all of it still isn't adding up to Matt and Karen. They know that something else is afoot here and they want to make sure that the full story gets told to the public. Signing on as Frank's lawyers is the only way to do that. It's a great moment for Matt as lawyer.

However, it's a tad disappointing that Matt is quickly whisked away by Elektra for their big heist and leaves Foggy and Karen to prep for Frank's arraignment. He's the one who pushed for them to take this case in the first place. And he doesn't leave with the best excuse either because he's still keeping the truth about Elektra from his friends. Plus, the two stories right now feel very separated from each other. Matt really is the only thing that connects the two together as he attempts to juggle both. And yet, Karen getting to spend more time with Frank and coming to understand him is a pretty interesting story as well. She wants to know the truth about what happened to his family. She's the only person who can break down the emotional barrier that he put up in order to cope with their deaths. He was attempting to find justice while out on the streets as the Punisher. He didn't find it and is now chained to a hospital bed. Karen helps remind him of the horrifying details of his family's deaths. It's a great moment because she's pushing for the truth while also inadvertently convincing him to stick it to Reyes and her plans to convict him. It indicates that the legal aspects of the story will only be more prominent for the show moving forward - which is very exciting. Now, Matt just needs to spend more time with his new client.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Regrets Only" was written by Sneha Koorse and directed by Andy Goddard.
  • Matt and Karen are moving somewhat quickly as a couple this season. It's somewhat annoying that it's being presented in order to provide a contrast to Matt's dynamic with Elektra. But it's also amusing when Foggy presses for more details that they themselves don't really know yet.
  • It's great to see Matt and Foggy's happy reaction to learning that Brett has been promoted to detective following his arrest of the Punisher. And yet, he is still on hospital guard duty. So, it's not that impressive of a promotion.
  • Karen doesn't get a whole lot of new information about Frank's history. However, she is able to pull a ton of great and personal memories out of the man who had shut that part of his life off. She learns so much about him. It's a meaningful connection. It will need to be considering he just made the firm's lives more complicated.
  • The Roxxon representative cryptically notes in the end that he's not working for the Yakuza at all but some other mysterious entity. That's a tease that only really interests me regarding how Matt and Elektra will react to it and not as some big surprising reveal.
  • Elektra saying it would be a deal breaker if Matt didn't give back her pie was a pretty wonderful moment. Again, why can't more characters be like her on this show?
  • That action sequence at the party where everything is in silhouette was pretty beautiful as well. A new way to show something that has become very commonplace on the show.

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.