Monday, October 22, 2018

REVIEW: 'Daredevil' - Karen's Past Reveals Even More Trauma and Family Drama in 'Karen'

Netflix's Daredevil - Episode 3.10 "Karen"

Hunted by Fisk and haunted by mistakes from her past, Karen seeks refuge at the church. Matt finally gets his shot, and Dex goes in for the kill.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Daredevil.

"Karen" was written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson and directed by Alex Garcia Lopez

This season has done an interesting job in expanding the personal lives of the three main characters - Matt, Foggy and Karen. More flashbacks have been featured with Matt. Plus, Maggie was revealed as his mother. Foggy's family and their struggles were introduced. And now, the show spends the majority of an episode looking back into Karen's own traumatic past. Her backstory of growing up in a small town was already known to the audience. We also know that she left because of the gossip and terror that came from an accident that killed her brother. The show didn't have to delve this deeply into Karen's past. It mostly puts the present-day storyline on hold even though there is still a significant amount of it on display here. And yet, Karen's past also illuminates the choices she has made in the present. She is seen as a very troubled young woman who feels the burden to go to college and keep the family diner operational even though her father is making ridiculous purchases. She doesn't quite belong in this environment. But she feels trapped here as well because of family responsibilities. She copes by abusing drugs and even selling them to the local college students. She is in a toxic relationship. It's in confronting that that leads to her brother's death. He tries to save her from this life. He wants to be her hero who can convince her she'd be better off going away to college and escaping this town for good. In doing so, it just leads to a point where Karen is driving while drunk, high and not paying attention to the road. She would rather tend to her brother's injuries. But that only leads to more damage. It's such a traumatic and horrifying moment to witness. It's clear why Karen has so much regret for what happened and why she is always trying to do the good thing now. She wasn't doing that previously and it led to the complete implosion of her family unit. She wasn't a good daughter or sister. Her family wasn't the best either. They were simply trying to survive. But after all of this happened, it was simply easier for her to run away. That's what her father told her to do. It was the only way to ensure that no further action would be taken. It just sets a pattern in Karen's life where she sees running as a viable option because it worked so well the first time. She escaped to New York and was able to make lasting friendships with Matt and Foggy. It just came at the cost of her being even more traumatized in the city as well.

Karen isn't able to escape though. She was spotted at the church. In fact, this extended focus at her life seems to be signaling that she is about to die. Fisk wants her dead and has sent Dex to complete the job. He terrorizes the church during mass. It presents as a choice that Matt will have to make. He can either kill Fisk or save Karen. In the end, he opts to protect his friend. He does so not knowing if he will ever get a chance like this with Fisk again. But it's also proof that he doesn't fundamentally believe the things he has been saying this season. These friendships still mean something very important to him. He believed that Karen and Foggy would be better off without him in their lives. But they were still targeted by the villainous individuals of this world. They still need his protection. All of this still comes at a cost though. Father Lantom sacrifices himself in order to save Karen. That's such an unexpected moment. Sure, it also reads as the standard death at the two-thirds point of the season in order to increase the stakes of the narrative. That has become such a standard plot point across these Netflix-Marvel shows. And yet, his death still has weight to it because he has been trying to help Matt and Karen along their journeys. He offers his guidance to those who need it the most. His words are powerful and inspirational. And now, he dies trying to do the right thing. He is a hero even though he kept the truth about Maggie from Matt. Karen is a hero as well. She gets all of the innocent people in the church to safety. Meanwhile, she's able to save Matt when he's being beaten by Dex. Sure, it doesn't put an end to this conflict. But it should confirm that all of them are in on this together as the heroes the city needs right now - even though they have just suffered a major loss.