Martin Carr reviews the twelfth episode of Daredevil season 2…
If Fisk owned episode ten and eleven belonged to Castle then episode twelve, or ‘The Dark At The End This Tunnel’ feels strangely average. Now I know that Daredevil average is another programme’s barnstorming opener, so I will be cautious in my evaluation. It’s only that after such consistent strength and originality, to fall back on a sort of ‘butler did it’ murder mystery mentality seems somewhat mundane. There are ample flashbacks which not only explain the origin of certain characters, but offer a clearer understanding of motive. However it fails to engage on quite the same level as before.
Their set up is good and opens as it closed on Elektra looking to meter out some retribution for wrong doings. But such is the nature of Daredevil that you know Elektra will never quite complete the job, irrespective of her desire to do so. Having jettisoned her once before we find Matt and Elektra thrown back together, either fighting, threatening or wisecracking their way to the same goal. As a dynamic this relationship worked best in the early flashback sequences, where the chemistry flowed and no one had reason to take sides. Now however things have changed.
Elektra is self-serving, selfish and driven by a compulsion for killing, whereas Matt sees redemptive qualities in even the most damaged soul. His Catholicism combined with the method he is forced to employ, makes their relationship complicated. For that reason asking audiences to buy into certain elements of this penultimate episode upsets the balance. Elsewhere relationships either platonic or otherwise have remained consistent, whether between Castle and Karen, Foggy and Matt, or Fisk and Castle. They have remained within the boundaries of expectation and not asked us to be unrealistic.
As the action takes us down into the subway tunnels there are some gruesome touches, both subtle and not so much. While above ground all semblance of goodness is eradicated in minutes, within the confines of an isolated tool shed and single gunshot. As the sound echoes off those trees there is a moment of pathos enforced upon an audience, who spent too many episodes rooting for the wrong guy. A fearless underdog with intellect and precision who took no bullshit, even if his moral compass was permanently busted. Bernthal has miraculously made the impossible happen making a lot of comic book fans cry into their Mountain Dew. Wholesale carnage and blunt stakes through the stomach have been given a human face.
If Elektra is the ultimate cuckoo without the family fatalities and Matt the crusading Catholic martyr consumed by guilt for everyone else. Then Castle tops them all eaten up by a mission with digressions into psychosis, more than aware of his place in the world and what put him there. In spite of that the Punisher’s defining characteristic is self-sacrifice. Making him more engaging than any number of Black Sky sacrifices or oriental sects. A saving grace in an episode with few moments of note, in what should have been a landmark episode.