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DAREDEVIL Episode 2 Recap: The Punisher’s Code

Warning: This recap contains spoilers for the second Daredevil episode “Dogs to a Gunfight.” Leave the ring and find a fight away from this page if you haven’t seen the episode yet.

When a season of a series drops at once, it has opportunities week-to-week shows don’t. In the case of Marvel’s Daredevil, the Netflix binge-approach means character intros can be handled differently. The premiere episode showed the danger of the Punisher without giving him dialogue or much screen time. They continued to use this slow but steady technique with the second episode.

At first blush, “Dogs to a Gunfight” might seem sleepy. That was my first reaction. But with time to process and recognize its place in the big picture, I found plenty to value. Let’s look at this episode by character, shall we?

Matt was shot in the head by Punisher but protected by his armor. Given what we learn about Punisher later in the episode, I’m not positive whether he knew Matt would survive the shot or not. He certainly has the skill set to recognize armor quality, right? Though the wound didn’t send Matt on a permanent trip out of Hell’s Kitchen/the world, it had an equally terrifying effect: it rendered his abilities useless. With all we’ve seen Matt do as Daredevil, it was startling to watch him lose control. The Man Without Fear experienced fear as he became somewhat helpless. Is anything sadder than a scared Matt Murdock sitting alone in shock?

Marvel's Daredevil

Never one to be stopped, for better or worse, Matt went to Melvin for repairs and tracked the Punisher. It’s something I both admire and dislike about Matt. There are times when he should really take the day off in order to fight another day. But he doesn’t and still manages to. Of course, he was captured by the Punisher…

Punisher got to show more of his personality beyond “intimidating killing machine” in the second episode. He went to a shop to purchase not-exactly-legal information and weapons. But when the sleazy guy at the store offered Punisher an underage kid, he lost it. He hasn’t gone into a point by point explanation of why he kills who he kills–he’s not exactly verbose, for one thing, and it would be kind of dumb and unnecessary, for another–but we’ve seen enough to understand the basics of his code.

The seed planted in the first episode continued to grow: Punisher and Daredevil have similar goals. They want to get rid of the evil weeds choking Hell’s Kitchen, but Daredevil wants to trim them down and reform them into prettier flowers, while Punisher wants to shred them. It’s a fun if disturbing game to constantly check your gut and see who you agree with more and why.

While Matt wrestled with his latest burdens, Foggy and Karen were tied up with keeping Grotto safe. (Grotto was the survivor of the massacre at the beginning of the premiere.) They worked with the district attorney’s office because they thought everyone was on board to help Grotto get into witness protection. However, DA Reyes used Grotto as bait. Corruption within the justice system was part of the first season with Fisk paying off a sizable chunk of the police force to do his bidding, and now in season two, it’s lawyers who are failing the city.

Reyes’ double-cross helped support the idea and necessity of vigilantism. I don’t know how I’d feel about heroes and anti-heroes working outside the law if I ever encountered it in day-to-day life, but in this case, when it’s safe and fictional on my television, I approve. When you have people like Reyes in power who are willing to sacrifice men–even a man who has done wrong–it’s hard not to see Daredevil in a more positive light.

“Dogs to a Gunfight” was more about setting the board than leaning into action, and I’m fine with it. It built up layers and made Punisher more than a blunt force who knows how to handle guns.

Random thoughts:

  • I could watch Foggy throw down confident lawyer talk all damn day long.
  • The fact that Karen shot Wesley hasn’t been forgotten, but it hasn’t been a priority. I’m glad they took a moment to show her being nervous about Punisher coming after her for what she did.

Favorite quote:

  • “There’s something about this city that makes good people shoot their way out of bad situations.” – Karen

I wasn’t okay seeing Matt unable to navigate the world. What did you think of that twist and all the rest? Talk to me in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter.

IMAGES: Netflix

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