‘The Dark at the End of the Tunnel’ had the potential to be a sadly prophetic title for episode twelve of Daredevil. With so many loose ends in need of tying up and more being added as late as episode eleven, there was a real concern that season two would end in a chaotic mess of half-baked ideas and poorly developed plot points. It is a relief then that that did not happen. Some of the more troublesome stories were rounded off ahead of the finale and others were built to a grander scale before their conclusion. The trouble is that none of these were handled amazingly well.
Let’s first be fair to Daredevil, this was still a fair episode. The stories, whilst not as expertly handled as they have been in the past, were still fairly well done and you didn’t feel the urge to switch off at any point. With that being said, there is still a tangible sense of disappointment as some elements of the show just didn’t make sense and others were not in line with the groundbreaking writing that came before.
It makes sense to deal with the plotline that drew to a close first and that was the one involving The Punisher and The Blacksmith. As the most recent, and most worrying addition, to the show it would not have been unreasonable to expect this episode to merely move that narrative forward, leading to an explosive showdown in the season finale. What was instead given to audiences felt oddly rushed and poorly set up. You remember the General who testified at Frank’s trial? The one who tried to get him an innocent verdict? Well, he’s The Blacksmith. That almost doesn’t even feel like a spoiler because it’s just a case of who the hell cares? He never mattered to the show save for the one story he told which showed Frank to be even more of a killing machine than first expected. The reveal was handled in a ham-fisted manner that showed none of the finesse one has come to expect from the show. If you want a perfect example of anti-climax, then look no further than this.
So, the reveal was botched but maybe they took the story somewhere interesting after that? Nope. Blacksmith literally just kidnapped Karen, who stumbled onto his secret in a way that completely betrayed her season long build as a competent investigator, and was then killed by The Punisher. Not only did this undo the excellent work that had been put into Karen it also meant that this entire narrative had been something of a dead end. The only thing that it achieved was Punisher finding a ridiculously well stocked weapons cache which will surely lead to his final evolution into the absurdly well-armed vigilante from the comics. All he needs now is the skull shirt and he is good to go.
With one portion of the show being a bit of a bust, surely the other half would be at the level of excellence expected, right? Not really, but it was much closer.
The show began with a flashback which explained Elektra’s training at the hands of Stick. It was an eye opening sequence and finally explained Elektra’s motives and personality traits perfectly. It is something that would have benefitted the character a lot more had it aired earlier in the season but it was still quite effective at this point too. It led nicely into the present day plot which saw The Hand kidnap Stick whilst Elektra was trying to kill him. Of course, Daredevil also stepped in to stop her from landing the fatal blow. This scene felt like the right way to go with their relationship as there was a frosty disconnect between Daredevil and Elektra, one that made sense considering her murdering a teenaged assassin in Matt’s living room.
From that point the crux of their story revolved around rescuing Stick. After a pointer from Foggy, who was disappointingly absent for the rest of the run time, Matt made his way down to the abandoned subway tunnels. The fight scenes were, of course, fantastic. The choreography is always exquisite on this show and The Hand have given Daredevil the best opportunity yet to showcase his acrobatic talents as he blocks and parries before nearly knocking a guy’s head off right a Roundhouse Kick. It’s no surprise that he saves Stick but what unfolds after is a little more puzzling.
That secret weapon The Hand have been on about? Well it turns out it’s Elektra. That makes some internal sense when you consider her character and it would only be natural for her to embrace this as she has been seeking a place to belong for the entirety of the season. The show even mentions that when the reveal is made yet she still sides with Daredevil and saves Stick. Earlier in the season that would have made perfect sense but now it comes across as being ill thought through. The better move would have been for her to align with The Hand. Her use as a destructive weapon would then have been imminent. The genius of that move would be that all season long Daredevil has been set against killing, always seeking out the alternative. Now there would be no choice, he would have to let Stick, or even Punisher, kill her in order to save thousands of lives. It could have had a huge emotional impact on him that carried over into the next season and it would have changed the landscape of the show forever. The best thing is that now that resurrection has been established as a thing in this universe, Elektra could have been brought back at a later date with little to no mess.
As you will have gleamed by now, this was the weakest episode of Daredevil yet. It failed in ways that this show just shouldn’t be capable of doing. True, a bad day for Daredevil is tantamount to a good day for most other shows and this review may seem a touch harsh. Regardless, of all of this the hype for the season finale is still as high as ever and there should be no doubt that it will deliver.
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