Thus far in Daredevil the primary focus has been split between Punisher and Daredevil, each fighting their own wars that just so happen to intersect from time to time. There have been subplots that have given meaning to smaller characters, most notably Karen, but ultimately it has come down to The Hand and the three gangs responsible for killing Frank’s family. With just two more episodes left of the season it would be foolish to introduce another major villain, right? Yes, yes it would but that hasn’t stopped them.
Okay, so technically The Blacksmith was mentioned in ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven’ and from that point on it became clear that he would be the new focus of Punisher’s rage as he was revealed to be the driving force behind the park shooting. With that in mind it still seems a little foolhardy to bring him to the fore with such little time left to flesh him out and build to a satisfying conclusion. That feeling is bolstered by the fact that there are already numerous threads left hanging, each in need of a conclusion by the time this season wraps. If any creative team is capable of bring all of this together then it is most definitely this one but it still seems like they have heaped too much onto their plate.
Taken as an individual episode, without considering its wider reaching ramifications for a moment, ‘.380’ was another very strong entry into the series. It again had all the revelations, violence, and mystery that is so closely associated with the show at this point. Whilst it was a little slow in places it still very much delivered on fan expectations.
From the off you were plunged back into the shadowy world of The Hand as their assault on the hospital took place. It was a relatively short sequence by Daredevil standards and not a patch on other such scenes but nevertheless it got the job done and furthered several plots at once. The first, and most important of these, was the continuing of The Hand’s mission. What the mission is has not yet been revealed in its entirety although it seems to have to do with resurrection and some form of unparalleled weapon.
By virtue of their status as a ninja cult, The Hand can get away with featuring somewhat sparsely in these episodes and it actually adds to their story rather than detracting. They are being built as the unknown, a threat that you as an audience are not sure Daredevil can handle single handedly. That makes Matt’s current attempts at Martyrdom all the more aggravating as he continues to push what little help he had away. When The Hand do finally play their, uh… hand, it will make for an explosive showdown and one that should have every fan on the edge of their seat, waiting with bated breath for the surely epic conclusion.
A second character development that spawns from the attack centres around Nurse Claire. Not only does she make a startling discovery when she finds one of the ninja’s, one she killed in self-defense, to have already had an autopsy performed on them but she also finds the hospital trying cover up the entire attack and taking an anonymous donation whilst doing so. None of this sits well with her and she quits her job, potentially having a little moment with Foggy as she exits the building. This side story, far from being a needless distraction, creates a vibrant world for this show to inhabit. One where every action has consequences for ordinary people as well as the ones doing battle in the streets. This is something that Daredevil has been excellent at showing at it makes a very welcome change from other shows that try not to dwell too much on such things.
Elsewhere, Karen can be found lying to the police as she keeps The Punisher’s name out of her official statement regarding the shooting attempt on her life. Though she does slip past her protective custody to accompany him to a diner. It is clear that she thinks of this as some form of reconnaissance mission but that all goes a little south when two armed men are sent by The Blacksmith and Punisher kills them both in brutal fashion. The relationship between these two, Punisher and Karen not the dead men, is something that has been blossoming for a while now. Karen is disgusted by his actions but at the same time there is clearly some affection there, something keeping them both together. This war will continue to rage on and Karen may well have to choose a side between Matt and Punisher. It may be odd but Punisher seems like the better choice for her.
With regards to The Blacksmith, his face is still not shown in this episode and instead Punisher is led into a trap. There is a moment where he thinks he’s got his man and is seconds from killing him when Daredevil again steps in to stop it. This is a rare situation where you could find yourself shouting for Daredevil to just stay out of things for once. As an audience you want Punisher to get his justice and DD’s constant interference is actually becoming a source of great irritation, even when he ultimately is doing the right thing.
In the end ‘.380’ was not a standout episode such as we have seen in the past but it was still solid and performed its function very well. This should not be a surprise as there will likely never be a bad episode of Daredevil. The adding of loose ends so late in the season is a little worrying but there is every chance that it will still end in the perfect way so that won’t lower this score too much.
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