Daredevil Season 2 continues with “Regrets Only” an episode that simultaneously slows the pace and provides of the show’s more dynamic action scenes thus far. It begins with Elektra and Matt about to be ambushed by a number of assassins, leading to a fight scene reminiscent of the neon-filled escapade of Bond in Shanghai featured in Skyfall. We immediately see that Daredevil and Elektra fight as if they were dance partners. Their fight with the “Yakuza” is like a ballet, one that demonstrates the skills of both fighters. Their chemistry manifest even in their fighting styles. There is a complementarity to their styles that betrays a common ancestry. Elektra and Daredevil have more in common than even they known and that is beautifully integrated into the episode’s action scenes. This episode also gives us the best look of the new suit which features a lot more red than last season. It comes straight from the pages of Alex Maleev and Brian Michael Bendis’ run on the character.
Meanwhile, we finally get to see Matt play lawyer as he and Foggy go up against DA Reyes. Frank Castle has been assigned a lawyer that even a rookie law student could beat and it’s clear that the unscrupulous Reyes is hopping not only for an open and shut case, but one that solves the question of The Punisher permanently. It’s strange that in a series about a lawyer that we rarely get to see Matt put that Columbia Law School education to good use. This season has gone a long way towards addressing that, with this episode acting as a shining example of why Matt graduated suma com laude. He has a wit and intelligence that is often forgotten about. Foggy normally is left to act as the responsible half of their firm while Matt is busy being Daredevil, but this episode shows that letting the two being that dynamic duo of the legal world can reek dividends, both in terms of performance and character development. Reyes continues to be the stereotypical power-hungry DA and one wonders if there is something deeper to her character. It would be a shame if she were to amount to merely another corrupt DA. Michelle Hurd plays her with such vitriol, you’d swear that her very words could strip paint off a wall. That being said, it’s always fun to have that unethical lawyer to bounce off our heroes. This series loves having foils for Matt to be compared to, but one wonders if Matt is more defined by who he isn’t rather than who he is. With Nelson and Murdock set up to represent Frank Castle in court, it’s clear that Daredevil is teeing up a courtroom drama of epic proportions.
Bernthal gives us a harrowing take on The Punisher in this episode . I’ve previously argued that the character works best as a force of nature, unable to be reasoned with. “Only Regrets” does a fantastic job of humanising Frank Castle and making him a sympathetic character. As Karen helps Frank remember facts about his family such as his children’s favourite toys, we are shown the humanity that would drive someone towards inhumanity. There is an interesting understanding between the two as Karen’s compassion represents what much of the audience will feel towards the character. It’s worth noting that Frank’s actions still remain reprehensible, but this ability to relate to him feeds into the wider moral debate that played out in episode 3 and allows us to make our own decision as to whether or not Matt Murdock is on the right side of that argument. There are some among the audience who would certainly agree that Daredevil is merely a “half-measure”. Certainly a few who placed in similar circumstances, having seen their family gunned down before their very eyes, would take up arms against a sea of troubles and by punishing, end them.
Yung is a fantastic Elektra and this episodes demonstrates her more playful side as she and Matt attempt to break into a Roxxon executive’s office in order to steal a ledger. It also leads to one of the funniest moments of the series thus far as her and Matt pretend to be caught having sex in order to escape from the Roxxon goons. Her entire performance is seductive and the viewer sees her as Matt would have. She pulls us into her world, one of mystery and intrigue. We see that charm and magnetism that made Matt fall in love with her to begin with. In a clever way, like with The Punisher, the show tries to bring us around to her way of thinking and to advocate for her approach to crime-fighting as much as Daredevil’s. Her story-line is crucial for the momentum of the rest of the season. It is through the heist that we are shown the darker side of the Roxxon corporation. Moreover, the group we thought were the Yakuza are revealed to be far more sinister as their leader is shown in possession of a number of severed fingers. Comic fans have known where this one has been going since last season, but their is something unnaturally terrifying to seeing their leader say “Who ever said I was Yakuza?” through grinning teeth.
At the mid-way point of the season, Daredevil is finally starting to see the beginnings of the war that Stick referred to in Season 1. It’s clear that whereas the first season acted as one continuous story, this season is more focused on providing a number of arcs that tie into each other. The “Yakuza” are more than they appear and it remains to be seen who has the upper “Hand”. Some of Frank Miller’s more mystical and unique contributions to the canon are about to make themselves known, but whether they will resonate with the viewership remains the be seen. All the while, Daredevil manages to intersperse a thrilling courtroom drama to ground the series. We have seven episodes left and they will determine whether or not the series has taken on too much of a burden for any single season to deal with.