This Daredevil episode delivers plenty of answers, all of which were well-built up to. As all the stories begin tying up nicely, we get a penultimate episode for season 2, with an emphasis on “Ultimate.”
“The Dark at the End of the Tunnel” provides us the identities of both The Blacksmith and The Black Sky. First, we learn that The Blacksmith is none other than Colonel Ray Schoonover. While it’s funny that Clancy Brown is playing such a similar part in Daredevil that he plays in The Flash. It’s a very sensible conclusion to the Punisher storyline – the whole time; his arch nemesis is his commanding officer that Frank had to save in the line of duty. Thankfully, Frank Castle reveals he’s alive and kicking before Schoonover has a chance to kill Karen, but it’s hardly a happy matter. Karen tries to convince Frank to spare Schoonover’s life, to no avail. Frank is frank in his dealings with Schoonover and still doesn’t care about killing others. In his mind, he’s already dead. Disregarding his staged death at the docks, the man Frank Castle is no longer alive. Frank has crossed over entirely into his Punisher persona, immersing himself in the Colonel’s gun supply and attractive black skull suit.
Speaking of spurned father figures, Elektra makes her stand against Stick, amidst training flashbacks, only to find that she is the thing she’s been trained to kill. That’s right – The Black Sky, The Hand’s rumored big weapon, is none other than Elektra. While Matt tries his best to convince Elektra otherwise, both she, Stick and Nobu firmly believe that she’s a killer weapon, incapable of righteousness. Much like Punisher, she seems only to be capable of death, unlike Matt. It puts Stick’s relationship with Elektra in an interesting light – he tried his hardest to protect her, as he did legitimately care for her, but once The Hand realizes who she is, he’s more than willing to kill her himself. Stick’s an oddball father figure – while he’s proud of both Matt and Elektra, he also hates basically every choice they make for themselves and sees himself as the only one capable of handling them.
Daredevil is placed in yet another situation where everyone in his secret life is rooted in violence, he tries to keep himself above. While his vigilante friends are surrounded by death, his Matt Murdock law friends are doing just fine. Foggy, acknowledged by Matt as “the heart of the firm,” is officially selling out and moving on to the big leagues. It’s a sad moment to see the end of Nelson & Murdock, but it’s hardly unexpected, and as both men agree, it’s better that they move on from their young, pre-Daredevil lives. And it turns out Karen’s as good at being a reporter as being a lawyer – or as good at being shot at. Whether she’s doomed to be the next Ben Urich remains to be seen.
The fact that Daredevil was able to provide answers in such a satisfying matter is excellent – both mysteries have definite answers, which frees up the finale for resolution and, undoubtedly, more fantastic fight choreography. The “dark at the end of the tunnel” is in reference to the revelations this episode has provided – while we know the Black Sky and Blacksmith, they’re hardly happy endings. It’s not as simple as a Scooby-Doo unmasking – for both Punisher and Elektra, they find out how their formative experiences have influenced the Hell that has been reigning in the Kitchen all season. The fact that Daredevil has been able to avoid the amount of death haunting his comrades is downright astounding, but will it last? Or will the fact that he’s pushed away his closest allies mean that he never has the chance to suffer similar loss? ‘The Dark at the End of the Tunnel’ provides great insight into the lives of our B-story heroes, but it doesn’t bode well for what’s coming for our Matt Murdock.