Episode three of this new season gives Daredevil the classic morality debate between frenemies – Daredevil, chained to a rooftop, as Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, prepares to blow up the Dogs of Hell. Frank has been set up this season as the anti-Daredevil, giving the Marvel Netflix realm its own civil war, ahead of the upcoming Captain America film. As Frank puts it to Matt, “You’re one bad day away from being me.” While Frank lets Matt into his head, Frank makes it clear that he’s not trying to be a vigilante superhero – he’s on a mission.
Right from the opening image, of Matt being cleaned up by a nun, his religious convictions are set up for the crux of his argument. Matt tries to appeal to Frank’s better nature, hoping he may believe in the superhero’s code. He even asks if Frank has any connections to Christianity, but Franks shoots him down (not literally, of course). While Matt believes in redemption, Punisher has a soldier’s code. He’s a man on a mission, and he doesn’t care for masks – “[Soldiers] don’t get that privilege.” As much as Matt wants to believe he’s out protecting the city in a fair and just manner, Frank is quick to point out that Matt’s villains get back up, unlike Frank’s targets.
Matt isn’t the only Daredevil character who’s out to see the good in others. Both Foggy and Karen want what’s best for their client Grotto, despite the fact that he’s on the run following their failure to wiretap Grotto’s last Irish contact. Foggy helps out Night Nurse Claire with their excess of gang member patients, handling himself much better than with his Dogs of Hell meeting. Karen tries to appeal to Reyes’ assistant Blake Tower, in order to get more answers about Frank. While Tower’s unwilling to put himself in the fray the way Karen does, he slips her the DA’s file on Frank, which leads to the reveal of Frank’s skull wound in a not-so-subtle nod to his comics costume design. All the respective members of Daredevil’s core cast are trying their hardest to keep above the violence and crime in Hell’s Kitchen.
For Matt, this comes to a head once Frank pulls out Grotto and has him confess to the murder of an old woman. Frank then gives Matt his ultimatum – Matt can either kill Frank before he kills Grotto, or kill Grotto himself. Matt opts for neither, instead shooting his chains off to try and fight Frank one-on-one. Frank does kill Grotto, and blows up a couple of Dogs of Hell bikes, but DD knocks out Frank before he can kill anyone else. This then leads to a great fight scene, as Daredevil uses his chain as a weapon to take out all the gang members by himself, in a fight scene that feels reminiscent of the big fight scene from last season.
While Matt is the winner, this time, around, it doesn’t solve the conflict of morality that will likely inform the rest of Daredevil’s second season. With Elektra coming soon, and with Kingpin still alive somewhere, Matt will have to decide which of his enemies he can let live, and which ones he may have to put down for good. On the flip side of that, his conflict with Punisher may put Matt in a situation where he may have to defend more criminals like Grotto. Matt will also have an enemy similar to Punisher in his legal life as DA Reyes is a ruthless player who could pound his firm into dust. And while Matt’s righteousness has kept him alive for one season and three episodes, there’s no doubt that this season will make him decide to turn one way or the other at least once. The only question is who else will end up dead because of his choices.