“New York’s Finest” is the title for episode three of Daredevil’s second season. The more obvious meaning, of course, would be the common term used for the New York City Police. If you’re enough of a comic book geek, like me, there’s another meaning. World’s Finest was the name of a long-running team up comic book from DC. This episode is mostly about Daredevil and the Punisher, not exactly teaming up, but they’re together, so I think it sort of works. Or I read too many comic books.
The episode opens up with some blurry scenes that gradually resolve into memories from Matt’s life as a kid. There is a lot of Catholic imagery, which fits with what we’ve seen of Matt so far. The nuns may play a larger part in things later, but that’s me guessing from things I know of Matt’s life from the comics, which may not be where they’re going with the show.
Matt gradually wakes up to find that he’s still in costume and chained to a chimney on a roof. The Punisher is nearby, tending to his earlier wounds and drinking coffee. At least Daredevil still has his mask on.
Back where the fight was, DA Reyes and her assistant, Blake Towers, are surveying the mess. Her plan to capture the Punisher failed spectacularly, and they’re left cleaning up the mess. For someone with such a political focus for their future, that makes sense. Karen is furious about Reyes so cavalierly dismissing Grotto. Foggy is a bit more realistic, and knows there’s no point arguing with her now. Between Reyes’ threats and being worried about Matt, Foggy isn’t about to get into a literal street fight with the DA who holds almost all the cards.
Up on the roof, Punisher and Daredevil are sort of getting to know each other. Punisher calls him Red, which amused me. Daredevil plays detective with his enhanced senses and how Punisher talks, deducing he was a soldier. For his part, Punisher says he left the mask on because he doesn’t care at all who Daredevil is, although not that politely. Punisher is grimly resigned to what he needs to do, while Daredevil keeps trying to appeal to his kindness.
Following the only lead he has at this point, Foggy manages to track down Claire Temple, the nurse from season one of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones. She’s not happy to see Foggy, both because she’s in enough trouble at work already, and because the hospital is overrun, at least partially from Punisher’s rampage through the city. While this is going on, Karen is at work at the office, since neither of the lawyers with their name on the door seem to ever be there. She has a tense phone call with Grotto, who is convinced that Reyes betrayed him, but so did Nelson and Murdock.
Daredevil keeps probing, trying to learn more about the Punisher. While the gunman assembles a rifle, Daredevil asks a lot of questions, also saying that no one else needs to die. When the masked hero suggests Punisher could just walk away, he sneers and asks Daredevil if he could just do that. Daredevil keeps probing and prying, and Punisher asks if he’s a shrink. He is smart enough to know that Daredevil must do something else when he’s not wearing the mask. They debate the merits of what each of them do, and even Daredevil’s name from the newspapers, “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.” Their discussion is interrupted when someone comes up to the roof to see what the yelling is about, giving Punisher a lever over Daredevil.
At the hospital, Foggy tries to have a conversation with Claire about their carefully never named “mutual friend.” He’s being very earnest, but Claire is very busy and ends up drafting him into helping. Claire tells him how she’s in trouble for helping someone else (a reference to the events in Jessica Jones) and can’t have more problems at work. Violence erupts among the patients, and Foggy impresses Claire with how he handles things. He impressed me, too. Foggy is far from the helpless sidekick that can’t do anything on his own, and I like that they’re doing that.
The scene on the roof is a very tense bit of characterization for Punisher. He talks to the old man who came up, saying he was up there to get some peace from his crazy sister. We learn his name is Frank (not news to comic fans), and the two of them talk about military service. The whole time, Frank has a gun on the man through the door, ensuring Daredevil’s silence. When the situation with the man is finally resolved, Daredevil and Punisher argue some more about their approaches, which ends with Punisher knocking the bound Daredevil unconscious.
Karen, also not a helpless sidekick, takes matters into her own hands in the absence of the lawyers. She goes to see Tower, and shows him the long list of people DA Reyes has screwed over in the course of advancing her own career. Tower looks skeptical at first, but Karen can be very persuasive. Their scene ends with him threatening to call security to get her out of his office.
Daredevil comes around, still on the roof, now with a .357 taped to his hand. Punisher is taking a new approach to their morality debate as he tells Daredevil the only way to stop him is to shoot him, and that the gun only has one round in it. Punisher brings Grotto up to the roof, and forces the man to confess to some really ugly crimes in his past. Daredevil is caught in a nasty dilemma there, and you can see it in his body language.
This ends up in another fight between Daredevil and Punisher after Daredevil does something clever to get free. The fight doesn’t have a clear winner, and gets worse when Punisher gets off a shot with his sniper rifle, attracting the near by Dogs of War gang to the building. People still talk about the hallway fight from season one of Daredevil, which was amazing. This one is just as good if not better. The fight choreographers for this show really deserve some kind of award.
The episode ends with cuts between this really impressive fight and Karen doing some investigation of the files on Punisher she managed to get. The fight has a really important moral moment for Daredevil which I bet is going to come back and haunt him later. It’s a very tense place to end the show, and another really amazingly well done episode.
What I liked: Just about everything. Foggy showing his skills in the scene with Claire was great, as was her tying the events of Daredevil and Jessica Jones together. The fight down the stairs was amazing. The debate between Daredevil and Punisher was a great character exercise they could have not bothered with, but gave him a lot more depth. Karen digging in on her own shows what a valuable ally she is.
What I didn’t: I can’t think of anything. I really can’t. It was an amazing episode that let everyone get good scenes in and had some jaw-dropping moments. I will give this one a very rare 5 out of 5 from me.