Daredevil’s second season continues with “Penny and Dime,” the fourth episode. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Punisher– he’s not really my type of hero. But this series, and specifically this episode, gives him some depth and range and push him more towards at least somewhat sympathetic anti-hero, as opposed to gun-wielding psychopath. If they can keep the scripts of this quality, the series Netflix announced for him might be a lot more interesting than I initially thought.
The episode opens with a mass wake for the men killed by the Punisher in the Irish mob bar in the season opener. It’s a solemn ceremony which takes a turn for the vicious when a new player arrives. Finn Cooley is the father of one of those killed, but that doesn’t seem to be his main focus. He’s a very driven, determined, and resourceful man. Punisher’s life has more than likely just gotten a lot more complicated. This scene neatly shows that Finn is a force to be reckoned with.
Finn puts a bounty on Punisher, but isn’t content to wait for information. He mobilizes what is left of the Irish Mob, and sends them out, shaking down everyone who might have the slightest clue about who and where the vigilante is. Several violent scenes later, they get a clue or two, and manage to find Punisher’s base of operations. Punisher isn’t home, but one of his few allies is.
Matt gets dressed in his apartment, with some nice detail work. How do blind people know what they are putting on? In Matt’s case, at least, there are braille markers on the hangars. That’s a nice detail I had never really thought about. Matt gets some help from Karen when she comes to pick him up, and they leave for one of the saddest scenes of the series. Funerals aren’t supposed to be a barrel of laughs, but Father Lantom is conducting Grotto’s service, and the only ones that show up are Karen, Matt, and Foggy. That really says something about Grotto’s life. Matt has another talk with Father Lantom before leaving.
With his apartment compromised, Punisher is hiding out in an old van, possibly a nod to his “battle van” that he sometimes uses in the comics. He’s doing some kind of first aid, bandaging up a cut on his arm. As he does this, Karen is tearing into the files she got from Reyes’ office with the same intensity/borderline obsession she went after the Union Allied story with in season one. After some office banter among the three of them, Foggy and Matt consult briefly on a case and then look up to see Karen’s gone.
Matt has to run a quick errand before he can go looking for either Karen or the Punisher. He goes back to Melvin’s shop to pick up his replacement mask/helmet. Melvin is actually excited about the new materials he used, and gives Daredevil new gloves, too, as well as showing off hew armor he’s wearing under his clothes. In the comics, Melvin isn’t so much Daredevil’s armorer as he is a low level supervillain called Gladiator.
Karen is following up on a bit of the file she wanted to know more about. She found a man named George Brock and gets a very strange story from him about his former job at Metro General Hospital. He was part of a team caring for a John Doe with serious gun shot wounds who had some very strange visitors occasionally. Brock helped the man get home when he unexpectedly recovered, or at least woke up, and now the best job he can get is as a janitor, and he’s clearly terrified. She gets the address to go play investigator some more. I get that Nelson and Murdock isn’t anything approaching a normal law firm, but who is the client here, aside from Karen’s apparently insatiable curiosity, aside from self defense?
The Punisher is doing something a bit surprising next. He’s sitting on a bench watching a carousel. He even almost smiles. Of course, he can’t enjoy a peaceful scene, and ends up fighting it out with a few teams worth of mob enforcers. He does a great job, but he’s vastly outnumbered and has no tactical edge like he usually does. After a brutal fight, he gets taken in.
Daredevil meets with Sgt. Mahoney, who is clearly not a big Daredevil fan. They argue over Daredevil’s approach for a while before Mahoney grudgingly gives him a slight bit of information. After overhearing a radio call about shots fired at the carousel, Daredevil takes off.
The next few scenes alternate between Daredevil getting a lead on where they’ve taken Punisher, and Punisher himself being tortured by Finn. Punisher, in addition to killing a lot of mobsters, got away with a large amount of their money. Finn really, really wants it back. This one of the more brutal scenes of the series. I know I use that word a lot, but it applies, especially here. Finn threatens Punisher’s ally that they picked up at his place.
As all this goes on, Karen has found the Castle family home. She breaks in, going from snoop to felon, and starts wandering through the place, finding evidence of a happy family, a military career, and then tragedy. Just to make sure we get the point of the title, she picks up a kids’ book and reads a nursery rhyme about “Penny and Dime.” Later, her snooping is interrupted by unexpected company.
Daredevil finds the mob’s hideout and works his way inside. He goes through the guards as Punisher is tortured more. Finn’s men finally get the information they wanted about where Punisher hid their money. They find it, but they also find a special welcome Punisher left for them. Then, Punisher shows the depth of his commitment/fanaticism as we learn what the bandages we saw earlier were for. Daredevil and Punisher reach a very uneasy truce as they battle their way back out. In what I consider to be one of the few mistakes of the series, Punisher’s ally seems to completely disappear at this point.
Finally, the two stagger to a nearby graveyard. From the looks of Punisher, he might not be there too early. He slumps back against a gravestone and gives Daredevil a partial accounting of his origin. It’s not a pretty story. Jon Bernthal does a great job with the telling of it, and Charlie Cox does as well reacting. Eventually, the cops show up. After a standoff, Daredevil convinces Sgt. Mahoney, apparently one of the only on duty cops in the entire city, to take credit for capturing the Punisher. Definitely the worse for wear, Punisher goes to the hospital with a heavy police guard.
The Nelson and Murdock crowd meet up at Josie’s bar for drinks, celebrating… I’m not sure what. Maybe they just drink a lot. They toast the news when the story breaks about Mahoney capturing the Punisher. Foggy goes home, leaving Matt and Karen to have a nice romantic walk in the rain. There’s some talk about a brother Karen referred to in passing earlier, which I suspect is a big part of her tragic past. Matt gets home to end the episode when he finds he has an unexpected “guest” in his apartment.
What I liked: The writing remains amazingly good on this show, as does the fight choreography. The graveyard scene with Punisher and Daredevil was really nicely done. Finn was a force to be reckoned with, and a great way of showing that street level heroes like these two are far from unstoppable. The end of show surprise hints at interesting developments coming.
What I didn’t: As I commented on above, Punisher’s ally seems to just vanish. It seems out of character for both heroes to not care what happens to him. And I really do wonder sometimes about Karen’s snooping. Is she helping things or making them worse?
I thought this was a really good episode. I’ll give it a 4, which is a good rating overall but reflective of the (few) issues I have with it. On to the next!