Things have been going not really well for the cast of Daredevil this season. So the penultimate title, “The Dark At The End of the Tunnel,” seems grimly appropriate. Continuing the fairly recent trend of hero shows almost being required to have flashbacks, this episode’s series of them focus on a much younger Elektra, as well as her early relationship with Stick. Let’s just say that she didn’t have any of the sort of kind, gentle training the famous Mr. Miyagi gave Daniel in the Karate Kid movies.
When the show returns to the present, it’s roughly where the previous episode left off, as Elektra and Stick fight. They’re both very good, and more excellent fight choreography follows. They get interrupted when Daredevil shows up to break up the fight. Then, further interruption comes in the form of more ninjas. They are a persistent bunch. The ninjas manage to make off with Stick. Elektra and Daredevil have a chat in the alley, where once again he takes off his mask in a public place for no good reason. He really needs to stop doing that if he wants to keep his secret identity. Daredevil and Elektra agree to both go after Stick, although they have somewhat different motivations.
Down at the waterfront, Karen is dealing with the aftermath of Punisher’s big fight on the boat. There are a lot of bodies, even by Punisher’s standards. Karen looks sort of stunned by all this, and Mahoney, The Only Cop in Hells Kitchen TM, tells her to just go home. The cops are convinced that Frank Castle is dead. Karen, a lot less so.
Back at the (former?) law offices of Nelson and Murdock, Foggy and Matt run into each other and have a very tense conversation. It’s a little like old lovers meeting, and I feel bad for Foggy. Matt, in my opinion, caused most of this, so I have less sympathy for him. They talk for a bit, vaguely mention trying to work together again, and let the idea sputter out. Foggy does manage to give Matt a new clue about to possibly find the Hand. How Matt didn’t know this, I have no idea.
The majority of the rest of the episode goes back and forth from Karen to Daredevil. The Devil of Hells Kitchen follows up on Foggy’s lead, and has a much harder time fighting. It seems the Hand has figured out his weakness, and is managing to exploit it well. Karen goes back to the paper and has a talk with Ellison, finally resolving to keep working on Castle’s story.
While Daredevil does a lot more fighting and tracking, Karen is on her own hunt. She goes to see Colonel Ray Schoonover, Frank’s former commanding officer and the only one to speak up for Frank at his trial. In true intrepid reporter fashion, Karen learns things she shouldn’t have and ends up in a lot of trouble.
Speaking of trouble, Stick is being interrogated by the Hand. It’s some of the more brutal scenes of the show, maybe even the series so far. It really made me wince, which is rare. Even in the midst of a lot of pain, Stick manages to figure out Daredevil is there and give him some advice to overcome his newest difficulties with the Hand.
Karen’s night takes several rapid turns for the unexpected. Kidnapping, guns, car accidents, and revenge all play a part in what happens. In the end, Karen, saddened, limps off into the night. Meanwhile, a certain someone manages to get his own version of closure, plus a new base of operations and an arsenal. There will be more on this later, I’m sure.
Daredevil finds Stick, and the fight rages on. Even tied up, Stick is not one to take lightly, and he uses a move that fans of Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead might recognize. Stick gets freed, Elektra shows up, and things get tense. Then Nobu and more Hand show up (seriously, how many of these guys are there?) and a big secret is revealed. Some of them are shocked, some knew already, and very few seem happy about it. There a lot of flashbacks, showing how things got to this point. I will say this: while the reveal was a surprise, it makes sense in retrospect.
After a few twists and turns, at least some of the good guys make a fighting retreat, trying to get out. There are some amusing exchanges, and a line that’s very reminiscent of a key scene from Saving Private Ryan. There’s a climactic fight between Nobu and Daredevil. I may be reading too much into it, but what I thought was an interesting touch, Daredevil started winning when he was sticking to a lot of boxing moves. Whether that’s just what he learned first, he was channeling his father, or something I saw that wasn’t there, I don’t know. It ends with Nobu making a dramatic pronouncement… that I kinda think they were doing already. The season will conclude next episode.
What I liked: The big reveal made a lot of sense. It fit, even if I didn’t see it coming. Even if my theory about Daredevil’s fighting is wrong, I like the idea and hope I’m right as far as his boxing part went. Karen is unstoppable in search of the truth, which I like, but might well get her killed someday. I like that Ellison is recognizing something special in Karen and being practical enough to use it. The almost-reunion with Foggy and Matt was painful to watch, but nicely done. It was good they let Foggy contribute, even if it’s something I really think Matt should have known. Stick’s whispered instructions were well done. Matt was a bit less of a dick this episode.
What I didn’t: I really don’t like the apparent need for flashbacks on hero shows. It’s just getting over-used in my opinion. The Hand seems to have far too many operatives in New York unless they have some kind of cloning machine.
I enjoyed this one, but I don’t think it was their best episode. I’ll go a solid 3.5 out of 5 for it. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they bring it all together for the finale next episode.