“.308” begins right where our previous installment ended, with the Hand scaling the walls of the hospital to reclaim the children rescued from the “Farm.” I’ve been pretty straight forward about the fact that the storylines stemming from the ninja side of things within the series tends to be a bit drab in comparison to the show’s other moving parts, and I think I know what I can attribute it to. The Hand segments definitely aren’t meant for a binge-watching mentality, as the fights tend to blend together, as opposed to say the prison hallway scene from the Punisher and Daredevil’s fight scene with the “Dogs of Hell” in Episode 3. When the goons are all faceless and the choreography isn’t as stellar as what’s come before, it just doesn’t pop as much. Regardless, the Hand is practically drowning Matt in ninjas as Daredevil attempts to save the kids in the hospital, but they are ultimately taken, and Matt’s Catholic guilt once again rears its head here.
Meanwhile, the show shifts focus to Karen, currently under police protection following the death of District Attorney Reyes. Karen, however, manages to slip away to grab a cup of joe with Frank Castle in a nearby diner. While the two discuss the fact that Frank was not the one to pull the trigger on Reyes, obviously, more killing is brought to the table as two goons from the Blacksmith burst onto the scene. Once again, we’re privy to Punisher’s brutal sense of justice as he horrifically takes out both of the armed thugs trying to end Karen’s life. Jon Bernthal continues to bring Frank Castle to life as the best actor to portray the role in both the loud scenes and the quiet discussions between himself and other cast members in these episodes. This leads of course to Punisher torturing one of the goons before they die, giving him the information on where the Blacksmith is currently setting up shop.
Matt ping pongs from storyline to storyline as he goes to see Madame Gao, one of the villains from the first season, to ask her about the Blacksmith and the Hand. Gao points him in the right direction, leading him to shortly encounter the Punisher at the Blacksmith’s HQ. I think in these later episodes, the show somewhat falls apart in terms of pacing. Now to be sure, the series is still good and gives you the action, character work, and environments that you’ve enjoyed with this show since day one, but it loses focus a bit. I find that they made the Punisher’s origin a tad too complicated here, bouncing around between potential culprits, and it’s honestly a bit difficult to keep up with. I don’t know what the best solution to this could have been but perhaps the ninja element should have just been completely removed and everything should have focused on the Punisher. Maybe if they cut it down to 10 episodes instead of 13? Who knows.
With the information well in hand (no pun intended), Frank goes to see the Blacksmith on a boat wherein he encounters Matt Murdock — the two have not seen each other as vigilantes since the fourth episode. Again, they butt heads over what should be done with the man who they believe to be the Blacksmith. It’s an argument that was well explored earlier in the season when Matt was chained to a chimney, but the two actors are so good at their craft that it’s still interesting to watch. At one point, Matt even gives in to the Punisher and says that maybe now is the time where Daredevil follows Frank’s lead and kills someone for a change, with Castle being the one to talk him off the edge. It’s a nice view into the Punisher’s head, realizing that while he may be getting his hands dirty with the criminal element of New York City, he recognizes that Daredevil still needs to hold onto his humanity and not become the man that Frank Castle is. Regardless, things are cut short as the two are interrupted by some additional armed henchmen and the Punisher makes a flashy escape.
Let’s get the supporting characters out of the way with one big burst. Elektra is cutting her way through Stick’s men to get back at him for the assassination plot at the airport. Foggy is getting some attention from Marci in that his professional dealings with Frank Castle have made him perk the eyebrows of many law firms looking to potentially hire him, which will pay off a tad down the road. The best of the bunch was perhaps Claire dealing with the hospital she works for attempting to cover up the ninja holocaust which took place within its walls. To be honest, it would be a tad difficult to explain what the hell happened to the authorities anyway, but the hospital deciding to change the facts and go with a different story doesn’t sit right with Claire, who throws in her badge and takes a walk. Rosario Dawson is on point here and it was a nice little interlude to the rest of the madness.
Our episode ends with the children from earlier once again being drained in the “Farm” and Elektra stalking Stick promising for a big showdown in the next episode. Ultimately, the show always manages to be good, but I think that some of the storylines tend to trip over their own weight, bringing the show down from where it could be. The storylines linking to Elektra are just such contrasts to the plight of Frank Castle that when the two attempt to cross paths, you just get a bad reaction.
Rating: ★★★ Good
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
-It was nice to see Gao again, if only briefly, but the mysteries wrapped up with the Hand needed a bit more light shone upon them to feel relevant.
-Nice to also see Foggy get some more recognition, the guy has gone through some hell to get here.
-Punisher: “People that can hurt you, the ones that can really hurt you, are the ones that are close enough to do it. People that get inside you and tear you apart, and make you feel like you’re never gonna recover. Shit. I’d chop my arm off right here, in this restaurant, just to feel that one more time for my wife. My old lady, she didn’t just break my heart. She’d rip it out, she’d tear it apart, she’d step on that shit, feed it to a dog. She was ruthless. She brought the pain. But she’ll never hurt me again. You see, I’ll never feel that. You sit here and you’re all confused about this thing, but you have it. You have everything. So hold on to it. Use two hands and never let go. You got it?”