Aww, someone deserves a father of the year mug and that man is named Frank Castle. Doling out sage advice and bonding with Karen like she is his special little girl, its sweet in a he’s a complete monster sort of way. Let’s get to the crux of the matter which is “.380” is a very good episode in a season of very good episodes which makes it slightly hard to judge in some ways. I mean when everything is enjoyable and well developed it makes it easier to know when something is shit. Occasionally some of that leaks into this episode, but overall this is Frank Castle’s story and it is so enjoyable to watch that you end up letting the little things slide for the most part. Plus it is always a blast to watch Frank interact with the characters around him and see how his adventures effect all of their lives.
I know we have spoken about just how much Jon Bernthal has been absolutely killing the role of The Punisher, but this episode was another fine example of the work he has put in. The way in which Frank interacts with Karen and Matt are both pitch perfect in their own right and really help to demonstrate just how much of a father figure he truly is to both of those characters. I Karen he sees the daughter he lost and he treats her exactly how you would want to treat your child. He is fiercely overprotective, knows when she is lying to herself, and realizes that she only wants to see the good in him despite never actually seeing the ramifications of his actions. That is what makes the diner fight so powerful as it is the first time Karen actually gets to see the man she has been staunchly defending and protecting kill people. It was brutal and messy but the best aspect is that all Karen actually see is the fallout of The Punisher fighting. It is basically a father telling his daughter not to look until the bad stuff is over, because once she sees that side of him she will never look at Frank the same way. Major props to Deborah Ann Woll for the way she played that scene.
You have a similar case scenario with Matt and Frank’s conversation on the boat and how taking out the fake Blacksmith wouldn’t actually give frank any sort of closure. Frank just wants the pain to stop and he doesn’t care how he does it, but Matt knows that the action he is about to take is not real justice. We actually see the reverse of this situation when Elektra gives Matt the chance to kill his father’s killer and Matt decides to hold off. Matt knew no matter what he did in that moment it would only be temporary and not bring his father back, same as if Frank killed the fake Blacksmith it would not solve the pain of losing his family. The big moment of Matt offering to do things Frank’s way was as strong as it was because we have all the context we need on these characters. Frank told Matt that he is not a half measure and the moment Daredevil agrees to murder someone is the moment he can’t go back. Frank on some level despite hating that Daredevil does not go far enough, appreciates that there is someone in the world with restraint. He knows that he can’t be that man, but he is overjoyed that someone can be.
We get another glimpse at Matt possibly crossing the line in his conversation with Madame Gao, who I honestly thought we were keeping on ice until Iron Fist. Matt is moving closer to a mixture of Elektra and Frank’s philosophies the more he refuses to actually be Matt Murdock and by agreeing to a partnership with Gao he loses a little bit more of what makes him a good man. It is interesting to see just how far Matt is willing to go just to protect Hell’s Kitchen in the wake of everything that has taken place. I mean he is willing to team up with a well known drug dealer and former ally to his arch enemy all for the sake of finding one guy who moves a ton of heroin. That feels like a pretty stupid move for our hero to make and really out of character for Daredevil as a whole.
The other thing that feels out of place is the fake out reveal of Stick possibly being The Blacksmith. I know Stick is a gigantic dick at times, but there is seemingly no purpose for him to be a huge drug dealer and gun runner in the scope of his war. What does Stick have to gain by dealing heroin if he is indeed The Blacksmith? How is this all supposed to benefit him in the war that is happening right now? This just doesn’t feel plausible in any way, shape or form considering what we know of the character and how he is not really a bad guy in the end. At least not huge heroin dealer bad.
Overall it was a really strong episode, with some minor stables in the end.
Final Grade B+
+Frank being great with Karen and Matt
+Matt distancing himself from his friends
-Matt is making stupid decisions
-Stick is clearly not The Blacksmith
-So Frank knows the guys who are trying to gun him down. Smart money on old army buddies.
-I still have no real reason to care about Elektra. She can’t really be this useless.
-I love how the person running the diner is totally cool with Frank. I guess his personality is infectious or some shit.