Matt Murdock makes bad decisions. He wants to do good, of course, and recognizes the many flaws of our justice system that allow bad people to slip through the cracks. His faith and his powers compel him to act, to go outside of the law to ensure those people can’t exploit the loopholes that let them run free in the first place. However, his guilty conscience makes it hard for him to feel good about vigilantism. And because of that guilt, Matt Murdock is a man who does not like himself. That’s why he so often leaps headfirst into bad ideas, like the blind man he is.
Daredevil’s second season is at its best when Matt undermines every good thing in his life. It’s been a slow, subtle process, and as we reach the season finale, “A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen,” he’s convinced himself that his life as Daredevil needs to be kept separate from those close to him. It’s been impossible to watch without thinking, “Matt, noooo!” whenever he did something dumb like, say, run off on another mission with Elektra, or refuse to tell Foggy anything.
Daredevil is about an imperfect hero, a man whose imperfections become more pronounced as his influence on the world grows. That’s good stuff. But the way this season has chosen to challenge his character ultimately underwhelms — the Punisher, intended to be a huge ideological foil, ends up shooting some Hand ninjas dead from afar to help Daredevil in his climactic fight with Nobu. In that same fight, Elektra — whose soul Matt’s been trying to save — straight-up kills a bunch of ninjas with impunity.
Daredevil himself throws Nobu off a rooftop with the intention of killing him. So, was it all for naught? Is killing okay if a person really, really deserves it? I don’t know. Daredevil sure as hell gave up asking that question. All that’s left, then, is the Hand and their Black Sky.
And so they take hostages and lure Daredevil and Elektra into a trap. What follows involves much more killing and one shocking death: Elektra throws herself onto her own sai, just as Nobu is about to use it to kill Matt. It’s a scene that echoes the comic-book version of Elektra’s death (although her killer in that story is Bullseye and, depending on where you stand, it’s far more gut-wrenching.)
Elektra’s death also robs the Hand of what they want: Black Sky. The way Elektra told it, it never mattered if she joined the Hand willingly or not — Nobu simply had to lock her in a cage, and their fanatical belief in the power of the Black Sky would have been enough to keep them devoted to Nobu. (This is weird, but it does make the Hand’s aims a little less confusing.)
With Nobu dead, the Hand retreats in defeat. Stick and Matt bury Elektra, the law firm of Nelson and Murdock is no more, and Karen Page is now a journalist charged with writing an editorial about her experiences. (As far as writing goes, it is very bad. The less we talk about it, the better.) Frank Castle is now the Punisher — and since his given name belongs to a man that the world believes to be dead, he also sets fire to the Castle home. (But not before he retrieves a mysterious CD labeled MICRO.) Without the burden of his identity, will Punisher continue to dish out his severe brand of justice, ostensibly with lots of sick puns?
Duh, yes, of course. He’s still not tired of the whole “killing bad guys” thing. He’ll never be tired of the whole “killing bad guys” thing. We know this because he’s carrying a huge freaking minigun.
Finally, Matt asks Karen to meet with him one last time. With his mask in hand, he’s decided to reveal what he’s been hiding from her all along: He’s Daredevil.
And elsewhere, in a dark and hidden cavern, the Hand places Elektra’s exhumed corpse in that giant sarcophagus they’ve been dragging around for so long. We don’t get to see what happens next, but Elektra’s last words seem prophetic: “This is not the end.”