Episode 5, “Kinbaku,” introduces Elektra, one of the most important characters in the Daredevil mythos.
After showing up unannounced and uninvited, Elektra Natchios has reintroduced herself into her ex’s life to ask a favor: Help her untangle her family’s money from the Roxxon Corporation. Her arrival has knocked Matt off his game, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for Nelson & Murdock.
The firm is barely solvent, and Foggy wants to focus on finding new clients. He’s also still butting heads with the district attorney’s office. That is largely due to the Punisher case, which, according to Karen’s suspicions, involves much more than just Frank Castle.
She’s investigating why the DA’s office may be trying to keep aspects of Castle’s story from ever coming to light.
Through flashbacks, we see how Matt and Elektra first met, how their intense passion ignited and then quickly burned out. Matt also learns exactly what Elektra really is doing in his city.
The introduction of Elektra in this episode signals a change of tone and pace as the season focuses on a new main story, now that The Punisher is behind bars. But the series does continue the exploration into Matt Murdock/Daredevil’s sense of purpose.
The episode bounces back and forth between flashbacks showing how Matt met Elektra with present-day scenes of the ex-lovers having a tense reunion.
The Elektra we see in the flashbacks, the bored rich girl looking to find something to make her feel alive, with her violent tendencies bubbling at the surface, is reminiscent of her portrayal in the Frank Miller/John Romita Jr. limited series “Man Without Fear.” Elodie Young is fantastic as Elektra. She’s equal parts sexy and frightening, with a twisted sense of humor to boot.
To call the attraction between Matt and Elektra intense is a huge understatement. They seduce each other while kicking the crap out of each in a boxing ring, and while the ‘training session as romantic metaphor’ is getting over-used in current pop culture, the chemistry between Young and Charlie Cox is too kinetic to ignore. It’s easy to see why Matt falls so hard for Elektra; she’s the bad girl in every guy’s backstory – if the bad girl was a psychopathic, thrill-seeking ninja warrior.
Miss Natchios is as clever as she is dangerous. She uses the chauvinism of the Roxxon board members to her advantage, playing the part of clueless heiress perfectly. That way, she’s in perfect position to hack their servers from the inside.
The other girl in Matt’s life is busy uncovering the details of Frank Castle’s life that the DA’s office is working hard to suppress. Since she’s been in Castle’s home, she knows that DA Reyes is withholding important details about him from the media, like the fact that he was a war hero and a family man.
She turns to Mitchell Ellison, the editor at the NY Bulletin, for help. Once he hears that Castle was a decorated war veteran and had a wife and kids, he gives Karen access to the paper’s archives. And of course, they find the article detailing a gang war in the park that left an innocent family – the Castles – dead. It’s a bit old school to have Karen dig through old newspapers to find clues, but I’m going to cut the writers some slack because a good Daredevil story always needs journalism to play a role.
The press, and Ben Urich, in particular, have been hugely important in the Daredevil comics, and with Urich dead, it looks like Karen is taking the investigative reporter baton on this show, and running with it. I’m wondering if this is where her future lies.
The fancy dinner date between Karen and Matt is excruciating. Both are clearly uncomfortable but things go much better after they switch locales and go to a more casual place, Matt tells Karen that he’s always felt more comfortable with the ‘cheaper stuff.’ That seems like yet another consequence of his doomed relationship with the lavishly wealthy Elektra.
Another flashback: Elektra surprises Matt by delivering him Roscoe Sweeney, the man who killed his father. Matt beats him to a pulp. Elektra’s enjoyment of the beatdown is so intense, it’s almost sexual. But when Matt won’t go any further, Elektra’s disappointment is crushing. She thought she had found her soul mate, someone who shared the same ‘glorious darkness’ she carries inside. She can’t believe Matt won’t consummate their undying love by enacting final revenge, and he can’t believe the woman he loves is so bloodthirsty.
BTW, Elektra kills Sweeney. Because the dude was dying that night, either way.
Back in the present day, Matt visits Elektra at her apartment. When he hears others approaching, she reveals that it’s probably the Yakuza. That’s when Matt realizes he’s been manipulated once again. Elektra knew after her hacking stunt at Roxxon’s offices, they would come for her. And she needed the ‘Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’ by her side.
I know what Matt’s thinking: “Man, this girl is really nothing but trouble.”
I thought the hacking at the Roxxon HQ was something you would expect to see on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” not a more based-in-realism show like “Daredevil.” Too slick, and based on Hollywood tech, not real-world applications.
Also, the writers need to be more consistent with Matt’s power set. So, he can hear inside a modern office building, standing outside in noisy NYC, about a hundred feet away? That doesn’t seem to jibe with what we’ve seen before. I’m OK with Daredevil having heightened senses, but this series seems pretty intent on de-powering DD quite a bit from the comics; there should be set parameters.
While I loved the introduction of Elektra and Elodie Young’s performance, I’m not a huge fan of the LOST-like flashbacks spread across an entire episode. For one thing, the ‘younger’ Matt Murdock looks more ridiculous each time they cut back from the present to the past. Hopefully the writers get the ‘young Matt & Foggy’ scenes out of their system soon.
The Comic Book Corner:
Elektra references the Roxxon Corporation early on, calling them an energy conglomerate with their hands in everything from “macaroni and cheese to child labor.”
Roxxon popped up as part of a legal case in Episode 10 of the first season of Daredevil. They’ve also been involved in key plot points in Agent Carter and been name-dropped on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and appeared in Iron Man 3.
In the comics, Roxxon was Marvel’s Favorite Bronze Age Corporate Villain (It first appeared in Captain America #180 in 1974). It seems clear that Marvel’s PTB are making Roxxon the Big Giant Evil Corporation of the MCU.
When the editor at the NY Bulletin mentions that the newspaper’s servers were wiped during ‘the incident,’ he’s talking about the alien invasion in The Avengers.
Foggy’s friend Marci makes a few references to the wider MCU as well. She specifically mentions Jessica Jones as one of the vigilantes being targeted by the DA, along with ‘the horny one,’ Daredevil.
BTW, this show needs more Marci, at least for Foggy’s sake. Poor guy was relegated to being the exposition dude for the secondary story.
Ordinarily, a transition episode like this would be fair to middling. But Elektra is as instantly compelling a character as The Punisher. Elodie Young jumps off the screen as Matt’s femme fatale. By the end of the episode, we have a clear understanding of the wildfire connection Matt and Elektra have, and what drove them apart. This makes “Kinbaku” a standout because it establishes how pivotal Elektra is in Matt’s world.
The downside to the episode is that almost everyone else on the show is shortchanged to give time to #Mattlektra (sorry, it’s late). Well, except for Karen. Her solo investigation into the Castle Conspiracy seems to be another major thread, as well as Elektra’s conflict with Roxxon. I’m curious to see where these plotlines go.
And is there anyone out there who doesn’t believe we’re about to get an incredibly awkward encounter between Karen and Elektra, with poor Matt stuck smack in the middle?