“Penny and Dime” is proof that when Daredevil works, it really freaking works.
The main thrust, its entire objective, of the episode is that the Irish have gotten slightly butthurt at The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) coming after them and killing untold scores of their men and have now taken it upon themselves to find and kill him. Everything that follows from that point falls into place rather nicely. It also accomplishes a goal that we’re pretty familiar with at this point in regards to Netlfix/Marvel shows: flesh out your villain. Season 1 had “Shadows in the Glass”; Jessica Jones had “AKA WWJD”; and this season has “Penny and Dime”.
I’ve been calling The Punisher “the villain” of the season in these last few reviews, but that’s not totally accurate. He’s really a anti-hero, and a decent one, at that. The funny thing is the Punisher should feel aggressively stale in the current white, male, anti-hero climate we’ve been in since The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, but he’s not, or least not as much as he ought to. He’s still an engaging character to spend time with and exist in his headspace with. “Penny and Dime” lets you into The Punisher’s world, but just in snippets. It’s like being given a tiny square of cheesecake: it’s not much, but it’s enough to get the texture and feel of the whole.
The episode doesn’t explicitly tell you that this is a man suffering from PTSD and grief all in a swirl, but you’re given enough to make that conclusion on your own, at least with the PTSD. The in the graveyard where The Punisher is explaining why he mutters “One batch, Two Batch, Penny and Dime” is a fantastic monologue that Bernthal absolutely nails and does everything short of showing us his dead family. Daredevil very easily could have done a flashback to how he lost his family, but telling is greater than showing. This allows the audience to imagine what ultimately happened and that’s far more engrossing than anything the writers could show.
Another interesting aspect is how Daredevil decides to engage with the police. His need for the people to trust the police on a broad scale seems really big in today’s landscape. With everything that has been going on lately with growing distrust in terms of the police and movements like “Black Lives Matter”, it’s important that even though Daredevil himself has encountered many corrupt and “bad” police and other like authority figures, he still firmly believes that they are the ones that should bring about peace and order, not him. This doesn’t seem to change his role in Hell’s Kitchen any, but it’s a nice sentiment all the same.
The biggest weak point in this episode is the continuing flirtation/burgeoning relationship between Matt and Karen. It’s not bad so much as it’s just plain boring. There’s no reason at all to be interested in this relationship and yet it seems we’re going full steam ahead. This isn’t a pairing that people have been or should be rooting for. Their chemistry is essentially nonexistent.
On the plus side, Karen was not a terrible character to follow around in her B-plot. The reason for this is likely that Daredevil is best when it’s following Daredevil around in his vigilantism and then it has either Foggy or Karen doing their own thing or doing something together. It’s not as good when they’re both doing separate things. It rarely works for this show.
“Penny and Dime” was a great episode that dug at The Punisher, but the absolute best thing? We finally got to see Elektra and that’s awesome and this review has been killing me because I wanna go see her and I can’t take it anymore.