'Daredevil' Stars on the Punisher's Trial, Yakuza's Big Plan

"It gave us the chance to shift the focus of the show to Matt's other life and connect his two identities," Cox says of season two's big trial with Matt defending Frank Castle in court.
Courtesy of Netflix

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Daredevil season two, episode seven.]

When Frank Castle, aka the Punisher (Jon Bernthal), was first introduced in the season two premiere of Netflix's Daredevil, no one could have predicted that he'd end up on the same side as Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox). Not on the streets of Hell's Kitchen with Daredevil, and certainly not in a court of law with Matt as his lawyer. 

But by the end of episode seven, Matt's firm, Nelson and Murdock, had just begun to defend Castle in the trial of the century against the ambitious, morally corrupt and unethical D.A. Katrina Reyes (Michelle Hurd). As it turns out, getting to portray Matt's relationship with Frank in a completely different way in the second half of the season was what excited Cox the most about season two.

"This idea that Matt Murdock has the courage and the arrogance to bring someone he believes to be a criminal to justice and then defend him in court, in a court of law — it sums up everything we know about Matt Murdock," Cox tells THR with a laugh. "He's incredibly conflicted. He's incredibly confused. On the one hand, he seems to have these very clear convictions over what is right and what is wrong, but at the same time, by his actions, we see that he doesn't really know, and he's winging it."

Matt may believe he's doing the right thing in defending Frank against a corrupt system that didn't have his back after he gave up his whole life and family for it. But Cox knows that Matt isn't as smart as he thinks he is.

"It's all too blurry," Cox says. "How can you bring someone to justice, hand them over to the police because you believe what they're doing is wrong, but at the same time, take on their case and rigorously defend them in a court of law? It's a contradiction. At the same time, hopefully as you're watching the show, you get it. What Matt Murdock is really doing is, he's almost defending himself. He's getting up in front of people and he's able to say things talking about Frank Castle, but he's thinking about himself. I think that's pretty cool that I get to do that as an actor."

It's interesting to note that despite the introductions of Elektra (Elodie Yung) and the Punisher, the biggest villain of season two is actually turning out to be the district attorney, even though she's supposed to be one of the good guys.

"It is quite the change from last season, isn't it?" Cox says with a laugh.

When Cox found out the biggest power struggle of season two was going to be taking place in Matt's day job instead of on the streets at night as Daredevil, he was impressed. "It gave us the chance to shift the focus of the show to Matt's other life and connect his two identities," he says

After realizing how much D.A. Reyes has meddled in his life, Frank's frustration at not being able to fight her the way he usually takes down his enemies (i.e., with bullets and brutality) will manifest in a surprising way.

"As the season develops, we will see a new, different side of Frank Castle," Bernthal tells THR. "When we were introduced to him, we saw his brute strength, his drive, his physical determination. We saw his willingness to go all the way even when it physically hurt him. What you'll see as the season continues is just how cunning he is and how smart he is. One of his most powerful weapons is his brain and his ability to strategize."

But his attorney's mind is elsewhere right when Frank needs him the most, since Elektra's return has thrown Matt's life into a tailspin as they try to take down the Yakuza. He completely slept through the opening remarks of the trial, which he had promised Foggy (Elden Henson) he would handle, almost tanking the entire trial right off the bat. Luckily, Foggy stepped up and crushed it, but their friendship took a serious blow.

"I don't think that's her goal, to bring him down to her level or ruin his life," Yung tells THR. "The manipulative side of her needs him for her mission. He's the best fighter she knows. So for that reason, she needs to use him. She's asking for his help, but really she's using him because she knows how to."

But there's an ulterior motive to Elektra's return as well.

"She also just misses him," Yung says. "That's actually one of the first things she said to him when she broke into his apartment: 'Would you believe it if I said I missed you?' She was all light about it, but I believe she actually missed him. She's alone in this world, and the only person she felt really close to in her life was Matthew. She's strong, she gets what she wants, she's independent, she's a sociopath, she's a killer, but she feels this failure of someone seeing through that, and she fell in love with him. So I really don't think she's trying to mess up his life. I think she just can't help it. She wants him, and that's it."

And Elektra doesn't care that Matt has been building a relationship with Karen (Deborah Ann Woll).

"It's not on her agenda," Yung says. "She doesn't feel bad or good toward Karen. She just doesn't even care. She has things to do, she has Matthew helping her with the Yakuza, and she knows her bond with Matthew is strong, and that's all that matters to her. Every other girl and his job as a lawyer, she doesn't care."

Episode seven ended on a cliffhanger when Matt and Elektra discovered that the Yakuza have been secretly digging a huge hole inside an abandoned building. The thing goes down hundreds of feet, and the Yakuza have been carting all the dirt dug up into train cars. What could they possibly be planning?

"Matthew thought the Yakuza were gone, and they've come back with a bigger, darker plan for the city," Yung says. "Elektra doesn't even know the full consequences of that yet. It's bigger than what even she thinks it is. I can't even tease it. The writers don't want to give anything away, but I'm very curious, so when I read that script I held one of the writers down and made him talk. I wanted to know what was coming next! I couldn't wait."

What do you think the Yakuza is planning with their giant, secret hole? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments section below. 

Daredevil season two is now streaming on Netflix.

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