Originally, the Devil, or "Ha-Satan" as he was called in the Hebrew bible, could have his name translated as "The Adversary" as Father Lantom mentions, or also "The Accuser". In some scriptures, he functioned more as a Necessary Evil, or even an Antihero, serving as God's right hand, pointing the finger and judging the guilty for their sins on His orders. In fact "Ha-Satan" wasn't really his name, but his title, and could be seen as a title used by multiple beings. Essentially, Matt has become another accuser himself.
Thanks to his radar sense, the world from Matt's perspective resembles the traditional Christian Hell, where everything is engulfed in flames.
"Shadows in the Glass" reveals that Fisk (who wants to improve life through ruthless tactics) makes and eats an omelette every day for breakfast. A Visual Pun on the phrase, "To make an omelette, you need to break a few eggs."
Why is the opening in a monotone red? Because that's how Matt sees the world.
The bright, gaudy billboard outside Matt's apartment does more than just allow him to get a good deal. It also justifies the light needed to film inside the set. Usually, the light in a scene is assumed to be coming from light bulbs and lamps, but Matt, being blind, doesn't have that many.
Madame Gao's story about seeing a snake in her village killing itself by attempting to eat an elephant is actually a reference to a Chinese expression: "A man who is never content is like a snake trying to eat an elephant." She is subtly warning Fisk to not be too ambitious.
At first, one might be skeptical of how a beating, even a particularly brutal one, could so easily stop a criminal for good. Well, in the case of the rapist father that caused Matt to finally snap, there are several factors. The first is, as an abuser, and one of a little girl, at that, he's ultimately an utter coward. The second is the beating was bad enough to land him in the hospital for weeks, and finally there's the fact that the attacker made clear he knew everything about the criminal whereas the criminal knew nothing about him, and promised to return if he ever touched his daughter again. All that is very good incentive to never even think about pulling that sick shit again.
The show's official tune clearly tells of Fisk's and Matt's rivalry ("We fight every night for something, when the sun sets we're both the same"), how they both break the law to do what they see as good, how they're both unrelenting determinators. But there's a hidden meaning in one verse: "We're both the same, half in the shadows, half burned in flames". That's how Daredevil sees the world, half in the shadows and half burned in flames.
Alternatively, this also refers to their individual characters: both have hidden sides to them the public is unaware of (half in the shadows) and both have suffered emotional trauma and crucibles (half burned in flames).
Though it got criticized, the final suit in Season 1's finale features a lot of black mixed with the red, departing from the all-red of the comics. But, if you actually look at the comics, his suit does have lots of black: The shading to make the suit look darker and cast him in shadows. The areas of the suit covered in black in the series are actually points that are usually shaded in (around the eyes, forehead, sides of his jaw, the abs, thighs, patches on the arm and the underlining of his chest). In other words, they actually made a suit that looks just like how his suit is colored in the comics, but took it in a very different manner.
Matt being able to tell when someone lies based on their heartbeat is extremely advantageous in the courtroom:
It may be invasive as noted under Fridge Horror, but in court, knowing how a witness reacts to a line of questioning is huge. Lawyers will often ask a few questions to see how the witness responds and see if they "hit a nerve". Matt would know this much better because his ability to hear a heartbeat makes it possible for him to have some better level of accuracy. He can also get a sense of how the jury is reacting to testimony or if the opposing attorneys are reacting etc.
Most cases are about discovery of some sort or another. If the district attorney knows they have a hole or two in their case that could cause reasonable doubt then they'll hope the defense attorney doesn't figure that out. With a strong legal background (Foggy helping research), Matt can probe with some questions to see if he can find a hint of a weakness and that can help a lot.
Knowing the whole truth from his client is pretty important. As shown with Healy in the third episode, not all clients will be forthcoming and Matt can ensure there's nothing on his side that could bite him if his client hadn't told him.
If the DA knows that a piece of evidence was misplaced at some time, which would make it inadmissible, Matt might find this out by asking basic questions of the processing officer (typical part of a trial) and if he notes that the DA gets a bit nervous when exhibit C comes up he can press on that one. Or if Matt's client fails to mention something like a past connection to a victim or witness (even if it's benign) that could catch him by surprise and torpedo his case.
When Nobu asks if Fisk wants to renegotiate the terms of their partnership, Fisk's expression darkens even before Wesley's translation. Later, it's revealed that Fisk has never needed Wesley's translations. Which is even more noticeable when you consider that Wesley asks Fisk "Did you get that last part?", which means that he's just asking Fisk if he understood everything Nobu said without Wesley having to water it down.
The opening showing Blind Justice is particularly apropos since Matt sees himself as justice for the poor and nameless of Hell's Kitchen.
Stick leaves Matt on the day before they were to begin training with knives. Throughout the show, Matt uses only blunt weapons and refuses to kill.
When Vanessa first drinks the poisoned champagne, you can see her react to the taste and glance down at the glass as if it has an unexpected flavor. She wisely doesn't drink any more champagne, being smart enough to know that the unfamiliar taste is a sign something's not right. Hence why she only ends up spending a few days in the hospital instead of the morgue.
Poisoning the champagne to kill Vanessa and look like an unsuccessful hit on Fisk is a pretty slick Batman Gambit on Owlsley's part when you consider that Fisk admits to being uninterested in wine (and is so lacking in knowledge on it that he has to defer to Wesley for recommendations), while Vanessa is.
During their final fight, Matt targets Fisk's head and face far more than he has any opponents in the series. Why? He knows that between Fisk's bulk and his armor, any hit anywhere else would be useless. Similarly, Fisk starts with body shots on Matt, but switches to and starts to gain an advantage when he hits Matt in the jaw — the one place that isn't armored.
In the beginning of second season, Castle has Matt at gunpoint and yet it takes him several seconds to actually shoot Matt in the head. Halfway through next episode, Melvin Potter examines Matt's helmet (that was broken by the bullet) and says basically two things: that shot could have easily been lethal and it just might have been a warning one. That's right, Castle probably tried to aim for a non-lethal shot (though it still left Matt with serious injuries). And why did Matt end up in this position? Because, as Charlie Cox put it in one interview, defeating Fisk has caused him to become more arrogant, to the point of having some feeling of invincibility. Foggy had a point when he told Matt "We're talking about a squad of trained killers loose on the streets. Not the kind of guys you challenge to a fistfight in your underwear."
Another one regarding the Punisher: Watch his assault on the hospital in the first episode. Why is he missing all those shots? He's not trying to kill Grotto, since Karen is right next to him. He's trying to drive them to her car, where he can pick Grotto off in a more precise method, i.e. the sniper rifle he has waiting on the roof.
In the first episode of season 2, Turk says there are rumors of a new crew in town with military precision. We later find out it is only one man. Frank Castle. But... There is a new crew. The Blacksmith's. And they're ex-soldiers. So those rumors were true, just not in the way that the rumors were going.
Rory, one of Finn's men, threatens a store owner at gunpoint and tells him that they're looking for a man who "Wears a jacket... even in the middle of summer." This is a clear lampshade on how Castle constantly wears his iconic black trenchcoat no matter the weather. However, if you think about it, there's a reason the guy might live like that. As a sniper, Castle tends stay in one place and pick off his targets, which isn't going to make him hot wearing the jacket, since he doesn't exert much energy. Also, he tends to snipe from rooftops, where it will be naturally cooler because of the altitude, and additionally, it appears as though he prefers to work at night, during which time it will also be cooler compared to the day time.
The revelation of Stick and Elektra's relationship casts a new light on Stick's behavior towards Matt. Stick probably started training Matt soon after he had Elektra adopted by the Greek diplomat in order to protect her from the Chaste. Stick didn't just leave Matt upon finding out that Matt was beginning to see him as a surrogate father because he was a dick. He also left because he was still hurting from having said goodbye to Elektra and didn't want to risk losing another child.
It's clear also that Stick changed his strategy a bit by the time he got around to training Matt. The bond he developed with Elektra violated a lot of his usual practices, like the secretive circumstances in which he found her, the lengths he went to protect her, even killing another member of the Chaste to cover up the truth about her. Hes genuinely developed an emotional attachment to her, which is what gets him killed in The Defenders. By the time he arranges for Elektra to be adopted, he's been compromised and doesn't want that to happen again. That's not very easy when Matt's his next student, and Matt's circumstances and abilities remind Stick of himself. And with Matt, Stick almost works extra hard to distance him, to be unrelenting and hard and keeping people at arm's length. Which means that when Matt chooses to show his emotion and vulnerability with the bracelet, its a moment that tells Stick that hes failed in his goal, and that hes better to cut his losses now than to get mired in another messy situation he cant get himself out of.
The events of Season 2 show that Nobu and his associates may have had a eminently practical reason for wanting a very specific city block in Hell's Kitchen, on top of whatever mystical requirements they had. Digging a super deep hole in the middle of Manhattan without running into any existing or planned subway tunnels or interfering with the water and electrical grids may have severely limited their choice of sites.
Throughout the first season, there's a jar of jam can be seen on Matt's table. It is labeled as organic, meaning that it's probably only got a few ingredients, most of which are natural. Likewise, the reason Matt drinks German beer is because of the German beer purity law of 1516, which limit the ingredients permitted to water, wheat, and hops. It makes sense that, after that ice cream scene with Stick, that Matt, who can taste everything in what he eats, would buy things with only a few natural ingredients and even fewer artificial ones.
Finn's crew shows a counterpoint to Frank Castle's "I hit them and they stay down". Even though the individual people he hits stay down, there are other criminals taking up the gauntlet that will threaten everyone with death for potential leads. Had Matt not intervened he would have died trying to escape the Irish. Compared to season one where Wilson Fisk wanted to dispatch the man in the mask as discreetly as possible so that the non-corrupt police elements wouldn't get in his way, with the Punisher it's "kill or be killed". Furthermore while Matt's refusal to kill Fisk allowed him to get strength in prison, it was Frank who gave Fisk unlimited influence over the prison.
Why is Fisk able to throw Matt around like a ragdoll, and Matt almost makes no attempt to fight back? Because Matt doesn't want to give away his secret identity. In that scene, Matt's also in the presence of guards and a lawyer that he suspects are all loyal to Fisk. If Matt had fought back, everybody in there would've known something was off with him. And after Matt kicked Fisk's ass, he would've had to kick every corrections officer in there as well. After seeing his moves. EVERYONE would've known he was Daredevil. Matt let himself get throttled, because he was only there seeking to confirm what he already suspected - that Fisk was indeed controlling the prison and orchestrated Castle's escape. Fisk's ranting while throwing Matt around confirmed that.
In Fisk's last onscreen appearance in season 2, when he's in his jail cell, he asks for his file on Matt Murdock, having started to put together that Matt is the man in the mask. This seems puzzling at first, that Fisk would have a file on Matt. But if you remember from the first episode of season 1, after Rance is deposited outside the Bulletin offices with Karen's Union Allied flashdrive, we cut to Wesley in the car talking on the phone with Fisk. Nelson & Murdock comes up and Fisk tells Wesley, "Start a file. They may be of use." Two episodes later, when Wesley visits Nelson & Murdock to solicit them on the bowling alley assassin, he already knows things about their college educations and their internships at Landman & Zack. So Fisk has had files on Matt, Karen, and Foggy since the start of the show.
Some research into season 1 filming locations establishes that Wilson Fisk's apartment isn't in Hell's Kitchen at all. Rather, the establishing shot of the building shows it's The Yves, which is on 7th Avenue and 18th Street, in Chelsea. This may be intentional: Fisk doesn't live where his criminal enterprises operate. In other words, he doesn't shit where he eats.
There is something symbolic about Matt's Costume Evolution from black sweats and bandannas to his more iconic red costume when you think about it from a meta level. Before the MCU, Daredevil was considered at best a lower B-list character in large part because of the movie. By the end of the first season, Daredevil has become one of Marvel's more popular characters. In other words, the series is, literally and metatextually, a Rags to Riches story for the Daredevil franchise: Matt wears a simple costume to symbolize his prior B-list status, and wears a more elaborate (and expensive in Real Life) costume by the end of his well-acclaimed first season.
There is a nice parallel between the last Matt-Karen scene in both season 1 and season 2. Season 1 ends with Matt and Karen reading about the recently named Daredevil in the Bulletin outside of a now recently established Nelson & Murdock, then Matt extending a hand out to Karen as they head inside, denoting optimistic themes. Season 2 ends with Matt revealing to Karen that he is Daredevil inside a closed and disbanded Nelson & Murdock. In fact, the cinematography is almost identical: Matt extending his right hand out to Karen, and the camera cutting to a lingering close-up of Karen's face.
It's common for people to criticize Wesley's death by saying it was out of character or contrived for Wesley to do something as stupid as go out and threaten Karen on his own without telling Fisk where he was going, or leaving a loaded handgun where Karen can easily grab it. But what these people don't realize is that while intelligence/competence is one of Wesley's main character traits, it's not his only one: his three main traits are intelligence/competence, loyalty (to Fisk), and overconfidence. To the point of smugness, actually. Whenever we see him dealing with someone throughout the season, watch how he behaves - he's always in total control, or at least, he acts like he is. Because that is who Wesley is: a guy who's in constant life and death situations, and gets by on confidence and by making reads of people and situations. The reason Karen is able to get the drop on Wesley isn't because he acted out of character. It's because he made a HORRIBLE misread of the person and situation he was dealing with. He misread Karen the same way most viewers probably misread the scene. He asks her if she really thinks he'd be stupid enough to leave a loaded handgun within reach of her. Karen says "I dunno. Do you really think this is the first time I've shot someone?" and we can tell from the way her voice hardens saying that line that she is not bluffing. Wesley screwed up. He didn't take proper precautions (tie her up, not load the gun, not put the gun on the table within reach of her, not answer the phone, etc.) because he made a bad mistake in reading her. His own poker face in the scene is excellent, but his reading of his opponent is horrible. There were many times throughout season 1 that could have gone this way, but in those scenes Wesley's reads turned out to be right. So we see him intimidate underlings, and survive. We see him in his first appearance intimidate and threaten Farnum, threaten Farnum's daughter, and survive. If he'd made a bad read there, Farnum could caused him all kinds of immediate problems even in a public place. But Wesley did take that precaution - he approached him in a public park. Well, Wesley thought Karen was even weaker than Farnum. That's why he didn't even take the precaution of doing it in public. Wesley's mistakes are based on overconfidence rather than simple incompetence. If Karen had been who he thought she was, he'd have been fine - he made the 'mistakes' he felt he could afford to make, given who he thought he was dealing with. He thought Karen was a woman who could be easily intimidated, when in reality, Karen was sick and tired of people trying to silence her.
It goes a step further. Wesley, throughout his entire career, has only ever used his strong-arm tactics on people who work for and are afraid of Fisk. That typically means that his ass is already covered before he even gets to speak with whoever he's been dispatched to intimidate, so he doesn't feel the need to be afraid of anyone. All the calculations have been done for him. That causes the overconfidence that made him misjudge Karen. He tries to strongarm Karen like she's just another person who is afraid of Fisk. But in "Shadows in the Glass," when Matt chided Karen for getting herself attacked outside Mrs. Cardenas' apartment, Karen replied, "No I—I have already been hurt by those bastards! You know what? I don't care what I signed or how much money they paid me to forget, I don't. And I'm not just going to stick my head in the sand and let it happen to somebody else because I am scared! Which I am. A lot." She's not afraid of Fisk. Meaning Wesley's trying to use tactics on her that are worthless.
That Wesley had underestimated Karen had been made clear in "Rabbit in a Snowstorm". When he showed up to hire Nelson & Murdock for the Healy matter, he'd already started files on Matt and Foggy, which is why he had details about their college backgrounds and their internship at Landman & Zack. But the only thing he seemed to know about Karen was that she'd leaked incriminating information about the numbers games at Union Allied and escaped two attempts on her life (one of which Wesley himself had sanctioned). He only does for the most part what Fisk tells him to do, nothing more. And at that point, Karen hadn't yet met with the Union Allied lawyer, so Wesley probably still thought that the payoff would be enough.
Not only that, but another big mistake on Wesley's behalf was to piss Karen off with that snide remark he made during his visit ("I'm curious about your clientele. Do they all end up working for you after you get them off for murder or just the pretty ones?"). Not only did it give her a reason to dislike Wesley, but also additional motivation to investigate her former employer, which led to her whole investigation with Ben Urich.
This underestimation of Karen is also the reason why Wesley is so stoic even knowing that Karen is pointing a loaded gun at him. He thinks she's a scared little girl who is too afraid to shoot anyone. Look at his face after she fires for the first time. It's pure shock and confusion. He didn't at all expect that she'd actually go through with firing the gun.
There was nice foreshadowing of Wesley's overconfidence early on when he's recovering Healy's defective gun, when he casually strode past a family with kids while giving a cheerful "Hi!" while holding the gun behind his back.
Wesley's death is poetic. In his first scene, he strongarms Farnum into carrying out an attempted hit on Karen by threatening him. It's ultimately Karen who kills him when he tries to blackmail her.
As noted on the main page, Matt's Arbitrary Skepticism towards the supernatural in season 2 comes off as really strange, given that this show takes place in New York City, where a self-professed Norse god and a band of other superhumans defeated an alien invasion not so long ago and, hell, where Matt himself gained "radar vision" from the chemicals in the accident that blinded him. Stick even calls Matt out on his refusal to accept the possibility that the Hand can actually bring the dead back to life, given Matt himself is a devout believer of Catholic Christianity, which centers around the fact that Jesus Christ was killed and then rose from the grave. But, when you think about it, Matt's status as a believer is probably why he has such a problem accepting the supernatural things he gets involved in. After all, struggling with preserving faith in the face of challenges posed by life is a real world issue. And, as a certain trope covers in detail, despite the great taboo against openly exploring it in depth, in a setting that adds real magic to the world, the validity of certain religions can come into question. Matt is struggling with the concept that if the Hand can bring their members back from the dead, then what does this say about Jesus' status as The Messiah? Yes, the Bible claims other forms of magic exist but are a result of Satanic influences, but, really, that purported difference between magic and miracles boils down to a cosmological case of "he said, she said", if not circular logic. So, Matt's reactions are just his natural discomfort with the idea that there is magic out there and how to reconcile it with his faith pushing him to be particularly skeptical about it — not "Belief Makes You Stupid", just inherently uncomfortable with some of the links that can be drawn by accepting it as given.
It's also worth taking into account his relationship with Stick, the person who initially tells him about the Hand's abilities. If a person with whom you had a toxic relationship, after two decades of coming and going from your life and never giving you a straight answer about anything, told you that the reason he trained you was so that you could fight a magic ninja death cult that practiced necromancy, would you believe anything he said? Matt accusing Stick making up the whole thing might be narrow-minded in light of everything else going on in the MCU, but it's also a logical reaction to receiving a seemingly batshit insane explanation from the man who emotionally abused him as a child (and has lied to Matt either full-on or by omission several times).
It seems odd that after Wesley is killed, neither Matt nor Foggy make any mention of it and don't seem to know anything about it. The first reason is obvious: Karen hasn't told either of them. But there's a second reason, which is noticeable on looking at two other details.
The first is the shooting of Detective Blake. The ESU sniper that shot Blake also fatally shot two uniformed police officers during his attack. The reason why those cops were shot is because if just Blake got shot, it would be obvious he was being specifically targeted. The police investigation would've focused on Blake and uncovered his links to Fisk. Shooting the additional cops made it look like Blake was randomly targeted, and thus, no one bothered to dig into Blake's past. Fisk would've had to do something similar to what he did to Blake when the matter of Wesley came up. Fisk couldn't afford a police investigation being opened into Wesley's death and uncovering overwhelming evidence of Fisk's criminal activities (Wesley was Fisk's underboss and often an intermediary between Fisk and his allies).
The second is the fact that in Luke Cage (2016), Cottonmouth uses Spurlock's Mortuary to cremate some of his victims. We know this because when Scarfe kills Chico and delivers his body to Cottonmouth, he tells Cottonmouth "I'm sure that your homey down at Spurlock's Mortuary can hook you up." And later, after Scarfe gets shot, he tells Luke and Claire that the mortuary cremated Tone after Cottonmouth killed him as punishment for killing Pop. Knowing all that, Fisk likely had Wesley's body incinerated. So the best guess Matt and Foggy probably have about Wesley is that he skipped town before the FBI could get to him in response to Hoffman's snitching.
Matt suddenly becoming a couple with Karen partway through season 2, and the relationship ending almost as it's just getting off the ground, is criticized by some people as out of nowhere, and there have been a number of people who've criticized this plot element saying the relationship feels forced. This is intentional: their romance didn't have a strong foundation because they are attracted to idealized versions of each other that dont exist. As soon as Frank Castle appears, Karen is pulled into his world and convinced that hes the answer, somehow, to her guilt over killing James Wesley. This is something she would never share with Matt (at least at this point in her characters trajectory) which instantly weakens their relationship at her end, and it's easy to see the thinness there, how much shes holding back. Meanwhile, as soon as Elektra re-enters Matts life, hes addicted to the freedom that comes with being around someone who knows all of him who he doesnt have to hide around. Again, this is something he would never share with Karen (at this point) because hes still convinced he can pull off the double life. He isnt the mild-mannered lawyer Karen thinks he is, and Karen isnt the embodiment of innocence and normalcy that Matt thinks she is. Theyre kidding themselves.
Matt and Karen feel "off" compared to Matt's flings with Claire and Elektra, because Karen doesn't actually know Matt. She knows the two-dimensional image she holds of him in her head as she considers him to be little more than a paragon of the legal profession, and the image that Matt puts out to the world. That becomes more obvious in Season 2 when Elektra enters the picture, but even in Season 1 it's pretty obvious they know almost nothing about each other and don't even try to get to actually know each other. Compare that to Claire, who knows all of Matt's secrets and gets to know him very quickly. Except Matt doesn't really try to get to know Claire either, and as a result the caring seems really one sided. Claire always takes care of Matt but he just ends up causing trouble for her (getting kidnapped by the Russians, losing her job at Metro-General). Claire is smart enough to notice that, so she chooses not to enter a relationship with him and instead enters one with Luke Cage, but she keeps helping Matt, and later on Luke and Danny because she believes in what he's doing- since, as she herself said, she can see the results of his work in her day to day life.
Matt and Karen's first kiss in "Penny and Dime" has a very subtle callback to season 1. He brushes a raindrop off her arm and then cups her face with his left hand. Just as he pulls her in to kiss her, she turns her face into his hand. Because shes literally been thinking about this moment since she met him, especially since that conversation in season 1 where Foggy pondered what Matt would feel if he were to touch Karen's face, and how she would feel.
During the lead-in to the kiss, Karen's breathing sounds very heavy and off. The reason her breathing is so fast is because she's wet (from the rain), maybe a bit cold, and excited because of the situation, and when Matt touches her, the excitement gets worse, as if she is surprised that Matt would make the first move and touch and kiss her. But the reason her breathing sounds so heavy is because it's how Matt is perceiving it. And on a close listen, the audio of the rain cuts out when Matt is tracing the raindrop up Karen's arm, to show the audience that he's tuning out all other sounds to focus on this moment.
Matt, Karen, and Grotto's funeral:
There's a telltale line during Father Lantom's eulogy at Grotto's funeral that, as one Tumblr analysis points out, is actually describing Matt's relationship with Karen. "And so, we might say... one life gone... one sinful life... but one person is not just one person. In each of us, there is a world... webbing out, reaching others. Creating reactions. Sometimes equal... sometimes opposite. We rush to say, one life gone... but each of us is a world."
Taken the right way, the line points out that Matt and Karen are two different worlds, but they belong to the same world because theyre part of each others worlds. One cant evolve without the other. As the analysis also points out, on three occasions in season 2, we see Karen leave an interaction with Matt and glancing over her shoulder at him while doing so: 1) when hailing a cab after their first kiss in "Penny and Dime", 2) reentering her apartment after making out on her front steps in "Kinbaku", and 3) him leaving to fight off Nobu after he rescues her and the other Hand hostages in "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen". Karen always looking back at Matt could be interpreted as her needing him. So in the season 2 finale, Matt going to Karen, Matt telling her his biggest secret is him needing her. Furthermore, thanks to his abilities, Matt always knew she was still looking, but never looked back, proving he was not ready to completely let her in. Now, he is.
Furthermore, when they get back to the office after Grotto's funeral, Karen tells Matt "Father Lantom's eulogy really got to me, I guess." It would get to her because it's causing her to rethink her viewpoint on the Punisher, that perhaps there's more to him than just being a sociopathic shooter. This seems to explain some of her reactions when she's in Frank Castle's house. And perhaps, Father Lantom's words reminded Karen of what she did to Wesley because that's the sort of thing that would show a different side to her character. Noticeably, there's lingering individual shots of Matt and Karen towards the end of the sermon, but no individual shot of Foggy, perhaps indicating how the eulogy doesn't mean as much to him as it does to the others.
"Penny and Dime" in particular was heavily focused on Matt's relationship with Karen and several other moments reflected on this. For instance, when the trio is at Josie's watching the news of Frank Castle's arrest, Matt and Karen are drinking their beers from bottles (and incidentally, the same brand) while Foggy is drinking his from a mug. Their drinking from the same bottle (almost literally speaking) brings them closer, almost as one.
Brett remarks to Foggy and Karen in "Dogs To A Gunfight" about how Oscar Clemons once said "We gotta treat witnesses like mushrooms: feed 'em shit and keep 'em in the dark." Clemons may never have said that onscreen in Jessica Jones, but it's a great analogy for how, in that same episode, Reyes manipulates Nelson & Murdock into letting her use Grotto as bait for Frank Castle. The episode title is also appropriate, because Frank uses a Dogs of Hell biker's dead body in the truck as a distraction for the ESU team to shoot at while he prepares to snipe Grotto from another location.
Karen's promotional poster for season 2 has her imitating the pose of the painting Saint Jerome Writing by Caravaggio. It's actually quite appropriate because Karen and St. Jerome are very similar:
The poser is writing, or more specifically, translating. St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin. In season 2, Karen wants to translate Frank Castle to the people. Her main goal is to show him as more than just the Punisher. Thats why she collects evidence about his familys murder and how it lead him to become the ruthless vigilante.
St. Jerome wanted more people to be able to read the Bible. Karen wants people to know that a person is more than one thing and that people should avoid simple labeling.
They're both pensive, completely entranced by their work.
The skulls represent the death of former self. In Karens case, it is her transition from a secretary at Nelson & Murdock to investigative journalist at the New York Bulletin. Moreover, it signifies moving forward from a dark past where she might not have had control, into a life where she is in control. For St. Jerome, it meant pursuing a scholarly path.
The song playing in the background when Frank and Karen are in the diner in ".380" and talking about Matt, is called "Shes Got You", covered by Lee Ann Womack. That is a song told from the perspective of someone who still loves somebody that loves another person, which is the state of Karen's relationship with Matt at the time - deep down, she still somewhat loves him, but he's busy running around with Elektra, his college flame.
In "Shadows in the Glass," Foggy admits to Karen that the coffee she makes in the office is utterly dreadful. A few episodes later, when Karen comes into the office late at night after killing Wesley, she turns on the coffee machine, essentially just reheating the pot from earlier that day. No wonder her coffee is horrible. She's not making it fresh all the time, she's just reheating the previous day's!
A noticeable theme recurrent throughout the show is that Matt and Karen have an awful lot in common. As a result, in season 2, Elektra and Frank Castle drew out the darker sides of Matt and Karen respectively, and highlighted where they differ from one another. Throughout both seasons Matt and Karen have connected over their commitment to doing the right thing even when it's by far the harder thing and adhering to the law. And they each enjoy that side of one another. But then each has this darker side that they don't quite reveal to one another, and Elektra and Frank are the ones who connect with those sides.
Elektra is Matt's wild side, the side that enjoys violence and doing some rule breaking. Elektra can get Matt to throw caution to the wind and do dumb shit. She understands his rage and his need to fight.
Frank is Karen's way of justifying killing James Wesley. She feels guilty about it but needs to believe that she did the right thing. And Frank is the living justification for killing criminals being the right thing. For obvious reasons Matt disagrees strongly with this sentiment.
As a result, Matt and Karen agree on a lot of things, but where they diverge is exactly where Elektra and Frank fill in the gaps. The parallel and the division between them is noticeable when one observes the moment Elektra comes to town and gets under Matt's skin is around the same time that Karen begins connecting with Frank.
In Iron Fist (2017), it's revealed that the Hand has infiltrated various elements of society, since Bakuto mentions that his camp has gotten people into places like City Hall and hospitals at one point. In fact, one of Colleen Wing's former students, Becca Woo, works at Metro-General. Suddenly, the Hand's attack on the hospital, and the cover-up, make sense: it was all an inside job.
When Stick first appears in his titular episode of season 1, he scolds Matt for having too much luxury in life. He tells him he is weakening himself and coddling himself with his silk sheets and furniture and that its distracting. Basically Stick is the voice in Matts head that doesn't let him enjoy anything. The very episode after this opens with Wilson Fisk going through his Morning Routine, showing off the insanely luxurious lifestyle this criminal has, picking out his suit, and chopping up his green onions to sprinkle onto his omelette in his fancy apartment at his giant table. Fisk is a powerful opponent and he uses peoples comforts and support systems to manipulate them. As we see throughout season 1 and season 3, he goes after peoples loved ones and homes (Matt's allies, Jasper Evans' son, Mrs. Shelby's son, Julie, Ray Nadeem's family) yet he is such a delicate guy that if you interrupt his dinner, he will take your head off with a car door. He is weak in that way. He loses it when his routine gets interrupted. In a way, Fisk proves Stick's point: Not having anything to lose does make you stronger by virtue of removing weaknesses that can be exploited. Fisk's weakness was Vanessa, as she led Gao and Leland to think Fisk had become a bit of a softie and they tried to have her killed in a misguided attempt to get him back on track, which ended up with Fisk killing Leland and later getting arrested.
A counterpoint to Stick's philosophy is the fact that Matts strength is significantly weakened when he is without his support system. When he doesn't have Foggy and Karen to stay alive for, he becomes more reckless, more untethered, and more lost. Without something to ground him he doesn't have a grip on the consequences or risks of his actions.
This theme pops up all over the show in other ways. Matt struggles with allowing himself any comfort, forgiveness, or peace. Which is exactly what makes him seem so inhuman to Foggy and Karen at times. On the flip side, Fisk indulges himself easily and distracts himself and allows his empire to crumble because of it.
There's a noticeable similarity in how Elektra and Karen feel suppressed by the men in their lives, towards the end of season 2. Elektra at one point says to Matt and Stick, "You'd rather see me die than outgrow you," referring to her training and obliquely touching on how both men want to control her and her destiny. Karen has a similar sentiment towards Ellison of "Youd never pull this patriarchal shit with Ben," when he has some cops stationed outside her apartment for protection, to which Ellison counters "You're right. And I'll never make that mistake again. Not about someone I care about." Even though Elektra and Karen are very different women, both have to deal with the patriarchy and patriarchal figures. They're both aware of it and feel stifled by it. They live in a world where violence has nullified all sense of justice and civil obedience, but the patriarchy still exists and is perhaps stronger than ever. Whether it's police protection for Karen or Stick's controlling training methods for Elektra, or Matt telling Elektra that she doesn't need to kill, the patriarchy is painted as a nuisance, but a necessary one. Both exchanges get at one of Daredevil's worldviews: that the lawlessness of this world has made the patriarchy seem safe. Karen needs to trust the patriarchy because it will help her avoid getting hurt or killed, while Stick and Matt are guiding figures in Elektra's life.
In Stick's intro episode, there's an interaction between Matt and Stick that in hindsight, mirrors the rooftop scene between Matt and Frank Castle. Several times, Stick refers to Matt as a half measure. Frank says the same thing to Matt during the rooftop scene. There is a reason why Matt responds so poorly to Frank, and that reason is because in Frank, he hears so many echoes of Stick. Frank is a peer who brings out all the philosophical issues with Stick, and probably calls to mind the abandonment and father issues as well. This context also drives home how important Jack Murdock is to the myth telling of Daredevil: Elektra, Frank, and Stick are all evidence of how most people respond to the challenges of Hells Kitchen. It is only the influence and morality of Jack that helps Matt to be different.
Even in season 1, Madame Gao, Nobu, and the Hand clearly saw the long game of the Netflix shows, leading into The Defenders. On a rewatch of season 1 knowing full well about the later events of Daredevil season 2 and Iron Fist, the build ups towards later reveals are clearly seeded. The strongest example is when Nobu is set on fire. Madame Gao mentions that Nobu's body is being prepared for whats next. A first-time viewer will likely assume that Gao was talking about burial, and as a result, it was shocking when Nobu reappeared alive and well in season 2, so Gao is actually talking about resurrecting Nobu through the same means that Harold Meachum was resurrected by. Often in shows with complicated continuity, like with these shows, there are little errors and points where it is obvious that no plan for the next steps existed. But here, this is a case of careful planning.
On further viewings of Matt's chance encounter with Wilson Fisk at Vanessa's gallery, the more it becomes clear that the enemy they see in each other is different. Fisk hates the Devil of Hell's Kitchen as a business threat. Not until the finale does he see him as a person threat when Matt foiled his attempt to escape police custody. On the flip side, Matt hates Fisk more than just a businessman. He hates Fisk as Wilson and as the crime lord. Once he's arrested, Fisk has no identity to hide behind now. Fisk killed Urich and directly was the cause of Claire's and Karen's suffering. Matt sees and knows Fisk for who he really is. But Fisk just hates the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, not the man behind the mask.
When Karen arrives at Frank Castle's old house, there's a sprinkler active on the lawn of the house across the street. The sound of the sprinkler imitates the rat-a-tat-tatting sound of automatic gunfire, and from the position of the camera as Karen gets out of the cab, the sprinkler appears to be "spraying" directly at the Castle residence.
The opening credits:
For most of the opening credits, bathed in monotone red, we see CGI buildings and landmarks dripping with blood, until eventually we see blood forming (the upper half of) Daredevil.
Metaphorically Hell's Kitchen was covered in blood and after this goes on for a while, Daredevil was formed out of the blood, which symbolically means that Matt created Daredevil (or the mantle of it) due to the amount of bloodshed in Hell's Kitchen. (There was so much that the city was basically covered in it.
When Matt and Foggy are debating whether or not to take a plea deal for Karen, Foggy says, "All right, I'm just gonna say this once and we can move on. You don't necessarily show the best judgement when beautiful women are involved, Matt." It seems at first like a funny joke about Matt's ability to bed women even though he's blind. But in season 2, it's revealed that Matt had dated Elektra in law school, and while Foggy isn't aware of the specific circumstances under which they broke up, he does know that she was incredibly toxic to him and nearly caused him to flunk out of classes, so that line is actually Foggy reminding Matt about how his past fling with Elektra ended and worried that Karen might be a repeat of that.
In the first episode, when Matt and Karen are in Matt's apartment, Karen makes small talk to ask Matt about his blindness. She's very nonplussed to the fact that Matt was blinded in a car accident and very sympathetic, saying, "I can't imagine what that must be like..." It turns out Karen does have an idea what it must be like, as in season 2, the dossier Ellison gives to Karen showing Ben's research into her background includes a newspaper clipping showing that her brother was killed in a car accident. When Matt says, "I'd give anything to see the sky one more time," Karen has this look of complete understanding, because that's what she thinks about the accident that killed her brother every day, and how she'd give anything to look at him one more time
The relationships that Matt and Fisk have with their fathers translate into how they approach their causes:
Bill Fisk and Jack Murdock were both wrapped up in the corruption of Hell's Kitchen, particularly the mob. Bill takes money for his campaign, while Jack takes money to throw fightsnote and in the comics, he also worked as a mob enforcer. But they both do it to try to give their sons a better life. Matt and Fisk both consider themselves responsible for their fathers' deaths, but it sends them down different paths based on how they view their fathers as role models.
Bill was abusive and controlling. This is how Fisk sees Hell's Kitchen now: a cesspool of violence and suffering that oppresses everyone who lives there. Fisk killed his father to protect his mother. He approaches the city the same way: he feels he must destroy it in order to save it. His father thought that running for office—rising to the top—would give them a better life because that's where the money is. Fisk is more like his father than he'd like to admit, because he also sees conquest as the only road to power.
Jack was also at the bottom of the social ladder, but he was loving and supportive. That's the city that Matt knows now, where people work together in the face of adversity—Foggy, Karen, Elena, Claire, Santino—the Hell's Kitchen that Matt lives in feels like a family. Jack didn't try to beat The Man by becoming the oppressor, like Bill, he did it by beating him fair and square in a boxing match that he was supposed to "lose", knowing full well that he'd be killed for it. Matt does not want to become Fisk, he just wants to knock Fisk down a few pegs, and put him in jail, fair and square. He tries to play by the rules, but as a boxer's kid, all he really knows how to do is fight.
Matt and Fisk both feel responsible for their father's death: for Fisk it was a murder, but for Matt it was a sacrifice on his behalf. As adults, Fisk only knows how to destroy (has anything actually been built by his construction firms?)—he thinks the only way to make things better is to wipe the slate clean. Matt only knows how to fight: he knows the war will never be won (there's always another match), but the point is to keep fighting, and he sacrifices everything he has—his relationships and his body—to keep the fight going day by day.
As The Punisher (2017) shows, the key to Frank's drive and his nightmares is inaction. As a service member, his unit doing some pretty horrendous things and while uncomfortable, never blew the whistle, even when Gunner tried to bring to light the illegality of what they were doing. On his return to the United States, he became a liability, out of Colonel Schoonover and the rest of his unit's surveillance, and they couldn't trust it. Either directly or indirectly, Frank's inaction towards atrocity and war crimes while in the service caused his family's death. That is why Frank is in so much disbelief about the "light" Matt says is in everyone: because the potential for harm/blowback is much greater from the perspective of someone like Frank who has taken major personal losses.
Karen becoming a journalist makes complete sense for her arc. Because when Matt saves her life the first time, he does it not just by punching Rance, but by then taking the flashdrive to the Bulletin and telling the public what was going on. Matt saved Karen's life through an act of journalism, in other words. While Karens past is still unclear, she implies from her conversations with Frank at the hospital in season 2 that there was at least some measure of abuse in her family life, so Matt saving her life then may well have been the first time anyone stepped in to help her since the death of her brother. Karen seems to be a deeply lonely person (something that may have allowed Matt to connect with her, being quite lonely himself), and its no wonder that Matt saving her life twice, and her losing him to Midland Circle, would have a profound impact on her. In The Punisher, Karen flat out says to Frank that the best way to solve his problems is to let the world know about them. Whether she realizes it or not, Karen is quoting Matt back to him.
It also makes sense due to how Karen regards the truth. Karen is completely unwilling to allow anyone to get away with hiding the truth especially the bad guys and hates being lied to, almost everything she says in the first 2 seasons of Daredevil are about these things. Karen shows a clear drive if not outright obsession to uncover the truth and reveal it to the world, something that fits the job of a reporter to a T.
Matt's support network strongly disapproves of his vigilantism, while Frank's support network (with the exception of Karen) doesn't seem to mind him killing people who played any part in the Central Park shootout. Why is that? Well, both Frank's and Matt's friends want and encourage them to have a proper life, but while Frank's desire for vengeance may eventually be sated when all those responsible for the death of his family are killed, Matt's vigilantism can never be over: there will always be more criminals and more victims. Frank has a concrete goal in mind, so when he reaches that goal, there may be an "after" for him that Karen talked about, but Matt has no end in mind, no promise of a better life for him in the future. The disapproval Karen has stems from possibly realizing just how much in common Frank may have with Matt.
When Matt, Foggy, and Karen go to the hospital to offer Frank their legal services, there is deliberate focus on Matt and Karen taking each others hand. They enter the room holding hands. There is a very deliberate shot of their hands entwined with Frank Castle in a hospital bed in the background of the shot. They let go. Before that scene ends, Karen crosses the red line on the floor.
The title of episode 2x06, Regrets Only [as in the past catching up with you], becomes ironic as the writers chose this as the episode where Karen and Matt rapidly start to break down as a couple. Up until now they were getting to know one another; their feelings were growing. They shared their first kiss at the end of 2x04 and had their first date in the next episode. But the truth of the matter is both of them got caught up in the fantasy of one another. Their feelings for each other are real...but not what they presented to each other. Karen and Matt are both hiding dark secrets and lies; and honesty is the very basis of any solid, healthy relationship. So right there was instant foreshadowing that things are about to deteriorate.
Then the next obstacle happens in the form of Elektra unexpectedly showing up just as Matt is getting his life together. Before Matt, Karen and Foggy go to meet Frank in the hospital keep in mind that hes been sneaking around with Elektra behind their backs since the previous episode; and conveniently just met her at a diner to tell her off. So his dishonesty with Karen is expanding. And by the time the trio enters the hospital, Elektra is lodged in his head.
Before entering Frank's room, Karen takes hold of Matts hand; conjoined hands is the symbol of lovers. But the way they entwine their fingers is almost disingenuous. Theres tension and they kinda squeeze each other; holding on for dear life. Also Karen is the one who initiates this, making one wonder, did she sense him pulling away from her? Matts pretending that everythings fine as much as Karen is. But his past has just come back to bite him in the ass and Karen is still reeling over her ordeal with Wesley, not to mention shes yet to tell him anything real about herself. This is them trying desperately to hold onto that fantasy of one another.
Remember that in the previous episode, during their makeout scene, Matt tells Karen he has this "incredible ability to bring disaster to the best things in my life". Hes subtly telling her his demons/past could ruin what they have, which is currently taking place with Elektras arrival. Funny thing is, Karen has those same fears about her own past and demons. Shes yet to confide in Matt about shooting Wesley to save her own life. And a lot of that stems from fear that hell judge or reject her.
When they enter Franks room, the camera focuses on Matt and Karens hands from behind. This time they let go, and in the background you can see the red tape around Franks bed; and from the camera's position, the tape is more visible against Karens thumb. This is deliberate. Its almost as if telling the viewers that the pair is slowly drifting apart. They dont share an impenetrable bond right now. And regret is weighing on them; regret of deceit. This isnt so much about just placating the pretenses nor hiding their relationship from a potential client as it is about them still hiding from each other. It's reminding the audience that as long as there are secrets and lies between these two they will never have a solid foundation for a relationship. Matt and Karen cant be together if their personal baggage keeps getting in the way. And in this episode it really does.
Then there's Karens actions concerning the red tape. Like the red light reflected on Karens face at Josie's in the scene right before she kills Wesley, the red tape around Frank's hospital bed symbolizes darkness, sin or blood. The shot focuses on Matt walking up to the edge of the line but he doesnt pass it, and that line is very thin, easily tempting. Matt is unwilling to cross the line by any means necessary to exact justice, which is Daredevils code of conduct. He cherishes that sense of morality. Matt doesnt have have blood on his hands yet. But across both seasons of Daredevil and The Defenders, it's hinted to the audience several times throughout that there may come a time where Matt may be faced with that hardened choice. Matt is a hero but hes also human. All that anger and darkness brewing inside he may not be able to resist that line in front of him forever. Karen is his light as much as he is hers. Within each other they bring balance but it is their deception which keeps them apart...
On the other hand, Karen has no problem passing the red tape to get to Frank, because unlike Matt, Karen has already been forced to cross the line that Matt refuses to cross. Something Frank has done numerous times. Shes no longer restrained the way Matt is. When Karen killed Wesley, she put even more distance between herself and Matt. Yes it was self-defense and therefore she didnt feel she had any other choice in the matter. But then she disposed of the gun and didnt bother telling Matt or Foggy about the abduction. Her lies are manifesting more and more each day that she forsakes the truth from Matt. Which leaves very little room for their future as a couple at this point. You just know the consequences of her actions are going to lead to something astronomical down the road; especially if/when Fisk learns the truth.
Additionally, Matt tries to hold Karen back while avoiding the urge to pass the tape himself. He still doesnt want to abandon his morals for the sake of love but instead bring that person he cares about back on his side. Matt knows firsthand how dangerous Frank is, that hes soaking neck deep in blood, and doesnt want Karen to be exposed to that. However hes completely unaware shes already long passed nefarious. This is the one thing he can never protect Karen from: her own demons, which are consuming her as much as Matts if not even more with taking a life.
In short, the writers werent presenting Matt and Karen as a bad couple who couldnt be together, nor that they dont love each other. If that were the case, the writers wouldn't have given the pair a sneak preview at how beautifully they could function together as a duo; that kiss and first date is only a tip of the iceberg. "Regrets Only" was about honesty or lack there of. Neither one was willing to admit who they really are. Theyre both the type who hides behind a mask. Love and romance is all fine and dandy but if youre not honest theres no hope for a long future.
Matt and Karens date had already foreshadowed the enviable breakup when he turned her down for sex, saying that rushing into things would bring disaster. Their secrets and lies are their personal obstacle course. No one is holding them back but themselves.
There's a reason Matt and Karen's attempt to go to a stuffy upscale restaurant for their first date makes them so uncomfortable that they're barely able to muster up anything beyond awkward small talk. Matt has been rattled by Elektra's sudden return into his life, and this is the sort of restaurant that Elektra would have gone to. So Matt probably thought that a place that would have impressed Elektra would also impress Karen. Matt is uncomfortable because of how this restaurant is kinda more Elektra's stomping grounds, and Karen is just as uncomfortable in the environment as Matt is because of it being a bit above her usual tastes. Which is why Matt is absolutely delighted when Karen decides to take him to the Indian place with the colored lights and cheap wine. Here, theyre both happier and conversation is more free flowing.
In "The Path of the Righteous," Karen is still a mystery. We know almost nothing about her or her past, aside from what little information shes shared to Matt, Foggy and Ben about herself. But when Karen is at Josie's with Foggy, the lighting is split down the middle of Karens face: the right side of her face is bathed in light-blue (purity and goodness) while her left side is bathed in red light (blood, sin and darkness). This is visual way of telling the audience she has two sides of her personality, or, as Matt's grandmother would say, shes got a little devil in her." It's indicative that Karen's a person with secrets and demons leading a double life, much like Matt; maybe she's got blood on her hands or she's about to get blood on her hands. But more importantly, this scene is immediately followed up by Karen getting kidnapped by Wesley. Throughout the entire scene, Karen's face is always split between the red and blue lighting, with the red lighting being more dominant. Up until now, we have only seen the innocent and sweet side of Karen. But this moment here is subtly telling the audience theyre about to be shown her much darker side. The placement of lighting not only foreshadows Wesleys fate but also what Karen is about to do to save herself.
After shooting Wesley, the next episode opens with Karen having a nightmare about Fisk confronting her in her apartment. This is probably one of Karens worst nightmares. Hes telling her about the responsibility of taking a life and how itll affect her forever. We know this horrific event has already begun to consume Karen going into season 2, The Defenders, The Punisher, and season 3. Fisk is technically representing her conscience in this moment. Seems kinda odd that Fisk would be the voice screaming inside Karens head instead of Matt or Foggy, the lawyers shes working with. Then add to the fact that this nightmare foreshadows an inevitable consequence for killing Wesley in the future. Karen is going to cross paths with Fisk eventually, the question is when?
When Matt visits Fisk in prison in season 2, Fisk's lawyer makes him sign a contract, and Donovan replies to Matt's observation about his strict rules that this visit is to be discussed with no one, "Rules are what separate us from the animals on the inside, Mr. Murdock." Moments later, Matt makes the mistake of trying to egg on the lion while he's in the lion's den by threatening Fisk with never getting to see Vanessa again. "Separates us from the animals on the inside," indeed.
Before Foggy and Karen learn the truth, notice how Matt responds when Foggy and Karen ask about his injuries. He doesnt actually say anything untrue. He lets them assume he fell down, or walked into something, but what he actually says is stuff like, I just, uh, wasn't paying attention last night. It's my fault. Even while lying by omission pretty much constantly, he avoids lying explicitly. Its actually kind of like his no-kill policy, where he doesnt deliberately kill people but does plenty of stuff that could easily result in someone dying (throwing people through windows, off roofs, etc.)
When Matt is working alongside Elektra in season 2, one will notice that Matt's helmet covers his face from his eyes down to his nose, whereas Elektra's mask covers her mouth up to her nose. Together, they have a whole mask; apart, they're only half. But the positions of their masks also symbolizes where each of them is being deceptive: Matt lies with his eyes (blindness), while Elektra lies with her words (seducing Matt in college).
After it's revealed partway through Elektra's arc in season 2 that the initial relationship she had with Matt had been an assignment from Stick, her approach to reeling him in at the faculty party makes much more sense. She fidgets with her arm bracelets, and circles the rim of her cocktail glass with her finger to make a distinct sound, both of which she uses to get his attention. Ultimately, Matt seems almost hypnotically drawn to Elektra. Whatever the pull may be though, it is clearly not her physical beauty that does the trick.
While it seems odd that Matt didn´t go up with Karen for sex after their first date, the scene in the following episode when he's in the car and changing into his tux as he and Elektra are leaving the gala makes clear why: the scars. Karen would see his scars all over his torso.
When Stick and Matt are at Elektra's grave in the season 2 finale, Matt mentions that Elektra likes/liked orchid flowers. Orchids are mostly epiphytic or parasitic, meaning they need other plants to survive and thrive, much like Elektra was herself, being so strongly attached to Stick.
White and black juxtaposition:
In season 3, Matt's mask now has a white band on the bottom edges (due to having been cut from the fabric of a nun's habit) as well as white wraps to protect his hands, which both contrast sharply against the black colors. This likely represents that while Matt is definitely going to embrace his dark side more and more, there ultimately is still that central goodness in Matt that will always remain and win out.
Karen's attire as she and Matt begin their new investigations of Fisk, sees her wearing outfits that juxtapose whites and blacks, such as white shirt under a black winter coat, or dark colored shirts with white pinstripes, and such. This represents that while Karen is striving to do good, she's also doing so while trying to confront the past traumas of her brother and Wesley.
The inverse can be said about Fisk's new suits. His white three-piece suits typically have at least one or two layers of black underneath the white layers, sometimes the shirt, and sometimes the shirt and the vest. The white is symbolic of the savior image that Fisk is painting himself as, while the black is symbolic of the sadistic crime lord this is all masking. It is also symbolic of his loneliness with Vanessa not around, given it's the same color as the "Rabbit in a Snowstorm" painting or the walls of the prison he was in.
For Fisk, his shift to white clothing is also indicative of when his father made him stare at that wall as punishment: go stare at the wall and think about what youve done. White for Fisk reminds him of the bad things hes done. Its why a white prison cell wall was so fitting. Him wearing white means he has fully embraced his dark side, ironically.
For season 3, one could say that Matt is fighting two Wilsons: Wilson Fisk, and Dex (played by Wilson Bethel).
There's something...off about Dex when he's wearing the red Daredevil suit. His jaw just looks really weird and wrong in the mask. But then consider that Matt's armor was custom-tailored by Melvin, so what works perfectly on Matt doesn't fit perfectly on Dex. Not to mention it plays with the audience who has yet to see anyone other than Matt suit up in a costume.
In a lengthy Hourglass Plot, season 1's finale starts with Father Lantom presiding over a funeral for Ben Urich, much like season 3 ends with a funeral for Father Lantom.
When Matt and Karen are talking in the crypt after climbing out of the coffin, Karen is standing next to an angel when she talks about Wesley, but when Matt mentions his plan to kill Fisk, she effectively crosses over to the side of the devil and reveals her past to Matt. In the Bible, angels are soldiers and protectors of God. They are part of what is called the heavenly host, or Gods Army. Michaal, leader of Gods army, for example is seen as the perfect holy warrior and protector of the Catholic Church. Note here that that's Matts middle name. Karen, in Matts mind, goes from the modern conception of the angel ie innocent, to an actual angel. Karen is a warrior and a protector. Especially in this scene. Angels are often used as messengers from God. Karens message is thou shalt not kill. She is protecting him, because she knows that killing Fisk would shatter Matt. Karen is Matts angel, in the biblical sense. She is protecting and guiding him. She does all the things angels actually do. She is his better angels.
It also reflects in her coming clean about her brother here. It's clear that here, she told Matt about her brother and about Wesley because she wanted to. To a certain extent, she had to tell Foggy and Fisk about Wesley, but she didnt have to tell Matt either of them. And Kevins death has had more of an effect on Karen's life and her concept of self. Both because it is more personal, and with Wesley, one can at least argue that he was a bad man who was threatening Karen. That cannot be said of her brother, who is the definition of victim, which makes Karens guilt even worse. It'd be a surprise if she has never talked about this with anyone until Matt, and that means something. She chooses to only tell him. She is also comfortable enough with him to tell him. She sees that Matt doesnt reject her after she tells him about Wesley, so she opens up about Kevin. Their connection is deep enough that she wants to tell him. To share this burden that has been weighing on her. This is also why he has the later your mistakes dont need to define you remark in the gym before she goes off for her press conference, because he knows the whole story. He knows not only about Wesley, but also about Kevin, which is the more important story. She lays herself bare, in order to protect him.
Rewatching season 3, there are a lot of hints that Nadeem's boss Tammy Hattley is working for Fisk well before the reveal is made:
In episode 1 alone, Hattley finds an agent under a mountain of debt, and tells him he can't get promoted because he'd be easy pickings to be corrupted. Just a few sentences later, she sends him to the most notorious corrupter of government officials in the city to make a deal. Then, just as the Jasper Evans lead comes out to suggest that Fisk is playing them, Nadeem magically gets his promotion. Meaning her offer to run the Fisk intel up the food chain was nothing more than a bluff to make Nadeem actively choose not to report it. She was more than likely setting Nadeem up to be a fall guy, so that if word got out that Fisk was using them, Nadeem would take the fall, and the press would see him as an agent struggling with debt who made a deal to get Fisk out of prison and has been covering for his illegal activities, which ultimately is the plan Fisk decides to go for after foiling Nelson & Murdock's attempt to put Nadeem before a grand jury before Vanessa decides to order Nadeem's execution.
In episode 2, Nadeem meets with Hattley after the Albanian bust on Fisk's information. She tells him he's still being denied promotion, and says to him, "I've got a boss too, and he's got a hard-on for agents in financial holes." Later, we learn that Fisk manipulated Nadeem's finances to make him desperate enough to want to make this informant deal work. And true to what Hattley tells him later, her denials of his promotions really were her just trying to keep him out of the hands of Fisk's machinations, but Nadeem still charged right into that trap.
One could say that there was a moment of this for the audience once we had the scene of Karen pitching to Ellison her theory that Fisk owns the hotel. There's no way Fisk could get himself moved into a hotel that he conveniently happened to own without manipulating the FBI, specifically, the agent in charge of his protective detail. Learning that Fisk paid Jasper Evans to shank him further solidifies this.
The story of Job:
As a fan pointed Matt recounting of the story of Job leaves out a few details such as how it wasnt God who inflicted all those pains onto Job but the Devil (though God did give Satan permission in order to test Jobs faith) and that in the end God did reward Job ten times after Job proved successful in keeping his faith. Why is this left out? Because Matt has gone through the suffering part but he has not yet experienced the reward. At the end of the season when Matt manages to defeat Fisk without sacrificing his morals his payoff is well earned: He has his friends back, his partner law firm with Foggy is starting back up, his reputation is presumably cleared by the FBI and he seems to be on the verge of a reconnect with his mother. In short just like Job, Matt did suffer but was also rewarded for his suffering.
In season 3, when Matt goes to the Bulletin to turn himself in, Dex suddenly shows up and starts attacking. Matt appears moments later with what appears to be his black costume. It seems odd that he would have had his costume nearby to change into until you notice that Matt had simply taken a black jacket and stocking from the coat rack and used that as a makeshift costume. ◊
If you thought Matt turning Dex against Fisk in the finale was a brilliant move, just wait: it gets better. This wasn't just turning the crime boss' top enforcer against him, this was also removing the biggest threat to Matt himself. Pay close attention to the final fight scene and you might notice that:
Despite Matt's superior hand-to-hand skills, Dex still has the advantage over him due to his ranged combat skills and having a protective suit while Matt does not, allowing him to barrage Matt from a distance and blunting his strikes if Matt does manage to get close. This has already been established in previous fights between the two, however...
Dex actually cannot defeat Fisk. Fisk is bulky enough that he can tank right through Dex's projectile attacks and strong enough to inflict some real damage; notice that it was Fisk who took Dex out of the fight, not Matt, who...
...had probably been planning this the entire time. Matt is fast enough and hits hard enough that he can handily beat Fisk in close quarters, just like in Season 1, so he knows that all he has to do is get Dex out of the way and he wins. Watch the fight again, and notice how Matt only proactively goes after Fisk, and only to keep him from escaping; the only time he engages Dex is when Dex is threatening Vanessa, the only noncombatant in the room. He clearly intended for Dex and Fisk to focus on each other first, let the latter take out the former, then move in and finish the job. So much gets made of Matt's fighting skills and enhanced senses that it's easy to forget he's pretty damn intelligent, too.
Besides the back and forth of words, the camera work also tells a story during Karen's confrontation with Fisk:
As Karen enters the penthouse, the camera swivels around her several times as she takes in her surroundings before Fisk makes his Grand Staircase Entrance. It conveys that Fisk has the high ground, the power. Karen might be in over her head.
Fisk starts to circle her, but Karen stands her ground and even steps up. She takes a seat at the table, they are on an even playing field now. The time between cuts draws out the tension between the two characters.
During the scene, both Karen and Fisk look up at the security cameras before making a confession or a threat. Here the camera goes from wide shots to medium shots, showing that things are getting more personal.
After Karen admits that she was with Ben when he spoke with Fisk's mother (something Fisk really didn't like) she also reveals that she knows Fisk killed his father. The camera pans behind Karen, and as Karen's head passes through the frame, Fisk suddenly looks smaller.
Fisk, of course, is prepared with his own barb and asks how long Karen has known about Matt's alter ego Daredevil, leading to Karen making several micro-expressions. She's caught off guard, confused, then realizes that Fisk knows and then there is a little bit of fear and hesitation.
Now there's a similar panning shot to the one before, but this time from behind Fisk. He's reestablished his dominance. Karen now appears smaller in the frame.
But, Karen has another secret: Wesley's death. She glances up at the security camera and then whispers that she killed Wesley. Here, there are more close up shots, as the conversation is more intimate and so is the camera work. It's now Fisk's turn to be the one making micro-expressions as he goes from confusion, to realization, to rage, at realizing Karen is Wesley's killer.
The scene culminates with Fisk no longer interested in pithy banter, enraged and prepared to physically assert his dominance. The cuts are faster, making the threat more imminent, especially after all of the slow, drawn out editing.
In episode 8 of season 1, Karen takes mild offense at Foggy nicknaming her "K". In her flashback episode in season 3, we learn that her boyfriend Todd used that nickname with her, indicating that she's feeling uncomfortable remembering a painful memory from her past.
In season 2 episode 12, when Karen's being held captive by Schoonover, Frank comes to save her by t-boning her car with a pickup truck. Karen is left with a nasty cut on her forehead from hitting it against the driver's side door. Afterwards, she crawls out of the car and collapses, very much in pain and shock. She begs Frank not to kill the Blacksmith, saying that shell be dead to him, but he does it anyway. She walks back to the car wreck and stares at it before bursting out crying. On first watch, it seems like her reaction is because Frank wouldnt listen to her. However, watching this scene after watching her flashback episode in season 3, Karens breakdown is because she's being reminded of her brothers death in similar circumstances.
Remember that every time Kevin is mentioned in conversation throughout the second and third seasons, she gives pause or becomes a bit distant. Shes obviously still incredibly affected by it. In an emotional moment like a car accident and a failure to redeem someone you reserve into emotion. She was very shaken and absolutely was reminded of her brothers death at the accident scene as well as her failure to stop Frank from seeking out his vengeance.
When Nadeem is introduced in the first episode of season 3, it's to make a Deal with the Devil with Fisk, wherein Fisk sells out the Albanians in exchange for charges against Vanessa being thrown out. At the end of the season, when Matt defeats Fisk, he forces Fisk to make a literal Deal with the Devil where as long as Fisk never tries to escape jail or hurt Karen and Fogggy, Matt will leave Vanessa alone. In a lot of works of fiction, when someone makes a deal with devil or some other powerful evil entity, theres always catch to what you gain no matter how good it may seem at first. Essentially, the Devil let Fisks wife walk freely as long as Fisk agreed to rot in jail, or his own personal hell. Nicely foreshadowed when he was in the car with Nadeem prior to the Albanians' ambush and musing about love being a perfect prison.
Dex is so Inexplicably Awesome because of his sociopathy. As a child, he admitted to killing birds and cats for fun and he was shown to be obsessively practicing his pitches, honing it to the point he could kill his coach, so large chance he practiced with regular, everyday objects so he could kill animals or even people. As a teenager, he was encouraged to build his life upon pillars of order, so he probably put all his time and focus into training as a soldier, especially because he had nothing else to focus on and because being soldier gravitated towards killing.
In his introductory scene, Nadeem promises his son Sami to make a pool in the backyard so Sami and his friends can party in it. As the season progresses, the hole is gradually dug in the backyard, presumably for the pool and using the money Nadeem is earning from his work with Fisk and his new promotion. By the end of the season, when Dex comes to the house to kill Nadeem, he shoots Nadeem in the head and he falls into the hole. Nadeem literally dug his own grave by working with Fisk.
When Matt is overhearing Nadeem make a phone call to his wife prior to the grand jury, it's a moment very much like the final phone call Jack made to Sister Maggie before his final fight. It's clear that Nadeem is meant to emulate Jack: both being fathers, wanting to provide for their families, wanting their sons to be proud of them, to not slip into mediocrity. Good men doing the wrong things for what they believed to be good reasons (Jack taking dives for money, Nadeem using Fisk as an informant to nab dangerous criminals), eventually coming to their senses and finally doing something right but sabotaging any future with their sons in the process, leaving final requests to the mothers of their sons to take care of them, and then walking knowingly toward death.
Ben Urich getting killed is bad enough, but how many times is his Alzheimer's-afflicted wife going to have to be told the bad news? Although, people might just stop repeating that to her at some point, which is probably just as bad.
Matt may have a Thou Shalt Not Kill rule, but it is shown constantly that he is very loose with it, as many of the injuries Matt inflicts on his opponents are likely to cause all sorts of dangerous problems such as internal bleeding (Matt constantly punching guys in the face). When Matt throws the Russian off of Claire's roof, it seems really like a stroke of luck that the guy merely ended up in a coma, rather than in a body bag. Same goes when Matt is rescuing Frank Castle from the catacombs - many of the Kitchen Irish grunts Matt knocks out, after a significant amount of time has passed, aren't shown getting up. Meaning they're dead or have permanent brain damage. As Charlie Cox pointed out in a recent Wizard Con:
Charlie Cox: You know, in Season 1, Episode 2 when he throws the guy off the roof — that's a gamble, you know what I mean? So, you know, I think his no-killing record is slightly by chance at this point...And also, there's a couple of times where, there's a scene in Episode 4 of Season 2 where he goes to rescue the Punisher in the catacombs, and as he comes in, he then beats up a couple of guys, knocks them out, right? And then he goes in, he gets Frank, he goes through a couple other rooms, he beats up people, he has a quick conversation with Frank, they then beat up a couple of people together, and as they are leaving, those two guys are still knocked out. If they are not dead, they are seriously brained. If you get knocked out and you're still knocked out half an hour later, that's not good. It's a slightly loose moral compass at times, you know what I mean?
Closer to Fridge Squick really, but the scene with Stick and Matt eating ice cream counts when you realize just how much Stick (and Matt after his training) is able to tell about what's in the ice cream. Consider just how much Matt is able to tell about what goes into his food wherever he eats. It makes you wonder if he's ever been able to enjoy a meal ever since learning that little trick.
On arrival in jail, Fisk is stuck in a small cell after losing everything, with only a similarly patterned wall that reminds him of the wall he stared at before he murdered his father for abusing his mother. He has plenty of time to stare at the constant reminder of his deep-seated psychological issues. And as season 2 establishes, he isn't in jail long by the time he begins plotting Dutton's demise, or enlisting Stewart Finney and the Valdez brothers to provide muscle and intelligence for him.
In-universe: when Foggy realizes that Matt can tell people are lying by their heartbeats, he recalls all the times he ever lied to Matt in college, and asks if Matt just "played along." Matt affirms that he did. Even worse, when Foggy realizes Matt is compromising the integrity of their practice by doing invasive stuff like "listening to someone's heartbeat".
Matt says that he sleeps on silk sheets because even cotton feels unbearable to his supersensitve skin. Just how uncomfortable must it be for him to simply wear clothes? And how much more acutely does he feel the severe injuries inflicted upon him during his battles?
The realization that removing Wilson Fisk didn't stop the problem of crime in Hell's Kitchen. The arrest of Fisk and much of his crew resulted in a massive power vacuum for other organized factions like the Dogs of Hell and the Kitchen Irish to move in, gangs that obviously wouldn't dare try to compete with Fisk for turf.
In Fisk's last scene in his brief season 2 arc, he's shown in his cell asking for his file on Matt Murdock. Fisk has recognized Matt's fighting style, and is beginning to connect the lawyer and the vigilante. That's why it only takes one instance of seeing Matt fight out of costume (in the prison) for Fisk to connect the dots.
At the end of season 2, Fisk is only starting to reclaim the power he once had, and given he has very little at this point, that may bring only small comfort. But given the vacuum that's opened up in organized crime as a result of Mariah Dillard's death, coupled with the elimination of the Hand with the destruction of Midland Circle, Fisk's rise to Kingpin of organized crime in New York City itself may be easier done than said.
In fact, the hits to organized crime that happened across the interceding shows between Daredevil season 1 and Daredevil season 3 might very well have been why Fisk decided that his newest racket was to extort protection money from other gangs that have taken losses/experienced increased police attention. Which might very well explain why Rosalie Carbone was among those rounded up for the restaurant meeting: she lost a considerable amount of territory in the events of Luke Cage season 2, between Mariah Dillard's death and Luke Cage creating a crime-free zone in Harlem. When Foggy presents his theory to Karen, notice that the other gangs outlined in his napkin diagram are organizations that have suffered from vigilantism: one can make out names like the Golden Tigers and Yangshi Gonshi (decimated by Davos in Iron Fist season 2), and the Mexican cartel (decimated by Frank Castle in Daredevil season 2).
Stick and Matt:
It's easy to view the breakdown of Matt's relationships with Foggy and Karen in season 2 as a thesis to everything Stick had stated about the futility of balancing a normal human life with the life of a warrior. A large part of why Matt thought he tended to get under his skin, is because deep down he might actually believe Stick. When Stick says "they'll suffer and you'll die," his words became more and more true, and Matt was slowly growing to accept it. At the end of season 2, when Matt saw what was happening to his friends, how hopeless it had been to try and fight Wilson Fisk in the humane way, trying to use the corrupt legal system to his favor, in Matt's eyes it was hopeless and he was willing to abandon it all. Elektra offered him a larger taste of that side of him, and that created an imbalance that isolated him from Foggy and Karen. That's why he needed people like Foggy and Karen to keep him grounded and remind him that he's only a human, and that he needs support, comfort, friendship, and love from other people if he's going to be constantly facing extreme odds. Which explains exactly why Matt chooses to come clean with Karen about his secret identity at the end of "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen".
Also, Stick's philosophy is ultimately complete pap. Even the Spartans, arguably the most badass warriors in mankind's history, were all about team work. But Matt, for all the opposition he displayed, seemed to always believe him from the get go. Matt was just being compulsive in how he went about it. He probably didn't even truly understand why he was emotionally compelled to do so at the time because he was in denial.
While audiences wait for The Defenders (2017) to come out, a couple of fanfics have been made speculating on how Karen takes Matt's reveal of his secret identity. This one in particular is noteworthy, as Karen realizes that Foggy had to be terrified every time Matt was late for work or failed to show up, fearing that he'd either been hurt or killed. This even happened on screen: look at the expressions on Foggy's face when he's searching for Matt after the Punisher's attack at the hospital, or his visit to Claire's emergency room after the police ambush. And it had to be worse for Foggy when he had to lie to Karen while having no clue where Matt is.
Frank Castle's relationship advice to Karen at the diner in ".380" is very telling because it's a pretty accurate description of what Matt's relationship with Elektra is like. The only reason Matt chases after Elektra and teams up with her, is because she is like him: a vigilante, equally skilled, also trained by Stick. She hurt him and lied to him many times, but because Matt Murdock has some masochistic traits, he is willing to accept her regardless, and try to reach for the good in her and get her to be good, even though the reality check says things would just fundamentally never work out between them (if you've ever been with a crazy girl, you would understand the relationship they had, where Matt knows that Elektra's dangerous and not good for him, and that she hurts his career and friendships, but was willing to put up with it because he was sort of trapped by his love for her). It's similar to how Castle described his wife, and how badly she would hurt him. She made him feel something, even if that feeling was emotional pain. And there is something about someone who can make you extremely happy, or hurt you when they choose to, that is emotionally intense. It's so intense in comparison to having a nice, bland relationship with someone predictable, that you become addicted to it.
Matt, Karen, and Wesley:
Some of the negative things that Matt says about Frank Castle throughout season 2 can't have have gone over too well with Karen. Matt believes Castle kills because he enjoys it, and that makes him no worse than any of the criminals he takes down. Thing is, Karen hasn't told Matt or Foggy about how she killed Wesley. Every time Matt something along the lines of Frank not being better than his opponents, he could've been influencing Karen's view of herself. Remember, Karen gets drawn to Castle as a subject of interest because she wants to believe that even after killing Wesley, she can still be a good person.
And then Karen comes to realize that Matt probably was right about Frank after watching Frank execute the Blacksmith. Up through the trial, Karen had believed that Frank only killed criminals to deal with his family's death. When he executed the Blacksmith in cold blood, she realized that Frank was a sociopath - he would never be a normal person again and that he actually wanted to kill criminals without remorse. In fact, her realizing this parallels how Matt realized it: when Frank gave him the sadistic choice on the roof of either shooting him or shooting Grotto. Frank was deadset on killing Grotto and no amount of reasoning from Matt would get him to back down. Likewise, he was deadset on killing the Blacksmith and no amount of pleading from Karen would get him to back down.
Another thing: Karen was mortified about having to kill Wesley, as well as mortified about looking at the dead bodies of Frank's other kills. When Karen sees Frank's handiwork in the diner, she realizes she'd been lying to herself about whether Frank Castle was someone worthy of redemption. Karen desperately wanted to believe that deep down, Frank was a good man, albeit heavily troubled and traumatized, despite everyone - Matt, Foggy, even Frank himself - telling her that he legitimately ENJOYS killing people. She wanted to believe that so that she could believe she was a good person after killing Wesley, as Deborah Ann Woll commented on one of her boyfriend's podcasts. Consider that after he killed those two men in the diner, Frank told her to stay away from him; his self-awareness and honesty showing there.
More importantly, Karen is concerned with finding the truth above everything else. That's why she had pushed so hard to expose Wilson Fisk as the violent criminal he truly was. Frank refused to tell her what happened on that mission, and then he killed the Blacksmith without trying to get any answers out of him. He buried the truth, the same way people did with him, because he no longer cared about the truth. Karen was disgusted with him for that, too.
As horrible as the act of killing Wesley was for Karen, of all the options she had, it was the only option she had that wouldn't get additional innocent people hurt or killed. As this fanfic points out, Wesley threatening Karen's friends trying to get her cooperation is no different from how he threatened Farnum's daughter. And if Karen had succeeded, that probably wouldn't be the end of it, as she'd have proven her usefulness to Fisk. She'd now be under his thumb, him able to threaten her with Matt and Foggy's lives whenever he wanted her to do his bidding.
There's a realization in hindsight that Reyes was doomed to die even before she started antagonizing Nelson & Murdock. It wouldn't matter had she managed to have Frank Castle killed during the police sting in "Dogs to a Gunfight," or got sent to prison. It wouldn't matter for her because Frank was not the only loose end to tie up. She was one as well. The Blacksmith had no need for her anymore because he knew about the sting operation she started, how everything went to mess, and how she tried to cover her tracks by falsifying the evidence, but like Blake Tower said, the trail just kept on getting bigger.
Multiple people point out in that show that The Hand's technique of reviving people from the dead has negative side effects. Harold Meachum's resurrection foreshadows Elektra's changes in The Defenders (2017).
Another thing: the Hand's resurrection technique gradually chips further and further away at a person's humanity and identity each time. But think about Nobu: at the start of season 1 of Daredevil, he is already completely unaffected by cold. So how far gone was he? The good thing is, the later show also confirmed that he's dead for good, as decapitation is the one way the resurrection process can be stopped for good.
Speaking of Harold Meachum, a number of Redditorshave notedthat the behavioral changes Harold undergoes after each resurrection are also present in Frank Castle, giving the suggestion that Frank has the Hand's resurrection abilities too.
When the trio is riding up the elevator to Frank Castle's hospital room, Foggy says "This much spotlight concern anyone else? I mean, we're about to step onto a big proscenium stage here. And how do I know what proscenium means? Because I did theater in summer camp! Which is exactly the kind of thing that these reporters will find out if they start digging into me!" While the Matt-Foggy interplay is what most fans notice, a careful observer will notice that Karen's expression seems to darken when Foggy talks about reporters digging into their pasts. She recalls that Ben Urich had knowledge of her past activities and, a few episodes later, learns that Ellison knows about her secrets too. And they're not secrets she wants others to know.
It's hard to tell, given all that's going on, but at a closer notice, one realizes that Fisk already knew about "The Blacksmith" seeing as how he mentions him to Frank right after Frank killed Dutton and shanked his way out of the cell block. With no way for Fisk to have met with Dutton in between that time. This means that Fisk already knew who was responsible for the death of Frank's family before he recruited him and he was legitimately only used as a pawn to kill Dutton. Very fitting move by Fisk.
While it's never dwelled on, Reyes getting murdered is going to have some very negative effects in the long-run. As any viewer of Law and Order knows, if a district attorney or cop shows any kind of corruption, all of their cases and convictions will be reviewed and many of them might be overturned. Meaning that when Reyes' corruption comes to light, lots of criminal convictions will likely get overturned on technicalities. If Fisk was one of those that Reyes prosecuted, he might be out of jail much sooner than people might expect.
Frank Castle's "Use two hands and never let go" monologue to Karen during the diner scene is often held up as an example of how insightful and romantic Frank Castle can be, when the reality is that it is insight into just how harmful the loss of his wife and children has been, and how its twisted his views on what love is, and what it should look like. Karen had the right idea here - she knows Matt isnt good for her, and that she (and Foggy) dont deserve to take the shit hes been throwing at them throughout the season. Regardless of how they feel about one another, you shouldnt put up with being lied to, hurt and confused by someone you love, someone that claims to love you back. But Frank has been without anything good for so long that even pain would be a blessing for him. Of course he wouldnt see being hurt as a reason for Karen to let go of whatever she and Matt might have had, because hed take anything over being alone. But thats not romantic. Its a trauma response. Outside of Curtis, Frank doesnt have the same kind of support system as Karen, or the same kind of awareness of how relationships are supposed to work (considering his failure to see the signs that Billy Russo would betray him). He isnt a reliable source of relationship advice and even if unintentional, the message hes sending to Karen is incredibly harmful.
Something that's not always noticeable the first time around in the "Kinbaku" flashbacks to Matt and Elektra's college dating: when Elektra takes Matt to Roscoe Sweeney's house, she starts talking about their future and says Matt will be a hotshot lawyer. Matt says, "I should really start going back to class". Right from the start that was a really toxic relationship for Matt, but it means that in the present day two episodes later in "Semper Fidelis", history repeats itself: once again Matt lets everything that's important to him fall by the wayside because of Elektra's influence. Additionally, Elektra wasn't just trained by Stick (and later sent by Stick to seduce Matt); she also grew up in wealth and affluence. The idea that she would fail college just because she didn't go to class or do any work was foreign to her, because her rich parents would buy her way to a degree. She couldn't comprehend or care that this was not the way the world worked for Matt.
There's a running theme of abandonment with Matt. Both of his parents abandoned him, Stick abandoned him, and Elektra abandoned him. That informs a lot on how he deals with people in the present. Subconsciously, Matt expects people to abandon him so he sometimes pushes people away, or doesnt fight as hard to keep them when they decide to leave. Obviously Matt has many, many, many layers, but this is noticeable on a rewatch: it's likely the reason he doesnt fight harder to keep Foggy and Karen from leaving later in the season, or Claire. Inside, there's a small part of him that expects them to leave, but at the end, he of course realizes he needs Foggy and Karen in his life, and goes to reconcile with Karen.
Stick and Matt
When Elektra first shows up in Matt's apartment in "Kinbaku," she makes a remark about Matt's German beer, that it "tastes like piss." Which is exactly what Stick said in season 1. On further viewings, especially the flashbacks, it becomes clear that Stick is off-camera puppeting Elektra through all her interactions with Matt. As in, everything Elektra does is designed by Stick to elicit a specific reaction from Matt.
Stick wants Matt to join his war against the Hand, to be his heir to the Chaste. He wants control over Matt, and sees Karen, Foggy, everything Matt has built as a lawyer, as just being in the way. This is more noticeable when you consider Elektra's behavior from when she is introduced all the way up until Stick is introduced: Elektra deliberately infiltrates Matt's life, first breaking into his apartment, later on calling Matt while hes on a date with Karen, calling him when hes with Foggy at the office, sending her driver to collect Matt when the trio is at the hospital talking to Frank, showing up in Matt's apartment when he should be preparing for Frank's case. Clearly, it's a game of Sabotage Matt Murdocks Life, and a sequel considering their past relationship in college was the first attempt Stick had made at using Elektra to seduce Matt into his war. It's a very deliberate and calculated infiltration.
Elektra plays the part of a spoiled rich girl who only cares about thrillseeking and doing impulsive stuff on a dare. But all those actions were very calculated and timed. Everything Elektra does is either a subtle or blatant attempt to crack the stability of Matt's life. All those side trips Elektra took Matt on (the Roxxon meeting, the gala, and the NYU professor) were all about poking at the Hand and luring Matt ever further into the Hand-Chaste conflict, WITH the extra benefit of isolating him (physically and emotionally) from Karen and Foggy. Now that's multitasking, and classic abusive behavior done by proxy: isolating the victim. And then, when Elektra is wounded while she and Matt are investigating Midland Circle, that's when Stick, the one pulling the strings behind Elektra, makes his grand entrance.
Also, Stick has clearly been spying on Matt all this time. Think about his appearance in season 1. Even though Matt hadn't seen Stick in all this time, Stick knows everything about Matt's life. And has ways of knowing where Matt is at any given moment. He didn't just happen to stumble upon Matt in the parking garage interrogating Owlsley. Then think about the timing of Elektra's introduction in season 2: she makes her entrance immediately after Matt and Karen have their first kiss. It's no coincidence that Stick would have Elektra reenter Matt's life just as he's beginning to develop a romance with Karen. Karen is an obstacle that gets in Stick's way, or more specifically, it's Matt's relationship with Karen that gets in the way of Stick's plans. Because if Matt falls in love with Karen, he'll have her and Foggy to lean on. He'll have them and his job at Nelson & Murdock. And he won't have any reason to become dependent on Stick. The reason Matt had been able to balance out Daredevil with Matt Murdock before Elektra showed up was because Karen and Foggy gave him love, stability, and family. Three things Stick doesn't want Matt to have...
...which is why Stick sets in motion some other events to drive wedges between Matt and his friends. First, Stick has Elektra sabotage the key witness in Frank Castle's case, which drives a wedge between Matt and Foggy. To then drive a wedge between Matt and Karen, we get the scene where Karen shows up and finds Stick in Matt's living room and Elektra in his bed. Many have wondered why Karen didn't try grilling Matt for answers right there and then, or why she didn't mention Stick when she was venting to Foggy about this issue. It makes the most sense that Stick, wanting petty payback, not only let Karen into the apartment and made sure she saw Elektra in Matt's bed, but he also likely said something to her to make her overreact.
With that said, though, the flashbacks throughout Daredevil and The Defenders, especially the ones that highlight Stick's relationship with Elektra, show that things aren't all black and white when it comes to Stick and Matt. Because as manipulative as Stick can be, and as untrustworthy as Matt often finds him, he may also have been keeping Matt from going down a much darker path, given that's what he did with Elektra. Plus, his remark to Danny at the Royal Dragon during The Defenders of "I trained him to fight a war. He decided to put on an outfit" shows Stick does begrudgingly have some respect for what Matt has decided to do with his training.
This also explains Matt's attitude when Stick shows up at the Royal Dragon. It's why he tries to warn the others, especially Danny, that Stick is manipulative and underhanded:
Matt Murdock:[laughs]Yeah, here it comes... Luke Cage: Here what comes? Matt Murdock:This is what he does. Danny Rand: H-How do you know him again? Matt Murdock: You saw me fight. I learned it from him. Danny Rand:[still confused] You're a blind lawyer, you're Daredevil, and you're a member of the Chaste? Matt Murdock: No. Uh-uh. I never joined his war. Hey Stick, you and I need to talk. Luke Cage: Hey! Anything you've gotta say, you say in front of us. Matt Murdock: This is between me and him. Luke Cage: And we are all in danger- Matt Murdock: I don't know you very well, Mr. Cage. You seem like a good guy, so trust me when I tell you that with this old man, nothing is sacred.
In season 3, after Matt has lost everything except his war, he disguises himself with a hat, sunglasses, and a green jacket. His clothing matches Stick's fashion sense. In essence, he has become the thing Stick wanted him to become since the beginning. That should clue people in to just how far off the deep end Matt has gone.
Watching the rooftop scene between Matt and Frank after watching The Punisher (2017), Frank is actually very hypocritical: he criticizes Matt for running around the city in little boys pajamas and a mask and goes on to talk about the difference of his experience, being in the military:
"You run around this city in a pair of little boy's pajamas and a mask. You go home at night, right? Take that mask off, maybe you think... it wasn't you who did those things, maybe it was somebody else. Well, see, soldiers... we don't wear masks, yeah? We don't get that privilege."
On rewatch, one will probably be like, "oh, like that's not an apt description of you, Frank? Its not like, oh, a huge chunk of your military history is off the record, right? Its not like you, yknow, did wear a mask while torturing and executing civilians, right? No of course not. That was somebody else. And you intended to go right home and forget all about it."
Watching the rooftop scene after watching The Punisher, it's clear that everything Franks saying here is just flat out projection. Matt doesnt separate himself, moralistically, from his Daredevil persona, even to the extent that he seeks penance as Matt Murdock for what he does as Daredevil. And even beyond that, he maintains the same moral code regardless of whether hes wearing a business suit or a Daredevil suit. He works towards the same goals (maintaining and upholding justice and the rule of law), albeit in different ways, out in public as well as incognito. The sole function of Matt's secret identity is to keep him from getting disbarred, because it still counts as battery to track down and beat up criminals even if you leave them for the police. But Frank, on the other hand, subconsciously draws this straight line distinction between Frank Castle and the Punisher, highlighted especially in the flashback and hallucination scenes of his own show concerning his wife and family. Frank might not have a secret identity, but he wants to be a different person depending on what suits his needs. He wants to be Pete Castiglione, who can behave like a family man and do some repair work around the Lieberman house and charm a grieving widow. He wants to be Frank Castle, a military man just following orders who can then return to his American-as-apple-pie family back home, scot-free. And he wants to be the Punisher, whose persona fundamentally contradicts the other two, who no rational person would let near a woman or child or any vulnerable member of society, who is beholden to no authority, be it a person, the law, or society as a whole, and who is so unrelentingly vicious that he would tear a mans head off and use it to launch a grenade at his enemies, or use an innocent woman like Karen as bait.
Frank's line to Matt on the roof about how "We're soldiers. We don't wear masks" becomes even more poignant after The Punisher (2017) reveals what went down in Kandahar: Frank was part of an illegally sanctioned CIA black-ops squad and unknowingly was participating in war crimes, like the execution of Ahmed Zubair, which is the whole reason Frank's family was killed. Frank's disgust with Matt in that moment is because he feels Matt is hiding behind the mask and using it as a means to divorce himself from the stuff he does while wearing it. Frank knows it, because he's been behind such a mask himself. He knows how it feels. He knows there's something fundamentally dishonest about sheltering yourself behind it as you commit horrible acts. He knows that the mask is a symbol of shame, of not being able to face yourself in the mirror, and he made a conscious decision to not hide behind one again in his life. Even after he's recognized and exposed escaping from O'Connor's house after rescuing Curtis, he doesn't hide behind one anymore. The masked Frank plays a huge role in his nightmares. It's his greatest source of pain — that guilt, that shame, that regret — and it's one that's caused him the greatest tragedy.
Matts darker personality in Season 3 particularly in the announcement trailer when he talks about the only way to end evil is to finish it for good sounds awfully akin to a certain gun toting vigilante he previously passionately disagreeded with.
Fridge Horror for Fisk. The second episode of Season 3 has Fisks convoy get ambushed by the Albanian Mob. Had it not been for Dexs intervention, Fisk would have been killed. But while its revealed that Fisk manipulated the FBI into transferring him from prison, the Albanian mob ambush was not part of the plan. The Albanians were Spanner in the Works and very nearly ruined all of Fisks meticulous planning.
Karen's plan to visit Fisk and provoke him into attacking her in an effort to send him back to prison looks perfect on paper, and is very much like the visit Matt paid to Fisk in prison after Frank escaped. It seems her expectation is that Fisk will beat her up and put her in the hospital, but she will live and Fisk will be returned to prison. But it's revealed in the next episode that all the guards in Fisk's detail are under his control. It's actually a good thing for Karen that Foggy turned up, because if he hadn't, they would have just let Fisk kill her, then removed all evidence that she was ever there to begin with, just like they'd done with Julie.
Though that's dependent on whether Fisk would've killed Karen right there and then. While he wanted her dead, he might not have wanted to be there. Hurting women doesnt appear to be his style. Yes he did have Julie killed in this same episode, but Fisk wasn't physically in the room when Julie was being executed; he was watching it on his cameras. Same goes for when Fisk dispatches Dex to the church to take out Karen. It's more likely that if not for Foggy's intervention, the FBI guards would've taken Karen out of the hotel, and had her tortured and/or killed elsewhere.
In season 2 episode 7, Karen said this to Foggy during Frank's trial about why she connects with Frank, which takes on a whole new meaning after it's revealed what role Karen played in her brother's death in season 3 episode 10:
Karen Page: Just for a minute... try... try to be Frank Castle. To be solely fueled by... by a single cluster of seconds. One moment in... in your entire life... And every time you close your eyes, you relive that moment. And every time you open them, you find only the... the briefest peace before you realize that that nightmare is real. That nothing has changed. Your family isn't coming back. And so you watch them die... all over again right in front of you. We're not talking about something that happened to Frank Castle, we're talking about something that is happening to him.
Early in season 3 episode 6, Karen is seen sitting down for a conference meeting at the Bulletin. Ellison makes a comment about how their health insurance was recently slashed, joking, I recommend that you dont get sick. This is the same day as Dex's attack on the Bulletin, where multiple people are killed or severely injured. A few episodes later, Nadeem learns that Fisk manipulated his sister-in-law's insurance coverage to gain leverage on him. Meaning Dex's attack on the Bulletin may not have only been to discredit Matt and kill Jasper Evans, but also open up opportunities to get leverage over journalists at a paper that he just recently lost his leverage in (after Caldwell had been arrested). If enough time had lapsed, it's entirely possible Fisk would have been able to use a wounded reporter's inability to pay their medical bills to blackmail them into spying on Karen for him.
Late in season 3, Foggy finds out that his brother was tricked by Fisk into committing fraud, so that Fisk could have something to blackmail Foggy with. Then you remember that while Fisk is going after Matt hard at this point, he did say to Matt that he'd destroy the lives of both Matt and Foggy when he got out. He hadn't been making an idle threat, and Matt's attempt to get him to leave Foggy alone probably gave Fisk more incentive to hurt Foggy.
When Matt reveals the incident that, after years of living in Hell's Kitchen with his powers, finally drove him over the edge and made him turn to vigilantism, Foggy has a moment to realize... Matt couldn't have just snapped and gone out on a whim, with his training from Stick having atrophied for years. He would've had to keep it up, for some reason, in anticipation of an event like that. It leads Foggy to assume that perhaps deep down, Matt felt one day he would want to do something like this, and was just waiting for an excuse to put on a mask and take justice into his own hands.