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Daredevil's Best Baddies Could Write A Rad Bromance

A jailhouse bargain signals a meeting of the (sociopathic) minds...but it really could be so much more if only they’d let it.

It's really hard to be the new kid, no matter where you're settling in, and no matter how big a deal you were before. Just ask Wilson Fisk, with whom we're getting a welcome reunion this episode while flashing back through his adjustment process as Riker's Island's newest inmate. Making friends is tough, and if you piss off the wrong guy, it's only going to get tougher. Don't count on ruling the school the second you step through the doors, is all I'm saying.

The undisputed king of the prison -- the guy who'd undoubtedly be a tri-varsity captain with a penchant for wedgies were this Daredevil High (Saved By The Masked Vigilante? Hell's Kitchen 10019?) -- is Dutton, a nasty piece of work who makes it pretty clear from Day 1 that he's got his eye on Fisk. He stops short of administering a swirly, but he gets the point across: Fisk won't be ruling so much as his own cell on Dutton's watch.

Basically, prison is exactly like high school, but instead of your varsity jocks, your JV jocks, your mathletes, and your sexually active band geeks, there's a table for each of the various criminal elements, and pretty much all of them are all like, "You can't sit with us."

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Fortunately, there's one band of lovable misfits who extend the hand of friendship, and that's all Fisk needs to start clawing his way up from the bottom. Well, that and the last dregs of his once-vast financial holdings to be deployed as strategic bribes. It’s still slow going, though, while Dutton’s in charge.

Fisk and his ragtag little entourage eventually get a much-needed break in the form of another new kid in town: Frank "The Punisher" Castle, recently convicted of thirty-seven murders after a fraught trial. Frank and Fisk have got a lot in common from the outset: unspeakably tragic pasts, complex moral codes, ridonkulous body counts. They even know some of the same people: namely, those two dweebs who represented Frank in court. Abiding dude-on-dude friendships have been built on far less.

It's not really an accident that the timbre of Fisk's voice when he first makes Frank's acquaintance echoes the first tentative overtures he made to Vanessa when he asked her out: he's usually decent at projecting the aura of...well, a kingpin, but when faced with someone he really wants on his team, he's a little more careful with his words and a little more awkward with his phrasing. This time, though, instead of a romantic dinner date, Fisk has some freelance punishing gigs up for grabs if Frank's interested...and Frank SHOULD be interested, considering Dutton allegedly has some close ties to the men responsible for the shootout that killed Frank's family and set him on this punishing path.

Where Fisk screws this all up is in assuming that he's just manipulated Frank into not just doing his bidding, but into taking a shank himself once the dirty work's done. He's grossly underestimated the guy, of course, and once all punishments have been duly doled out, Fisk is left with an angry, blood-spattered loose end and needs to do some serious damage control. The best way to make it up to Frank is probably to get him sprung and just sort of hope the people Frank keeps taking out are the kinds of people Fisk himself would have to take care of eventually.

So, water under the bridge? Not quite. Frank sees this for the attempt at manipulation that it is, though he's not going to turn down freedom, obviously, and he's still pretty sore about that whole almost-getting-murdered thing. "Next time I see you," he says, "only one of us walks away." "I'm counting on it," Fisk retorts, still apparently thinking he's totally in charge of the situation.

One can't help thinking that if they'd just sort out their differences -- if Frank would be a little more receptive to collaboration and Fisk would stop trying to puppetmaster everyone he knows -- they could raise a lot of hell in Hell's Kitchen and beyond. They've both got a lot of scores to settle on the outside, after all. Between Kingpin's unquenchable ambition and Punisher's unquenchable thirst for vengeance, they could not only clear the city of anyone remotely connected to any wrong done to either one of them, they could orchestrate a hostile takeover of basically every business venture, criminal or no, the city has to offer. But more than that, they bring out something new in each other -- vulnerability, fear, and grudging respect.

One thing's for certain: that partnership would be way more interesting to watch than Woundy McConvalescent and his latest bout of back-alley medical care and self-actualization. And now that Matt and Foggy are on a Ross and Rachel-style break, there's definitely room for some new male bonding around these parts.

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