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Karen managing the pressure of her failing family diner. Photo is a direct screenshot from Daredevil Season 3, Episode 10 “Karen.”

**Please note that this review contains spoilers for “Karen” and any episodes that occur prior**

“I don’t want you here Karen.”

Finally.  The episode that we should have had so long ago:  Karen’s backstory! The show has always treated her backstory as if it was the reason we kept watching, but it just ended up feeling like a secret kept far too long.  We don’t need to complain anymore, however, because now we have it—and boy was it one hell of an episode. Before I get to the obviously badass church scenes, let’s focus on Karen.

We start off with some typical hardships that one would see in a story.  Karen is essentially running their family-owned diner, keeping it from falling apart.  With her mother gone and her father spontaneously spending out of control, she has no one to help her out.  It’s really interesting seeing Karen in an entirely different place in her life. We know her as a most upstanding citizen, abiding by the law as she takes down and exposes crooks for the newspaper.  Never before have we seen her partying it up, dealing drugs, and just generally being irresponsible due to the tremendous pressure that maintaining her family’s business has placed on her. This has led Karen to neglect college, feeling the need to stay behind to take care of both the diner and her family, and hiding away with Todd in his trailer home in her spare time.  

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Dex about to give a beat down to Matt. Photo is a direct screenshot from Daredevil Season 3, Episode 10 “Karen.”

This is where her brother comes in.  He wants to help—and in doing so goes behind her back to get her into college.  We all know it doesn’t end well for her brother, but it is sad to see such a gracious act, knowing full well what was going to happen to Kevin. He is trying to get his sister out of the shitty situation that she is stuck in—and she isn’t even able to appreciate it. The dinner celebration scene is fantastic, and even more heartbreaking as we watch everything fall apart and Karen run off. Poor Kevin retaliates in the worst possible way: burning down Todd’s trailer. Then the fateful moment happens:  a drunk Karen drives off with her barely-alive brother, only to crash and kill him. You can see how that guilt, and those events in general, have weighed on her for the entirety of Karen’s life. Watching her being spared, yet banished from her family, was tragic. It really gives a perspective to Karen’s character that is much needed.

Now with all that in mind, we travel back to the fateful Church. Kingpin knows where she is, and Matt is forced to give up his one chance at killing Fisk in order to go save her.  Let me tell you—this entire sequence is flawless. The eleven-minute long take earlier in the season was impressive for sure, but this is something entirely different. Every moment was such a well-crafted masterclass in fight choreography. It was a pure blast to watch, and the brutality and viciousness that Matt and Dex exchanged with each other were breathtaking.  I could run down the entire fight and praise every action, but needless to say, they outdid themselves. Also, there is something just so fun and dynamic about Matt fighting Dex, and how Matt always needs to close the distance or he is going to have to deal with some insane projectiles.

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Matt getting in a good blow. Photo is a direct screenshot from Daredevil Season 3, Episode 10 “Karen.”

“Karen” was an incredible episode, giving us not only an emotionally charged backstory to Karen’s mysterious past but also bringing that hefty emotional weight and brutal force to the jaw-dropping church brawl.  It’s sad to see Father Lanthom go, especially in such a ruthless manner. Having fended off Dex just long enough, God only knows how Matt and Karen will escape that church.

Bonus Notes:

  • The musical cues were on point.

The third season of Daredevil is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.