Let's pour one out for all the social invitations politely declined this weekend in favor of marathoning Daredevil Season 2. The entire second chapter of the original Marvel series dropped on Netflix last Friday; for me, it's been all about Nelson & Murdock ever since. The first season covered a power struggle among the various criminal organizations keeping Hell's Kitchen in a stranglehold. And the New York City neighborhood can't catch a break, because Season 2 goes there as well, only with some new players. But a few familiar faces have also reemerged. Madame Gao appears in Daredevil Season 2, showing up in Episode 11, ".380," and this time, Daredevil needs her help.
I wasn't that shocked that Wai Ching Ho reprised her role as Madame Gao here, especially once Frank Castle ran up against Wilson Fisk and his loyal followers in prison. With Fisk out of her hair, why wouldn't Madame Gao have continued to run her business in that city? It's a far more likely story than the one she told Owlsley back in Season 1. Was Gao ever planning to return to her home and "reflect upon the future"? I emphatically doubt that. But it was a lie that bought her some time and breathing room.
Gao is just as steely as ever in her Episode 11 scene. With The Punisher out of prison and willing to burn down the entire city to get to the man who massacred his family, Daredevil is determined to find that man first. He corners Blake Tower to ask for any information that D.A. Reyes and her office might have about the criminal. Tower says their best and only lead was to stake out The Blacksmith's competition, a drug ring operating out of Chinatown. Daredevil knows exactly where to go, even if he doesn't know who he's looking for. Gao isn't surprised to see him in the basement of her laundromat front. Always calm, always controlled.
"So, you continue your fight but for how long, I wonder?" Gao asks the Devil Of Hell's Kitchen. "And at what price?" In her opinion, the vigilante is still on the losing side. She confirms that she never followed through on her promise to leave the country and mocks Daredevil's lack of "understanding of the real threat facing this city." He makes it clear that he's not after her this time; she's willing to get him closer to her rival importer.
Madame Gao spills three important details about The Blacksmith: he's distributing the purest product she's ever seen, he's hunting down her staff, and he spends a lot of time down at the docks.
So, is The Blacksmith the "real threat" that Gao is talking about? I'm more inclined to think it's The Hand, the shadowy Japanese organization that's performing ghastly experiments on humans and bringing people like Nobu back to life. I don't believe that Gao is a part of The Hand, though. I get the feeling that she finds their work beneath her. She hinted to Owlsley in Season 1 that her real homeland might not be found on Earth. And she tells Daredevil that New York City is only one of the territories she controls. IGN has speculated that Gao is an alter ego of the Crane Mother, a villain from Marvel's Iron Fist comics. And wouldn't you know? Netflix is working on adding an Iron Fist series to its Marvel canon.
I suspect that Madame Gao's empire reaches far wider than anyone in Hell's Kitchen realizes, and I can only hope that she'll play a larger role in the Netflix Marvel universe in the future.
Images: Barry Wetcher/Netflix; sirs&madams/Tumblr