comics, marvel, Perspectives, TV, writing

The Simple Beauty of WandaVision

You would be forgiven for thinking WandaVision was a complex narrative full of redirects, misleads and hidden clues in every frame. An entire ecosystem of takes, theories, and explainers sprang up around the series over the course of its eight week run. I found myself caught up in it, firmly convinced the arrival of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver was a sign of multiverse shenanigans, fueled by speculation of Wanda’s forthcoming appearance in Dr. Strange 2, subtitled In the Multiverse of Madness.

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The Urbane Turtle Year in Review

2020 has been a hard year for everyone, there’s no way to say it that doesn’t sound trite. So let’s get it out of the way.  

All things considered, I’ve been fortunate. But there have been times that living through one more unprecedented event after another has been too much to bear, and there isn’t another dish I can wash. That is where escaping into entertainment has been a saving grace, and luckily there has been a lot to enjoy in pop culture, if nothing else, while we’ve been cooped up.

This list isn’t a Top 10, and it’s not a “Best Of,” I can’t claim to have read or played or watched enough of a cross section of things that came out this year that I can say with confidence they are the best in their given medium. But they are some of the highlights of these dark times for me, ten-ish things that brought me joy or made me think. If you’ve not checked any of these out yet, it’s worth doing so.

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Marvel’s Daredevil: Daredevil

Daredevil Triumphant

The final episode of Daredevil opens with a funeral and the first ten minutes finds all of the show’s characters defeated. Fisk’s murder of Ben Urich has brought no relief from his anger, and the double punch of Vanessa’s poisoning and his mother being found has left him even more paranoid of his partners. With Gao skipping town and some financial oddities on his accounts, Fisk has figured out that she and Owsley were responsible. He goes to take care of Owsley, who reveals he’s got an ace up his sleeve: Detective Hoffman, who has insider information on Fisk’s misdeeds.

When Owsley informs Fisk that he wasn’t the target of the poison, the animal is unchained and he throws Owsley down an elevator shaft. This action proves to be the Kingpin’s own undoing as the search for Hoffman is what leads Matt to find the crooked cop and get him to confess. The testimony and accusations against Fisk topples his empire and leaves most of the people under his employ arrested or under suspicion. In a triumphant victory march that comes at the halfway point of the episode and lasts for around five minutes, we see Fisk lose and the law firm of Nelson and Murdock celebrate. Matt finally found a way to bring his vigilante life and his career as a lawyer into accord.

Leading up to this victory is a slow reconciliation between Matt and Foggy as Foggy comes back to him with new information and evidence taken from Landman and Zack, with his ex-girlfriend Marcie’s help. Foggy is still mistrustful of Murdock’s extracurricular activities, but gradually begins to see that there is only so far the law can go, and that maybe Matt has become a little less unchained.

For Matt’s part, his attitude begins to shift, with less focus on beating the crap out of people to a more methodical and less reckless way of doing things. He still feels torn over what to do about Fisk, but also much more willing to listen to Foggy’s concerns and pleas. The scene at the boxing ring is a subtle, but significant shift in conversation from Matt’s early debates with Claire Temple about what he is doing.

Fisk’s apprehension is not the end of the story. Like most victories in the series, it’s shortlived. He gives a very on the nose monologue about one of the least critically analyzed, misunderstood, and most overused biblical stories, the Good Samaritan. Like most people in the world, Fisk tried to imagine himself as the Samaritan, without any thought he could be anyone else in the story. Of course he’s the guy who would help his fellow man! That’s what he’s been trying to do for Hell’s Kitchen all this time. Raise it up. Who doesn’t want to think that about themselves?

Of note in the Good Samaritan story is that the Samaritans were a very hated group of people in Ancient Israel. Like, super hated. If he was the one lying in the ditch no one would have helped him, because, hey, he’s a Samaritan and that’s where they belong. So that makes the Samaritan’s selflessness even greater. As Fisk talks about the Samaritan character in the story who selflessly helps others, the camera shows Karen, Matt and Foggy celebrating in their office. Just one portion of this speech that’s very lacking in subtlety. (Not that I need subtlety from this show! I don’t. I like the eager spirit with which its metaphors are projected.)

Fisk, though he’s not a religious man, was intrigued by this story and that act of selflessness. But in his current predicament he realizes that he’s been lying to himself about his true nature. He’s not a good person, or a selfless person. He is the “ill intent,” a phrase he derives from the men of ill intent that descended upon the traveler to Jericho. Suddenly, in the wake of everything that has happened, he realizes that his true nature is a man of violence, who seeks power over others.

He breaks out of the police motorcade with the help of some people loyal to him that are still free. Matt goes after him, taking a detour for the new suit that Melvin Potter has made for him. Feeling the  horns on the helmet of the suit, Matt smiles. His symbol is ready.

The two fight in an alley, Fisk releasing all of his fury upon Daredevil. Blaming him (somehow?) for all that has befallen his corporation. It might be a misplaced anger, but he’s going to make Daredevil pay.

Ultimately, in a good story, a character’s external conflict must in someway be an extension of the inner conflict. When these two forces finally meet as equals for the first time, their converging stories crash. Fisk, torn between his desire to turn himself into a good, powerful man, and Murdock, who fears he may become one of ill intent, lash out at one another. Finally, they see their distorted reflections up close and face their demons head on.

Though the Kingpin is not the martial artist Daredevil is, the pure rage and physical ferocity that D’Onforio so terrifyingly embodies makes him a physical match. The fight is not the down and dirty exhaustive fight of the earlier episodes. The show’s fight choreography has gone through a subtle transformation, going from a more martial arts, street level, physical brawl to a more stylized, fantastical approach. It makes sense, thematically, with the show’s interest in portraying Murdock’s journey toward this new superhero.

Ultimately, Matt takes down Fisk, and gets to savor the victory of standing over his enemy’s unconscious body and seeing him put in handcuffs. He escapes into the night. Fisk is sent to prison to await his trial, where he sits down on his cot and stares at the wall…and thinks of the man he wants to be.

And finally, there’s a happy ending for our good guys, who have been through so much. The losses are acute, but the victory is emotionally significant nonetheless for both the characters and the viewer. At last, the Law Office of Nelson and Murdock is christened with its plaque, and the team is back together. At the same time, the paper gives their mysterious new horned hero a name: Daredevil. A frightening reminder in the dark that reminds the city’s evil doers that there are consequences for their actions.

A final conversation between Karen and Matt hints that not all wounds are healed. Matt assures Karen, as he did Foggy earlier in the episode, that though you can’t return to the way things were or undo the things that have happened, they can move forward to heal their wounds. Together.

Heroes always get back up off the mat.

Stray Thoughts

  • I was so excited to see Daredevil’s collapsible billy clubs in action!
  • I really dig the Daredevil costume in this show. Utilitarian but still true to the comics. You never quite get a good look because of the lighting, but it fits the world of the show very well.
  • Melvin Potter makes a point of asking Murdock that Betsy will be alright. Matt assures him he’ll keep his promise. It feels like an unnecessary exchange if that’s not followed up on in the future. Perhaps we’ll see the Gladiator in action?
  • Sad to see Owlsley go. Such a lovable villain.
  • Have I shared with you this amazing fan video yet, set to Chumbawumba? If so, oh well. If not, watch it in all its glory here.

Marvel Facts

  • Speaking of Owsley…there’s a character in the comics with the same name who becomes a super villain called the Owl. Obviously our Leland never takes on that identity, but there’s been a son mentioned a few times, so if it’s Leland Jr. there’s a slight chance he’ll show up. But who knows?
  • Since starting up these recaps (and thanks for sticking around if you did, I know the show’s been out for a while) we’ve gotten a lot of news about the future of the series. Let’s recap:
    • Season 2 is happening. Yay!
    • The Punisher has been confirmed to appear and will be portrayed by John Bernthal. This is cool, because I’m not a big Punisher fan and would much rather see him in a supporting, antagonistic role to a character I do enjoy. The difference in method and ideology should make for some great drama and action scenes.
    • Elektra has also been confirmed! She will be portrayed by Elodie Young. Everyone knew this was going to happen if we were going to get a season 2. But nice to see it official. I hope the creators don’t go as off the rails with her as Frank Miller eventually did.

And that’s all she wrote, folks. Excelsior!

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Marvel’s Daredevil: The Ones We Leave Behind

Vondie Curtis-Hall, absolutely killing it throughout the show as Ben Urich

In the penultimate episode of a show, the creators have to make a lot of moves to set up the season’s conclusion. In the case of “The Ones We Leave Behind,” the Daredevil writers have to begin paying off very methodically paced story developments and character arcs. The thematic crescendo of the closing can’t take place, but there has to be something dramatically powerful or impactful that thrusts the viewer into the final chapter. Characters that are separated begin to find their ways back to one another. Pieces are being moved across the chessboard.

This episode manages to pull off everything an episode of this nature has to. All the characters begin to circle one another to converge toward the conclusion. If the centerpiece of the season was Matt Murdock’s abject failure against the Russians and Kingpin’s destruction of the city, everything that followed tumbled downward from that point. Our heroes need to rally. Our villain needs to make his final move.

Fisk has been pushed into a corner. He has nearly lost the woman he loves in an attempted assassination attempt. His closest (perhaps only) friend and confidante has been killed. Someone has violated his sacred privacy and spoken to his mother. The title of the episodee, “The Ones We Leave Behind,” relates to those people that are left in the wake of our actions when we become consumed by an idea or a goal. It is our selfishness, our foolishness, the human nature to forget that our actions have consequences. Fisk is so self-consumed for his need for power that he considers all others expendable. All but two others. But he has never considered how dangerous a man he is to be around because of his own machinations. Yes, he warned Vanessa of the danger, but that was from outside forces, not because of his own poor choices.

For Matt, this has been a major point of pain for him, and one Karen confronts him over. What man is he choosing to be? If nothing else, this season has shown Matt that he does not want to be alone, and that the way he operates has to change if he is going to continue his life as a vigilante. And he is realizing it, here, in a sort of redemptive arc. The emotional torture of his predicament seems to have become replaced with a more relaxed acceptance and a regret for past actions. He is starting to realize that he does not want to kill—even if he had to learn it the hard way through a failed attempt. He is starting to realize he cannot do everything alone, and regrets his feud with Foggy. He realizes that there is space for Matt Murdock to show himself from behind the mask.

This was seen a little in the last episode, but also in his relaxed conversation with Ben Urich. A new ally and what seems to be a budding relationship. Matt even admits, “I can’t do this alone.” A far cry from the martyr complex that raged within him previously. His confidence, despite his losses, have led him to be more sure of himself, calmer, more precise. The battle raging within him is quelling itself as he begins to realize who he is at his core. Matt even takes a new approach with the police, attempting to place his trust in one particular officer he knows. It’s a tense conversation, but it’s the beginning of a dialogue.

In the meantime, Foggy continues to go at Fisk through legal channels and hard work. Different paths, same trajectory. Foggy is very much the conscience of the group, and may have the clearest morality of anyone on the show. Though the two are on the outs, they represent parts of a whole. Karen, on the other hand, seems to be coming apart as Matt tries to put himself back together, pushing Ben to get the story published, heedless or uncaring for any consequences.

Ben, for his part, is acutely aware of the responsibilities he has. He is not willing to leave those behind because he’s reckless—but Karen’s insistence sparks something inside him that he is unable to let go of. A heart to heart with his wife convinces him. The attempt goes sour, and after a public argument with his editor, he’s canned.

I said it before, but Vondie Curtis-Hall is perfect casting as Ben Urich. He has the perfect ability to provide the perspective of the every man in the world of Hell’s Kitchen and the larger Marvel Universe. He is a great entry point for the audience to understand the dangers that Fisk poses and the living situation of so many people that Matt Murdock cares about. He is lovable, despite his edges. He is funny but wise. Passionate and eager for a story, but reasonable.

And so it is only natural that he is murdered at the end of this episode. The reckless action Karen’s taken, the little guy against the larger-than-life corporate evil that Fisk represents, comes home to roost. Actions have their consequences, and there’s no room for heroes in Hell’s Kitchen. Not when those heroes threaten the Kingpin’s goals. Not when they affect him personally. As Murdock begins to regain his humanity, Fisk lets loose the animal raging inside him.

The appearance of Fisk in Karen’s dream in the beginning of the episode both foreshadows the ending of the episode, and makes the event more surprising and much more concrete. We were already faked out once, so this is the real dilemma. It’s a legitimate threat. And then it happens. It’s a heartbreaking loss.

One of the strengths of this first season of Daredevil as a whole is the way in which its characters and its worlds have to deal with the consequences of their actions and how those consequences ripple beyond the individual. As this episode’s final moments emphasizes, reckless action takes its toll. Ben has to pay for what is, ultimately, Karen’s failures and sloppiness, and his own stubbornness and desire to get another great story that blinded him enough to rush it into production.

But what makes a hero is the ability to overcome these kinds of great tragedies and persevere. Fisk is not able to persevere, and flies into a murderous rage.

Stray Thoughts

  • Madame Gao is definitely a floating plot point. We get a street name for the heroin that affirms its connection to Iron Fist beyond just the decal: Steel Serpent. So, is she setting up Defenders, or Iron Fist, or both?
  • Speculation she is a character known as “Crane Mother,” an Iron Fist villain. From the mystical city of K’Un L’un, which is connected to Iron Fist’s origins. When she refers to returning home a “considerable distance farther” than China, it certainly hints at something mysterious. Not to mention she laid out Murdock with the palm of her hand.
  • I’m a sucker for super heroes doing their thing in their civies. This episode was no exception. Also cool to see some of our first glimpses of Murdock’s rooftop acrobatics which I don’t think has really shown up yet.

Marvel Facts

  • Karen makes a joke about going from alcohol to the hard stuff…which might be a dark comic jab at her story arc in the comics where she gets super strung out on drugs, goes into porn, and sells Daredevil’s secret identity for a fix.
Daredevil holding a baloon with a monkey on it
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Marvel’s Daredevil: The Path of the Righteous

It’s got a monkey on it.

The episode’s title, Path of the Righteous, sets up Matt’s journey in the final few episodes. After a disastrous attempt to kill Fisk, and another chat with his priest (which is handled less deftly than their last conversation) Matt realizes he can’t go on like he has. The fallout with his eruptive fight with Foggy leaves him confused and broken—beyond just the physical stitches that Claire Temple continues to patch up in this episode. The two have a brief conversation, with Claire coming around a little more to Matt’s way of thinking. Matt may not be just a man the city needs, but a man the city created. His internal struggles—the straddling of righteousness and passion against anger and violence—are very much a product of the situation in which he grew up and was surrounded by. The dialogue in this episode is not the series best, with Claire warning Matt that the only thing she really “remembers from Sunday school” were the stories of the saints, the martyrs and saviors. All of whom ended up bloody and alone.

The isolation Matt has created for himself is highlighted in the image of Matt sitting alone in his dark room holding the balloon Karen gave him. “It’s got a monkey on it,” she says meekly, when it’s clear that Matt is not going to share anything about his life or what’s going on with him. Isolation seems to be the name of the game this time around, as Karen is boxed out from both Foggy and Matt, while Foggy and Matt have cut themselves off. As Claire temple leaves the city, Matt finds himself with no support left—just the situation Stick said was inevitable. Foggy found himself drunkenly back in the arms of his ex “soulless” corporate lawyer. Fisk similarly finds himself isolated as Vanessa fights for her life. He is not sure he can trust his criminal partners, and at the same time Wesley leaves to handle Karen—who he just learned has gone to see Fisk’s mother.

Matt is forced to ask himself, when you are abandoned how do your continue on? What keeps you going? When there’s no one left around you, all a person has left is their conviction. For Foggy, it is the friendship he feels is so important, as well as the quest for justice that drives his career. For Karen, it is the passion to make things right, by any means necessary. For Fisk, it is rage and vengeance. As Vanessa lays dying, he tells her he cannot pray for her. He is not a religious man. He can only promise he will act definitively to seek retribution. Matt has his conviction that the city can be changed for the better, and that he can help make that happen.

Father Lantom and Matt chat more about the devil in the church. Matt wonders why God put the devil inside of him, why he has so much rage and violence as a part of who he is. Fr. Lantom opines that perhaps the devil was created, and allowed to fall from grace to become a symbol, a warning to “tread the path of the righteous.”

Matt’s faith, his desire to find a meaning for his accident and unique gifts, to make a difference, is set in stark contrast to Fisk’s actions. Matt struggles with his more violent urges, whereas Fisk has made it a part of who he is. When Matt fails to kill Fisk, he begins to realize that perhaps that is not his path.  To deal with what he has lost, he seeks to take a more righteous path.  This change in attitude is apparent in his dealings with Melvin Potter, who he seeks out to create a new costume, a “symbol,” for him, using the same lightweight armor technology he discovered on Fisk. He speaks to Melvin with compassion, a far cry from the growling night prowler persona he has used exclusively while in costume. This is the closing act on the origin story of Daredevil, and I imagine that the man we saw in the first two thirds of this series is not the man that will be returning in season 2. There’s darkness in Matt Murdock, no doubt, but more deeply there is a passionate man who cares deeply about serving others. It’s the man who wants to defend the little guy in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s the man who comforts Melvin Potter and assures him that he will help.

And while Matt begins to discover the righteous man inside of him, we learn that there is a much darker side to Karen Page than we have known. As she sits opposite of Wesley and points a gun at him, she asks, “What makes you think this is the first time I’ve fired a gun?” Ben Urich hinted at a secret in her past. What brought her to New York?

Ben continues being a quiet but stalwart supporting player in the series. I haven’t talked about him nearly as much as I want, but Vondie Curtis-Hall’s performance is so well executed and brings such tired authority, especially to the paternal relationship with Karen, that it is hard to talk about. He is the perfect every man window into this world.

Stray thoughts

  • This episode is good overall, but contains one of the poorer scripts. Dialogue is at times painful.
  • We still don’t know who tried to kill Vanessa. I know this story is pretty much taken from the comics, but the fact that every otherwise strong woman in this show is victimized at least once in this series is frustrating. Hope they knock that off in season 2.
  • Leland Owsley is such a fun character. He is just completely unintimidated by all these scary people.
  • RIP Wesley, you were a good friend, but also kind of creepy.
  • Matt asks Melvin to create a “symbol” for him. Perhaps Father Lantom’s description of the devil as a sign  or warning for others to tread the path of the righteous stuck out in Matt’s mind. He’s also stated on a number of occasions that he has a bit of the devil inside him. The Daredevil costume then becomes an outward sign of his internal struggle turned toward a symbol of justice and hope for others that justice can be served.

Marvel Facts

  • Melvin Potter’s workshop and fight with Matt is full of fun easter eggs. From the legs of notorious villain Stilt Man, to blueprints for the Gladiator costume and Melvin throwing a buzzsaw at Matt.
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Marvel’s Daredevil: Nelson v Murdock

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson

The triumph of last episode’s reveal of the Nelson and Murdock, Attorney at Law sign is undercut as Foggy, disgusted, tosses the plaque in the trash.

Nelson v Murdock” is propelled by astounding performances from Elden Hensley and Charlie Cox. With the majority of the episode’s run time taking place in scenes of the two of them in conversation, the casting and performance of these best friends were more important than ever, especially because they had to portray the characters in vastly different circumstances at different times. The chemistry between the two and the way they pull off the pain that Matt’s secrets has caused creates a deeply moving episode that is uncomfortable and painful to watch. With the argument cut between scenes of the two meeting and becoming friends in college, the depth of their friendship—their brotherhood—becomes clear. Smart writing and editing makes the fight all the more heartbreaking with quick cuts from happier times to furious and sullen stares from Foggy.

The episode comes late in the run time, and it’s moments like this that make all the time spent on building the characters and revealing who they are and what they care about  early on so worth it. The emotional payoff is significant and meaningful as the two best friends are at such extreme odds.  The episode only works because character has been such a focus on the show.

One of the great things about Daredevil as a series the way it deals with consequences of actions, begging the question, “What is a hero?” That’s really what Foggy’s argument forces Matt to ask himself. Would Matt be more heroic if he was just the man Foggy thought he was? Foggy becomes Matt’s conscience personified. The arguments he has been gripping with and able to push to the back of his mind come to bite him as his best friend stands there in front of him betrayed and hurt. Everything he knew about Matt is  a lie. He has a whole second life. Foggy knows that Matt’s dad never wanted him fighting. He knows that Matt is always talking about the importance of the law.  He sees the hypocrisy of everything Matt has been doing and calls Matt out on it. Even going so far as to compare him with Fisk.

“The city needs me” argument doesn’t fly with Foggy at this moment when he is so hurt and shocked. He forces Matt to see that he doesn’t do what he does in isolation, that the consequences could hurt others.

  • “This city needs me in that mask, Foggy.”
  • “Maybe you’re right. Maybe it does. But I don’t. I only ever needed my friend.”

What is a hero? Is Matt a hero, when he is taking the law into his own hands and contemplating murder? When Foggy was out on Matt, he has to ponder all those questions.  One cannot be savior and oppressor. The question is, will Matt continue on the path he has set out on?

The scenes of the two in college provide a contrast and much needed levity in the midst of such heavy discord.  The drunken conversations and transition from awkward first encounter to heart-to-hearts on the steps and starting out as business partners gives us an even clearer glance into the bond the two have, and provide Cox and Henson a variety of scenes to play.

Meanwhile, Ben and Karen continue to play off and inform one another. They have an interesting mentor/mentee kind of relationship, with Ben the withered veteran and Karen more tireless, reckless, and sometimes manipulative. The reveal of Karen’s true motives in taking Ben to the retirement home/hospice care center is both disturbing in the way she used Ben’s situation and shocking from a story perspective. The fact that Fisk’s mother is alive is a potential game changer for the manufactured history he presented to the world when going public. Vend Curtis-Hall continues to portray the perspective of the every man with such measured charm and grit that makes Ben Urich every bit the character he was in the comics. He’s fearless, but tired, passionate, but measured. When he gives Karen the evidence he’s collected to take the editor job and pay off his wife’s medical bills, it’s clear that he does is it with regret. But he is old enough and wise enough to know that he can’t put himself first when his loved ones need help…Actions and consequences. A familiar theme.

Fisk is dealing with his own issues, as well. With the death of Nobu, both Madame Gao and Owsley no longer trust him. They see his relationship with Vanessa as a weakness. A liability. They want the man who will do whatever is necessary. Someone who has to worry about a girlfriend or a loved one? There’s no room for that. While Matt Murdock has to come to grips with the fact that his actions affect the people he cares about, Fisk is being pushed to let go of all of his attachments. Vanessa’s attempted assassination to goad Fisk into becoming his more brutal self is a plot point lifted directly from the comics. So much so that my first thought was that Wesley was responsible. As this episode ends we are not sure who did it. But everyone close to Fisk is a possible suspect.

Actions and consequences.

As things close on this episode, it becomes apparent that we are reaching a turning point in the series. Both Fisk and Murdock are at crossroads with intense circumstances that force them to reevaluate their operations. Things can only get more explosive as the third act unfolds.

Stray thoughts:

  • “Misspelling Hanukkah is a mistake! Attempted murder is something else.”
  • There’s been enough “Avocados at Law” memes since the show was released that I won’t bother quoting the scene, but it’s definitely one of the highlights of the episode.
  • “Isn’t that the plot to Kung Fu?” it’s funny because it’s true.
  • Would’ve been nice to see Claire Temple in this episode, rather than just have her mentioned. But I imagine Rosario Dawson’s paycheck is a little bigger than most of the others and they need to pay her in all the other Netflix series where she’ll be appearing.

Marvel Facts

  • Like I said, a major part of Kingpin’s story in the comics was the attempted murder of Vanessa.
  • Roxxon Industries is a long running company in the Marvel U. They are notoriously corrupt. The tradition continues.
  • The “Greek girl” Foggy mentions in the college flashback is an obvious reference to ELEKTRA! Who Matt dated in college and later returned to be an assasin. She was created by Frank Miller in his initial run.
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Marvel’s Daredevil: Speak of the Devil

Matt and Fr. Lantom

My first thoughts as this episode begins? THE HAND, SUCKER!! That is a full-on red clad ninja out to kill Daredevil. I knew Nobu was not just Yakuza. My second thought is, man I wish there was a Ninja Turtles movie like this. Mostly because the TMNT origin is based on Daredevil and every time I see or hear The Hand, I think of the Foot Clan. (The original Ninja Turtles comic was a direct parody of Daredevil’s origin, with the radioactive ooze that blinded Matt also splashing on four regular turtles and mutating them. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were parodying what was hot in 80’s comics, which was ninjas and mutants—Daredevil and X-Men.)

Anyway. We find out a lot about Kingpin’s evil plot to gentrify Hell’s Kitchen by any means necessary. We still don’t quite know why Fisk is working with Nobu, but we do know that he and his organization (THE HAND!) was guaranteed a significant amount of space in the new city. Which explains the plot to drive people out of Elena’s apartment building. Fisk’s goals aren’t particularly evil, at least on the surface, but his methods are destructive and his desires are much less virtuous than probably even he believes. I imagine that Nobu’s “necessary evil” is man power and enforcement. Ninjas to do killing.

Nobu is very adamant about having a particular space in the city. Why is unknown, but he makes it clear that he is under pressure from his superiors. Knowing that The Hand have a mystical element to their actions, it’s likely there is something at play in that world.

At the same time, Fisk and Wesley discuss how the Mask has been less active recently. Is he scared, or just being more careful? Following the events of “Condemned” and the city turning on him, Matt’s tactics change significantly. Realizing he is at a disadvantage and always a few steps behind Fisk and co, he seems to be turning his attention to the legal system and working with Foggy and Karen. But that doesn’t stop him from pondering taking drastic measures. Which is what takes him to see Father Lantom twice in this episode. When the trailer for this series featured the snippet of dialogue, “I believe the devil walks among us, taking many forms,” I was ready to grit my teeth and struggle through another show that doesn’t know anything about Catholic faith or theology attempt to use its iconography. But, really, the series has a pretty solid take on it, and manages to make it feel authentic and believable. The devil is tricky, theologically speaking, with no real consensus and some priests rejecting the notion entirely. So the way Fr. Lantom talks about the devil is pretty refreshing, and, most importantly, from his own experience. It was especially so because they took the time to talk about the evolution of the word Satan in the biblical text, which is a nuance often missed not just by television but by the general public.

“I had this notion… which I was more than willing to speak about, at length, to whoever I could corner… that the Devil… was inconsequential. A minor figure in the grand scheme…In the scriptures, the Hebrew word “Satan” actually means adversary. It’s applied to any antagonist. Angels and humans, serpents and kings. Medieval theologians reinterpreted those passages to be about a single, monstrous enemy. In my youthful zeal, I was certain I knew why. Propaganda. Played up to drive people into the Church.”

Catholicism and fundamentalism are not the same, and a show claiming to be about a Catholic that went with the angle that the devil is a real evil creature walking around in the world would be a big fat red flag that the writers had no sense of what they were talking about. But Father Lantom has a more subtle understanding of the devil and evil through his missionary experience in Rwanda. The idea that the “devil” exists among people is palatable in this context, and probably as close to a general consensus of Catholic theology as is possible to get. It also works on a thematic level, in the conflict between Kingpin and Daredevil.

It’s not just the conversation at the beginning that’s handled well, but all of Matt’s interactions with the priest. Father Lantom is presented as a regular person, which is a big failing in so many shows where they make priests into characters who spout bible verses and are all-knowing wisdom speakers. I especially liked that Father Lantom doesn’t remember the particular verse he is quoting. Catholics are not the bible quoters that protestants are…My biggest pet peeve is when people who write fiction have Catholics or priests quoting chapter and verse all the time. It’s just not a part of the education or the major emphasis. It’s a lazy way of lumping all Christians together.  And even in the first episode, when Matt comes to confess before actually committing anything, Lantom is quick to point out that it doesn’t work that way.

The Proverb that Father Lantom shares with Matt (which is Proverbs 25:26, for the record) represents a major theme of the series. “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.” Meaning, when a righteous man falls to sin, it is as bad as if a public spring has been poisoned. The effects ripple to those around him. Matt feels himself hanging on a precipice. When put to the question of whether he is conflicted because he is “struggling with the fact that you don’t want to kill this man, but have to, or that you don’t have to kill him, but want to?” Matt is fully aware that murder is against everything he believes in. At the same time, he feels like the best option is to commit such a major sin. But is it his anger talking, or the real truth? He can’t be sure. The consequences could ripple to everyone he cares about.

In this episode Matt and Fisk come face to face for the first time, which shakes him to the core. To speak with this man who represents everything he hates is one thing, but to be in his presence another. It’s interesting that Matt refers to him as “the devil,” when it is he who takes on the Daredevil name. It’s another way the show parallels the two characters. Is he capable of taking actions that Fisk has already taken? And if he does, how much closer does that make him to becoming Fisk—reshaping the city by whatever means necessary.  It is the things that Matt Murdock clings to that makes him a good man—things Fisk does not care about or have. Yes, Fisk has Vanessa, but Matt has a set of moral scruples and beliefs that are incredibly important to him.

It is his Catholicism and faith that puts him apart from the Kingpin. That’s what makes his conversations with Fr. Lantom so interesting. The show isn’t a perfect depiction of being Catholic (although certainly there is no single way of being Catholic) but  Matt is a man guided by his beliefs. It’s ultimately what keeps him from going over the edge. When Fisk reveals that he killed Elena just to get at Matt, he explains, “I took no pleasure in her passing,” as if that is some kind of justification for the act. He’s exceptional at lying to himself in order to justify his actions. Matt, on the other hand, is riddled with the guilt of his actions because they go against so much of what he believes. It’s that guilt which drives him, because he is also unwilling to simply sit back and allow things to unfold knowing he could potentially make a difference. The central conflict of Matt Murdock is the man torn between his passion for the law and his actions as a vigilante. Similarly, there is the man of faith torn apart by his violent life. The Catholic faith is what keeps Matt from becoming Wilson Fisk, a villain. It’s what drives him to help others, rather than rule over them. He sacrifices himself every night for the sake of others, rather than paying others to do dirty work for him.

Twice, Murdock comes into contact with Fisk in this episode, first as their hidden selves, and then later as their real personas. Matt lashes out at Fisk despite being beaten and bloodied by Nobu so badly he can barely stand. Which ends poorly for him, as one might expect. Fisk tears him apart, revealing his monstrous strength and animalistic, furious violence. It is a taste of things to come for both us and for Matt. D’OnForio is not as gigantic as the Kingpin of the comics, but I don’t think anyone realistically could ever pull off that physique. But he still cuts an imposing figure, especially when in the moments when he reveals his unhinged anger. His physical strength and the way he attacks by massive charges and punches is properly intimidating and even if he isn’t a martial artist like Matt or Nobu, it’s easy to picture him being a physical match just through sheer strength.

Speaking again of Nobu, the ninja fight is a far cry from the more grounded street level action, veering a little more toward the super heroic with high flying flips and kicks. It’s another small step toward expanding the world of Daredevil to something a little more than the more street level drama season one has focused on. The frequent cuts to the super-violent battle provide jolts of action to what is otherwise an episode focused on character.

The episode ends with a shocking reveal from the aftermath of Matt’s battle, where Foggy discovers his friend’s double life. I definitely wasn’t expecting them to take that step this season.

Stray Thoughts

  • “We are going to make a difference. I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes… a lot of the time, but we are.” Hope! The potential and desire to make a difference is central to these characters and this show. I don’t see the series as purely a dark and gritty tale, but one of hope and people fighting to make a difference. It speaks to the Murdock gift to always get up after a fall, which was so important to the first couple episodes. No matter what happens, if you keep pushing, you can come away with a win.
  • The scene with the reveal of the Nelson and Murdock Attorney at Law sign is a sweet scene with an air of victory to it..even if it is short lived.
  • Matt slices Fisk’s jacket and discovers that it’s a fancy Kevlar laced thing that keeps him from getting hurt. Important little thing.

Marvel Facts

  • The heroin packet seen is emblazoned with the symbol of the Steel Serpent, an Iron Fist villain. So, Madame Gao, who distributes the stuff may be connected to that later series.
comics, marvel, TV, writing

Marvel’s Daredevil: Shadows in the Glass

The child within – not looking great!

Is the opening scene a metaphor for Fisk’s entire plan to rebuild the city? “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs,” and all that?

After a couple of intense episodes for ol’ Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk once again takes center stage in one of the finest episodes of the season. The title Shadows in the Glass appears to draw its inspiration from the opening scene of the episode, where Fisk looks into the mirror and sees himself as a boy, covered in blood. A haunting image that immediately draws questions about who Wilson Fisk is as a person. This reflection is how Fisk sees himself, and it begs the question, why?

The episode goes on to illustrate Fisk’s early years in an abusive household and a series of events that led him to be the man he turned out to be. It’s a great insight into Fisk as a character, and makes for some telling parallels between Fisk and Murdock. Following an episode about daddy issues from Matt’s perspective and turning toward Fisk’s own particular challenges makes for another thematic connection between the two characters.

The particular origin utilized in the series sheds a lot of light on D’Onforio’s character choices for Fisk. Particularly his bizarre cadence that makes Fisk seem so unsure of his identity as to slip back and forth between constructed dialects. It becomes pretty clear throughout the episode that Fisk is a product of his father; a thug desperately attempting to disguise himself as a refined gentleman and business man. Just like his dad, he looks to move up the social ladder to gain respect without really earning it, but rather by forcing it to happen. “Those are the guys who wanna keep you down. You gotta show ‘em you’re a man!” The veneer cracks in small details, particularly his reliance on Wesley for tips on wine and his bursts of uncontrollable rage.

Wilson’s father, Bill Fisk, was an abusive husband and dad who wanted to get on city council. He was a thug with a violent streak who wanted power. He wanted to move up in the world and would do whatever he needed to in order to see that happen. “You have to put yourself out there, take what you want,” he tells young Wilson.

It’s clear that despite his hatred of his father, Wilson Fisk took many of his lessons to heart. He will go to whatever means necessary to achieve his goals, obtain what he wants, and gain respect, power, and acclaim. He also inherited the incredible violent anger. That anger is always boiling under the surface of D’Onforio’s performance, always ready to burst.

And as we learn more about Fisk’s journey to who he is today, we also learn that he is not as in control of the Hell’s Kitchen underworld as things seemed at the beginning. His power is fraying at the edges and his associates are questioning his resolve and his ability. Nobu’s contribution to the underworld is unclear, but it is apparent he does not really work for Fisk, but rather he is owed something. Fisk describes Nobu and his organization as “A necessary evil,” whatever that means. Meanwhile, Leland Owsley is on Fisk’s butt about his ability to keep him safe. Owlsey is such an enjoyable character for his irreverent selfishness and his complete lack of fear among his incredibly stone faced compatriots in crime. He provides a service he views as completely necessary and so doesn’t fear he has anything to lose. Fisk also gets a visit from Madame Gao, who he obviously is very intimidated by. She systematically breaks through just about all of his defenses in record time. She figures out his private residence, one of his closest kept secrets, his ability to speak both Chinese and Japanese, and finally reveals that she knows about Vanessa. In fact, Vanessa is Gao’s greatest concern, because she sees this romance as a sign of weakness on Fisk’s part; a distraction.

When Gao leaves, Fisk is shaken and lashes out in rage, overturning his heavy table and even screaming at Wesley to leave him alone. Wesley comes through though, and brings in Vanessa to help, despite Fisk’s protests. Nonetheless, Vanessa manages to convince Fisk to open up. He admits his darkest secrets to her, and explains his current predicament.

Fisk’s deep dark secret is the fact that he beat his father to death with a hammer after having to sit and listen to him beat his mother. After that, his mother helped young Wilson saw up the body and hide it in bags over the next week. After this, Fisk declares that although the murder of Bill Fisk was for his own sake rather than his mother’s, he is not a monster, not cruel for the sake of being cruel. He has to scream this in agony to convince himself. He needs to believe it. Because when he looks in the mirror he sees the aftermath of his first kill. He is reminded of his father forcing him to beat a young kid to a pulp. He wears his father’s cuff links as a statement of who he is not, as if that makes any sense at all. He has convinced himself that his plans for Hell’s Kitchen, the death and the drugs and the crime he oversees, are all for the greater good, and they are not simply the lust for power and blood that he inherited from his violent father. He is desperate to be different from his dad. (Hey, does this remind you of Matt’s relationship to Stick?)

With his allies turning on him, Fisk reveals another way he is like his father. Everyone else is out to “destroy what I’m trying to accomplish.” He blames the world for his failures, rather than his own shortcomings, just as Bill Fisk was not willing to accept his own failures as a man and a politician and took his anger out on punk kids, his wife, and his son.

I’ve seen a couple of people write that Ayelet Zurer’s Vanessa is a character infatuated and drawn to Fisk because of some kind of magnetism that he has as a complicated man, but I reject that notion entirely. Vanessa has made it incredibly clear that she could have anyone she wanted. She is attracted to power and takes what she desires. She could have left Fisk and she brought a gun to their second date. Her eyes were fully open to who and what Wilson Fisk was. And he’s a man without any kind of natural charm. He’s a weird guy. But he has power and influence, and I think above all Vanessa sees in him a chance for herself to gain power. She’s fascinated by his complexity, complexity that continues to reveal itself, but that only makes him more interesting. Her face when Fisk reveals his story is interesting. There is what appears to be a sincere empathy going on, but I’m not convinced she actually believes her assurance that Wilson is not a monster. Perhaps that’s what she likes most about him. In many ways I find Vanessa the most interesting character in the season, despite her comparative lack of screen time.

She spends the night and helps Fisk pick out a slightly brighter colored suit and a new pair of cuff links to mark a new chapter in his life. She is going to help Wilson Fisk achieve what he desires. She’s going to be the woman behind the man, reaping the reward without having to get her own hands dirty.

Things in Matt Murdock’s world seem to be going more along the usual route for the poor guy. As soon as he finds himself poised for a win, he gets knocked down by Fisk. In this case, he manages to get just enough info to convince Ben Urich (in a nicely shot scene in the rain) to bring Wilson Fisk’s name out into the light, forcing him to deal with accusations and probes into his private and business life. This probing, Matt hopes, will be enough to throw the man off and reveal some hard evidence.  This gets blown to hell, however, when Vanessa manages to convince Wilson to reveal himself and provide a face for the public of a hero for the city. If he wants to make a change and accomplish his goal, he can’t operate only in the shadows. In a scene that turns a “reporter writes a story and ties up loose ends as an episode closes” cliche on its head, Urich writes his draft just as Fisk holds a press conference declaring his intention to rebuild Hell’s Kitchen. Knowing that his article will never see print now, Ben deletes the file.

Matt also gets some much needed screen time with Foggy and Karen, where he manages to squeeze out of them their investigation into Union Allied. With a shocking amount of hypocrisy, he rails on the two of them for working outside of the law and endangering themselves. Together, the three begin the hard work of trying to pursue legal channels to bring the conspiracy down.

Overall, I find “Shadows in The Glass” to be one of the strongest episodes of the season, providing a great deal of insight to Wilson Fisk which completely remade my impressions of the character. Up until now I could not get a handle on Vincent D’Onforio’s bizarre performance, but seeing where he came from I saw clearly who this version of Fisk was. A thug in a suit, playing at being a man of high society, but unable to shake the anger and lust for power that lies inside. The personal connection to the “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” painting was also a staggering reveal, which said so much about Fisk. Bill’s order to sit and stare at the wall “and think about the man you want to be,” says a lot about the way in which looking at that painting calms Wilson following the nightmares of his childhood. It was the wall he stared at when he had to listen to his mother get beaten and he decided to take matters into his own hands. It was the wall he stared at when he decided the man he didn’t want to be. When Fisk wakes up from his dreams and feels “alone,” looking at the painting, he is able to remind himself of all the ways he is a better man than his father.

Even if he has to lie to himself a little to do it.

Stray Thoughts

  • Nice to see everyone at Nelson and Murdock on screen together. The series could really benefit on more focus on the relationships there, and I hope season two gives us more time to see how Matt relates to Karen and Foggy instead of sending the latter two off on their own and talk about Matt.
  • It was really exciting to see Ben and Matt on screen together, given how much history the two have in the comics.
  • Fisk convincing the cop to kill his partner was coooold. “How much are each of those years to worth to you…In round figures?”
  • “Technically, we paid someone else to shoot him.” Wesley is so fun to hate.
  • “This city is a piss! And a shit!” English may not be his first language but I think that Nobu has a mastery of the NYC dialect.
  • Bill Fisk owed money to mob boss Rigoletto. Early in the series we hear how Rigoletto was “retired.” Maybe a bit of revenge on Wilson Fisk’s part, considering the money his dad owed was the catalyst for the beating we saw in this episode.

Marvel Facts

  • Fisk’s custom tailor who lines his suits with a kevlar microfiber is Melvin Potter, a long running supporting character in the Daredevil comics. He was originally a super villain named Gladiator who fought by throwing buzzsaws. (There’s a poster in Melvin’s workshop of a Gladiator figure with the words “la vengeance de la gladiator!”  The poster is actually modeled after Daredevil issue 226. There’s also a buzzsaw displayed prominently in the beginning of the scene at his shop.) In the comics he was originally an enemy, but eventually reformed with the help of Daredevil and Matt Murdock. He gained psychiatric help from a woman named Betsy Beatty, who he later fell in loved with and married. Melvin Potter has a lot of mental issues and is easily manipulated and has occasionally had some psychotic breaks that forced him back into costume, but at heart he is a gentle man. He owns a costume shop in NYC.
comics, marvel, TV, writing

Marvel’s Daredevil: Condemned

A dusty bottle episode

Everyone in the episode “Condemned” is trapped. Fisk finds himself trapped in the fallout of his plan, frustrated with the possible complications with Madame Gao and his Chinese connections. Foggy and Karen are trapped in the hospital. Matt is trapped in the abandoned building with the dying Russian Vladimir. The Condemned title speaks well to Matt’s predicament as he struggles to get answers from Vladimir, who believes Matt killed his brother.

The two spend a lot of time discussing whether to kill or not. When Vladimir accuses Matt of killing his brother, Matt denies it, saying simply, “You got the wrong guy. I don’t kill people, not even scumbags who deserve it.”  Over the course of the episode the question becomes, is it part of his moral code, or simply for his own peace of mind, to separate himself from those he fights against. So that when he comes face to face with killers he can at least tell himself, “at least I don’t kill.” Vladimir makes Matt take a hard look at his choices and his lifestyle and he has to decide for himself if he is condemned to kill his enemies. Or if he is capable of condemning another person to death. Is he condemned to become what he hates?

That thematic question is shoved in our face in the first interaction between Fisk and Murdock over the radio. The “we aren’t so different” speech is super cliché and I could do without ever hearing it again, but it is done here almost word-for-word. It is a thematically important statement, but I think the message has been given enough through other conversations and actions without it being stated explicitly.

This episode is around the halfway point, and Matt and Fisk seem to be on opposite ends of their trajectories, which makes it the perfect time for the two to have their first interaction. Fisk looks to be gaining more power and the upper hand. He is victorious. Matt, on the other hand, is finding out that he kind of sucks at this. He is wanted by the police, is finding out more and more threads of the conspiracy than he was aware of before, which makes what he is doing seem even more impossible. By the end of the episode, Matt has just about lost everything. He’s lost his confidence, he’s lost his conviction in what he’s doing, and he’s lost his anonymity. He even loses his ability to intimidate Vladimir, once he realizes Matt won’t kill.

As the two chat, it becomes clear that Fisk has Matt completely outsmarted. His intellectual and strategic prowess is already well refined, whereas Matt comes off as sloppy and unprepared. Having only Fisk’s voice to go off of also places him at a distinct disadvantage because he can’t get a read off of anything else, which is a key to so much of Matt’s tactics. From a storytelling standpoint, delaying a physical encounter also fits the pacing of the show and the way it builds slowly.

Not only has Fisk gained more power, but Matt is suddenly public enemy number one, with his masked identity framed for the explosions that rocked the city, as well as the murder of several police officers on the scene. The episode closes and Matt is forced to reexamine everything. Is he willing to step over the edge and be judge, jury, and executioner? Or does he try to work within the confines of the legal system to take down Fisk? Is it even possible? Does sneaking around in the dark accomplish anything, or is he just satiating his own desire for violence?

As this is going on, Foggy and Karen are in the hospital. Foggy in the adrenaline of trying to save Ms. Cardenas failed to realize that he had been injured to, and ends up needing medical attention as well. The two are unable to reach Matt and worry about his condition. They are once again helpless as the city they live in proves itself more dangerous and wild. There’s a sense of futility that seems to wash over all the protagonists, as they begin to realize their insignificance amidst the dangers they have aligned themselves against.

Stray observations:

  • “That sounds pretty bad, but I don’t speak asshole.”
  • Matt’s framing is a major blow toward what he’s trying to do. How can he operate when the whole city has turned on him? Foggy hearing about it is particularly pivotal.
  • There’s been hints about it the whole time, but there’s obviously more to Madame Gao than meets the eye; Fisk is very concerned with not letting her down.
  • It’s worth mentioning the cinematography of this show again, particularly in this episode. It is very claustrophobic, particularly this hour. Each of the characters are very contained in small areas. Matt’s in the broken down warehouse, Karen and Foggy the hospital, Fisk in his car. The vice is tightening, and it is palpable in every frame. Even the scenes with the cops are flanked with cars that pack the edges of the screen. That sense of claustrophobia pervades the entire series (there’s a lot of shots through windows and with ceilings visible, all of which emphasize the way in which the city weighs on our characters.) The show is shot beautifully.
  • Not much action this go round, but it isn’t missed. The drama is exciting enough.

Marvel facts:

  • Not many Easter eggs in this tightly shot and narrowly focused episode that I noticed. Some people claim that the sniper that takes out the cops is a nod to Daredevil archnemesis Bullseye. (There is a playing card in his bag, a Bullseye trademark.) Not out of the realm of possibility, but a bit of a stretch. Still, it would make sense and be a natural way of introducing the character. We’ll have to wait and see.
Daredevil World on Fire
marvel, TV, writing

Marvel’s Daredevil: World on Fire

For all the talk of this show being dark, I find that there is still a sense of hope and optimism that things can improve, even when things look dark that works beneath the surface. This is especially apparent throughout this episode in the case of Foggy and Karen going above and beyond to assist Miss Cardenas, an older woman who, like the rest of her neighbors in a local apartment complex, is being pressured out to take over the land. All of which is a part of Fisk’s various corporate dealings to amass power in Hell’s Kitchen. Foggy shows his lawyerly competence when he stands up to his ex at the Landman and Zack corporate lawfirm.

I believe I mentioned how much I enjoyed the show’s methodical pacing and the time it has taken to set up the characters and the world they live in. All of that continues in this episode, with the Miss Cardenas storyline particularly putting a human face on the world Matt is trying to protect and change. This is also the episode where all the hard setup work pays off. The episode’s conclusion is a major turning point, and it would not be as emotionally resonant or dramatically effective had it all occurred before we understood these characters and the world they live in.

Vanessa also returns to give Wilson another shot, and it becomes a bit more clear why: she is someone intrigued by power and takes what she wants. So even though Fisk is clearly a morally questionable figure, she enjoys the thrill of it. This becomes more and more clear as she and Wilson sit down to dinner and she talks a little bit about herself. It is probably that thrill and love of power that Fisk is most attracted to, which makes sense. Vanessa’s infatuation has to be to the power and influence that Fisk obviously holds, because all of his talk about reviving the city is super creepy.

The title of the episode comes from Matt’s description of how he “sees” the world. For the first time, he shares the truth about his abilities with someone and we as viewers get a real explanation, as opposed to smaller hints. I like that the show has avoided a POV of Matt’s senses, which run the risk of compromising the series’ verisimilitude and more grounded aesthetic. Show runner Steven DeKnight said they had attempted to put it in a few other places but structurally they never fit. It makes the shot of Claire Temple more unique, and it works from a story perspective. Murdock’s in a place of inner turmoil in this episode, and our glimpse into his view of the world represents a moment of vulnerability. It comes at the right time for us to buy the abstract shot as viewers. This is the first time Matt has ever talked openly about what he sees, and it comes after being forced to recognize his own shortcomings and failures through his experiences with Claire. It is these shortcomings that lead to Claire and Matt to have a falling out. She accuses him of becoming the thing he hates, and Matt doesn’t seem to disagree too much.

It makes a certain amount of sense for a character called Daredevil to “see” everything like the world is on fire, and thematically it speaks to a lot about who Matt Murdock is as a person and where he is at this moment in time. The city itself appears to be on the brink of erupting in violence, and Matt himself is on the verge. Throughout this episode he is scrambling with no leads and trying desperately to catch up to Fisk, who seems from his perspective to be an almost omnipotent and all-encompassing evil. The series has taken care to display the city’s problems and how they branch out to the lives of the innocent people who inhabit it, both through corruption and in large scale violence.

And as the episode goes on it becomes more and more clear that Murdock is totally out of his depth and outmatched. He is working more on rage than sense. More on his burning passion than any kind of strategy.  And Matt has no real idea how deep the rabbit hole goes, which leads to twists neither he nor the audience expects. The “you really shouldn’t have said his name” scene  even took me by surprise. That moment in particular shows how much influence Fisk has on the city. And he appears to be gaining more and more control as the episode continues. The world is on fire, and he lit the match. He seeks to save the city as well, but he is going to do it with cleansing fire, and it is going to be his vision. On the surface, Murdock and Fisk appear to have similar motivations. When the episode ends, though, they could not be in more different places. Fisk has made a massive power grab by getting rid of the Russians, and Matt is close to taking the wrap for the cops, not to mention having been pegged with the death of Anatoly at the end of the last episode.

The episode is a dramatic turning point for the show in many ways, and the explosions that mark the end of the episode send shockwaves that will have a major impact on episodes to come.

Stray Thoughts

  • I haven’t talked about the character Wesley yet, but I’m a big fan. Although the shady butt well dressed and respectable looking guy in a suit is a bit of a cinematic cliché , Wesley does a fantastic job of being both intimidating and strangely likable. Toby Leonard Moore doesn’t have many acting credits to his name, but he brings so much life to the character and does a fantastic job.
  • This episode has one of my favorite shots of the season, with a long continuous shot from the perspective of one of Madame Gao’s blind workers in a car. The camera spins around, with Matt disappearing and then reappearing to take down some thugs. The next cut only comes after he’s shot. Beautifully done. Love the visual inventiveness throughout the show.
  • Nobu, the Japanese dude in Fisk’s entourage mentions working for other people…Could it be the HAND?? Or just something boring like the Yakuza. But Fisk appears to answer to them a little.
  • When Matt goes into the police station he sits in front of a sign that says “You don’t have to reveal your identity to solve violent crimes.”
  • This episode has what may be the worst scene of the entire series when Karen asks Foggy to touch her face. It’s nonsense and though Deborah Ann Woll tries to sell it, it’s just bad.
  • I enjoy Turk’s description of Wilson Fisk. “Some big white guy. Bald as shit.”

Marvel Facts

  • In the comics, Daredevil’s enhanced senses are usually described more like a radar than an impressionistic painting. The radar motif is usually how they visualize it in the books and in the Affleck movie, but I think this show has a more inventive and interesting way of showing it. Thematically it works really well.
  • There’s a line of dialogue that takes a dig at Kingpin’s comic appearance. “An ascott? That’s a bit much.”