When great writing, directing, and acting come together in a crime drama, every so often we are treated to interesting and complex characters that are so much more than just “the bad guys.” It also turns out, from stage and some screen experience, these are the roles actors salivate over. Whether they admit it or not, everybody wants to play the villain. Even more want to play a villain with depth that can get the audience behind them. This episode gives us deeper insight into the well-oiled machine that is the extremely organized crime operation run by concert master Wesley on the ground, but overseen by the true conductor of the symphony: Wilson Fisk.
“World on Fire” is another plot thickening — but less ass kicking — episode. We have Claire and Matt getting philosophi-romantical, Vladimir vs. the consortium, Foggy and Karen’s adventures in lawyering, and Vanessa and Fisk on an explosive second date. When Matt and Claire are having one of their moments, we get a first person shot of what it’s like looking through his eyes. Fire. A world on fire.
Now, compare that with the movie that shall not be named and the Beniffer scene in the rain. What a great contrast and representation as to what has happened to this character in the MCU; from water to fire.
“Lawyer by day, vigilante by night. How does that work?” This time Matt is acting as Claire’s cut man recovering from her beating at the hands of the Russians. She’s amazed by his senses, how can he feel her hairline fracture? As he’s, ahem, working on her, she presses him about issues of morality and what he’s doing. We knew they had chemistry, and shortly after her “You’re blind, but you see so much.” line they share a little kiss.
It’s the cure that makes all pain go away. As she listens to his drive to get to Fisk, she mentions he may be after the wrong man and gives him the name she heard while being kidnapped by the Russians: Vladimir.
Meanwhile, Wesley and Fisk waste no time in moving their chess pieces. First move: as Vladimir is mourning his headless
horseman brother, Wesley pops in acting surprised and shocked at the murder. And oh, what’s this that he finds on the body? A black mask? Vlady loses his mind and declares war on the man in the mask, which moves Wesley to the middle of the chess board. At the following consortium meeting, Fisk informs the others that the Russians are out. Owlsley has some good one-liners again, but the others are assured business will run as usual. Another move on the chess board.
Vlad’s goons have kidnapped one of Gao’s blind workers trying to get info on the man in black. Well, ask and you shall receive fools. The man in black has a quick and efficient beat down of the goons, stylistically similar to the last episode, where he learns that Vlady thinks he killed his brother. Things that make Matt go hmmm…? While Matt contemplates this news back in the law office, he and Foggy take up the case of an elderly Ms. Cardenas under living stresses from a slumlord named Tully. She gets no help from the cops, and the slumlord is represented by the huge firm where Foggy interned back in the day.
Foggy and Karen decide to head to the firm to confront them about Cardenas while Matt heads to the police department to see if they have more on Tully. One of my favorite moments is the confrontation between Foggy and his old flame Marci. She’s putting on the stereotypical sharky lawyer vibe thick, but eventually, not unlike the realistic fight choreography, Foggy gets knocked down, but comes back with the knock out line: “We’re going to dismantle you from the top of your salon blowout to the bottom of your overpriced pumps.”
At the station, as he’s waiting for more info from their mutual friend on the force, Matt can hear an interrogation of a Russian who drops the name Fisk. Shouldn’t have said his name. The cops take him out before Matt can even get out of his chair. Later, Matt in black finds one of the cops that executed the Russian and smacks him around until he grabs the guy’s cell phone that he takes back to Claire. They eventually track the Russians’ hideout via said cell phone.
The early lovey-dovey moment with Claire is a great set-up to the later more dramatically tense moment between these two. She drops the bomb that she may be falling in love with him, but doesn’t want to let herself “fall in love with someone so close to becoming what he hates.” Ouch. Damn Claire. Well, Matt is a prick when he tells her not to as he’s practically out the door. I don’t like it when mommy and daddy fight. I thought the kiss came a little too early, but having them pulled apart by Claire going after Matt’s moral holes was a good move.
Fisk gets his awkwardly won date with Vanessa at a restaurant he’s bought out so that it’s just the two of them. No interruptions. That’s generally how I roll too. Vanessa makes him all hot and bothered when she mentions a former lover and it takes a few beats for Fisk to get it back together. The chemistry and dialogue between these two feels like it’s constantly teetering on the point of disaster, another kind of chess match as they go after each other.
We get more into Fisk’s past and his drive to clean-up the city so it can be “reborn” like a phoenix… with fire. Fisk calls out the gun in her purse and then shit gets real. At the same time, it also settles and relaxes Vanessa. For her great performance going toe-to-toe with D’Onofrio, Ayelet Zurer gets my coveted Golden Broken Arm award for “World on Fire.”
At Vladimir’s place, one of his guys hears a rumor that the Zorro is working for Fisk. This is making Vlady’s brain hurt. He says he’ll pay a million dollars to anyone that can give-up Fisk’s location. In walks Turk. I love this scene. Turk says he’ll spread the word on the street, and shortly thereafter, calls and tells Vlad the location. Seemed like quite a quick turnaround. Wesley and Fisk call “check” on the board.
As Fisk is convincing Vanessa things will be so much better now that those evil Russians will be dealt with things go boom and all the sub-plots come together as they watch the world on fire from the restaurant. Oh, look at that. Just as Matty the masked locates the main base of the Russians packing every weapon they have and takes out a couple door men, one of Madam Gao’s blind workers shows up. Do we have a delivery? Says Vlady. No comrade, you don’t. He pushes a button, which Matt hears outside and pulls one of the goons on top of him right before: Kaboom! Check mate.
Down the way, as Foggy and Karen are helping Ms. Cardenas fix up her rundown place, they get awarded dinner as pay. A pretty romantic dinner by candle light, that is. They decide to roll with the first date trap. They talk about college years, it’s light, then they even get a little intimate wondering what it’s like to feel for a blind person. Because, you know, it’s normal to put your hands all over your date’s face on the first date. Things seem to be going well for these two, and then the wall is blown the fuck up. Kaboom!
Explosions abound across the city.
The Russians are taken out all at once. Matt, Foggy, Karen, and Ms. Cardenas are hurt, and Fisk tells Vanessa that it’s his handy work… and she gives him her hand. Whoa. Wesley pulls up in his limo and Turk pops in to get paid and tells him, “Anytime.” Matt gets to a nearly dead Vladimir trying to flee on foot, but as he’s beating the shit out of him, the cops show up and a spotlight hits him as they draw their guns. No chance of an escape this time.
Remember the song “Symphony of Destruction?” This whole episode was the Symphony of Destruction by Fisk and Wesley (I really don’t like Megadeth, but it still came to mind):
“You take a mortal man. And put him in control. Watch him become a god. Watch peoples’ heads a’roll. [ha, quite literally!]
Just like the Pied Piper led rats through the streets. We dance like marionettes, swaying to the symphony… of destruction.”
Devil in the Details:
- That former lover Vanessa mentions wore “a white suit and an ascot.” They share an awkward laugh, but hmm…that suit sounds familiar…