Four of our favorites are paired up once more and give us some outstanding on-screen chemistry. Claire’s patches up Matt again, even if it’s for a brief moment. While Vanessa is in recovery, Fisk and Wesley share some very tender moments as Wesley tries to balance his BFF’s sanity with keeping the machine moving. Nelson and Murdock Attorneys at Law continues to unravel with Karen upset and the boys still not talking to each other. Mr. Potter battles like a gladiator and we get quite the climatic ending in “The Path of the Righteous.”
This one opens in the hospital with a desperate Wilson Fisk carrying his unconscious love looking for medical attention. Once attended to, Wesley tells him his private doctor is on the way, but Fisk continues to hover until the doctors take her away and insist he let them do their jobs. He screams, “Don’t you know who I am?!” Guess they don’t care. Owlsley is like a puppy begging for attention repeatedly asking someone to check him out. He held it, he touched it, oh cruel world somebody save him!
Back at Nelson and Murdock, Matt and Karen meet and she’s upset she can’t get a hold of Foggy. A change of pace for her; normally that’s Matt. Matt tells her whatever’s happening with Foggy is his fault and offer’s her a brew. Karen wonders whether it’s too early to start drinking. “Depends on the day.” He says. Last she heard from Foggy, Matt was hit by a car, but Karen is having doubts about that story since, well, post Stick, his whole place looks like a disaster area.
Karen tells him the last time she was in his apartment she felt safe, but now there are so many lies between the trio everything is falling apart. Matt pulls a dick move and mentions like how she lied about the Union Allied file, for example? They’ve both lied for the same reason, to protect people around them, but all it does is raise the tension in the air. She tells Matt about her visit with Momma Fisk and says there has to be marriage certificate or some paper trail. This just fires Matt up and he’s mad they went and tells her all they have is an elderly woman who’s not all there and a kid that was a minor at the time. Karen presses that it could it least get other people looking at Fisk, but Matt changes the subject to his concern about Foggy and calms down. They have a little moment where she touches his cheek, then she gives him a balloon with a monkey on it. That ought to solve it.
Foggy and Marci, well, they reconnect. Yep. The old flame still burns and he tries to pry into Landman and Zack’s shadiness with her between the sheets, but she’s not having it. Back at the hospital, Fisk is an emotional mess stuck inside the room with Vanessa and Owlsley is not happy about it. He goes after Wesley asking who’s going to run the consortium? “Are you keeping score?” Of course, he’s more concerned about whoever “they” is since “they” almost got him. Paranoia to the extreme, while Vanessa lays near death in front of him.
Wesley wonders if he’s heard anything from Gao and Owlsley pushes him towards the Japanese being responsible. Wesley tells him the Japanese think the man in black is responsible for Nobu and tells him to keep an eye on the accounts. Then the tone changes when they learn that none of the others poisoned have survived. Owlsley wants to know what happens if Vanessa doesn’t make it. Wesley stares him down and says: “She’ll make it because she has to.” He tells Owlsley to reach out to Gao and if he feels she’s done nothing, great, but if the feeling is the opposite; it was an honor doing business with her.
At Matt’s apartment Claire is tending to Matt’s post-Nobu injuries again. She tells him he shouldn’t even move, let alone put on the black, and he tells her it’s all good cause he’s been meditating and healing faster. She tells him to ease up or next time she’ll be stitching a corpse. Oh, and that he should get some body armor of some kind. Indeed, Ms. Temple; sage advice. Matt tells her it’s funny she mentioned that cause he felt a kind of armor in the lining of Fisk’s suit when they were going at it. Matt tries to be smooth and offer her a drink, but she hasn’t forgotten his prior treatment of her so she turns him down and says she’s got to pack. She’s taking some time off.
The meditation works wonders, because he has the energy to get up and argue with Claire again when he reiterates it’s just too dangerous to be with him with what she knows and what has already happened to her. She tells him he’ll never know when to stop. If it’s not Fisk, there will be someone else. Then she drops a great line: “You told me you were the man this city needs. I think that was only half true. I think you’re also the man this city created.” She tells him she’ll always be there when he really needs her and leaves him with a line she learned in Sunday School about martyrs, saints, and saviors all ending up bloody and alone. Mic drop. Claire out. While she owned the second episode and was excellent throughout, it would have been nice to have seen a little more Rosario; Claire, that is. On the other hand, I’m confident we’ll not only see more of her next season, but also in the other Defenders shows.
From one couples therapy session to the next: Ben and Karen. Ben is justifiably fucking pissed that Karen lied to him about her motives at the nursing home, and even worse, tied it to his sick wife. Damn. So yes, Karen, he’s still mad. Ben says he’s done and needs to focus on taking care of his wife. Karen keeps pressing saying they can spin the story and get Fisk trapped in the lie and that the story could be their smoking gun. Ben shuts her down. He tells her she’s a confused lady dealing with dementia and even if he did write the story, he thinks the chess master Fisk would be ready with a counter move.
He says he’d have another press conference and roll her out and get even more public sympathy and support. However, to brighten her spirits, he tells Karen they may not have to do anything and references the benefit and the drinks. He continues explaining to Karen that now that Fisk has gone public, his other associates may not want to be dragged out of the shadows.
“The only thing I know without a doubt is you don’t get to be the man at the top without making enemies looking to tear you down to the ground.”
How could we forget the other bromance of Wilson and Wesley? Fisk leaves Vanessa’s bedside to chat with Wesley telling him there was a time he thought he was complete and needed no one. We’ve seen vulnerable Fisk. This is shattered Fisk. He blames himself for what has happened to Vanessa since he promised her she’d always be safe at his side. Wesley is acting like marble pillars holding up the most powerful man in the city that is so close to crumbling. Fisk tells him about Madame Gao’s advice about choosing his path or fate choosing it for him. Wesley tells him he sent Leland to talk with her, though he suspects everyone.
Fisk tells him if she makes it through, he wants her sent away. He also tells Wesley to move the funds into place. He says he’ll talk to Leland and is cut off. Fisk wants it done quietly, by the only person he now trusts. They have this moment before Fisk thanks him; I hesitate to call it an awkward silence since the subtext is so loud. It goes something like this: Fisk: “I would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for you.” Wesley: “Your strength gives me my strength.” Then Vanessa’s wakes up and is like: “Godammit. Should’ve known.”
Seriously though, it’s a beautifully tender moment and all notions of villains are out the door with the writing and acting between these two. It’s just a man drowning in pain and friend willing to do whatever it takes to pull his friend out of the pit of despair. When was the last time your heart went out to the bad guys like this in any other comic or superhero show, let alone many other shows in general? Groundbreaking and amazing stuff. The doc appears and we learn Vanessa’s in an induced coma, but she’s going to be okay.
Matt ends up back in church (that “Take Me to Church” song in my head) with another crisis of faith with Father Lantom. Lantom asks if he did the deed (killed Fisk) and he tells him no. He asks Matt if he feels disappointed or relieved. Mat tells him the martyrs and saints line Claire mentioned and the Father says most folks aren’t scared of dying; they’re scared of living. Too many subtle hints of Lantom knowing his secret so he asks him and he tells Matthew he’s not an idiot, though he doesn’t understand how he does what he does. Matt tells him about the accident and that he told himself if was God’s will and that it gave him a purpose. If that were the case though, he wonders, why did God put the devil in him too? Lantom tells him maybe it’s part of him summoning the better angels of his nature and that nothing drives people to church more than the fear that the devil is snapping at their heels. Somebody has to instill some fear in those that would seek to harm their fair city. He tells Matt to tread the path of the righteous. With new inspiration, Matt feels ready to get back to the dirty work, but thinks it may be time for that suit upgrade.
As he meditates, Matt’s focus in interrupted by visions of Nobu and Fisk beating him down and he stares at the trunk with his dad’s old boxing stuff and his black ninja suit. Time for some action. Turk is on the run shooting all over the place and when he thinks he’s in the clear, the man in black has him. He disarms him quickly and tells him if he goes for his knife, his leg gets broken. If he goes for his other gun, he’s going off the roof. Super senses. He knocks Turk around a little and asks him for info, specifically about Fisk’s body armor. “What I look like, public damn library?” Turk tells him. Matt in black has no patience for that, so he gets ready to toss Turk when he tells him he might know a guy.
In the hospital Fisk gets a call from his mom that he ignores to stay with Vanessa since he’s worried about complications. Mother’s Day fail Wilson. He tells Wesley she called and to get pack to her and see what she needs. Owlsley wants a word, but is promptly pushed back since he doesn’t want to be disturbed. Owlsley’s complaining again about being invisible, but tells Wesley that Gao had nothing to do with the poisoning and if it comes to it, she’ll stand with them against the Japanese. He then really starts digging into Wesley: “He needs to get back to business while there’s still business to get back to.” Wesley tries to calm him down, but Owlsley tells him if they came after him once, they’ll come after him again. Wesley calls Marlene (formerly Fisk) and asks how he can help. “Who came to visit you?” Wesley asks her. Uh-oh. He asks one of the bodyguards for his gun, but when he asks if he needs a ride, he tells them all to stay with Fisk at all times. He won’t be long.
The man in black enters Potter’s shop. He feels the suit Potter is working on for Owlsley and is interested. There is a costume design and some other interesting things around the shop. Matt hears Melvin’s heartbeat before he opens the sliding garage door and disappears ninja style for a minute. Melvin Potter enters and like one of the Three Bears, realizing somebody’s been messing with his stuff. He turns and Matt in black is there and he tells him he shouldn’t be there. Matt asks him if we works for Fisk, but before he can get a response Potter is on him. Ah hell yeah: our first early Daredevil vs. The Gladiator bout. It starts well for Matt, but soon turns into more of a WWE style fight with Potter having the upper hand. And by hand, I mean choke slam.
Matt gets tossed all over the place, but gets his own throw cued up on Melvin. “That wasn’t very nice.” He says. He then grabs and tosses a saw blade at him. There it is. The Gladiator’s weapon of choice. A wrench gets involved, but Matt takes Melvin head first into a mirror. After another Potter choke slam, he grabs a chain, wraps it around Matt’s neck, and starts elevating him. Not looking good. I’ve seen and learned a lot of great escapes for chokes, but nothing compares to the blind ninja in black’s back flip to get out of the chains and double kick Potter. Gorgeous move. A little classic mata leão, rear-naked choke, on Potter and Matt lets him go right before he goes to sleep. Because he starts to cry.
Here we see the troubled and mentally ill Melvin Potter from the comics. As he’s crying he repeats that Matt shouldn’t be there and that Fisk is going to hurt her. Matt, sensing the drastic change in the man, calms himself and gets to his level and to try to comfort him. Matt asks him who Fisk will hurt and Potter tells him Besty. He adds, “She helps me when I get confused.” Potter says nobody’s supposed to be in the shop unless Fisk brings them, that Betsy wouldn’t like it, and that he’s trying to be good for her. He says he’s good at making things. Matt tells him Fisk also hurt people he cares for and he wants to stop him from hurting more people, like Betsy for example. Matt asks if he made Fisk a suit with the special lining and he tells him he made a bunch. He asks if he’d like one, but Matt tells him he’d like something special. In exchange, he’ll keep Fisk away and Betsy safe. Potter can’t believe his ears, and asks what he wants. Matt tells him: “A symbol.”
Karen and Foggy meet at Josie’s and she is not happy being stuck between her friends at war with each other. That’s bad enough, but Foggy also comes at her saying the former Mrs. Fisk won’t be enough. Once he settles he asks about Matt and she tells him he said the same thing about the old woman. She tells Foggy Matt said the fight was his fault and she noticed the Nelson and Murdock sign in the trash. She tells them they need to talk, but Foggy says they will, but not yet. It’s personal and she won’t get it. That sets Karen off and she tells him they started tearing down Elena’s place and that the two of them need to get their heads out of their asses before there’s nothing left to fight for in Hell’s Kitchen.
She storms off and calls Ben to release some of her pain and tells him it feels like it’s all falling apart. Being the voice of reason that he is, Ben tells her: “Ah, it’s usually right around the time the story’s getting interesting.” He calms her down and reminds her he’s not necessarily writing the story. However, there’s a shot of his computer with an old Ben Fisk campaign sign. Karen tells him thanks for caring, and right before she enters her door, she’s kidnapped and knocked out by whatever is on the cloth around her face.
D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk delivers another outstanding monologue by Vanessa’s side in the hospital bed. He tells her he doesn’t know how to pray. His father wasn’t religious and his mother wanted to be, but never quite found it in herself. He says he would go through the motions from books and TV, but was just imitating. So while Mr. Murdock struggles with his faith, but still has it, Mr. Fisk never had it, but struggles to try to feel something like it. He tells her while he can’t pray for her, what he can do is, “make you a promise. One that not even God, if there is such a thing, can prevent me from keeping. The people that did this to you, they will suffer.”
Karen wakes up at table and and we learn it was Wesley that took her. He tells her he wasn’t sure if she would wake up, but now that she has, they should chat. Wesley sits across from her and begins his Agent Smith moment from The Matrix and steals the episode. Surprised he didn’t drop a “Mr. Anderson.”
He tells Karen after the Union Allied article they thought they were done with Karen Page. “You were supposed to go away, Miss Page. Fade back into wherever people like you fade. But you made a choice and that choice has brought you here on this night, at this particular moment in time. Perhaps that’s the way it was always going to be. Perhaps we’re destined to follow a path none of us can see, only vaguely sense, as it takes our hand, guiding us towards the inevitable.”
She asks if that’s supposed to scare her and he tells her no, pulls a gun, and says this is. He’s a little put off by her lack of fear in the gun, so switches tactics telling her he know she loves this city. He, on the other hand, doesn’t and says “there’s a layer of filth you can never wash away.” He tells her he’s not in the city because he wants to be, but because he’s needed here and that Fisk loves the city in a way neither of them could understand. Wesley then shifts to Fisk’s mom and tells Karen she left quite an impression on her. He assumes Urich was with her and says Fisk would be very upset if he knew they found her let alone spoke to her. Karen tells him to kill her and get it over with, Wesley responds he doesn’t want to kill, but rather, offer her a job.
Wesley lays the gun on the table and tells Karen:
“You’ve proven yourself resourceful, tenacious, with a commendable ability to convince others that your way is the right one, the way that needs to be followed, pursued despite the obvious repercussions such actions may incur.”
He goes on saying that first, she’s going to convince Urich all is well and that Fisk is a good man. Next, he tells her she will spread the gospel to everyone she’s infected with her point of view. Karen says she’d rather die first and Wesley smoothly tells her, no. Not First. Urich first, then Nelson, then Murdock, then friends and family, “and when you have no tears left to shed, then then we’ll come for you, Miss Page.” Gulp.
Wesley gets a phone call and goes for his phone. Seeing her one and only opportunity, Karen snatches the gun on the table. Wesley asks her if she really thinks he’d leave a loaded gun on the table. She hits him back asking if she really thinks it would be the first time she’s shot someone. And then she unloads and turns Wesley into a bloody pin cushion. Holy shit!
For this and his past contributions, Toby Leonard Moore as Wesley earns his Golden Broken Arm. Wesley’s phone still rings and the episode fades out on a distraught Fisk on the other end trying to reach his best and only friend. There will be consequences.
Devil in the Details:
- There are a two things to unpack from Melvin Potter’s tailor shop:
1. We get to see the design of his future Gladiator costume, pretty much straight out of the comics. Also, saw blades!
2. On a wide shot, we see what look like long metal legs. These tie into Daredevil’s foe Stilt-Man from the comics. While the villain starts as a different guy, and there are multiple versions, in one story Turk steals the legs and tries to convince the Kingpin to fire Bullseye and make him his new #1 assassin. He does nothing of the sort and tells Turk regardless of what gear he gets, he’s “still an idiot, and I do not employ idiots.”
- The Betsy that Potter refers to is Betsy Beatty. She’s a social worker in the comics that works with Melvin on his mental challenges. The “child and monster” description of D’Onofrio’s Fisk also can be applied to Melvin Potter with Betsy actually describing him as such.