“The Ones We Leave Behind” is another dense episode that fortunately doesn’t feel like it drags. Two of the leads deal differently with killing, there’s some backstabbing in the consortium, some classic Daredevil roof hopping, and another climactic and shocking ending. Damn. Fucking Sony.
It opens with Karen tossing the gun in the river. She’s obviously messed up after murdering Wesley and this plays out once she gets home and hits the bottle hard to put herself to sleep. She wakes up startled thinking she hears something, but then relaxes and decides to switch to beer for bed. Does that ever work? She turns from the fridge and our bald menace is staring her down. He delivers another stellar speech telling her he knows how hard it is to take a life. He goes on about how you feel the weight of the person’s life, the cherished moments, and such. Then he says: “I want you to know something, something important that I’ve learned: that it gets easier the more you do it.” And he attacks. And Karen wakes up. Really wakes up this time. The old nightmare within the nightmare. Well played writers.
Since she can’t sleep, so she heads to the office in the middle of the night and is scared when a hammered Foggy also appears. They pick at each other for their respective alcoholism, then Foggy apologizes that the B.S. between he and Matt is spilling on to her and says maybe it’s time to switch to hard drugs. Karen reminds him weed isn’t considered hard anymore, not in Denver at least.
Nice current events update. They try to apologize to each other, but it doesn’t go well so Karen just tells him she doesn’t want to be alone. Foggy soothes her when he tells her regardless of what is happening with Matt, he’s going to keep digging into Fisk. He has to pay. He asks Karen for the stuff from Ben that came from the man in the mask. Karen asks if he still thinks he’s a terrorist and Foggy tells her he doesn’t know what he is, but everything will be alright.
Apparently nobody’s sleeping because as Foggy opens the door to leave, Mr. Matthew Murdock Esq. is there. They have an awkward stare down and Foggy takes off. Matt apologizes to Karen, to which she replies “For which part?” “All of it.” He says. Karen tells him Foggy thinks Elena’s death is on him and that he’d know it wasn’t his fault if the two of them were on speaking terms. She starts to breakdown and says they’re acting like kids and she thinks it was a mistake working with them. Matt asks if she wants to leave, but she says this is her home and the two of them are the only good things in her life. Matt senses something happened, and she almost lets something about Wesley go, but catches herself and says: “The world fell apart.”
At the hospital, poor Fisk is still trying to get a hold of Wesley on the phone. For a moment, a beam of happiness hits him as his beloved Vanessa wakes up. She has no memory of what happened to her and as Fisk is stumbling over words and filling in the blanks and apologizing she says: “Someone tries to kill you and you’re the one apologizing?” Fisk tells her he’s made arrangements and that he’s moving her out of the country so she’ll be safe. She asks if he’s coming too, and when he says no, she tells him she’ll stay by him, thank you very much. She adds she made a choice and knew the relationship would be complicated. Then we get some great foreshadowing into Vanessa’s character when she tells Fisk to find out who did and make them understand “that they could never take you away from me.” He says they’ll suffer and she responds: “I expect nothing less.” Hearts of darkness.
Fisk is interrupted by news they’ve found Wesley and we’re taken to where Karen finished him. Owlsley enters and Fisk’s happy moment with Vanessa is shattered as he looks like he’s going to cry on Owlsley’s shoulder; his better half now gone. “Look what they did to him.” he wimpers. His bodyguard mentions the call, not sure who was on the other end, giving him his gun and SUV, and Wesley ordering him and the rest to stay and protect him. Fisk can’t believe he let him go and the monster explodes with a headbutt and another beat down screaming “He’s my friend!” Owlsley saves the guys life telling Fisk he did what he was told. “I think they call that loyalty, or something.” He tells Fisk first the benefit, now this; somebody’s not happy. Fisk asks about Nobu’s accounts and Owlsleys says nothing’s changed.
Fisk asks about Gao and Owlsley immediately flips it to the Japanese. Just a tad suspicious. Fisk tells him he can leave, but Owlsley reminds him not to get too caught up in a war and lose focus on the end game. He tells Fisk that once senator Cherryh has cleared the zoning issues, he can tear everything down and build his better tomorrow. As he looks to Wesley, he says it’s a shame not everyone will see it. Fisk tells him to find out who did this to Wesley and Vanessa and Owlsley says he will, then adds: “Wind blows the hardest the closer you get to the mountaintop.” After he exits, Fisk shares a loving final farewell with the body of Wesley kissing him on the head, and then notices his phone. He sees Vistain, his mother, was the last number of a call received.
I know it’s been said before, but between all of the dramatic meat for Fisk, now especially with Vanessa’s ordeal and Wesley’s murder, DeKnight and crew have done something remarkable for Marvel: they’ve put the “villain” at the emotional forefront of the work. So again, it makes us question: who is the protagonist? Brilliant. A great deal of this is of course on Vincint D’Onofrio’s shoulders and he consistently delivers. Speaking of shoulders, did you notice his physical transformations between child and monster? When he’s calm, he has a bit of a weird walk and some awkward hand movements. When he’s batshit crazy, he moves with the unified flowing rage of a typhoon.
Matt in black sneaks up on Ben Urich asking for some info, to which Ben tells him he thought he quit. Urich asks him if somebody got a piece of him, and Matt tells him he went the distance. “Sounds like a boxer.” Ben replies. Matt shows him the heroin with the symbol from the guy that killed Elena and Ben says it’s been popping up all over and people call it “steel serpent” (check the Devil in the Details from the first episode). They wonder about how the players in the consortium are dealing with the shake up with the Russians out of the game.
Matt guesses Fisk’s crew picked up the Russian’s distribution, so if he hits the Triads and messes with the cash flow it could slow him down. Urich tells him it won’t stop him, but he also has something he’s working on that could really mess Fisk up. Matt tells him to keep his head down. Ben says his head is fine and Matt comes back with: “Oh yeah? Vladimir’s brother thought the same.” Matt asks who the man is running the Chinese operation and Ben tells him, no man. A woman. Matt mentions the blind man in the back of the Russians’ car and Ben tells him he’s seen some blind guys with backpacks and it would make sense if they were running the drugs. “Nobody’d look at a blind man twice.” Nice. Matt asks him where and he’s not sure, but remembers it was during morning rush hour around a few streets. He tells Ben to grab a coat since it’s chilly and Ben gets back at him telling Matt he better get himself a better suit. Matt tells him he’s working on it.
Marci meets Foggy at Josie’s. Come on Foggy, you told Karen you’d ease up on the sauce. Marci is disappointed it’s about business and not a booty call. Although still a marginal part of the supporting cast, Amy Ruthberg’s portrayal of Marci and her no bullshit attitude are kind of nice now that Claire is on sabbatical. Foggy starts unloading that Cardenas’ place was only one of many targeted in the city. She asks targeted by whom and Foggy tells her Wilson Fisk. She spins around heading for the door and says she can’t talk about him since she and others at Landman and Zack represent him. Foggy hands her the Urich file and convinces her to just read for just five minutes. She’s cool with that because apparently he’s a demon in the sack. Quid pro quo.
Not just the man in black sneaking up on folks in this episode; this time Karen scares Ben at his place. She’s pissed he hasn’t written the piece on Fisk and his daddy. She tells him she “thinks” they know about their visit to mama Fisk too. Ben says he’s working on a second source that knew Rigoletto so he can find a connection between Bill Fisk owing money to Rigoletto and have some concrete proof of mama Fisk’s story. Think back to his mob informant on the waterfront in the first episode. Karen’s impatient and Ben tells her he works for a paper and is a real journalist not some blogger making up facts. He goes back to her mentioning how she knows Fisk knows about their visit and she tells him just a feeling. Ben suggests Karen post something online, but she references her past again and tells him who will believe her “when they find out what you found out when you were looking into me.” He tells her he’ll check the sources and get something to his editor.
Marci comes back at Foggy wondering where he got the file and he tells her the work he and Matt did… and the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. She’s pissed he’s working for the “prick that blew up half the city” and tries to defend Fisk’s good deeds. Foggy pushes her asking if she can honestly admit something doesn’t feel right with Fisk. She mentions he and Owlsley are their biggest clients and that she’s risking her job. Foggy gets a little romantic and tells her that when he was making fun of her for not having soul, it wasn’t just him being a dick, but that he really remembers how much she cared about the law and what’s right. He tells her one way or another Fisk, Owlsley, and Landman and Zack are going to get theirs, and this is her chance to get in front of it and save herself.
The next scenes were such a treat for us nerds of the comic: the classic rooftop runs. Though they look more like badass parkour here, which works for me. It starts with Matt focusing his hearing from the mess of city noise until he zeroes in on a cane. He tracks the cane of the blind person to car that picks her up. Though he loses the cane, he hears the classical music playing and now tracks the song. Once he gets to an alley, he chucks his cane and starts climbing walls and ladders to get to the roofs to follow that violin solo. By the way, how man canes does dude have? There must be random canes all over the place in Hell’s Kitchen. In any case, the rooftop chase is beautifully shot with awesome stunt work full of jumps, flips, and rolls that made me run up and look at the pages in the comic.
Spectacular. I also enjoyed seeing lawyer clothed Matt get some action for the first time (not in black). Perhaps a nod to the recent Waid and Samnee comic work where DD loses his regular costume and fights in a red a black three piece suit. Matt ends up beating the car to its destination.
Having connected the dots between the phone and Wesley, Fisk pulls his mom out of the home and she lets him know she’s not happy about leaving in their limo ride. She loves the Zuppa they give her, and Wilson reminds her she’s headed to Italy, Zuppa’s country of origin. She’s more concerned what she’ll watch on TV. Fisk tries to press to get more about the call from Wesley and she remembers how nice, well dressed, and polite he was, but then her mind slips and she repeats how pretty the day is again. Interesting how both mama Fisk and Mrs. Urich both have dementia, no? Karen calls Ben about the piece, but his editor is out. He tells her to sit tight and be careful. She then calls Matt and he tells her something similar. He’s also working something, so no, not coming in, but he needs Karen and Foggy away from it. He tells her it’s all going to work out.
Ben Urich confronts his editor Ellison and while he was thrilled to hear a Brahms cello solo from his kid, Urich’s piece has the opposite effect and he doesn’t want anything to do with it. Ben tells him it will expose Fisk and he replies it will only expose them to a law suit since he’s not putting in the usual work. Things get tense when Ben says it’ll be sexy. Ellison says Ben sounds like a whore, and Ben says he learned from the best. Yikes. That earns Ben a suspension, but he keeps pushing saying Fisk is leaving a trail of bodies, his boss counters, and Ben comes back with “How much is he paying you?” Urich tells him ever since his Union Allied work he has been blocked. He tells Ben that’s because his work has been shit and that he needs to clean out his office.
Back to the Triad location we see the blind workers working their heroin production chain with the serpent logo. Matt returns after a changing; back in black. So glad they don’t play AC/DC in this. In the fast and efficient ninja style we’ve previously seen, he takes out the goons one by one. Once inside though, Matt tries to free the workers. Gao catches him in the act and yells something in Mandarin and all the workers swarm him in what looks like a blind on blind zombie attack.
Owlsley and Fisk meet for an update and the Owl tells him he can’t connect it to the Japanese and that it probably was the man in black. Fisk tells him guns and poisons aren’t his game. He tells the bodyguard he beat up earlier for letting Wesley go to double the street offer, then gets a call and abruptly leaves Owlsely mid-sentence.
The blind man in black escapes the blind zombie horde and he takes out a couple more of Madame Gao’s guys with some pretty acrobatics. Stray bullets hit cans of flammables and a fire starts as Matt and Madame Gao get their fiery back drop for their confrontation. Matt tells her she made all the workers take their eyes and Gao tells him no, they did it to themselves because they have faith. Matt wonders what kind of faith and she replies, “in something beyond the distractions of your world.” She then tells him he took that away, while Matt edges closer asking about Fisk. Whoops. Spinning old lady palm heel and the man in black is sent flying on his back.
I mentioned Kung Fu Hustle before, but that was the shot right there.
Once he recovers Gao is gone, but the fire has spread and the building is lost. A left over goon takes a shot at Matt, who he takes out quickly then uses his gun to shoot the sprinklers to come on. He then tells the same guy he disarmed to start moving out the workers. Good to see they made up so quickly. As he’s making his getaway outside in the smoke, his buddy at the 15th Precinct, Officer Brett Mahoney, has his first encounter with the man in black. Always greeted with a gun on him. Brett accuses him of killing the detectives and Matt gets him in an arm lock and explains he didn’t kill them and that they were dirty. All pawns of Wilson Fisk in the department and he tells him there are more. Matt convinces him enough to let him go before Brett calls it in.
Somewhere up high Owlsley and Gao meet. He’s on her for being late, but she says she was kept by unfortunate events. She’s speaking perfect English, which surprises Owlsley, to which she tells him the time for illusion has past. She tells him the man in the mask was to blame for the fire and Owlsley says to just bring in more heroin. Madame Gao replies: “My interest here has never been about heroin, Leland.” Then we get to the heart of it. Owlsley tells her “if he finds out…” and she asks if Wilson suspects them. There it is. She says they knew the risk and reward of having the woman removed. She thinks they’re okay since Fisk still believes the poison was meant for him, but Leland reminds her that their target is still alive. Owlsley thinks she was responsible for Wesley, but she tells him no and that “the wheel constantly turns and we must adapt to its position, or be crushed by it.” She then tells Leland she’s going home and they’ll never see each other again. He assumes she’s headed back to China and she tells him it’s a lot farther than China.
Ben and his sick wife share some cute flirty moments together and joke about running away to Paris. Then she tells him she knows the look of when her husband is being tormented by a story. She tells him he needs to get it out and he says it’s not that simple. The truth is never simple or easy, she reminds him. Ben tells her of the fight with Ellison and she tells him he never needed him or the paper. He only needs the story. She tells him to use the internet and tries to cut through his anti-blogging philosophy. The world needs Ben Urich’s truths however they come out. He and Karen talk briefly and he slams blogs again, but then ultimately says he’s going to start one because that’s what all the cool kids do. All right man, you hate us bloggers and think we’re all wannabe journalists. Point taken. Now let us see you not use the internet.
Back at the law office, Karen’s nerves push her to lock the door, which surprises Matt. There’s an awkward silence broken by Karen getting down to it. She tells him so this it; three people that don’t talk to each other. Matt tells her the story of Stick without mentioning his name or the fact that he’s a ninja master. He tells her about this guy that told him he needed to push people away to be good at what he does. She thinks he listened and he admits he can get in your head. This time, Karen stays steady and it’s Matt that breaks down and talks about thinking he has seen the worst in people until it gets even deeper. He tells her he can’t do it alone and can’t take another step. Karen tells him he never was alone and they hug it out. It’s a brief, but well-acted dramatic scene with Charlie Cox showing his depth and deciding to act against Stick’s advice.
At home, Ben is working on the computer, but takes a moment to look at a photo of he and his wife in happier times by his computer for some inspiration. Out of the shadows, the big bald monster appears. Fisk!
He tells him he made mistakes as a boy and he’d like to have a conversation, off the record, of course. Ben tries to get him out and tells him he’s not going to believe anything, but Fisk says he’ll be honest. He apologizes as only Fisk could: “I thought your days of being relevant were past. And for thinking that, I’m truly sorry.” He tells him after Ben’s article he took precautions and Ben tells him he knew there was an insider at the paper. Fisk goes after the internet too telling him nobody will pay attention to his ramblings over cat videos, texting, and thousands of satellite channels. Okay, fair point. We’ve all been suckered by cat videos. Ben says he has more faith in humanity and Fisk responds “So did Christ.”
He shifts topics and asks whether he was alone when he visited his mom. Ben figures that also came from his insider, but doesn’t want to make things worse for Karen, so tells him he was alone. He asks about Wesley and Ben’s reaction says enough for Fisk. He tells him he didn’t think so, that he’s man of principle and even admires that in him. But he went after his mother, and the child is turning into the monster. Ben tells him he’s been threatened before, but Fisk says he’s not there to threaten; only to kill. Fisk pounces on Ben with both hands choking and slams him down until he’s gone. Fisk gives a look of satisfaction as he stomps on the aforementioned photo of Ben and his wife.
I’m kind of in limbo over Ben’s death. On one hand, I love that no character is safe and the show runners are willing to take risks like this. I didn’t see it coming. On the other hand, there’s the whole Marvel Studios getting Spider-Man back from Sony thing that nobody on Daredevil could have foreseen while they were filming. It’s shitty luck, but we can all blame Sony. No Ben Urich, J. Jonah Jameson, and Peter Parker scenes for now. Thanks a lot, Sony.
Devil in the Details:
- Gao’s “farther than China” line makes it pretty clear she’s from one of the Seven Cities of Heaven in Iron Fist’s universe. While I agree with Takeo’s take on her falling into the tiger mom stereotype, I feel pretty confident we’ll get more of her in the future. She at least gets another chance and hopefully her character will get flushed out some more. Also, she’s such a great villain. Can I give it to Wai Ching Ho? There are others that could take it from this one, but no: Golden Broken Arm to Wai Ching Ho for her frighteningly calm and collected Madame Gao!
- More references to Karen’s dark past of “when they find out what you found out” and “moving on to the hard stuff.” She jokes about hard drugs with Foggy, but as mentioned earlier, in the comics she goes there.
- Across from the Nelson and Murdock office, there’s a quick shot of Atlas Investments. Before Marvel Comics became Marvel Comics, it was called Atlas Comics.