What a groundbreaking ride this has been. I am so thrilled that this character and his world that connected with me as kid has finally fallen into the right hands and ended up not just revolutionizing the superhero genre, but TV and film in general. Therefore, it’s fitting that show runner Steven DeKnight took the writing and directing duties for the finale. After all the defending of Daredevil I’ve done up to this point with haters of the “lesser Spider-Man,” not to mention the failure of the movie, it feels personally triumphant for me. Bill Everett and Jack Kirby have passed, but I can’t imagine how Stan Lee must feel watching a Pavarotti moment with these characters in the finale culminating the origin story and thusly named: “Daredevil.” I think Puccini would approve.
Musical choices have been great in the series. You can’t tell me you didn’t feel something when we get the opening shots of Ben Urich’s funeral montage with the organ and then Jimmy Cliff kicking in with “Many Rivers To Cross.” Oh man. Chills. Father Lantom presiding and everyone is there except Foggy. Karen introduces herself to Mrs. Urich and she tells Karen Ben spoke fondly of her all the time. They didn’t get to having kids, but had they done so, she tells her, he would have wanted one like her. Tears welling up. Jimmy Cliff still playing in the background.
Karen starts to break and confesses she thinks it’s her fault, but Mrs. U tells her to not go there. Her Ben lived for reporting and did what he had to do for the story. Karen asks what she can do to help, but Ben figured out that healthcare policy he was struggling with through prior episodes, so even from the great beyond, he’s still taking care of his wife. Karen burns a hole in Ben’s editor Ellison with a stare of fire. Father Lantom and Matt share a brief moment where he asks Matt how he’s doing and he tells him he’s holding up like a good Catholic boy. “That bad?” replies the Father. This time Matt’s taking the blame. He tells the Father a good man is gone because of a lot he did, and some things he shouldn’t have, in the name of stopping Fisk. And yet here they are.
At the office Karen is livid about Ellison being there. Matt tries to calm her and tells her they have no evidence Ellison was involved with Fisk. She re-focuses her ire on Foggy’s absence. Matt tells her it’s his fault, she says they’re all to blame, and under his breath Matt says not always. He tells her to go home and rest, but Karen says she’s still haunted by Fisk so there is no way to sleep. Nessun dorma: “none shall sleep.” She’s worried about the same thing Foggy once mentioned like the lack of news coverage since Fisk owns some of them, the police not doing anything since he owns some of them, and so on. He can’t be stopped, she convinces herself. Matt tells her it’s going to be okay and that “Everyone that’s taken money from him, everyone that’s helped him tear this city apart, they’re all gonna get what’s coming to them along with Wilson Fisk.”
Fisk has a quick moment with Vanessa essentially telling her that this time, she’s leaving the country and that’s that. She doesn’t put up much of a fight. He just has to have Leland look at some numbers. Owlsley and Fisk then meet and Leland is the bringer of good tidings that Senator Cherrah has cleared their zoning hurdles so they can build baby build. He is squeezing them for an extra 10%, though. He tells Fisk they should probably do something to replace Gao’s heroin trade for cash flow issues. Fisk asks what happened with their meeting, looks like she took off, and Leland says she apparently wasn’t the ally they thought she was. Fisk hands him a file and tells him about Wesley’s money transfer. Owlsley gets pissy saying he thought that was his job. Fisk tells him that’s why he wants him to look; seems like there have been some “irregularities” in the accounts.
Owlsley tries to play it a cool telling him of course there are, he moves money all the time. “It’s a shell game to keep the SEC off our backs, it’s nothing.” Fisk catches him and asks why his hands are shaking. Leland tells him he’s cold. “Then why are you sweating, Leland?” Oh shit. Busted. Owlsley says he knew he would find out eventually, and Fisk goes to Wesley and accuses of him of killing him after he confronted him. Leland tells him he had no part in that. Ah, well, if not A then B: the benefit. Fisk figures out he and Gao were the masterminds. One is stealing from him, the other disappeared. Owlsley pleads that it’s not what he thinks, that Fisk was never the target. They just wanted to make him think somebody was after him. Vanessa. Not helping man.
Owlsley goes on asking Fisk how he can blame them from everything that’s happened since Vanessa appeared. He tells him he’s been distracted, emotional, and erratic. They hoped to get him back on track. What follows is a brief moment showing Leland Owlsley’s non-accounting criminal genius at work. He tells him the plan didn’t work, but confidently adds “so we will be parting ways and I’ll be taking half your assets with me.” Fisk is pissed and yells that there’s no way he walks away from this. Leland pulls his card and tells him he has Detective Hoffman. He never left the city after the hospital mess, so Leland grabbed and put him away for a rainy day like today. He tells Fisk if he doesn’t check in daily, Hoffman goes to the Feds and unloads on everything about Fisk.
Fisk is rattled only a few times in the series, but here, Owlsley really gets the upper hand on him. To make matters worse, it is one of his most trusted partners. He tries to collect himself and tell Owlsley that Hoffman would never go against him, but Leland retorts: “10 million buys a lot of courage.” He tells Fisk Hoffman thinks he’ll get witness protection, but he knows Fisk will get to him before that. However, it won’t matter, the damage will be done and it will all come crumbling down. Fisk tells him he’ll be busted to and Leland says he and his son will be just another transaction “disappearing into the tax-exempt ether.”
He tells Fisk he’s fair, (nice, ha!) which is why he’s taking just half the money. He tells him time to split, not exactly a win-win, but it’s the best it’s gonna be, and asks if he’s on the same page. Fisk says he’s not and the monster explodes. He gets off a punch and Owlsley grabs the taser and it has no effect on Fisk in Hulk mode. In fact, it fuels his rage more as he screams that he hurt Vanessa. Then he chucks the Owl down an elevator shaft and he falls to his death. Fisk tells his guys to find Hoffman and end him. Hoffman is now like a time bomb that has started to tick. Bob Gunton as Leland Owlsley was great for some comic relief and snarky one-liners, but it was nice to see him pull some criminal mastermind jiujitsu on his master, even if it cost him his life.
At Fogwell’s Gym, Matt is working the heavy bags when Foggy shows up to start their makeup session. Foggy tells him he had known about Matt’s outlet at the gym for a while, but thought it was just a connection to his dad and that he thought he’d be out punching real people. He goes on saying he paid Ellison a visit since Karen has her concerns, but wasn’t able to get close to him. Matt tells him to try again and Foggy tells him he has some anger issues. No shit. Matty burns him saying, “You’re not my priest Foggy, who you might have met had you shown up to Ben’s funeral.” They play the blame game again and Foggy says he was on his way when Marci called. He tells Matt she’s been copying Landman and Zack files on Fisk and Owlsley for them. Apparently Foggy’s love is so good it leaves a Jiminy Cricket effect on the partner.
Matt is pissed at this news. He yells and him that Ben is dead and now he’s bringing Marci in on it? Foggy tells him she’s being careful, but Matt replies that they have to stop before there’s nobody left to bury. Foggy tells him he can’t go after Fisk and risk nearly dying again, and that it was his idea in the first place to use the law. Matt tells him he thought Nelson and Murdock was done. They agree that they can’t forget the past, but they have to let bygones be bygones and get to work.
Foggy and Matt meet with their cop pal Brett of the 15th Precinct again and they joke about him always buying his mom cigars. Brett tells him about the warehouse fire, the heroin, and his run-in with the man in the mask. Foggy asks what happened. “I got my ass beat.” He tells him, but adds that he got him thinking. Foggy says he has that effect on folks and Matt tells him Ben was also working with the masked man. Foggy tries to get some leads on the case out of him, but he won’t move so Foggy mentions Fisk and Brett says the man in black mentioned him too and said that half the cops in the 15th are under his thumb. He admits he’s seen suspicious stuff. Foggy tells him Ben found Fisk’s mom and that’s why he was killed, but Brett says nothing came from the crime scene. Even worse, no files were found, the hard drive was wiped clean, and there was no record of Mrs. Fisk ever being at the nursing home.
Two other cops come out while Foggy and Brett are chatting and Matt zeroes in on their phone call. He hears that whoever is on the other end is trying to track down Hoffman and they’re sending these two to knock him off once they have more info. Matt is now aware the clock on this time bomb is ticking. Brett tells them the way things are going, it’s time for him to get out. Foggy says they can’t lose the only honest cop they know. “Never see Serpico? Honest cops are usual the ones get shot in the face.” Officer Brett replies. Foggy is frustrated and tells Matt it was another dead end, but Matt assures him it wasn’t and tells him about what he heard. Foggy says of course they want him; he could expose the whole crime ring. They decide they need to get to that time bomb first.
Foggy and Matt are back to working together at Nelson and Murdock and we know things are going well because Foggy is again talking about cold cuts and his butcher’s destiny that he dodged. He jokes about why he became a lawyer, Matt tells him for the money, and he says that didn’t work out so well. Karen is enjoying the back-to-normal vibe and says this is the way it should be. Foggy asks if she found anything in Marci’s documents and she says there are thousands of pages and wonders how she even pulled it off. Foggy says she can be distracting. Matt tells her to focus on Silver and Brent; anything of Owlsley’s that might lead them to Hoffman.
They agree that Hoffman won’t just bring Fisk down; between the bombs and the cop shootings, he’ll clear the man in black. Karen’s a little concerned if he would really turn on Fisk, but Matt tells her there’s a lot of tension in Fisk’s house lately. Karen quotes Ben’s line about the man at the mountain top never far from enemies ready to tear him down. She wonders how they learned about Owlsley and Foggy tells her the man in the mask and Karen gets a little excited making Foggy and Matt nervous as they stutter and try to cover their tracks and lie about their supposed “meeting”.
Just as they start to get frustrated over the size of the stack of Marci’s legal documents, Karen spots something fishy. She finds a record of 187 of Silver and Brent’s holdings. The next day, it goes to 186. They tell her they liquidate properties all the time so one probably just sold, but Karen shows them the next day it’s also 186. She asks, wouldn’t there be a profit loss? Not unless it’s been taken off the records altogether, says Matt. He asks where and Karen tells him it’s in Hell’s Kitchen. Matt tells them he’s going to the 15th to tell Brett in person, since who knows, Fisk could be tapping phones at this point. Foggy confronts Matt before he bounces and tells him he knows he’s not really going to the precinct. Matt tells him he knows how he feels about his extra-legal work, but “This is the part where law meets reality.” He tells him he either masks up, or they lose Hoffman and Fisk wins. Fisk gets a call that they found Hoffman and he tells them to send the closest team. “No survivors.” The race is on.
At the hideout, one guy brings in some subs for dinner and the other bodyguards are wondering where they’re at on the countdown. One says eight minutes and Hoffman is lounging at a table. Shortly thereafter, dirty cops arrive and light the place up killing everyone except Hoffman quickly. Hoffman is drenched in his bodyguards’ blood and his fellow officers give him some shit before one of them puts a gun on him at point blank range. Hoffman squints waiting for the inevitable. He hears a few gun shots and body blows, and then opens his eyes to see the man in black stick a lovely flip kick knockout, a very Guile-esque flash kick, on one of the dirty cops. This would be the first of two very Street Fighter II influenced moves in this episode. Perhaps Silvera’s favorites to play were as Guile or E. Honda.
He approaches Hoffman and tells him to turn in what he knows on Fisk or keep sitting there until Fisk sends more guys. Hoffman tells him he can’t do anything since Fisk owns the force, but Matt tells him not the whole force and mentions his friend Brett at the 15th. He also tells Hoffman he knows a couple lawyers that can’t be bought that will help him out. Indeed. Hoffman tries to end it early or bolt, and Matt in black flips the table, socks him, and scares him into attention. He tells Hoffman he’ll clear a path to make sure he gets to the precinct, but if he tries anything else, he’ll wish he was never saved from that bullet. Officer Brett is waiting at the in-take desk when Hoffman enters and looks stunned once he realizes who has arrived. Hoffman tells him he would like to make a statement.
Hoffman is now with Nelson, Murdock, and the DA and her staff. Foggy says Hoffman will go with protective custody and wave immunity. The DA asks in exchange for what, and is surprised when Matt tells her nothing. He adds the detective wants to unburden himself regarding his involvement in Wilson Fisk’s criminal empire in the eyes of God and the state of New York. Hoffman tells them he’s taken a lot of money to do things for Fisk and that he’s not alone. Cops, lawyers, and at least one senator, he adds. The DA interrupts and tells him she wants him to start from the beginning and wants names, dates, everything he’s got. Karen snickers in satisfaction.
Ah, now we have our Nessun Dorma Pavarotti montage. All that remains of the consortium is going up in the fire that is that immortal tenor voice. We go from low to high, so Mr. Turk if you please. Turk is on the run and making some headway on the FBI, until a car cuts him off. He cooley slides over it, but is taken down. At the 15th Precinct, all the dirty cops are being walked out in their own cuffs. Officer Brett smiles. Every city in the country could use a police cleansing like this today considering the tragic events surround dirty and/or racist cops that seem to multiply. At The Bugle, though we were led to believe it was Ellison under Fisk, it ends up being a different reporter that’s walked out. At the parking lot of Landman and Zack, Marci watches as her bosses are taken down and she too cracks a smile. Even Marci gets a little depth and is redeemed in the end. Then there’s senator Cherrah embarrassingly walked out to cameras shooting him as Nessun Dorma hits its crescendo. I couldn’t help replaying this montage in my head with the recent high level FIFA pieces of shit as they were rounded up and indicted on decades long corruption charges by Switzerland and the U.S.
There is still one more. The, well, the Kingpin. Fisk is making arrangements and tells Vanessa they’re coming for him and she needs to leave. Vanessa thinks there still may be time and Wilson abruptly tells her there is nothing they can do to prevent what happens next. However, he pulls her in tight, and tells to listen carefully as there’s something very important she can still do for him. Sirens are heard and he asks her if she understands and Vanessa tells him she does. “There’s one more thing.” he tells her as the FBI starts bashing in the door. Fisk pulls out an engagement ring. As he’s read his Miranda Rights, he professes his love to Vanessa. “You’re my heart. You’re everything.” He doesn’t even get the kiss off and Vanessa is balling. Another one of those sympathy for the psychopath moments.
As Matt, Foggy, and Karen watch Fisk the “philanthropist” as the TV labels him walked out in custody, Foggy says: “Now everyone knows what kind of asshole Fisk really is.” Karen says they made it happen, and Marci too. They celebrate and Matt tells them this right here, the office, is what is important. He’s happy they’re safe and they have closure for those they’ve lost. They toast to Elena, Ben, and others lost to Fisk. But come on, this is Wilson Fisk. It ain’t over yet baby.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk has had so many brilliantly acted show-stealing moments that I honestly don’t know where this one lands, but man did I love it. While he’s in the police transport, he tells the guards about a Bible story he’s got in his mind. They harass him a bit, but let him continue. He tells them he was never religious, but curious, and one story stuck with him. A traveler is beat up and everyone including a priest ignores him until a Samaritan stops and finally helps the man. Fisk says he helped because the Samaritan was his neighbor and he loved the city and all the people in it. The Good Samaritan is well known, but it’s the way it’s delivered by Fisk/D’Onofrio that makes it a monologue that should be studied by Acting 101 students across the country.
At this moment, a group of Fisk’s soldiers block of the transport and open fire on all of the cops and a big gun battle ensues.
At Nelson and Murdock the crew are watching live coverage of the urban assault and Karen says they were idiots to celebrate and think it would be easy with Fisk. Matt pushes everyone out under the pretext of street closures, but Foggy knows what’s up. Foggy tells Matt he can’t go after him in his “black pajamas” and Matt tells him he won’t be and to trust him. Well, well. Costume change stage right?
Foggy tells him to go be a hero, but not to get killed. As Fisk’s soldiers approach his transport, one of the cops tells them he’ll take Fisk out if they attack. The other cop shoots the previous cop at close range leaving a bloody Jackson Pollock on the transport vehicle wall and tells Fisk time to get out. Package acquired. A powerful upward shot of Fisk rising out of the vehicle with his jacket flowing is captured. What we also see at this moment is the birth of The Kingpin. He tells his crew to take out whatever follows.
Matt makes a stop by Melvin Potter’s shop where he tells Matt he hasn’t quite finished “the process.” He tells him the black parts will offer the most protection and the red parts may deflect a knife. Maybe not. Matt tells him it will be fine and thanks him, but before he can go Melvin wants to know that Betsy will be safe from Mr. Fisk. Matt tells him he made a promise he intends to keep.
Just as The Kingpin has his moment of genesis, it would only be fitting for Daredevil to be born. And there it is; the red suit. I’m so thankful they waited as long as they did. A thirteen episode origin story. Yes. A panning shot captures the city and Matt in red, minus the mask, listening to the police radio chatter. He hears what we needs to and begins his hunt.
Fisk and crew make a pit stop and swap the plastic truck he’s in for a department store truck. Matt picks up the radio chatter that the package is en route. Fisk gets to have a quick walkie chat with Vanessa where he tells her how difficult this chapter has been. Vanessa just wants him there with her. Fisk reiterates that if he’s not by her side in twenty minutes, she needs to leave. Vanessa says she won’t let them take him, but just like before, he says if he’s not there, there’s nothing they can do but: “It won’t be the end Vanessa. Just an inconvenience. Nothing will ever keep us apart.” We hear a fifteen minutes to drop warning, then something smashes through the windshield and knocks out the driver, who rolls the truck. Once the truck is stopped and it’s quiet, Fisk hobbles out.
Daredevil lands on the top of the truck and the camera shot nicely contrasts Fisk’s earlier rising moment with him now low, forced to look up, appearing smaller and weaker. Matt wants to throw him a bone that he’s the same guy, so he says: “You were right what you told me over the radio that night. Not everyone deserves a happy ending.” “You?!” Fisk groans. Yep, message received. One of the goons starts shooting and Daredevil (I can actually use the name now woop woop!) evades the shots and flips down.
Next, along with the red suit, we get our first shot of the new and improved more traditional comic-looking Daredevil club. He pulls it out of the windshield, promptly snaps it in two and in awesome Daredevil fashion, throws one piece to bank off the side of the van to take out the shooter and boomerang back to him. Now we’re in dual Eskrima stick mode. Fisk takes off running, but ends panicked in a dead end. Looks like a good place for a showdown.
Fisk tells him he wanted to make the city a better place and he took it away, so time to die. Daredevil holsters his clubs, tells him to take his hot, and Fisk runs at him. Daredevil flips over him, throws him with the momentum, adds a flying spin kick, that leads to some ground and pound. Fisk blocks, gets in some knees, and gets to his feet as DD whiffs a punch and hits the ground. Then it’s quick strikes leading to another acrobatic kick planting Fisk on the wall. Fisk gets a big head butt in and chucks DD a ways into a dumpster, followed by tossing him again like a rag doll into the wall. Ah, the E. Honda Street Fighter II moment: Fisk flying head butt. Sure, why not? Back to advantage DD with some quick Murdock and Son boxing with a flying roundhouse exclamation.
Fisk grabs a pipe and we get to see the mask’s protection as sparks fly. He takes some, evades some, then grabs his clubs to even things out and make more fun sparks and goes for a kick banking of the wall. Click and we’re back to a single Eskrima as he beats Fisk down with it and throws and disarms him. Fisk is back in with a punch of punches until he’s got DD up like the Ultimate Warrior for a WWE slam. Well, more of a drop, but I do remember that scene from the comics. Fisk grabs the club and kicks DD in the face. Not looking great for our new costumed hero. As he pummels Daredevil with his own club with sparks off the new duds, Fisk grunts: “This city doesn’t deserve a better tomorrow. It deserves to drown in its filth! It deserves people like my father! People like you!”
The action slows to Matt’s super senses as he tracks Fisk’s arm movements and strikes. He’s able to trap a swing with an over hook and set in an armbar. “This is my city. My family” Says the man in the mask. Time to turn that shit up. He punches him off, breaks his club to two Eskrima, and goes to work Kali style smashing and bashing Fisk with a different version of the opening theme pumping at a faster tempo. He lets up and Fisk asks him if he really think a guy in a silly costume can change anything? Fisk laughs, Matt drops the clubs, and winds up for the knockout Superman punch.
All in all, not bad. However, not nearly as good as the first two episodes (my favorites) or the Nobu battle. Officer Brett shows up and realizes who he’s dealing with again. Matt tells him he’s not the bad guy and he caught Fisk trying to escape. He asks if they’re good and Brett calls it in without mentioning him. Matt thanks him and as Brett asks him what he should call him DD starts his ninja parkour wall bouncing. Guess Officer Brett gets the naming rights? There’s quick shot of Vanessa being told the time, putting on her ring, and getting in a chopper. Man, those piercing Ayelet Zurer eyes though. Somebody may be looking for revenge.
“Daredevil? That’s what they’re calling him now.” Says Karen as she reads the headline in the paper. The three amigos joke that it sounds like he’s going to jump a canyon, but it’s better than the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Karen is in awe that it’s the same guy that saved her, but Foggy comes back with “I think the horns are a bit much.” Hater. Karen fished the sign out of the trash and it’s now up and Matt drops one last “Nelson and Murdock; avocados at law.” Marci’s out of work, but Foggy’s helping her out and it seems like the avocados may have some space. They worry a bit about the timeline of Fisk to trial, but Matt tells them he’s where he belongs. They enjoy the sign, but Foggy says now what they need are clients. Matt mentions he’s heard a change in Karen’s voice he thought would improve after Fisk was taken care of, but he tells her it hasn’t. She tells him it won’t bring back Elena or Ben, erase what they’ve been through, or what they’ve done to get to this point. Matt tells her all they can do is move forward together, and offers her his hand. They share a brief sexually tense moment before entering their office.
In the can, Fisk stares at the all-white wall like “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” or like he did as a child. We all get one last chill from Mr. Fisk. Due to that spectacular monologue, not to mention perhaps the best acting of the year, D’Onofrio takes the final Golden Broken Arm.
Season one closes with Daredevil on the rooftop with a more driving musical version of the opening theme scanning the neighborhood with his hearing and other senses. He hears a woman scream, and jumps into action in a move straight off the page.
Devil in the Details
- Stan Lee cameo! They did it differently here. Catch it? He doesn’t physically appear, but is in photo form as a cop behind Officer Brett when Hoffman arrives.
- Nessun Dorma. Besides the tie in of “None shall sleep,” there are some other great lines from Puccini’s piece that work well with Daredevil: “My secret is hidden within me.” “At dawn, I will win.”
- The art on the Bulletin Karen reads is the cover art directly from Maleev’s Volume 2, issue #60.