Some of my fellow NOCs and other contributors have written eloquent season reviews and critiques of Daredevil so I’ll keep this brief. I’m pretty biased with this character and while I tried to restrain some and was somewhat critical, there was a lot of praise throughout my recaps. When something that’s been a part of 2/3 of your life finally is treated correctly, it can be quite the emotional ride. Congrats to Netflix for this, their greatest and most-watched original series. Netflix and Marvel: the new Kingpins. Best superhero show? Yes. Best Marvel property? Yes. Best show, movie, anything a camera has filmed? Shit, probably. Sure. Yes.
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.
“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.
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.”
Yes, the boys are fighting and Foggy Bear attacks like a… bear. It’s Foggy’s turn to learn about Matt’s powers and the first part of “Nelson v. Murdock” basically repeats previous scenes and flashbacks of folks that know about Matt. Nothing new that we don’t already know until the way Foggy plays it at the end. Besides Foggy’s cross examination of Matt, we get flashbacks to their meeting and law school
daze days, Madame Gao puts Fisk in another time out, Karen tricks Ben in a game changing way, and a benefit dinner really could have used a Medieval cup-bearer.
Ninja fight! Maybe you didn’t get that, let me clear my throat: FUCKING NINJA FIGHT!!!!!! I feel like I’m 12 again. One aspect of this episode I loved and found very original was the use of the ninja battle as the tie that binds. Though the ninja fight scenes are one complete fight, they are broken up chronologically and are stuck between all the other subplots. So essentially, the fight itself becomes not just a fight, but its own overarching subplot. Very cool. Credit due to the director Nick McCormick (The Good Wife), Silvera, and crew for a new take on the use of and cutting of a fight scene.
At this point, the similarities between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk both wanting to make their city a better place have been repeated a few times. Yep, they’re two sides of the same coin; we get it. Well, there’s another strong tie that binds; they both have serious daddy issues. Matt’s came earlier and now we get to see a big reason why Fisk is who he is. I mentioned there may have been a hint at potential childhood trauma on the fourth episode recap, and my, my; “hint” seems so wrong after this. In addition, Matt ends up in Karen and Foggy’s (and Ben’s) investigation, and Fisk’s grip on his empire starts loosening, creating tension among the consortium in “Shadows in the Glass.”
I love Stick! Sticky Sticky Stick! I lost my mind on this one. It’s still hard to pick a favorite, but this episode is a strong candidate. This is the first time the character has appeared off the page — because we are not counting the terrible Elektra movie — and after Daredevil/Matt, he’s right there as my next favorite character. Why? I think it goes like this: having grown up on many (mostly shitty, some good) martial arts flicks and having trained for years, there’s this stereotypical Mr. Miyagi idea of what a teacher — a sensei — should be like. Kind, gentle, wise, patient, caring, loving, etc. I’ve even had some that sadly seemed to be playing the part.
The wise part, sure, and ninja master indeed, but stereotype be damned. Dude’s an asshole! An arrogant, mean, crotchety old piece of shit asshole. This is the way Miller created and wrote Stick, and Scott Glenn knocks it out the fucking park. I couldn’t get enough. The Golden Broken Arm is yours sir.
The Russian that we love to hate ends up taking one for team Murdock in “Condemned.” We get our first Fisk/Murdock confrontation (via walkie talkie), get to see Urich working the case, and in my opinion, get the best Easter Egg of them all to this point.
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.
About three weeks before we got “the Netflix drop,” Vincent D’Onofrio was responding to Daredevil and Wilson Fisk questions on Twitter. One of the early questions that he responded to was probably the best:
— Daredevil (@Daredevil) March 18, 2015
This is our introduction to Fisk and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He owns this one. Golden Broken Arms, legs, all limbs to D’Onofrio. In addition, the Russians get some more attention, Matt and Claire continue being awesome, and Ben and Karen team up.
I brought this up in my recap for “Into the Ring,” but “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” is where we really get the Law & Order: Hell’s Kitchen portion of the show. We can break this one down into three parts too: bowling alley/back alley; Karen, Ben, and the devious corporation formerly known as
Prince Union Allied; and the murder trial. There’s an up, then down, then back up wave feel in terms of rhythm in this one.
This being an outstanding ensemble drama, the writing and acting sparks get passed around nicely. I’m going to start giving out (drum roll…) “The Golden Broken Arm for Best Performance per Episode.” Appropriate, right? The best performance from “Into the Ring” goes to Charlie Cox, and “Cut Man” is all Rosario Dawson. This episode, though, is actually tougher, but I’m going to go out on a limb. (Ha, “limb” — more on that later).
Let’s begin though, with Sason Jathom. Who?
This one’s amazing. Holy shit. Wow!
Okay, I think we can break it down into three acts: Matt and Claire, Battlin’ Jack, and the beat down at the end. I guess there’s also the Karen and Foggy bender that’s cute and light. Enough on that? Okay, good. Ding, ding, there’s the bell. Let’s get in to episode two of Daredevil, “Cut Man.”
It’s still surreal to me that it’s here after all the hype and the waiting. Rather than hash out point by point what happens, let’s look at reasons why the first episode of Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil is one of the best first episodes of anything ever filmed; superhero or otherwise.