Sometimes, the problem with Netflix shows is the slow burn in the beginning. Because their shows are made for binge-watching, they don’t have to give everything away in the first episode. But because of that, you can actually feel the show is holding back, which can be frustrating if you don’t have 13 uninterrupted hours to spend on it. But episode six is what that slow burn was for, and it’s so far the best episode of the series, if only because it’s firing on all cylinders. All our characters are affected by the blast, and so this episode unites them and gives the episode a cohesion missing from previous episodes.
First, regarding that cliff-hanger: It turns out the cops were sent by Fisk to clean up after the blasts. They cuff Matt, but when he realizes they’re doing Fisk’s dirty work, he beats them up (in handcuffs! I cheered) and steals Vladimir for himself.
Urich is pinning up a bunch of cards, trying to find out who “The King” is, when he hears about the blasts in Hell’s Kitchen. (Playing cards are the new strings for the discerning trendy conspiracy theorist.) The way his boss directs the newsroom to check if it was gas or electrical, etc., feels poignantly familiar, reminiscent of the East Village explosion last month. Urich dismisses those possible suspects, though, pointing out all the places hit were controlled by the Russians as he runs off.
Meanwhile, Claire has left the building and come back to the hospital for the emergency, conveniently so she can help Karen and Foggy with Mrs. Cardenas. She gets a call from Matt, who has dragged Vladimir to a leaky warehouse. Vladimir is not participating, even though Matt has told him he’s being played, even as he faints from the blood loss. Matt wants him to live so he can ask him more about Fisk, so Claire tells him to cauterize the wound, but a cop hears the screams and comes in to investigate. Matt realizes he’s not one of Fisk’s men, so he lets the newbie cop talk to people — but of course the cop tells on him, which is Matt’s first mistake of many in this episode.
In fact, Matt has made a ton of mistakes since we’ve come with him on this venture — he just gets lucky, what with Claire finding him in a dumpster or Wesley walking into his law firm. But this episode, he really starts to pay for all of them, including the one Claire pointed out last episode: the lack of a plan or a code.
Now everyone knows his location and treats it like a hostage situation, Urich joining them. In contrast, Fisk and Wesley are in complete control here, never even leaving their spot in the car. They decide to bring in all the media to see. Vladimir reawakens, and taunts Matt that he is actually just like him. Matt furiously denies this, but Vladimir is insistent — “We all get there. Men like us.” He tells Matt that Fisk’s people approached them, offered them invisibility to the police and access to the Chinese and heroin. But the real help was the money man — and Matt gets so wrapped up that he doesn’t realize Vladimir’s regained his strength. (As his catchphrase goes this episode, “This is not how I die!”) His attack sends them down two stories and knocks them out, even killing Vladimir, so Matt is forced to save him, which impresses Vladimir a tiny bit.
Matt realizes they’re near the subways, so he starts to pull on the grate, but first he hears something on the police walkie-talkie: Fisk. The conversation is one of the best parts of the episode. The dialogue of Daredevil can be sketchy — “It hurts, doesn’t it? The pain” was a particularly bad one in episode four, and those date scenes can be rough — but this conversation had a ton of lead-up, both Cox and D’Onofrio feel genuine and present, and it so perfectly does what it needs to do.
Matt is again defensive when Fisk compares them and attempts to make a scary Taken speech about how he’ll get Fisk for his bad deeds, but Fisk is indifferent and assured in a way we haven’t yet seen him, having followed him where no one looks their best: on early dates and while killing a man with his bare hands and a car door. Matt’s mistakes are even more pronounced now — when he tells Fisk he’ll find out what he needs from Vladimir, Fisk points out that that means he knows nothing yet, and then calls Matt a child just as the man kicks some wood in frustration. Matt tries to say he’ll die a hero, but Fisk tells him he’s going to blame the masked man for the bombings — and the random shootings, as a sniper takes out three policemen in front of the building Matt’s trapped in. Fisk hangs up and Matt’s stuck yelling into the walkie-talkie. Struggling with the subway grate, he calls Claire and apologizes for his response to her earnest question last episode.
Vladimir is on his side now, and they get into the tunnels, where police arrive with machine guns and Matt fends them off — he does a freaking flip, you guys! To avoid a spray of machine-gun fire! But the Russian knows he’s dying and keeps a machine gun to fight off the rest. He finally gives him a name: Leland Owlsley, the racist guy who asks all the jumpy questions in the villain meetings. But he also gives a caveat: that Fisk controls the whole justice system as well, and if he finds Matt, he’ll do to Matt what he did to Vladimir, and do it to everyone he loves. But as Fisk says, what makes Matt really dangerous is his ideology — and his idealism is really nothing compared to Fisk, at least not without a plan.
Meanwhile, Karen and Foggy are still at the hospital, worrying about where Matt is. A video of Matt beating up the police officers is used as evidence to blame the murders on him. Karen freaks out, pointing out that it’s the man in the mask, to which Foggy says that a man in a mask usually has something to hide.
- The newbie officer dies, of course, as every idealist does on this show: watching his own system fail him.
- Apparently, in this universe, torture is super effective. Although this show is good at making us feel the pain of every person tortured.
- After Vladimir sends himself and Matt through two stories: “That wasn’t very smart.” “But it was fun.”
- Foggy says he’s the closest Matt has to family. Does he really have no clue what Matt’s up to? Maybe with Karen giving Matt inexplicable dirty looks, Foggy will finally figure it out.
- The whole conversation scene is well-directed: the way Matt takes and throws away the random stabby stick Vladimir tries to pick up (a call back to his scene with the rib-shiv) was so small, but it made me laugh.
- Charlie Cox really shines throughout conversation, showing Matt’s bravado and innocence in little details. When he tells Wilson Fisk to say his name, Fisk says, “You first,” to which Matt does a double-take.