This episode, we go on a little trip down psyche lane with Matt Murdock and his old father figure, whom he calls “Stick.” But first, a bloody opener. The shot of the guy running down the stairs was great, as well as the way we see the elevator come up by a single sliver of white light. A man with a katana tortures him for information, and it turns out the guy doing the chopping is blind, was talking to a man in Japan, and is an old friend of Matt’s. They meet when Matt botches an interrogation with Leland Owlsley over what was honestly a terrible plan. Good job following him to his meet-up with Nobu, Matt … but be a little more strategic about your intimidation techniques.
“Stick,” as Matt calls him, is an old mentor of his, a man who approached him when he was in a Catholic boarding house. A nun explains to him that his father left Matt a big inheritance, but his mother is another story. Matt is freaking out in bed like a boy possessed, but he’s really struggling with all the sounds he can now see too clearly. Stick correctly guesses that Matt has gained some gifts from his blinding and takes him to the park for ice cream (!) to show him how useful his new gifts are: He can tell when someone is in love, or dying, or the exact emotional needs of a dog.
Matt invites Stick to his home — begrudgingly, because Stick has been gone for 20 years. He then insults Matt’s apartment and silk sheets and whole way of being. “I’m proud of you,” he promises, “but you’re surrounding yourself with soft things.” Matt, unlike most vigilantes, pushes away the idea of a life of struggle. Daredevil is one of many gritty vigilante shows, but its protagonist is a dogged idealist and one who believes in emotion and relationships and caring. Throughout the episode, he also mournfully talks about Claire in past tense, telling Foggy and Stick about how it didn’t work out, a surprising departure from how the cold Bruce Wayne or even man-child Peter Quill would react.
He insults Matt’s father, which angers Matt enough to fight him, but Stick twists his arm behind his back, which takes us to another flashback — Matt training with Stick.
You can actually see how Matt’s fighting style has improved. He might have the flips down, but he makes the rookie mistake of going all offense and approaching from a distance, so all Stick has to do is back away and wait for him to pause to take a punch. It’s a sharp contrast to Matt’s usual style: unhesitating, up-close-and-personal punches and arm-twisting. Even when he kicks, he flips in place to stay close enough to his opponent so they never have space to run or take him by surprise. The session abruptly ends when Matt very sweetly gives Stick a bracelet he made from the ice-cream wrapper. Stick crumples it in front of him and sneers that he was wrong about Matt, ending the session.
Stick — who looks a little like Robert Durst from The Jinx — is eschewing his own philosophy, however, telling Matt that he needs his help because the Japanese are bringing a weapon called Black Sky into the city on the docks. With a shit-eating grin, Matt crows that Stick needs his help but makes him promise not to kill anyone. (You gotta start somewhere when it comes to a moral code, I suppose.) They approach the docks and Matt begins to take down henchmen, but freezes when he realizes “Black Sky” is a little prepubescent brown boy in chains. (Christ, as Karen would say.) Even more disturbing is when Stick attempts to shoot the child with an arrow, which Matt stops. But Stick tells him later that he got the kid anyway, putting Matt into a rage. Matt and Stick fight it out, clearly well-matched, with Matt going down more than once and destroying his apartment as they go.
Karen is still digging, in more ways than one. She tries to get a proper answer from Matt about the masked man, who diplomatically tries to defend the man even as Foggy rails against him. Foggy calls him a “nut job,” seeing as the masked man didn’t even take credit for the murders and bombings.
He tries to ask her out, but she deflects, off to meet Urich. Urich figures the Japanese mafia is involved with the scheme, and when Karen agonizes over how slow they’re going, he tells her this is how it goes. Their scenes are serviceable, but the addition of Foggy might spice them up a bit. Karen meets Foggy after her discussion with Mrs. Cardenas (or Elena, as Matt calls her). Elena gives her descriptions of the men who sledgehammered her home and Karen promises to get Tully and the men who did this to Elena — “we’ll get their dicks in a vice,” as she puts it. She doesn’t do exactly that, but when the exact men in Elena’s description assault her, Foggy hits them with a softball bat. “I can take care of myself!” she insists, before she turns to one of the men struggling to get up and maces him in the face. Ha! (Mace has good precedent in the Marvel Universe.)
By now, Karen realizes that Foggy’s into her (somehow she didn’t get it even when he expressly asked her if it was a date in episode five, which, Karen). Maybe she’ll stop so openly mooning over Matt, whom she has had maybe one solo scene with since the first episode.
Urich invites them to see his weird card chart, appointing the masked man as the counterpart to the mysterious “king” (Wilson Fisk, in this chart). By blaming the bombings on the masked man, Fisk somehow made him seem like a worthy opponent to any other terriers digging for information.
When Matt goes through the wreckage, he finds that old ice-cream bracelet in the wreckage, leaving him teary-eyed. Could that have been planted on purpose? Stick clearly has an agenda for Matt, as he kneels before a pot full of incense and a shirtless man with scars all over his back and a velvet voice comparable to Keith David’s. Stick apparently killed Black Sky for him, but when he asks if Matt will be ready “when the doors open,” Stick is unsure.
- The only problem I had with that opener was that after having so many people scream as they get tortured or killed or punched, this guy barely whimpers as he holds his bloody stump after his hand was cut off, and doesn’t even scream as he dies.
- Stick: “Women are a distraction, like this furniture.” SIR …
- On that note, it’s too bad there are no female fighters on this show to contrast with Matt’s style. Similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there aren’t even female henchwomen, which is somewhat perplexing.
- We finally learn something about Karen’s background other than her crazy good Spanish: She played high-school basketball! She is quite tall.
- The way Matt says he can hear “a dozen heartbeats” is so creepy! Like he’s a vampire or something, I love it.