Daredevil sometimes feels like two shows — the gritty, dark superhero story with a surprisingly emotional heart, and a really boring law drama. The latter has only really slipped in the past few episodes, but it’s a far fall; after the suspense and crackle of Wilson and Matt’s backstories and action, Karen and Foggy and Urich feel more than a little foolish in their endeavors. But when Elena is killed in connection with their case — a case they’ve connected directly to Wilson Fisk — it demonstrates a serious dissonance between Matt’s two worlds. Matt’s inner knowledge of Wilson Fisk isolates him more and more. You can actually feel him recede from them when Foggy and Karen mourn Elena in the bar.
The one moment that rang false in this episode: Why didn’t we see Elena’s death? Yes, hearing about it is terrible, but it lacks the visceral edge of past violence, like Claire’s or the little boy’s kidnapping, the various torture scenes, and Anatoly’s and Detective Blake’s murders. We’re shown bloody pain on this show all the time, but it’s almost always framed in a way for us to feel it. The emotional heart of this show extends to pain.
It also extends to religion. In one particularly charged moment in the bar, Karen says the masked man should straight-up kill Wilson Fisk. Matt, still debating his next move with Fisk, asks her if she’s religious. She says no — you can feel Matt’s confusion and frustration grow — but asks Matt if it helps. Matt doesn’t recede completely — he reaches out to that priest he confessed to in the first episode, and they discuss the devil over a latte. It’s exciting to see a character actually turn to religion and religious leaders in his time of need rather than have a crisis of faith on his own. The priest also gives him an idea of the devil beyond just a concept, telling him a story of a village during the Rwandan genocide. The devil, the priest contends, comes in many forms, but he does walk among us.
Matt goes to visit Fisk’s girlfriend as this idea swirls in his head, and meets Wilson Fisk face-to-face. It’s one of those scenes that Marvel does so well, the hero meeting a villain, the layers of mystery and intrigue and I know you know, but you don't know what I know, that fill a scene with tension like smoke. (An example is when Alexander Pearce approaches Steve Rogers about Nick Fury’s death in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and can tell Cap’s lying even as he’s lying himself.) He tells the priest Vanessa and Fisk love each other with a tinge of fear for his soul, because killing Fisk would result in his soul’s damnation, but also, perhaps, a tinge of envy, as Matt has really isolated himself this episode, only going to the priest because of his promised anonymity. The priest points out that he might want to kill Fisk more than need to. Huh, Matt, it’s as if God himself is saying, "Matt, you need a plan!"
Meanwhile, Fisk has a plan. He has a ton of plans. He is all about those plans! When interrupted by Nobu during a discussion of his rapidly filling social schedule, he promises to get him the block he promised (the same one Elena tries to stay in) and asks for a favor to get the man in the mask through a “specialist” in Nobu’s organization. Turns out that’s Nobu himself, which leads to the bloody framing device of the episode: going after Matt with a knife whip. (There’s probably an actual term for it, but I don’t know if I want to go Googling it.) It’s a total bloodbath whipping, with religious undertones. Matt meets Fisk again, who mentions he killed Elena because he knows Matt has a weakness for women and children and assumes his sentiment also covers the elderly. He predicts correctly: This leads Matt to beat up a few guys in righteous fury. Matt only escapes from Nobu when the latter accidentally sets himself on fire from the gas leaking from the barrels and a lamp lighting him up.
Matt promises to kill Fisk and lunges toward him, slicing him with Nobu’s knife even as Fisk pummels him with that temper we’ve seen before. When Fisk leaves Wesley to do the rest of the work, Matt deflects the shot with a baton and crashes through a window and straight into the Hudson.
He crawls back into his apartment right when Foggy is outside his door, upset and needing to talk. Their relationship is so much warmer this episode, which makes the end scene of Foggy pulling off Matt’s mask particularly poignant. It’s clear Matt really needs to reach out to his friends and loved ones, not become a lone vigilante. Daredevil’s outsides might reflect a bit of the DC darkness, but its heart is all Marvel, and Marvel villains rarely work alone.
- Foggy makes a Community reference when Elena walks in! “¿Dónde está la biblioteca?” really isn’t a helpful phrase in real life, Foggy.
- Really enjoyed the fact that Brett the Good Cop with the cigar-smoking grandmother returned this episode. Please tell me he comes back!
- How come neither Urich nor Karen can tell Matt’s the man in the mask through his voice? It’s not that there’s much change to it. Then again, Matt really does not have a very distinctive voice.