In this episode, we learn a bit more about our villains, including how terrible they are on dates. Ever wondered about Voldemort’s flirting style? ME EITHER. But we pick up the thread from last episode, with Wilson Fisk asking out the art-gallery owner, Vanessa, on a date. Unlike other Marvel villains, like Loki or Killian or Pearce, Wilson Fisk may be yet another white guy, but he has exactly no chill. While I’d be morbidly interested in the aforementioned other three going on dates — and I know Tumblr agrees with me on the first one — Wilson Fisk is painfully awkward, and not in a way that’s at all fun to watch. I don’t understand what Vanessa sees in him, mostly because he talks about himself the whole date, picks a generic bougie restaurant, and speaks in mysterious banalities. I’m hoping Vanessa has a dark, mean heart hidden under all that chicness, and can tell Fisk’s matches hers. While I’m not really interested in a Godfather first marriage situation — especially since Vanessa already seems to be able to tell that Fisk is into something shadier than the Amazon rain forest — I’m all for watching murderous couples.
On the subject of romance, we finally see some chemistry between various “partners” this episode. While Daredevil has been interesting so far, one thing Marvel has been good at is forging relationships and connections that put passion in the dialogue and raises the stakes to actual highs — but I have yet to see this here. For one, Foggy and Matt have only had a few scenes so far, and they don’t really seem to have a rapport despite references of how well they know each other. Matt jokes that he’s hearing about Foggy’s butcher story again, but Foggy seems to think Matt has charmed every woman in the city. Even if that’s a reference to past loves from college (like Elektra?), he seems incredibly tone-deaf to Matt’s actual nighttime habits.
In contrast, Karen has finally found a partner in crime to achieve justice in this broken system. Karen’s story line has really bothered me so far, and I think it’s because of the way she’s written: totally naïve, in a way that you never see in a grown woman. Most women have already learned that the world, much less a city, is filled with dark corners, and have already built up certain defenses against it. To have Karen act like this was her first brush with any inhumanity, even if it is incredibly dark, is a little much. But the idea of Urich mentoring and guiding her is a compelling turn for both their characters and feels like a genuine connection, if only because while Karen is an idealist, Urich is clearly an idealist with some practical experience. He also alludes to Karen having a past and background, which would be great to see, if only because we’ve already gotten all the men’s backgrounds out of the way.
Speaking of men’s backgrounds, we learn about the Russian brothers for some reason. I don’t really see why it’s so relevant that we know they were in a Siberian prison eight years ago — sure, the “rib as shiv” part was creepy-interesting, but their allusions to being “princes in Moscow” have more impact than the opener. Wesley tells Vladimir and Anatoly that their mismanagement because of the man in the mask is affecting business, which means his boss wants to take over. Anatoly keeps pushing Vladimir to bow down to Fisk, but first they reach out to the man Matt put in a coma in the second episode by stabbing him with epinephrine. He reveals Claire’s address, which leads them to beating up Santino (noooo!) to find where she’s hiding, and dragging her away while Matt listens.
Matt and Claire’s situation escalated a little too quickly this episode for my taste. We got an initial spark in the beginning of the episode: Claire helps and fusses over a shirtless, glassesless Matt, so we get the full effect of Charlie Cox’s stupid gorgeousness as he demurs, “Are you worried about me?” I also liked that Matt shared his information about Wilson Fisk’s name — as Marvel has shown, superheroes with confidantes can be a lot more compelling than the lone wolves. But that leads to her being kidnapped and hit repeatedly with — apparently — a baseball bat. Sure, we get Matt panicking and scaling walls (and speaking Spanish!) to save her, but jeez, that is some disturbing imagery. The dénouement scene at Matt’s apartment had so many problems; yes, Matt tells Claire a bit about himself, but he has no answer to her asking about a plan, and Claire responds by talking about her support for him despite her fear. If Karen is written as too naïve, Claire is written to be too trusting of a man without a plan. I mean, they could at least come up with one together. (Personally, I want to know how Matt found out about the Russians in the first place.) I also don’t understand why neither of them are worried about the implications of Santino telling Matt what happened to Claire. Yes, Matt saved one little boy, but what about the one who’s worried about becoming motherless? Don’t tell me we’re dropping that thread.
The image of Claire’s very battered face makes me wonder if she’ll have to tell people she just “fell,” which makes me think of this piece I read recently, where the writer’s face wounds brought up various discussions about domestic violence. I thought of it especially when the episode ended with Fisk, a man of power who reacted to Vanessa’s mild rejection by brutally beating up, killing, and beheading Anatoly. He mentions his anger stemming from being “embarrassed in front of her,” but it sounds more like he wants someone to blame for not getting a second date. The whole scene goes on too long, though the gratuitousness hammers home how Fisk isn’t just a man in a suit. Wesley points out that this death will start a war, which Fisk points out is exactly what he wants.
A few thoughts:
- The one moment when Fisk had something interesting to say: “Be a shame to see all the character scrubbed away,” says Vanessa. “You didn’t grow up here, did you?” he answers. Thank you. I’m always perturbed by people talking about how much better the old New York was. Like, really? Sure, it’s expensive now and I don’t get cupcakes either, but the “old” New York was where my mom, who lived in the city as a graduate student, once came home to her Brooklyn apartment to find out her superintendent had been murdered. Is that seriously better?
- When Claire gets taken, why didn’t anyone pick up the phone after she called Matt? We miss out on a Liam Neeson–esque Taken speech, yes, but I would also think it would behoove the gangsters to talk to the man, don’t you think? Even if they don’t want him to find her before they’re done, they must’ve known she’d call him.
- The warehouse scene where Matt uses the “ominous voice coming from everywhere” tactic is an interesting fight scene, but what really made it was Claire’s laughter when the lights went off. “Ask him yourself.”