We should probably take some time to talk about just how much Daredevil loves repeating itself. The moral quandary at the heart of this season is whether Matt will cross the line and kill Wilson Fisk. Which would be fine, if a little dull — but this isn’t the first time that Daredevil has done this. It is literally the central struggle of every season of the show. The first grappled with the brutality of the methods that earned Matt the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen moniker, ultimately leading to a reaffirmation of his faith in the law as he became Daredevil and apprehended Wilson Fisk. The second season, in introducing Frank Castle, interrogated his faith in that system with a character who believed it was better to just kill monsters who might otherwise escape a corrupt system. (Daredevil won that fight, but Daredevil never seemed to pick a side.)
And now in its third season, Daredevil has returned to this old hobbyhorse over any number of potentially interesting ideas. (For instance, the notion that Matt is Daredevil just because he likes hurting people, or that being Daredevil might be a bad thing.) And it is, quite frankly, exhausting, because we’ve been here before. Killing is bad! Why is this a question we have to keep circling around?
The only reason “One Last Shot” works in spite of its well-trod ground is because it mostly functions as the tragic conclusion of Agent Rahul Nadeem’s story. With the help of a newly reunited Matt, Foggy, and Karen, along with Detective Mahoney, he scrambles to secure his family, and ensure that he can testify in court — represented by none other than Nelson and Murdock, Attorneys at Law.
“I liked being the good guy,” Nadeem says at one point, when Matt is prepping him for his testimony to Blake Tower, the DA. He wanted to be a hero to his son, to get his family out of debt, to put bad guys away. Matt ruthlessly pushes back, saying that he still became an accessory, that he looked away at every opportunity until it was too late. And Nadeem recognizes this. He knows a jury is going to want to see him serve time for what he’s done. And he’s ready to do it. He has to atone, to do the right thing for his son, to make things up to his wife, who doesn’t want to be with him anymore after his dishonesty. He’ll testify in front of a grand jury.
Meanwhile, Vanessa Marianna has returned to New York, but something is different. She’s happy to be reunited with Fisk, but doesn’t feel as warmly to him as he does to her, because while she was in hiding abroad, she was surrounded by Fisk’s people, who tended to her every need and guaranteed her safety — but also her isolation. And now that she’s returned to New York, she’s surrounded by things he procured for her, being looked after once more by his people. She feels like another thing in his possession, and she wants to be a partner. She knows the kind of man Fisk is, a brutal man — and she wants to be a part of that.
Their reunion, however, is interrupted by bad news: Felix Manning has noted the increased security in the courthouse and that it’s likely that Nadeem intends to testify. Fisk tells Manning to do whatever it takes to stop him.
Which is why, despite a careful plan and a decoy convoy, Fisk’s goons know exactly what cable company van Nadeem and Murdock are covertly traveling in, and are fully prepared to gun it down in broad daylight. The ensuing shoot-out is one of the most fun Daredevil set pieces in a while, as Matt tries to get Nadeem to trust his superhuman senses and shoot goons through the van, and Nadeem doesn’t quite trust Matt and forges ahead — only to have Matt do stuff like diving through windshields in order to keep him alive. He does it, though, and the two arrive to meet the rest of the gang at the courthouse in time for Nadeem to testify.
Karen, meanwhile, has organized an impromptu press conference on the courthouse steps, telling the assembled reporters that they’ve been lied to and manipulated, that the Daredevil killer is not the real Daredevil, that he’s been helping Fisk regain control of the underworld, and that she knows his identity. She doesn’t divulge it — although Dex, watching the news at Fisk’s hotel, sees her, and is further tormented by his failure to kill her.
In the courthouse, Nadeem finishes giving his testimony — but then something goes wrong. Behind closed doors, Matt hears a juror listing the real names and addresses of every other member of the jury. Fisk got to them. He’s not getting indicted.
Everything promptly falls to pieces. Karen’s press conference quickly looks like a farce; Matt, ready to give up on doing things by the book, goes off to find Blake Tower to make sure he files for another hearing; and Nadeem, sick to his stomach, feels hopeless and punches Foggy out, making a run for it.
Having expressed her feelings to Fisk, Vanessa Marianna is ready to immerse herself in his world, and wield its power with him. As he shows her his command center, he gets an update on Nadeem: They know where he’s run off to, and Manning needs to know the next steps. Fisk says that with the indictment stymied, Nadeem can be thoroughly discredited, so should his testimony ever make it out, no one would believe it. Vanessa, however, tells Fisk that it might be better to just kill him. And Fisk, seemingly reluctant to take Nadeem out but wanting to indulge his beloved, takes her advice to have Dex kill him.
There’s a lot here that goes unresolved, namely with Dex and Vanessa. They shared a scene together, earlier, where Dex, desperate to get back into Fisk’s good graces, has the white painting brought into the penthouse after he killed its owner. Vanessa, spotting a smudge of blood on the frame, knows what he did to get it — and there also seems to be some potential sexual tension there — but none of it is followed up on. Fisk expresses irritation at the painting no longer being with its owner, but that’s about it. It’s a real lousy way to conclude a small plot thread that would’ve just been better off left alone.
Nadeem, like a dummy, has gone to his home. It’s abandoned and taped off, and he sits in front of some family photos and records a message on his phone for his family. He knows he’s a dead man, and goes to wait in his backyard with a drink. Soon enough, Dex arrives.
Making one last plea to his conscience, Nadeem asks Dex to realize that Fisk manipulated him, and offers to help him cut a deal with the DA. Dex, however, feels liberated in his new life as Fisk’s muscle, and isn’t going back. Nadeem’s last act is to try drawing his gun on Dex. He never stood a chance.
At the old gym that they’ve been hiding out in, Foggy, Karen, and Matt hear the news. Matt is furious. He leaves saying that they tried it Foggy’s way.
He’s leaving, presumably, to suit up and kill Fisk once and for all. It’d be nice if I believed that, though.