Monday, July 6, 2015

Daredevil Season 1, Episode 13, "Daredevil" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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At long last, we’ve finally reached the end of Daredevil season 1.  This is the climax of all the action and intrigue and character development we’ve been following.  The anticipation has built to a fever pitch, and the season finale definitely did not disappoint.  This episode gives us the big battle we’ve been waiting for between Daredevil and Kingpin, as well as the iconic suit we’ve been waiting all season to see.  And it also brings most of the character arcs for the season to a satisfying conclusion.

The episode opens with Ben’s graveside committal, conducted by Father Lantom.  Karen, Matt, Doris, Ellison, and the secretary from the Bulletin are all in attendance.  We do not hear any of the dialogue; the whole scene all we hear is the music.  I really like this opening, especially after the way the last episode ended.  When you are “binge-watching” the season, it is especially powerful as a contrast from the ending of the previous episode, “The Path of the Righteous.”  Following the opening credits, Karen goes over to talk to Doris.  She thinks it was her fault that Ben got killed, but Doris tells her that Ben was doing what he wanted to do, and he “passed doing what he loved.”  Doris really hasn’t been a major character in the series, but I like her portrayal in this scene.  The mourning, especially for someone with her mental problems, is very well done.

Following the funeral, Matt and Karen return to the office, where Karen is visibly upset that Foggy didn’t come to the funeral.  Matt against takes the blame himself for everything that’s happening with Foggy, but Karen tells him that it can’t be entirely his fault; everyone shares the blame in a relationship that goes bad.  Karen starts freaking out that Fisk is going to come after her, but Matt comforts her that he will keep her safe, and everyone responsible for what’s happened will get what’s coming to them.  After everything that’s happened, Matt is at the edge where he is just about ready to kill Fisk for everything he’s done.  I’ve liked Charlie Cox’s portrayal of Matt Murdock all along, even though you can tell that he is struggling to show emotions without his eyes being visible.  Of course, I wonder if that isn’t normal for someone who is blind.

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The first conflict for the episode arises while Fisk is going over the papers that Wesley had put together when he transferred the money to get Vanessa out of the country.  Fisk realizes that there are some irregularities, which he shares with Vanessa before going to confront Owlsley.  Fisk meets Owlsley at an abandoned building and confronts him with the facts.  Owlsley denies having killed Wesley, but admits to having poisoned Vanessa because he and Gao wanted to get Fisk back on track.  However, because everything is out in the open, Owlsley says he is going to leave and take half of Fisk’s assets with him because he has Hoffman (the dirty cop who killed his partner on Fisk’s orders in “Shadows in the Glass” (1x08)) for leverage.  Of course, Owlsley was underestimating the amount of rage that Fisk had built up against whoever attempted to kill Vanessa.  Fisk head-butted him, shrugged off the taser that Owlsley hit him with, grabbed Owlsley, and threw him down an elevator shaft.  Fisk’s rage is a very terrifying thing to see!  His next move was to order Francis to have the city scoured to find Hoffman.

We next see Matt at the gym again, taking out his anger on a punching bag.  Foggy comes in to talk to Matt, and explains that he’s known about Matt’s “outlet” for a while, but thought it had to do with his dad; now he knows that it has to do with his activities in the mask.  Though Matt lashes out at Foggy for missing the funeral, Foggy apologizes and explains that he was meeting with Marci, who had some information on the case.  He does not think that they will ever be able to get back to the way things were, but Matt says that maybe they can move forward.  The rest of the episode explores how the two of them learn to work together and how Fogy accepts Matt’s vigilantism.  They first go to visit Brett, who doesn’t have much information for them.  However, while at the precinct Matt overhears a dirty cop (one of the ones from the alley in “World on Fire” (1x05) and “Condemned” (1x06)) talking about Owlsley stashing Hoffman in the City.  They take this information and go through all the information Marci had given them to find the property where Owlsley stashed Hoffman.  Matt changes into his suit and goes to the location, despite Foggy’s concerns.  I like Matt’s response:  “This is the part where the law meets reality.”  Matt does not see his vigilantism as outside the law, but as a method to enforce the law.

However, Fisk’s men find out the location around the same time, and take out all of the guards at the location before turning on Hoffman.  That same cop is about to kill Hoffman when Matt appears and takes out all the cops in the warehouse.  Matt tells Hoffman that he has two options:  “by turning evidence on Fisk you can set things right” or “You can sit here playing with yourself until Fisk sends more men to kill you.”  Though Hoffman is afraid of getting killed by Fisk’s men, Matt tells him to talk to Brett, and that Brett knows a couple of lawyers who can’t be bought (meaning himself and Foggy).  Hoffman turns himself in to Brett, and makes a recorded statement with Matt and Foggy as his lawyers.  Then Hoffman starts naming names.  While listening to more classical music (this series likes its classical music!), we watch a montage of Turk Barrett being arrested, of the FBI taking out that same dirty cop while Brett watches and smirks, of the Bulletin secretary being arrested while Ellison looks on, of Landman being arrested while Marci watches in relief, and finally of the Senator being arrested.  At that moment the scene shifts to Vanessa watching the Senator’s arrest on TV while Fisk makes arrangements on the phone.  Though she wants to run, he refuses; they can’t prevent his arrest.  However, he gives her instructions to arrange his escape.  And then he proposes as the FBI is arriving to arrest him.  Matt, Foggy, and Karen watch the news footage of his arrest and begin to celebrate.  I actually thought this would be a satisfying ending:  the legal process is doing what it’s supposed to do, and Fisk is being punished.  Too bad there are still 20 minutes left…

While in the truck, Fisk tells his guards that his favorite Bible story is the parable of the Good Samaritan.  He always thought of himself as the Samaritan… but he now knows that “I am the ill intent, who set upon the traveler on a road that he should not have been on.”  And at that moment Fisk’s men arrive on the bridge and initiate a firefight with the FBI escort.  The rescue team kills the entire FBI team while taking a number of casualties themselves.  One of the guards in the truck with Fisk reveals himself as a plant, who shoots the other one and opens the door so Fisk can escape.  Fisk switches trucks and it looks like he is going to escape.  It actually would not have surprised me if Fisk had gotten away to become an even greater threat in a future Daredevil season or in The Defenders.  Considering how iconic New York’s Kingpin of Crime is in the Daredevil mythos—and how well they developed him in this series—he really couldn’t end up as a one-and-done villain.  However, Matt was not going to let him get away.

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When they hear the report of the firefight, Matt tells Foggy to make sure Karen gets home, and goes to confront Fisk himself.  Though Foggy is initially reluctant, and afraid that Matt will get hurt like last time, he eventually agrees that Matt has to do this.  Matt goes to Melvin Potter’s workshop, where Potter shows him the (mostly) completed suit he’d made.  We also get an Easter egg of Stilt-Man’s stilts leaning against the workbench by the wall.  Unfortunately, the suit hasn’t been through the entire process, so some pieces (the red ones) aren’t as strong as they should be.  Matt puts on his suit and stands on the roof to get a better vantage point to hear the police radios.  Once he manages to pin down Fisk’s location, he goes over there and throws his stick at the windshield of Fisk’s truck, causing it to roll over onto its side.  He takes out the one guard with Fisk by throwing his stick and deflecting it off the bottom of the truck, into the man, and then back to his hand.  This is when we get our first good look at the costume.  I actually happen to like it for its functionality and the subdued coloring.  The devil horns aren’t over the top; more like little protrusions.  Above all, I’m glad they didn’t go with the red leather from the Ben Affleck movie.  We also get to see his upgraded sticks, which can link together as a long billy club or be used separately as the two sticks.  This is not by any means his final costume and billy club; it’s like his version of the Mark III Iron Man armor.  I expect him to have/get an upgraded suit in season 2

The fight between Matt and Fisk is insanely intense.  Half the time it looks like Fisk is winning; half the time Matt is winning.  We see just how much of an advantage Matt’s agility gives him over Fisk, but whenever Fisk can get his hands on Matt and hold him down, he has an immense advantage.  Finally, Fisk is left beating Matt with his own billy club and ranting about giving the city a better future than people like Matt or Fisk’s father would give it.  This actually reenergizes Matt, who throws Fisk back, reclaims his billy club, and finally subdues him, just as Brett arrives.  Though he initially has his gun on Matt, Brett recognizes him as the same vigilante and accepts that he is there to help.  While Brett cuffs Fisk, Matt holsters his sticks and leaps his way up the buildings surrounding the alley.  Thus, his nickname is born:  Daredevil.  I like the progression from “the man in the mask” to “the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” to “Daredevil.”

I thought that this ending was extremely satisfying.  Matt and Foggy are in a much better place—close to where they started the series—and Nelson and Murdock are back in business.  Karen is still not over everything that’s happened, but she and Matt share a moment when he tells her that they will “move forward together.”  Fisk is in prison, but he is left in the same situation he was in during “Shadows in the Glass” (1x08):  staring at the wall and thinking about the kind of man he wants to become.  Next time he shows up, he will be even badder and more ruthless than he was in season 1.  Sadly, Vanessa is left to fly away with Francis (and without Fisk), looking longingly out the window for her fiancé.  I expect her to play a role in Fisk’s eventual escape from prison.  The last scene of the whole season is of Matt standing on the wall surrounding a roof (his roof?), listening to the city sounds.  He hears someone screaming, jumps off the wall, pulls out his sticks, runs for the edge, and jumps over the wall to their aid.  The shot of him jumping over was pretty awesome in my opinion.

All told, I really enjoyed Daredevil season 1.  I have a few thoughts for Daredevil season 2, which I will publish starting next Monday.  Before season 2 comes, however, we will also have A.K.A. Jessica Jones season 1, the next Marvel Netflix installment, to look forward to.  And I can’t wait!

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