Writer: Christos N. Gage
Director: Ken Girotti
Previously we looked at anonymity and the importance of it for any superhero. Sometimes, in the case of Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, the disclosure of identity is born out of necessity. Sometimes it’s discovered, like Ben Urich (DD #164) and sometimes it’s a combination of both.
Fishing a critically wounded Matt from a dumpster outside her building (1.02), Claire (Rosario Dawson) nurses him back to life but also discovers that the “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” is blind. Initially she calls him Mike after an ex-boyfriend (a wonderful little reference to the identity twin narrative from the comics) but she earns Horn Head’s trust and as such he offers her insight into his world, his personality, even his soul. Claire is a lovely piece of creative necessity by the show writers not to mention borrowing as Claire is primarily associated with Luke Cage (who will be coming to Netflix soon). As we’ve seen in Daredevil (2003), fighting crime takes a toll on the human body. You will not make every jump any more than you’ll dodge every blade and Matt's on the steep end of the learning curve when it comes to his physical skills –taking on the Russian Mob, Wilson Fisk and the Japanese (led by Nobu who we will come to later). He is a canvas of scars. Where his dad had a cut man and a trainer he has Claire. Someone to patch him back together just enough that he can stand up and continue the fight that the Police and City Officials seem to not have the taste for.
Dawson is a great piece of casting. At first I thought she may play Vanessa as I had always pictured Vanessa as someone as physically and emotionally powerful as Dawson but in casting her as a nurse (a hybrid character based on Luke Cage's Claire Temple and Night Nurse) and bestowing upon her DD’s secret the showrunners have given Matt his very own Alfred. Someone to help out when he’s stretched thin, someone who can fix him up and not risk the lives of everyone in an E.R when he’s admitted and Fisk finds out about it. She’s a character with a lot of potential. Daredevil as a series, and as a character, is ground level. Claire is the cleaner of that ground. After a good beating many criminals have been taken to the emergency room to be treated before processed and appointed their public defender. As an E.R nurse she has heard stories of “the man in the black mask” long before they have reached the press and though the oath she take prevents her from doing harm, that’s not to say she doesn’t agree with his actions or is even pleased when she sees another scumbag she recognises be wheeled in screaming because ten inches of his own arm has been broken off and shoved up his arse by “the man in the black mask”. She has seen the Police fail, whether it’s intentional or accidental is another matter, she has witnessed the looting, shooting and killing that has dragged Clinton (or Midtown West) back down to being Hell’s Kitchen and she’s happy that someone has appointed themselves protector… or should it be DEFENDER!! Too soon? We’ve yet to see much from Rosario that hasn’t been about exposition or origin narrative but hopefully it’s coming as that Matt-Claire relationship based on ideology is an interesting one when it works, and more interesting when the ideologies begin to shift.
Finally, a word on Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). We’ll be coming back to Wilson time and again through these reviews but firstly wow! There was some genuine excitement when we discovered Vincent was going to be portraying Kingpin. He is an actor with very few peers and a personal favourite. Homicide: Life on the Streets has an episode in season five which guest stars D’Onofrio. Having been pushed off the subway platform he is all but cut in half; being kept alive by the train which is jamming him to the platform. When he moves he will die. The episode details him working alongside the detectives to solve his own murder and is one of the most incredible pieces of television ever. As a thriller it rivals many (if not all) movies of that genre in the past decade plus and is one of the key D’Onofrio performances that keeps calling me back for viewings and re-viewings.
In The Blood is now another key D’Onofrio performance. Alongside Vanessa he is somewhat shy, somewhat awkward and you could be fooled into thinking he is a businessman who simply needs a good PR guy because he is not as bad as some are whispering. We have seen glimpses of his cerebral qualities; the aspect of him that makes him truly dangerous, something that Michael Clarke Duncan just wasn’t given to play with in 2003; but we also see his rage. The volcanic temper of the man is such that he’s able to decimate a grown man like he’s little more than a Pavlova. His temper is not why he’s scary though. What’s scary about his rage is how laser focused it is. Vincent plays it white-hot. A detached violent outburst which is something of an oxymoron but you are left in little doubt that he’s kept a level head through the entire assault. He knows exactly what he’s doing. And it benefits him. It always benefits him. When you consider the events that have come before this scene it is almost romantic, and that is truly scary.