Daredevil - 1.08 Shadows in the Glass

Writer: Steven S. DeKnight
Director: Stephen Surjik

The name of this episode highlights the subtlety this show has.  They could have quite easily named it “Ghosts of the Past” but it would have been too on the nose.  Shadows in the Glass hints at specters looming over you from the outside and it is perfectly suited to the tone of the episode and the central characters.  This is an episode that is all about duality and the psychology of trauma.

“It’s my fault he’s dead.” grieves the boy, Matt.  Then there’s Wilson.  The overweight, heavily bullied only child of wannabe local politician Bill Fisk (The Wire’s Dominick Lombardozzi) who is subjected to physical, verbal and psychological abuse from his patriarch before one day snapping and doing the ultimate thing about it.  Here we have two central characters, both consider themselves to be doing the right thing for the city, both (at least in their eyes) are responsible for killing their fathers.  Both carry the psychological trauma of patricide and as such both men have a duality of nature.  Matt Murdock & Daredevil, Wilson Fisk & Kingpin.  They clash with one-another because they’re so similar… not the same… similar.  Fisk puts his faith in the secular world, Matt is devoutly Catholic and it is his religion that saves him.  Even when he considers killing Fisk for the good of the city, he knows that there are some smudges that can’t be washed from the soul.  Vanessa sees both men for who they really are (or will in an episode’s time).  She has an acute sense of human nature; perhaps it is her salesperson sensibilities –working in the gallery.  Perhaps it is because she is cut from the same cloth.  She, seemingly, has no issue with Wilson’s line of work; his fondness for extreme displays of physical violence.  She’s a pragmatic woman and as such doesn’t seem to be blinded by values, attitudes or beliefs.

DeKnight’s screenplay is finely tuned.  Having taken over from Drew Goddard as show-runner he took hold of the controls and demonstrated a commendable understanding of the characters.  Some pencilers draw Kingpin as fat.  He’s not.  He’s a block of granite but he is still that fat little child of Bill Fisk’s.  Killing his father has stunted his psychological growth.  Prone to outbursts, tantrums and violence when presented with the word NO, he is both the intelligent crime boss and the child.  Matt’s duality is different.  It would be easy to summarize that losing his father pushed him in the direction of Daredevil but that’s inaccurate.  Jack Murdock never wanted his son to be a “simple pug” like him.  He wanted him to use his brains.  Matt’s trauma has caused him to follow his father’s dream and become a lawyer.  The Murdock DNA is much more comfortable with his vigilante lifestyle than the courthouse.  

Surjik’s construction of this episode demonstrates, perfectly, television’s strengths over cinema.  Where he can theme an episode around duality, layer the narrative of the present over the narrative of Matt’s past, over the narrative of Fisk’s past to paint an incredibly elaborate piece of art; what have we learnt in three movies about the Avenger MM is closest too?  How much do we know about Black Widow that isn’t drawn from her time between the comic pages?  The complexity of 1.08 is staggering.  Put alongside the previous two episodes it is an incredible study of psychology, criminality and the human condition.  It has a level of intellect missing from Law & Order and CSI for more years than are worth counting… and it’s a “comic book” show.  Remarkable.


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