Daredevil - 1.09 Speak of the Devil

Writers: Christos N. Gage & Ruth Fletcher
Director: Nelson McCormick

…and he will appear!  No, not Horn Head but Wilson Fisk.  Having lived a lifetime in the shadows suddenly he is out front, speaking to the press, wowing and trumping all plans thus far from Nelson, Murdock and co, to bring him to justice.  There’s a lot of subtext in this episode so we’ll forgo the mandatory review stables of praising the writing and directing.

With Vanessa at his side Wilson Fisk is quickly becoming the total package of organised crime.  Previously happy to operate from the shadows (not even allowing people to say his name), Vanessa has pushed him out into the spotlight and helped make him over as the media darling; the saviour of New York; and in doing so lets all the air out of Nelson, Murdock, Page and Urich’s plan to out him as the man behind the curtain pulling the strings.  The mental astuteness of Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer) is brilliantly showcased when Matt visits her at the gallery.  Upon arrival it takes zero time for her to size him up, cut through the fa├žade and covert intentions and get right to the core of the man.  Like with Wilson (1.03 Rabbit in a Snow Storm) she takes Matt to a picture that best represents him.  Placing him in front of a piece which she describes to him, Matt is presented with a red painting with flecks of yellow creeping through.  It looks like an inferno.  It is a piece of art on fire, much like the way Horn Head sees the world.  “The colour of anger, rage, love and hope.”  But that’s not everything.  The red and yellow of the painting also creates a psychological tether to Matt’s childhood; as Battlin’ Jack Murdock’s boxing colours were red and yellow.  If it wasn’t traumatic enough for a young, blinded, boy to lose his father brutally; he blames himself.  Thanks to his heightened hearing, Matt knew his father was set to take a dive.  Jack, in turn, knew that his son wanted him to win and decided to not let his boy down over guaranteeing his seeing another sunrise.

Red plays a strong part of this entire narrative, as Jack tells his kid when asked why red “they can’t tell how much you’re bleeding”.  Red is Matt’s camouflage.  If the Rabbit in a Snow Storm is Wilson Fisk, then the Devil in an Inferno is Matt as he desperately tries to save those around him from burning –sacrifice (again).  But Matt is bleeding; badly as it turns out when he goes up against Nobu at the behest of Fisk.  Nobu, the assumed Yakuza boss we’ve seen in and around scenes through the season thus far, is a master assassin/ninja.  Dressed in red (like Jack, like Matt’s view of the world, like everything) he is undoubtedly the forward scout for the shadowy organisation –The Hand.  Though, they’re never directly referred to as such, rest assured they are coming.  Stick’s appearance in 1.07 opened the door for them and that’s not all.  Though many episodes have Asian influence (DD’s maritial arts training was born out of America’s suddenly love of all things Kung-Fu related in the 1970s) there are some deeper bonds on display.  Madam Gao, who we will deal with later on, runs the heroin trafficking business that is thriving in New York.  Each baggie carries an insignia that looks like a snake or an S.  It’s, in actual fact, a reference to the Steel Serpent (an adversary of Iron Fist) and a marker on the table for things to come.

We’ve seen the cost Matt pays for his heroism in the past.  1.09 takes that cost and doubles it before adding tax.  Matt is beaten, bloodied and his physical sacrifice is framed perfectly by McCormick, even drawing some parallels to Christianity as the Man without Fear lays arms outstretched and brutalised on the floor.  If The Hand are to enter the U.S. in numbers then Matt may need to seek the assistance of the likes of Elektra, Gladiator and even Stick (Issue #174) as he barely bests Nobu though does so in dramatic and classic style!

There are a handful of serious WTF moments scattered through Daredevil.  These moments don’t just wow you but they make you wonder where the show-runners will go next.  What rules will they break?  Is anything sacred?  Not to go into too much detailing but if you do not have time to watch Daredevil 1.10 then do not watch Daredevil 1.09 (though ideally you’ve watched them all before reading these) as you will not be able to cope with removing yourself from the heart of Hell’s Kitchen to go about your real life.


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