Writer: Douglas Petrie
Director: Euros Lyn
Discovering Wesley dead, Fisk is out for revenge while Karen and Ben rush to get their story published and Matt rounds on the source of Kingpin’s, seemingly, bottomless well of finances.
I would really love to focus on the subtly of the writing and Euros Lyn’s (Doctor Who) direction in this review but the truth of the matter is there is so much going on, on-screen that it would be a disservice not to address it. Firstly, Karen Page. Having killed Wesley, albeit in self-defense, Karen now finds herself in a difficult situation. Her friendship with Matt and Foggy, her job at their firm, her life in Hell’s Kitchen has all stemmed from her innocence. She did not commit the murder she was arrested for. Should she be arrested again, that would not be the case. Her innocence is gone. Having previously been in opposition to Wilson (D’Onofrio) she now shares a karmic similarity with him and what of Matt? Between the pages, loving Elektra was not enough for Matt. She had committed many serious crimes; crimes she was unpunished for. He wanted to be with her but knew in order to do that he would have to sacrifice that part of him that loves the law. If sacrificed it would inevitably lead to resentment, so what of Karen? What of Karen and Matt? Yes, he’s been guilty about thinking of killing Fisk but never acted upon it. If he was to find out what is the most logical outcome? Convince her to turn herself in, represent her at trial and maybe get her off? Could Karen love someone that valued the idea of a just society over her?
Is the Netflix Matt Murdock the same man who would do this? Only time will tell is the short answer. Cox’s portrayal of the Man without Fear has been the man without fault (coined it!). There have been moments when we, as audience members, are somewhat uncertain as to which direction he is going to go. Right from the first scene in which he asks for forgiveness for “what I’m about to do” he’s highlighted as a man who struggles with his place in the world. He’s intelligent enough to know that the skewed state of affairs in Hell’s Kitchen (and
in general) has created a need for someone outside the law in order for the criminal element
to have someone to answer to but he can’t fully believe it has come to
this. He wants to be proved wrong. With each outing he’s almost searching for
that proof but as the season progresses all he is greeted with is further
reinforcement that what good people need is a devil to protect them. New York
Charlie Cox is perfect casting. In 2003 many fans were wishing for Matt Damon before his bestie Ben got the gig, but as I’ve said in Batman v Superman: Two Heroes, Two Worlds, One Trailer, his build is not suited to DD. Cox is lean, agile but with enough muscle definition to know that when he lands a punch, he means it. There’s less of the swashbuckler Horn Head you remember from Jack Kirby and (more recently) Mark Waid. He’s not exactly brooding ala Batman, more like a prize fighter; able to channel his aggression towards a desired goal. There’s no better example of this than in 1.02 Cut Man and in this episode when he gives chase to a blinded drug mule in civilian clothing, across rooftops, in broad daylight. Where 1.02 will draw comparisons to Old Boy or The Raid, 1.12 will undoubtedly draw parallels from fans of the Matt Damon Bourne trilogy. Some of Lyn’s camerawork is incredible. His ability to simultaneously frame Matt in the foreground and the car in the background below is plucked straight out of some of the finest comic books Horn Head has had. Once inside the warehouse the energy in-shot switches, though for the audience the adrenaline merely builds and without a way to release it, leaves us all but vibrating on the edge of our seats.
Madam Gao’s heroin operation is a work of beautiful brutality. Blinding each of her employees (no doubt so they can’t steal, can’t run and can’t identify her) we’re presented with a sea of blind men and women. Yet, in the drug lab of the blind the super-sensed man is King. With the alert raised the employees rush Daredevil creating one of the most cinematic, frightening and loyal images you’ll see –before he’s gobbled up by the dozens of grabbing arms. It’s the cover of Daredevil #180 and another nice nod to everything that has come before. The following action sequence is truly exhilarating. Its flow is so amazingly fluid as Matt pings armed guards, lights, doors with his makeshift Billy Club. In many ways it feels like the action sequences of 24 when the show was at its unstoppable best yet it’s unlike anything on television. DeKnight, Lyn, Blackburn, Petrie and co have handled the multiple fight, chase, and action sequences throughout the series admirably. When you consider the amount of money the show has been made for versus the amount of money a show like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has and then factor in the quality of the two shows. AoS is doing cheap party tricks while Daredevil is making Lady Liberty disappear for real before your very eyes.
And then there is yet another WTF moment… only it’s a WTUFJFH(?)DYFST?! (what the unholy fuck just fucking happened? Did you fucking see that?!) moment. Time will tell whether it’s the right move or not. Personally, I immediately thought it was a big mistake only to think it through several times and come to the decision that it is the bravest piece of no-holds barred, piss and vinegar storytelling since (and I’m sorry for referencing it again but) 24 killed off a pregnant Teri Bauer at the end of Day One. Angered by the indignity of Ben questioning his mother, hurt by the death of his friend; James Wesley (unknowingly by the hands of Karen), Fisk goes to Ben Urich’s house and after satisfying himself that Ben is acting alone (a lie told by Ben to protect Karen –sacrifice), Wilson Fisk murders Ben Urich with his bare hands.
WTUFJFH(?)DYFST?! Wilson Fisk has strangled Ben Urich with his bare hands!! As an act of violence it is ferocious but within the context of the Marvelverse it is a brutal attack on the fabric of the Marvel family. Ben Urich sits across Daredevil and Spider-Man franchises. Over the years he has played a critical role in so many key issues. It’s not quite on a par with Nick Fury being really killed off in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (if this had happened for real) but it’s close. Could you image a Captain America realm in which this could happen? If Foggy Nelson discovering his best friend is Daredevil after only nine episodes is groundbreaking then the killing of a central character is Earth shattering. All cards are off the table. It’s a foghorn for the future that states only Matt Murdock is safe! And that’s only because his name is on the show’s deed. Rarely do I actually yell aloud while watching TV. TV has been said to be a passive medium, one that you control whereas cinema demands your attention and doesn’t stop for your convenience or comfort but I defy anyone to paused or talk during 1.12. It’s the most fraught, tense, tightly knotted piece of narrative fiction I’ve seen since Breaking Bad left our goggleboxes.