Daredevil Month: Stick

The episode opens with someone running down flights and flights of stairs to an office. The man grabs a gun and runs to an elevator, waiting for someone to come out. He immediately fires, but nobody’s inside. A Japanese man holds him at swordpoint and asks about the “Black Sky” he cuts off his arm and asks him again about Black Sky. The man swears on his family that it’s in New York City. The swordsman kills him and it’s revealed, as he gets onto the elevator, that he is an old, blind man.

Inside the Murdock and Nelson offices, Foggy reads about Daredevil in the newspapers and wants to beat the guy to a pulp. Matt, of course, being Daredevil, plays (to put a pun on things) Devil’s Advocate. Nelson asks Karen out on a date, but Karen’s got other plans. Foggy asks Matt about his girlfriend, but Matt tells him it didn’t work out. Matt gets to work on a case.

Leland and Nobu have a discussion in a parking garage. Nobu is planning something at the docks. He leaves Leland with a Zen saying. Leland opens his car and Daredevil finds him and asks Leland who he works for. In the middle of the interrogation, he hears the tapping of a cane. The distraction gives Leland the chance to taze Daredevil and leave.

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Flashing back to Matt’s childhood, he’s suffering from major oversensory issues. Matt is living in a Catholic orphanage. The same old man from the intro comes to visit him. He acts like a mentor to the young Matt, telling him that he was born blind. Matt talks about how he started developing his supersenses. The man, who is called Stick, mentors Matt in developing his supersensory powers. 20 years later, Stick tells the grownup Daredevil to get up, telling him that he’s back in town to help.

Karen and Urich meet up and compare notes on what they have on their investigation. Urich has a lead on Japanese and Russians that might be connected to Union Allied and tells her stay away from the man in the mask. Karen can’t shake the fact that he saved her life. Urich tells her that there are no heroes or villains, just people with differing agendas and that he doesn’t want to be responsible if anything happens to her. Karen feels she can hold her own.

Stick and Matt meet at Matt’s apartment. Matt isn’t on good terms with his old mentor. Stick sees Matt as too attached to his things and to his friends. It’s clear from their interaction that Stick was not your typical mentor. Flashing back to his childhood, Stick trains Matt how to fight. Little Mattie blames himself for his father’s death. Stick tells him to stop blaming himself. Flashing forward to the present, Stick tells Matt about Black Sky, some kind of weapon that Nobu is bringing in, and recruits Matt to assist him on the mission, since Nobu is connected to Fisk. Matt accepts on the condition that Stick won’t kill anybody. Stick makes a half-hearted promise.

Meanwhile, Karen helps Mrs. Cardenas with her groceries in exchange for information linking Union Allies with Mr. Tully’s “repairmen.” Mrs. Cardenas describes them to Karen, pointing out that one of them has a tattoo. A man follows Karen as soon as she leaves the apartment complex. He and his friend attack Karen in an alley, but thankfully Foggy comes in, armed with a bat. Karen gives one of her attackers a face full of mace and Foggy bats the other guy down for good measure.

Down at the docks, Daredevil and Stick get a layout of who’s there: Nobu with a dozen henchmen, armed to the teeth. Stick tells Daredevil to take out the henchmen while he takes care of Black Sky. Daredevil chooses to go with the “sneak and smother” procedure. In the midst of the sneak attack, we find out that Black Sky isn’t a weapon…but a child. Daredevil acts quick and kicks away the arrow meant for the child and fights off the mooks. Unfortunately, Nobu and Stick are both gone.

Flashing back to a training sequence between Mattie and Stick. Mattie gives Stick a bracelet. Stick crushes it in his hands and says “I can’t help you anymore.” Matt returns to his apartment, where Stick is already waiting for him. Stick justifies his attempted murder of a child and his abandoning Matt because he wanted a soldier. He tells Matt that he already killed the kid while Matt was fighting Nobu’s men and a fight breaks out between the two of them. I seriously wish that the lighting was better in this scene, but hey, blind man’s apartment. I can at least tell what’s going on from the silhouettes. Stick, being older, quickly knocks Matt down, but Matt gets a second wind and fights back. After one last attempt from Stick to smother Matt, Matt knocks Stick to the ground and tells him to get out of the city.

At the New York Bulletin offices, Karen brings Foggy in on the investigation. They look at Urich’s board and comment on who the King of Diamonds is. (We know it’s Fisk.) Daredevil is represented by the Jack of Hearts with a mask over one of the faces and the name “Black Mask” written on it.

Matt cleans up the wreckage and finds the bracelet that he gave to Stick all those years ago. Stick reports to his superior and says that he took care of Black Sky. The camera reveals a shirtless muscled man who knows of Murdock.

 

One thing I’m noticing about Netflix series is that there aren’t any filler episodes. All the plots and subplots flow together a lot easier, but at the same time, it would be nice to have a breather.

Daredevil Month: Condemned

The episode picks up where the last one left off: with Daredevil being caught by the cops. However, they were told to leave no witnesses, which implies that they are probably on Fisk’s payroll. This leads to Daredevil beating up the cops and taking Vladimir with him. Once he gets out, one of the cops gets back up and kills Sergei, calling in for backup.

Urich creates what I call the “conspiracy board” in his office, using playing cards and newspaper clippings. One card, a King of Diamonds, has a question mark written on it. He hears a commotion and it turns out that the office is jumping on the story of the explosions happening in Hell’s Kitchen. Urich gets his editor-in-chief to give him the locations and he knows a conspiracy is afoot.

Fisk and Wesley are in a limo, discussing what to do about Daredevil and Vladimir, since Madame Gao is on a tight schedule.

Inside the remnants of one of the exploded buildings, two cops on Fisk’s payroll interrogate a mook who’s buried under a pile of rubble and kill him after they get as much information as they could out of him.

Daredevil takes Vladimir up to an abandoned apartment and tries to get Vladimir to cooperate with him in the hopes of taking down Fisk. Vladimir doesn’t have much of a choice given that he’s bleeding out, but he tells Daredevil where to stick it and passes out.

Foggy and Karen arrive at the hospital with Mrs. Cardenas. Claire comes to their assistance and takes Mrs. Cardenas to the ER. Karen points out that Foggy is bleeding. Claire gets a call from Daredevil asking for help in stabilizing Vladimir’s wounds. Using his super senses, Daredevil pulls a Macguyver and uses a flair to cauterize Vladimir. A nearby cop hears Vladimir screams and goes to investigate. Daredevil quickly takes the cop down and interrogates him. When the cop says that he works for the city, Daredevil reads his heart, determines that he’s not lying and tells him to call off his backup. The cop doesn’t comply. And on top of that, Urich arrives to question the cops that arrive. Said cops are on Fisk’s payroll.

Inside the warehouse, Daredevil handcuffs the cop to a post. Vladimir accuses Daredevil of not being different from him or Fisk. He tells Daredevil what we’ve seen so far and laughs at him for knowing so little about what’s really going on. He gives Daredevil a name: the man who handles the money for all of Fisk’s henchman. But sadly, Vladimir would rather fight than comply. The two of them fall down to the ground floor in the scuffle.

Outside, a news crew arrives in front of the warehouse. The cops try to get Urich to leave, saying that he’s not needed, but he decides to stale. Over in the hospital, Foggy and Karen try to contact Matt, but he hasn’t returned their calls. Karen tells Foggy to stay put while she goes looking for Matt.

Inside the warehouse, Daredevil finally regains consciousness. Vladimir snarks at him, even though he’s pretty close to dying. When his heart stops beating, Daredevil tries to give CPR. A few whacks to the chest later, and Vladimir is alive again. Of course, Daredevil’s just pumping the Russian for information.

Back in the limo, Wesley gives Fisk a radio. Riot officers come into the area. Fisk comes on the radio, asking to talk to Daredevil. Neither of them exchange names. Fisk tells Daredevil that they’re not so different. Of course, all that talk is a huge distraction, allowing a sniper to come in. Fisk plans to frame either Vladimir or Daredevil for the bombings. Daredevil doesn’t claim to be a hero and Fisk tells him that his ideology makes him dangerous. Fisk plans on making Daredevil a hero with some seriously bad publicity.  The sniper on the roof shoots down three cops and Fisk gets the news to spin his story.

At the warehouse, police close in on Daredevil and Vladimir. Daredevil gets a call from Claire who tells him what’s going on. He tells her to take care of herself. The cops come in. Daredevil tries to open a sewer grate with all his strength, but sadly, he isn’t exactly Superman. With Vladimir’s help, Daredevil and Vladimir make their escape. The cops kill Daredevil’s hostage while Daredevil and Vladimir are limping around access tunnels. A cop arrives with a gun at the ready and Daredevil beats him down. Vladimir ends up with the gun in his hand and tells Daredevil that Fisk has way too much power and that Daredevil will have no choice but to kill him. He gives Daredevil the name of Leland Owlsley. Daredevil kicks the door open and leaves Vladimir to face the incoming cops alone.

This episode is a really big contrast to the previous one, choosing to keep the drama focused on one place with very little subplots. This is what TV Tropes calls the “7th episode twist” or the “midseason twist.” Now Daredevil is outed to the public as a threat to the public all the while Daredevil has a girlfriend and power that most mafia dons would envy. Tune in tomorrow to see what happens next.

 

Screenshots are copyright to Marvel Studios and Netflix and are used for editorial purposes only.

Daredevil Month: World On Fire

The episode opens with Claire looking at herself in the mirror as she gets ready to take a shower. After she showers, she asks Matt about his job. It’s also shown that his superhearing is so good, he can hear the hairline fracture in Claire’s back. He further explains his supersensory powers. It boils down to being hyperaware of everything. Then Claire asks him what he actually sees and he says “a world on fire.” He asks her to stay with him until the threat is removed. This is the first time we see Matt and Claire kissing. Matt plans to figure out how to get to Fisk and Claire mentions Vladimir.

The scene cuts to Vladimir who is calling his brother, but getting no answer. Wesley even comes in, asking about where Anatoly is, even though we know that he already knows. One of Vladimir’s men comes in, leading him to Anatoly’s dead body, pinning the murder on Daredevil.

Over in a garage, Fisk’s henchmen are cleaning out his car. Fisk actually meets Madame Gao, Nobu, and Leland Owlsley in person, which probably means serious business is about to go down. They plan to take down the Russians and Daredevil by pitting them against each other.

Meanwhile, the Russians are driving around with one of Madame Gao’s men, asking him if he knows anything about Daredevil. Except the mook is blind and doesn’t see Daredevil closing in on the car. I love the way that the camera plays tricks  on the audience here. But again, I love shots where the camera pans around in a circle. Of course, a fight breaks out and the mook gets killed in the crossfire. Daredevil attacks the Russian mooks and one of them reveals that everyone thinks he killed Anatoly. The police come in way too quickly and Daredevil  makes a run for it.

At the Murdock and Nelson offices, Karen tries to make copies, but the machine she’s using is older than Google. The firm gets a client, Mrs. Cardenas, who was referred to them by Bess Mahoney, the mother of the cop that Nelson bribes. She lives in a rent-controlled apartment. Armand Tully, the landlord, wants to convert the apartments to condos and wants to evict all of the residents. Conditions are getting worse, but police won’t get involved because it’s a city issues. But Mrs. Cardenas isn’t looking for better payment. She and the other residents just want to stay home. Tully’s lawyers, however, are their old internship. Foggy is drafted to go and Murdock suggests to take Karen with him.

Murdock stops by the police station to get information on Mrs. Cardenas’s complaints. He also overhears an interrogation about the events that took place in the alley the previous night. Vladimir’s mook is being interrogated and drops the name of Wilson Fisk in exchange for a deal. Unfortunately, one of the cops is on Fisk’s pay. The mook gets shot and the police run to figure out what happened.

Karen and Nelson arrive at the Landman and Zack law offices. A woman named Marci comes in and lays down what’s gonna happen. Oh yeah. She’s a total bit-ca. Of course, Nelson is ready with a burn for her. They also have “exes” written all over each other, given how Marci called him “Foggy bear.” Karen and Foggy arrive in Mrs. Cardenas’s apartment and they decide to help her and her neighbors with all the apartment repairs.

Out in another alley, Daredevil asks the cop about the guy he interrogated. Daredevil takes advantage of the rumors and asks the cop about the Russian’s connection with Fisk.

Inside a limo, Fisk and Wesley discuss Vladimir and it seems like he’s on his way to another date with Vanessa. He meets with Vanessa in another restaurant. Wilson confesses to her that he doesn’t get out much and doesn’t like people who ask questions but he’s willing to be honest with Vanessa. The two of them sit down for dinner.

Back in Vladimir’s place, Vladimir cleans up Anatoly’s wounds, showing a close up of the lack of head. It’s a greuling shot. One of his mooks comes in and assumes that Daredevil and Fisk are working together.

Foggy and Karen work on Mrs. Cardenas’s sink and have dinner with her. And like any old lady, she compliments the two of them on being such a lovely couple. Over in Matt’s apartment, Claire reads a burner phone that has a lists of locations. Before he went off, Claire asks him not to push things too far. Matt says “I need to be the man this city needs.” Oh honey dear, stop stealing from “The Dark Knight!” However, Claire reminds him that those who fight monsters end up turning into one and he breaks things off.

Meanwhile, Fisk and Vanessa talk about relationship history. No surprise to anyone, Vanessa is an experienced woman compared to the inexperienced Fisk. He talks to Vanessa about his dream of rebuilding the city. She takes a note of his cufflinks, which he always looks at with affection, like a token. He asks her about the gun in her purse. It turns out that she has some idea about his real life and she wants in. She gives him the gun in her purse, all the while, the maitre’d watches.

Daredevil listens in on Vladimir’s conversation with his mook,  getting a call from the maitre’d. He heads off to an alley where the Russians take in one of Madame Gao’s men as a hostage. Inside, Vladimir’s men prepare for an all-out war, but Madame Gao’s mook blasts them out.

Karen and Foggy continue on their date and Karen asks about Marci. Foggy doesn’t really know. He envies Matt’s dating life and he has ideas of what people look like. Karen asks Foggy to touch her face, to try and experience what Matt does. Unfortunately, their date gets interrupted by a nearby blast. It turns out these explosions are happening all around Hell’s Kitchen. Vanessa and Fisk watch the fires from across the river. He justifies his actions, saying it’s part of making the city a better place. He asks the maitre’d and it turns out that the maitre’d made the call on Fisk’s behalf and not the Russian’s.

Daredevil hears Sergei calling for Vladimir and the two of them are seen walking out of the remnants of the warehouse. Vladimir’s mook is counting his money from selling himself out to Fisk. Vladimir and Sergei are limping down a backlot, where Daredevil confronts them. And again, the police arrive way too soon. The episode ends on a cliffhanger.

This episode is starting to imply that Fisk and Daredevil are not all that different. They both want to make the city a better place and they’re both dangerous and brutal. I hope we’ll see what separates Daredevil from Fisk in later episodes.

Avengers vs Batman/Superman AKA Why Angst Is Overrated

I’ll be the first to admit that I am just a casual fan of superheroes at best. I didn’t grow up reading comic books. I watched anime and read manga (Japanese graphic novels) growing up. However, as I also stated before, I’m always appreciative of stories with good writing and compelling characters. And I’m growing to love the fact that superheroes are becoming a thing.

But there’s something else that I need to bring up: Stories, especially superhero stories, don’t have to be overly dark and angsty in order to be compelling. What exactly is “angst” you ask? Angst is, according to dictionary.com “a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.” Lots of tv shows and movies use a lot of angst to drive the conflict, creating more drama than your average daytime soap opera and relying on what some people call “pretty people problems,” more commonly referred to as “first world problems.” But while some shows can use angst and actually use it to develop the characters in a smart way (watch Buffy Season 6 and cry your heart out as an example), other shows, and oftentimes, superhero movies tend to be too dark and rely on angst way too much.

The early 2000s saw a lot of movies with characters that were up to their knees in angst such as The Punisher. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were able to balance out the angst with some humor, heartwarming moments, and character development, but The Dark Knight Rises was way too rushed. This brand of brooding would later be passed on to  the current run of Superman films.

Now, I grew up watching Smallville. The show was your usual WB/CW teen drama with soap opera levels of writing and teenage-levels of whining and angst, but in spite of that, I liked that the show didn’t come at the expense of making Clark a brooding Byronic hero. There were still some levels of humor that balanced out the less-than-stellar moments such as everything related to Clark and Lana. The current run of Superman films are a stark contrast to this. They build up Superman to be a man with a god-complex (and yes, even I got sick of the pretentious Jesus Christ comparisons in Man of Steel) and the trailer for Superman vs Batman: Dawn of Justice looks to be something Frank Miller would feel very proud of. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.

Contrast this with the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. While the early days of the Marvel movies had a shaky start with some of the movies doing well (like Iron Man and Thor) while others didn’t (such as the Hulk movies) , the company finally hit the ground running with Captain America and eventually Avengers. They even succeeded in making a movie of one of their more obscure groups of heroes, The Guardians of the Galaxy successful. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll be looking more into Captain AmericaAvengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Now that’s not to say that Marvel has never made overly angsty movies in the recent years. The Spider-Man remakes starring Arthur Garfield are a bit too angsty for my taste and rely way too much on building up questions that never get answered and introducing way too many characters at once. You know, like the writers of Lost and Once Upon a Time. I’m just creating this post to express what I think makes a good story overall.

Spoilers ensue. You have been warned.

You can make a lot of comparisons between Captain America and Superman. Both heroes are seen as American icons and always want to do the right thing, sticking to their ideals and rarely, if ever, resorted to killing to get things done. However, there’s a huge difference between them as portrayed in their films. Captain America is shown to be artistic, sensitive, and self-sacrificing. He wants to stand up to bullies of all sorts, whether it be Nazis or HYDRA. In spite of the fact that he’s a man out of time, he’s socially functional and is great at making and keeping friends. His friendship with Black Widow is hilarious because she keeps trying to set him up on dates and you can totally imagine her being his best man in his wedding. (Whoever he marries, of course, is up in the air.)

You don’t see the Superman from Man of Steel being the guy who makes friends easily. All the characters talk about how important he is and how much responsibility he has on his shoulders. The whole Savior complex has been done a million times and with a lot more subtlety than in this movie. And yes, I do have issues over the fact that Superman killed Zod. Mostly because Superman never kills and what Zak Snyder said to try and justify this murder doesn’t really make that much sense. You know it’s bad when even a casual fan of superheroes calls you out on a glaring inconsistency.

The Superman vs Batman trailer honestly disappointed me. I understand that there was a Superman vs Batman storyline in the comics, but it made it seem like the two heroes are going to go in an all-out war with each other. Contrast that with the Thor’s Hammer trailer from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

When was the last time you ever saw superheroes having fun? Or hanging out with their fellow heroes like a bunch of college kids? I honestly can’t recall that, even from the days of the DC Animated Universe. I mean, it’s one thing to see the Teen Titans having downtime because they’re teenagers, but I felt genuine excitement and laughter as I watched it. It was hilarious to see Tony’s three attempts all failing, including getting War Machine’s help. I loved the look on Thor’s face when Steve Rodgers was able to make Mjolnir budge ever so slightly. It made so much sense that Natasha wouldn’t play along because the guys were clearly having a sizing-up contest and she didn’t want any part of it because she’s mature like that. Plus, Maria Hill is with them, so it’s not like she was the only girl not playing. And then Ultron comes in and totally ruins the moment. The other trailers for Avengers show that there are gonna be major obstacles ahead for the heroes, but what makes Avengers as a whole work is that they’re not just heroes, but also people.

Now take a look at Guardians of the Galaxy.

These heroes aren’t even as well-known as the Avengers or the Justice League. But when I watched it last summer, I had a lot of fun. The moments that come to mind are always the moments that make me laugh, which makes the dramatic climax all the more startling because it still fit the tone of the movie, but came with a shocking death in the end. Thankfully, Groot came back. The funny thing is that these heroes didn’t come with that expectation of doing the right thing hanging over them. They reminded me a lot of the crew of Serenity from Firefly. They aren’t heroes because they wanted to be or because greatness was thrust upon them. Instead they became heroes by chance. So while they’re not as straight laced as Captain America or the Justice League, you know that you’re going to have a fun ride with them.

Maybe it’s just my personal preference, but I always love stories that make me laugh just as much as they make me cry and/or scared out of my mind. The best movies and stories are able to balance out angst with humor and heartwarming moments. Characters are ideally seen as people first and not archetypes or cliches. And while I can allow characters to have moments of tragedy and sadness, it’s always great whenever the characters finally take action and do something to solve their problem.

It’s also why, so far, I like the latest Daredevil. As I said yesterday, I don’t think I ever recall seeing a villain on a human level the way they wrote Fisk in “In the Blood.” Usually, villains already come with a love interest or act more forceful in the pursuit of a love interest. Fisk, on the other hand, is actually nervous and courteous, genuinely in love with Vanessa. Contrast this with Daredevil’s overly angsty predecessor, as reviewed by the one and only Nostalgia Critic:

My latest Daredevil recap will be posted later today, so stay tuned!

Daredevil Month: In the Blood

The episode begins in Utkin Prison, Siberia 8 years prior to the story’s beginning. Anatoly gets dragged into a prison cell with his brother Vladimir. Anatoly pickpockets a dead Alexei (their cellmate) and breaks off one of his ribs. The brothers plan to break out of prison and move on to America.

Cut to the present day, where Anatoly escapes from a tousle with Daredevil, who throws a dead body onto his getaway vehicle (a cab). Daredevil gets his wounds treated by Claire in a motel room. The guy he threw off the roof in the previous episode is in a coma.Daredevil tells her that he wants to make sure the Russians aren’t looking for her before she can come out of hiding. Claire advises Daredevil to get some kind of body armor. The two share a ship tease moment in which he asks for her number for emergency purposes. She’s still calling him Mike. They also talk about who Wilson Fisk is, but Claire doesn’t know.

Down in a taxi repo garage, the brothers discuss payment with Wesley. Daredevil has been asking about Wilson Fisk and Wesley tells the two of them to take care of Daredevil and sees them as weak. The two brothers discuss what to do because they’re sick of being under Fisk’s thumb and getting their butts kicked by Daredevil. They decide to go meet a man named Semyon.

Karen meets up with Ben Ulrich at the diner to try and bring Union Allied down once and for all. Ulrich asks her about the man in the mask. He also points out that the people who did Union Allied’s dirty work have ended up dead. She begs him to look into it. He tells her that he needs reliable sources and implies that she has a sketchy past. She brings up the fact that he used to write big stories, but Ulrich says he’s getting old and less stupid.

Over in a hospital, the Russian Brothers visit their friend Semyon, who turns out to be the man Daredevil threw off the roof last episode. They unplug him from the monitoring devices and prepare a serum to inject into Semyon’s body. They inject epinephrine straight into Semyon’s heart and he wakes up, asking him about the man who attacked him. Semyon calls him “the devil.” He also points out that there was a woman and whispers something, probably relating to Claire. The brothers’ minions search Claire’s now-empty apartment. They are greeted by Santino.

In a limo, Wesley and Fisk discuss what to do with the brothers and the “timeline.” The limo pulls up to the gallery from last episode and Fisk insists to get out alone. Inside the gallery, Fisk looks around for Vanessa. They have a conversation and Fisk asks her out on a date. And even though he’s the main Big Bad, he’s not gonna buy every painting just so that she can close up early. They finally exchange names. It’s a little weird seeing villains in love, but it’s better than Harley and Joker.

Claire feeds her friends’ cat and hears someone stumbling nearby. She gets her phone ready and looks out the door, not noticing someone peering into her window.

Nelson and Murdock are leaving the police station after helping out their latest client of the week. They wonder how they’re gonna make any money. Murdock gets a call from Claire who is getting kidnapped and makes a run for it, throwing his blind stick into the trash and using some major ninja skills to make his way to the apartment, but it’s too late. Using his super hearing, he hones in on men conversing in Russian, who are stuffing Claire into the trunk of a cab. Unfortunately, actually finding them is another problem.

Karen attends an auction and sketches out people who bid on United Allied’s assets. Ulrich shows up and points out that other people are already suspicious of her. He tells her to auction for something so she doesn’t look suspicious.

Back at the taxi repo, the Russian Brothers’s mooks get a kicking and screaming Claire out of the trunk. Over in Claire’s apartment, Murdock asks Santino about where Claire is. He gives Murdock a clue: the name of the cab company.

Fisk and Vanessa are out on their first date at an Italian restaurant. Fisk tells her that he doesn’t have much of a dating life. Unlike Fisk, Vanessa turns out to be a non-native New Yorker. He talks about how he grew up in the city and longed to make it a better place. Of course, given how the mooks are beating Claire up to a pulp, we know that his vision comes at a cost.

Daredevil shuts down the lights in the taxi repo place and Claire finally gains a small amount of courage, enough to laugh and warn the mooks that he’s in the room. The men start firing like a bunch of Stormtroopers while Daredevil takes them out one by one. Claire gets herself out of her restraints to the best of her abilities, but she gets held hostage. Daredevil gets the mook away and Claire actually whacks the mook in the head with a baseball bat. Daredevil comforts a crying Claire and I’m almost tempted to say “NOW KISS!”

Karen meets up with Ulrich again at the diner. She bid and won some old office equipment and charged it to the Murdock and Nelson law offices. Ulrich points out that the people who made the headlines of the stories he wrote all paid a price for trying to bring down the big guys. He tells her that they will work together, but to keep their meetings secret. He also tells her to sign the nondisclosure agreement.

The Russian Brothers find the beat up mooks. Anatoly decides to go to Fisk and ask for help while Vladimir is too proud to do so. Unfortunately, Anatoly interrupts Fisk’s date and Fisk is righteously pissed.

Karen shows off the old fax machine she got to Foggy and he’s happy that they have some kind of office equipment, even if they’re old models.

Meanwhile, Matt patches up Claire and he shares a bit of his backstory with her. Matt apologizes for getting her involved and Claire wants to know what he’s fighting for. All Matt wants, though, is to make the city a better place. Although he’s helped a lot of people, he’s also hurt a lot as well. Claire tells Matt to feel her heart. Matt knows that she’s scared and she admits to it and tells him that he can help her. It’s then that Matt tells Claire his real name.

Fisk drops Vanessa off at home and really wants to see her again. She’s not sure and he’s sadly inexperienced. I’ll give him points for being honorable, saying that he’ll back off if she’s not interested. But again, she’s uncertain of how she feels, which is basically the worst answer you can give anyone, especially a bad guy.

Over in the limo, Anatoly talks things over with Wesley. Wesley tells Anatoly that the past can never be completely erased. Fisk arrives and fights Anatoly, who came armed with a knife. However, Fisk is a lot stronger and eventually crushes Anatoly’s head with the car door while Wesley waits like he’s been put on hold. Fisk tells Wesley that he needs to get a new suit and to send Anatoly’s body to his brother.

This episode centers on people building relationships. Karen finds an ally in Ulrich, Matt and Claire grow closer together, and we even see the Big Bad trying his hand at romance. It’s almost sweet to see Fisk being like a little boy with a crush, but the ending reminds us why he’s the Big Bad. But it also focused a lot on the Russian brothers and their bond.

Screenshots are copyright to Marvel Studios and Netflix and are used for editorial purposes only.

Daredevil Month: Rabbit In A Snowstorm

The episode opens at a bowling alley. A man named Healy comes looking for Mr. Prohashka and turns a friendly greeting into a stick-up. 36 hours earlier, two men are opening up a crate of fresh firearms. One of them, Turk Barrett, admires the craftsmanship of a fresh gun. Back at the bowling alley, that same gun that Healy’s holding doesn’t work. The two of them get into a fight, ending with Healy killing Prohashka by crushing his head with a bowling ball. Healy then hides the gun in a pinball machine as police come in and asks for a lawyer.

Outside at a church, Fr. Lantom recognizes Matt as Jack’s kid and assures him that his Confession is secret. He invites Matt for coffee, but Matt turns down the offer. Down at the docks, New York Bulletin reporter Ben Ulrich meets with Silvio, an Italian mobster who’s planning on retiring and moving to Florida. Ulrich wants to find out about who’s been targeting the Russian mobs, but Silvio tells him to stay out of it.

In the Murdock and Nelson offices, Foggy and Karen encourage Matt to get a dog because of his black eye. Wesley walks in with an offer for the firm from his employer. He wants the two lawyers to work for his company. Then he insults Karen about her being arrested for murder and offers the two lawyers a case to look into. Matt goes off looking for Wesley, using his superhearing to listen for the watch that Welsey uses, only for Wesley to get into a car and drive off. It’s also clear that the wounds from last episode haven’t completely healed.

Back at the offices, Healy talks to Foggy about what happened at the bowling alley. Foggy is reluctant to represent Healy, but Matt decides to take Healy as a client. Matt asks Healy about what happened, but Healy claims that he killed in self-defense and there was no rhyme or reason why he attacked Prohashka otherwise. Healy wants to go directly to trial, having faith in the judicial system. Healy’s also somehow connected with Welsy, but neither we nor Murdock and Nelson know exactly how. Wesley shows up at the bowling alley’s pinball machine, knowing exactly where Healy hid the gun. Foggy and Matt talk over strategies and notice that Karen is missing. It turns out that Karen is negotiating things with Union Allied, who asks her to keep things quiet in exchange for a large amount of money.

In the New York Bulletin offices, Ulrich talks to the insurance company about getting an extension. He wants to look into the organized crime activities, but his supervisor wants him to focus on stories that sell, even if they’re not “meaty” enough for him. He later goes to the hospital to get an extension form signed by a hospital supervisor. After she signs the forms, he goes to visit his wife.

Cut to the Murdock and Nelson offices, where the two of them complain about not having enough wi-fi. Karen finds out that Wesley was representing some kind of front company. The next day, Nelson starts up the trial while Matt listens to the frantic heartbeat of one of the jurors. Wesley is also in the audience, implying that the trial might be rigged in their favor. That same juror gets confronted by one of Wesley’s mooks, who later gets taken out by Daredevil. It turns out that the juror is being blackmailed over a sex tape she made. The mook gives Daredevil as much information as he can. Daredevil orders him to get the juror out and to get out of town.

At trial the next day, the juror gets excused and Matt makes his closing arguments, even as he listens to everyone’s heartbeats. He advocates to them to stick to the facts and to leave the judgment of his sins to God. (He doesn’t explicitly say God per se…)

Leland and Wesley are out on a drive and Wesley advocates that Murdock and Nelson be able to get Healy off. In the meantime, Karen tries to talk to Daniel Fisher’s wife and asks him if they made an offer to her. Karen refuses to take the hush money, but Mrs. Fisher took Union Allied up on their offer. Then she makes a visit to Ulrich’s offices and asks if she could talk to him about what’s going on with Union Allied.

Meanwhile, at the trial, the case has a hung jury, which is the last thing that Matt wanted. And even though the jury has declared mistrial, Matt knows that Wesley will probably sweep the case under the rug. Out in an alley, Daredevil fights Healy. I like the way that this scene is shot, but the lighting could’ve been better. I know the scene takes place at night, but it’s hard to see some of the action. He interrogates Healy about who Wesley works for and we finally get the name of Wesley’s employer: Wilson Fisk. Healy tells Daredevil that Fisk doesn’t like it when people speaks his name and goes after the culprits and everyone they care about just to make an example of him. Healy calls Daredevil a coward for killing him and decides to kill himself instead.

At an art gallery, a very gorgeous woman named Vanessa Marianna strikes up a conversation with a man staring at a painting that is nothing but white paint on canvas. She says: “There’s an old children’s joke. You hold up a white piece of paper and you ask, what’s this? A rabbit in a snowstorm,” and then asks the man how it makes him feel. The camera pans up to reveal Wilson Fisk, who says that the painting makes him feel alone. Although Vanessa’s name isn’t said in this scene, the way that the camera lingers on the two of them shows that they’re probably gonna hook up later.

Overall, this episode was really great at continuing what has been established. I’m glad that the Big Bad of this season has finally been revealed. Plus, this is the first episode that brings up the different kinds of morality. Murdock and Foggy are working around the letter of the law, using gray morals. Daredevil himself works outside of the law with his own brand of morality. He refuses to kill Healy and is agonized when Healy chooses suicide. Karen also shows that she is above the ambiguous morals of her former employer. I also find it interesting that Fisk and Vanessa first meet while Fisk is looking at a white painting, even though both of them have the darkest set of morals in this show. Also, kudos for keeping the priest in as a recurring character, willing to help Murdock with whatever he’s going through. It’s always good to have straight-laced moral characters in a show that kind of blurs the line when it comes to morality.

All screenshots are copyright to Marvel Studios and are used for editorial purposes only.

Daredevil Month: Cut Man

Apologies that this is late. I was kind of busy wrangling second graders for Catechism.

Without further ado, onto the episode.

The episode opens with a young man named Santino finding Daredevil in a dumpster. The young man runs to his neighbor for help. The woman who comes to help is a nurse named Claire (played by Rosario Dawson).

Matt flashes back to his childhood, where he’s watching his father losing a boxing match. His dad arrives home and the young Matt tends to his father’s wounds. Matt finds out that his father gets paid well, even if he loses, and the two agree that it’s now how you fall, but getting back up that matters.

Karen and Foggy have a little flirtation in the office. We also learn that Foggy can’t carry a tune and has bad taste in music. She’s got major avoidance issues, but Foggy knows them when he sees them.

Back in Claire’s apartment, she kind of bashes the all-black outfit and gives Matt an assessment of his damages. Matt refuses to make things personal and begs her not to take him to a hospital. She’s also reluctant to make things personal, but decides to call the guy she found “Mike.”

Flashing back to Matt’s childhood, Matt has major oversensory issues, panicking that he can’t see. His father comes to comfort him. Adult Matt wakes up with breathing problems, but Claire keeps his airflow steady.

Matt finally tells Claire about how he ended up in the dumpster: Russians kidnapped a little boy as part of their human trafficking ring. Of course, it all turns out to be a trap. Claire is kind of skeptical, given his injuries and sadly, the kid hasn’t been found. Matt’s super senses detect that someone is looking for them, going from door to door.

Flashing back again to Jack practicing boxing while Matt gets used to being blind, reading Braille and getting used to hearing loud noises. The bond between the two of them is heartwarming, even when Jack gets offered a match he can’t refuse with someone named Creel. Fans of Agents of SHIELD can already smell trouble afoot. However, the sponsors ask him to rig the fight to lose and threaten him if he doesn’t comply. Little Matt, of course, hears every word.

Back in the present day. Claire lies to the police officer looking for Daredevil. Of course, he can tell when the guy is lying. The cop is in with the Russians (or a Russian pretending to be a cop). Matt decides to drop a fire extinguisher. Unfortunately, Santino saw both of them.

On another side of town, Foggy and Karen are out at a bar called Josie’s as part of the end of a pub crawl. Foggy and Karen insist that they’re not dating, but Foggy still wants to know why Karen hangs around the office all day and hardly, if ever, goes home. It turns out that Karen is reluctant go home because of the traumatic memories she experienced last episode. She feels like she’s always in danger. Foggy points out some people in the room to cheer her up and says that they can stay out all night if she wants to. (Oh the ship tease!)

Out on the roof of Claire’s apartment building, Daredevil preps to interrogate the Russian cop. Claire asks Daredevil who he really is because she’s freaked out about the fact that he’s able to smell cologne through walls, can tell whether or not the cop is really unconscious, and can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint. Daredevil snarks “The last part’s the Catholicism. (He’s right, though. Catholics are kind of masochistic that way.)

Daredevil asks Claire who she is and Claire says that she was an ER nurse who treated three men that he beat up as well as a waitress he saved. She isn’t so sure that interrogation is the right thing to do.

Little Matt reads a speech from Thurgood Marshall about justice and democracy. He also feels out his father’s boxing outfit for the first time. He asks Dad if they always get up after a fight. Later on, Jack decides to change the odds and put the money in Matt’s name instead of rigging the fight to lose. He calls up a woman (most likely his exwife) and tells her to take care of Matt.

In the present day, Foggy and Karen show up at Matt’s apartment trying to get him to come out, with no idea he’s missing and very, very drunk. With no sign of Matt, they decide to go off to the fish market. Karen decides that she’s ready to go home. And this is when I start totally shipping them.

The Russian cop wakes up to see Daredevil and Claire, in a white hoodie and mask.Daredevil interrogates the guy about where the boy is. Claire gives him some pointers about where he can cause the most damage and Daredevil follows suit. He cuts the man down and leans him over the edge of the roof. He claims to be a sadist and the Russian finally gives a location, saying that it’s a trap. Daredevil pushes the guy off the roof into the dumpster and assures Claire that he’s not dead. He tells Claire lay low, but he needs her help patching up. He thanks her for her help. Claire says that she doesn’t believe what he told the Russian about enjoying the kill, but Daredevil walks out without a word.

Jack Murdock goes into the battle and takes down Creel, with Matt watching with enjoyment. The crowd cheers for Murdock…only to cut to Jack being shot shortly afterwards. Little Matt finds his father dead in an alley.

The scene cuts to the Russians, feeding the little boy they kidnapped in some run-down building. Daredevil comes in, with the start of the fight taking place behind closed doors. He beats up some more mooks in the hallway and holds out in spite of his earlier injuries. It’s interesting that the camera chooses to focus on the hallway and not lead the audience into the other rooms where Daredevil is fighting everyone else, but I’ll assume it’s your usual close-quarters fighting. Daredevil unlocks the door and unmasks himself before getting the boy out to safety. He puts his mask back on and carries the little boy out.

This is a great follow-up to the first episode and was definitely not what I expected. We get to see Matt’s origin story, complete with the death of a parent, and see that Daredevil starts to trust others (albeit not his coworkers) with his secret. There’s major ship tease going on between Karen and Foggy and it’ll be interesting to see where that goes, but mostly I like that the fight scenes aren’t actually the focus here. It’s more centered on characters making choices for the better or for the worse.

I promise that tomorrow will have another recap. I only teach Catechism once a week, after all.

Daredevil Month: Into the Ring

I’ll admit that I’m only a casual fan of superheroes at best. I’m really picky about what I watch and I tend to prefer shows with female leads and good morals and lots of nerdy fun. Mostly, I love shows with really great writing that doesn’t stoop to soap opera levels. But given that everyone’s been talking about Daredevil, I figured I’d give it a watch.

So without further ado, the next few weeks will have posts of me looking at each individual episode of the Netflix-exclusive Daredevil series. Now I’m going into this with a casual knowledge of Daredevil as a whole. I didn’t see the movie that starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, but thankfully somebody critiqued it so that I don’t have to!

Now unlike my Firefly month, I won’t be analyzing the series for any sort of themes. I’m just going to critique the individual episodes, ending with an overall review on what I think of the characters and overall story.

The series starts out with “Into The Ring.”

The first scene that we see is a major car accident in New York City, where a young Matt Murdock goes completely blind from some radioactive chemicals that got into his eyes. The last thing he sees is his dad.

The next scene shows the grown-up Matt Murdock in a Confession talking about his dad and asking the priest, Fr. Lantom for forgiveness for something he’s about to do. As far as confessional scenes go, I feel like this one is at least decent. Fr. Lantom knows that he can’t forgive Matt for something he’s planning to do and he seems like a good and decent man.

What Matt seeks forgiveness for is his first outing as Daredevil, in which he saves some girls from a group of human traffickers. It’s hard to see the Daredevil outfit in this scene, but we see how Matt works as a hero. He strikes from the shadows and fights pretty brutally, but given the gritty tone of the show, it’s all good.

The next scene introduces Matt’s associate, Foggy Nelson, your typical defense attorney who isn’t above bribing cops. As slick as he is, he’s a good comic foil to the more straight-laced hero and he’s only bribing cops for information. The two of them check out an office space in Hell’s Kitchen where it’s implied that this takes place in the same universe as the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Foggy establishes that he still wants to make a living while Matt wants to defend the innocent. Given that they’re defense lawyers, business is gonna be tricky.

Thankfully, the two of them find their first client in the form of Karen Page, who is framed for the murder of her coworker. It’s during the interrogation scene with Karen that we see a glimpse of Matt’s superpowers. His heightened sense of hearing lets him listen to Karen’s heartbeat, making him able to tell whether or not she is lying.

The next scene features two men at a park. One man is an enforcer, James Wesley, who approaches a middle-aged man named Mr. Farnum. The enforcer threatens to kill Mr. Farnum’s daughter if Farnum doesn’t cooperate with him.

Meanwhile, Matt and Foggy discuss what to do with Karen. Foggy thinks of making a deal while Matt wonders why the arrest isn’t all over the papers if it seems to cut-and-dry that she’s guilty. We soon find out what Mr. Farnum, a police officer, was asked to do: kill Karen in a way that makes it look like a suicide. But thankfully, Karen fights back and lives to see another day.  

Matt and Foggy take Karen back to their offices and talk to Karen about her old job. It turns out that Karen’s former place of employment, Union Allied, has been profiting from government contracts to rebuild the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Karen, a secretary, was emailed a file for her boss and accidentally opened it. It turned out that it was a file relating to some ill-gotten-gains. She figured it was some kind of Ponzi scheme, so after her boss laughed it off, she consulted a co-worker who worked in legal. Unfortunately, that led to both of them being drugged and Karen being framed for his murder.

Matt lets Karen stay in his place, a sparsely decorated place that has a view of a big advertising screen across the street. Karen changes shirts and I will forever thank the director and cinematographer for not making the scene as fanservice-y as it could’ve been. Karen asks Matt about his blindness. Matt then asks her about the file that Karen came across. Karen lies to him.

The next scene shows a high rise meeting with people I assume will be the villains for the series. There are two Russian brothers, a Chinese woman named Madame Gao, a Japanese man named Nobu, and Leland Owlsley, a financial expert. Wesley arrives as a representative of his employer, whom he doesn’t want to name. (Is he working for Voldemort?) The group discusses the vigilante that attacked at the docks. Wesley asks the Russian brothers to take care of the situation so that Union Allied can stay out of its current scandal. 

Karen sneaks out of Matt’s apartment and goes to pick up the file in an abandoned building. An assassin is there waiting for her. Thankfully, Daredevil comes to her rescue, dressed in black. In spite of the fact that it’s night time, the fight scene can be seen clearly, leading out the window into the pouring rain. Daredevil flashes back to his childhood, to a memory of his father. The flashback motivates Daredevil to get back up and keep fighting. The fight continues as we see further examples of Daredevil’s powers. I love that this is a more realistic version of a fight scene, with just the super hearing being shown in subtle ways, instead of the over-the-top effects we’ve gotten so used to.

Daredevil takes the assassin and the file to the press. Wesley recaps the cleanup to his employer. The employer tells Wesley to start a file on the lawyers. Karen makes lunch for Foggy and Matt and decides to work for them as their housekeeper in return for them helping her out. The episode ends with Matt going to a gym and working out on a punching bag, all while a montage of the villains at work are shown. The last shot we see is Daredevil standing on top of a building, hearing a boy being kidnapped by the two Russian brothers seen earlier.

My major issue with the episode is that I don’t really know who the villains are. Of course, the montage at the end shows that we will probably see these villains later on. I also like that the end of the episode leads into the next one. As someone unfamiliar with the world of Daredevil, I don’t really know who the mysterious employer is. And btw: NO SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.

As far as first episodes go, this is a great start. I know the basics of the major characters and am curious to see where things go from here. Tune in tomorrow for my next recap!