Friday, April 17, 2015

REVIEW: 'Daredevil' - Fisk Begins His Destruction of Hell's Kitchen While Matt, Karen & Foggy Fight for the Innocent in 'World on Fire'

Netflix's Daredevil - Episode 1.05 "World on Fire"

Fisk moves forward with plans that threaten to rip Hell's Kitchen apart. Murdock and Foggy take on a case helping tenants victimized by a slumlord.

Wilson Fisk wants to create beauty out of the ugliness of the city around him. He fully believes that the city has to die in order to be rebuilt in a better way. It's destruction without caring about what happens to the people of the community. Fisk wants to position himself as the head of the criminal elements of Hell's Kitchen as well as the man responsible for making the city a better place to live. Vanessa knows that he is a dangerous and violent man. And yet, he's not going to admit all the horrible things he has done and will do in order to obtain this vision. That would be too drastic and violent. No one would reasonably stand by his side and watch him destroy the community. And yet, Wilson always manages to be honest with Vanessa and his associates about his intentions for the future. It's a captivating quality for the character. It pulls the audience in and makes it easier to understand how he sees this world.

"World on Fire" really is about the strengthening bonds of intimacy amidst the biggest and most violent blasts of the war for the future of Hell's Kitchen so far. It is still so fascinating that the bulk of Wilson's story is focusing on his new relationship with Vanessa. Yes, he is also becoming a more prominent face amongst the rest of the various criminals. When the rest of his associates meet to discuss the future of their operation, he actually makes an appearance to share the news that the Russians will soon be cut out of the process. He is a firm and swift businessman when it comes to this operation. He's cautious and knows when and how to strike so he can expertly manipulate the outcome into his favor. And yet, hearing him talk about himself and his vision for the city to Vanessa pulls the audience into his perspective that is very engaging. He truly believes that this is the best way to make Hell's Kitchen better. He does exert power and influence. So much so, that Vanessa feels the need to bring a gun to their date.

Wilson and Vanessa's second date is a fantastic sequence where the power continually moves back and forth. Vanessa holds all the power in the beginning. She's the one who has to make the decision whether or not to stay. She can walk out the door at any time and her life will still be good. Wilson is really and truly putting himself out there. He is vulnerable in a way that the majority of his life isn't. Vanessa has no problem finding someone to go home with for a night. Her immense beauty does bring attention. She firmly knows what she wants and how to get it. She respects that Wilson didn't start their relationship with some cheesy line. That's what drew her in in the first place. But now, she's uncertain on who he really is and if she can allow herself to fall in love with him. He takes control of the situation when he points out that she has a gun in her purse. He announces it bluntly and with concern. He has been patient with her by addressing all of her questions as best as he can while still keeping hope alive for a relationship. His speech about trying to make beauty from the ugliness of the city makes Vanessa see him as an artist. Someone who is trying to create something new. That's what allows her to feel safe with him despite all the chaos he has orchestrated occurring elsewhere. After those blasts go off with the Russians, Vanessa sees the destruction in the city. It's a horrible thing to see. But Wilson is able to justify all of it with mentioning the story about the child being kidnapped after watching his dad get beaten. She responds simply with "Good." That line reading is so simple yet so powerful. Vanessa simply isn't the woman by Wilson Fisk's side oblivious to the life he lives. She has her own power and that's what makes them such a compelling couple so quickly.

Wilson is fully aware of the crimes of his past and the crimes he'll do in the future to protect his vision of the city. He embraces that simply as a necessity to make it all a reality. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock is fighting to protect the city and the people in it from the people who radically want to change it. The city's identity is what's worth fighting for. Much like Wilson, Matt sees violence as a means to an end. He has no problem breaking a man's bones or torturing someone in order to get information or stop crime. His actions are what protects the people of his city. The violence is a struggle for him though. He sees the city turning into chaos. He feels so much weight on his shoulders to fight and stop crime before it happens. He can't stop the four buildings from being blown up. He's simply one man who fights and isn't fully aware of the larger picture. He knows Wilson Fisk's name and that the criminals beneath him are scared to say it in public. But that knowledge isn't getting him anywhere. The buildings still blow up. And when he chases after the Russians who survive, he ends up being corned by the police. He's made a small difference in his community so far. But it's not enough to save it from the death Wilson has planned.

Matt's personal story is also being told with his developing relationship with Claire Temple. She is now staying at his apartment. It's because of her that the audience gets a better comprehension of the powers that Matt possesses that allow him to be this incredible fighter despite being blind. Those answers haven't plagued the previous episodes. But it does help to have a better understanding of how he sees the world. All of his four other senses are heightened to the point that it creates a picture in his head of what the world should look like. It is a violent. He says it's like the world being on fire. That's how he sees the world all the time and that's how things actually become by the end of the episode. He and Claire may have finally kissed but their relationship may not be continuing for that much longer because of his desperate need to fix the world around him through violence. It's a very precarious predicament for him. One that isn't helped by the episode's final explosion.

Throughout all of this though, it's important to remember the human element of this community. That's how Karen and Foggy fit into this puzzle. Their developing relationship is much more innocent and relaxed than the other two core romances of the show. It is simple and sweet despite the chaotic and dark world around them. They are simply trying to help an older woman who doesn't speak much English continue living in her rent-controlled apartment. The landlord wants to tear it all down to rebuild it as condominiums. That's how the people in power want to see the future. But that future has no room for the people who currently live in the building. To them, it's not about the money they would get to leave. This is their community. It's their presence that makes Hell's Kitchen the way that it is. This place is their identity and people are trying to take that away from them. Foggy and Karen can't do much to stop it from a legal perspective but they are able to lend a helping hand to fix the "repairs" throughout her apartment. It's a nice gesture that shows that there are still honest and nice people in the world. And yet, all of that comes crashing back into the dark reality of the show's tone when the apartment is effected by the explosions of the Russian buildings. They are in just as much damage as the targets are. That's devastating. And yet, Wilson Fisk simply sees it as a price of doing business with him and his vision for Hell's Kitchen. One that Matt isn't capable of stopping at the moment. That is the most brutal, tragic and devastating thing overall.

Some more thoughts:
  • "World on Fire" was written by Luke Falteux and directed by Farren Blackburn.
  • There's another glorious continuous shot in the middle of this episode where one of Madame Gao's men is sitting in the vehicle while the Russians go into the building. It helps build up the tension that a confrontation is about to happen while paired with the pure thought of him singing. His death is tragic. That's why it doesn't appear on screen. But it's still an important focus on the collateral damage of this whole grand conflict.
  • Foggy and Karen touching each other's faces to see "what it would be like to be blind" was so unnecessary while being unintentionally hilarious. It's meant to build up the innocence of the moment before the explosion happens, but there's other ways that effect could have been done.
  • Leland had so many great lines in his meeting with the rest of the criminal associates.
  • So far, Vladimir has been able to survive a building explosion and a beating from Matt. He's very lucky, but when is that luck going to run out?

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.