Saturday, April 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'Daredevil' - Matt Gets Trapped in a Warehouse as Wilson Turns the Public Against Him in 'Condemned'

Netflix's Daredevil - Episode 1.06 "Condemned"

Daredevil finds himself trapped in the fallout of Fisk's plan to take control of Hell's Kitchen. Ben Urich digs closer to the truth.

It's a staple of the comic book genre that the characters and the audience point out the similarities of the hero and the villain. Typically, they both want the same thing but have violently different approaches to making it a reality. And yet, those similarities actually hold some weight on Daredevil. Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk both want to save their city. Both believe they are totally justified in the actions they undertake in order to make that vision a reality. Every though "Condemned" is the most claustrophobic episode of the season so far, it still contains Matt and Wilson's first verbal exchange. That is the highlight of the episode. As the world slowly starts to turn against him, Matt is realizing just how daunting taking on Wilson Fisk actually is. Everyone else understands the world that they are a part of. And yet, Matt still believes that he can make a difference by himself and without killing people.

As Wilson shares doing his conversation with Matt, "that's what makes you dangerous. It's not the mask. It's not the skills. It's your ideology. The lone man who thinks he can make a difference." Despite his ability to sever a guy's head with a car door, Wilson is very intellectual and methodological. To him, the only way to make a meaningful difference in this city is to control the crime and buy the police and the judges. That way he is able to orchestrate what happens and when. He has the manpower to force Matt and Vladimir into an abandoned warehouse with seemingly no way of getting out of this whole mess. Wilson is able to control public opinion. He expertly knows how to control the situation in order to get not only the police against Matt but the entire city. Matt has been on an honorable crusade protecting the people of the city when they most need it. But now, he is being backed into a corner by Fisk and there's nothing he can do about it.

While Wilson and Wesley are calming sitting in their vehicle controlling events, Matt is on the other end of the call flailing around like an upset child. He desperately wants to believe that he has made a difference in the city. That his ideology is honorable and others of the community will pick up his mantle should he die in this warehouse. That's simply not the case though. Matt hasn't done enough to make a difference in Wilson's plans. He has simply been an annoyance. One that Wilson has had to deal with but not someone who has severely threatened the state of his operation. Matt really doesn't know enough about the criminal organization to connect it all together in a way that dismantles what Wilson is trying to do. Matt wants to be a hero but he's living in a world that he is naive to. That's what almost gets him killed here.

Matt doesn't die at the hands of Wilson's police force. He and Vladimir are able to escape through underground tunnels, with Vladimir offering to stay behind to go out in a blaze of glory after he gives Matt the name of the guy who handles Wilson's accounting - Leland Owlsley. Throughout this whole experience, Vladimir has been battling with Matt. He was certain that the man in black was working with Wilson. It's only after Matt's big conversation with Wilson that Vladimir is able to see the world and the men for what they truly are. Wilson is manipulating Matt and Vladimir to his benefit. That means the only viable option left is for the two of them to work together to escape. Vladimir knows he won't last long out there in the world. That's why he has a willingness to share the information with Matt in the end. He can get the death that he wants while making sure that Matt at least has the chance to truly make Wilson Fisk pay for what he has done.

Even though Matt escapes this whole ordeal, he is now a man on the run because the public has turned against his vigilante alter ego. Claire and Karen know that the man in black is an honorable person. But everyone else is allowed to be manipulated by the media. Wilson orchestrates it so security footage of Matt attacking the police is released and then several officers are shot down outside the warehouse. He is turning Matt into the biggest public enemy. Wilson Fisk is now the one operating in the shadows of the world. He is playing the game more effectively than Matt is now. Although they have shared words now, Wilson Fisk is still so much of a mystery to Matt. A phone call being their first interaction plays against Matt's disability. All he has to rely on about this man is the sound of his voice and the way he is able to control events on the outside. It's daunting because he's still a man shrouded in mystery. Matt is unable to use his skills to fight out of this situation. He has to be clever. He can't simply knock Wilson Fisk unconscious and have him tried in the justice system for his crimes. Matt has no evidence and things are continually looking more and more bleak for him and his mission. All he has is a voice and that is simply not enough.

As several characters point out, Matt is simply a man aspiring of a better and more honorable world while everyone else is leaving in brutal reality. Matt has a code and will not kill people. He will threaten that he'll keep people alive as long as they are still useful to him. But the weight of what may happen to them after that fact obviously still weighs on him. Vladimir is able to pick up on that right away. Matt goes out of his way to safe and protect Vladimir's life - from both his physical wounds and the threat of more police coming to kill him. He recognizes the peril surrounding Vladimir. He puts on the face of only caring about the information. But he does care about Vladimir despite all the horrible things he has done lately. He has value to Matt and he doesn't deserve to die simply because Wilson no longer has a need for him in his operation. Matt's gotten mixed up in all of this and is drowning. He survives the whole experience. He comes to terms with the death Vladimir wants for himself and then runs down the tunnel to safety. But the world he is returning to isn't the same world as it was before. Matt now has something to prove about himself. Wilson Fisk's status has been elevated as a result of the events of this episode. This hour proves just how dangerous and effective he is. Matt is scrappy but going up against a behemoth who won't be taken down as easily as he first thought.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Condemned" was written by Joe Pokaski & Marco Ramirez and directed by Guy Ferland.
  • Ben knows that there's something deeper to the story of the explosions than them being gas leaks just like he knows that there's something wrong with the police detectives in charge of the hostage situation. And yet, all of that doesn't matter as the one detective gets gunned down right in front of him.
  • Matt needs Claire's help to save Vladimir's life over the phone. That's successful. But their later conversation as he says she may have been right about him was devastating for both sides of the call because Matt didn't know if he would make it out of the warehouse alive.
  • Karen and Foggy manage to get Mrs. C to the hospital after getting caught in the explosion's blast in the last episode. Foggy is also injured but they are mostly worried about how Matt's doing considering it's war out there and he's blind.

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.