Tuesday, April 21, 2015

REVIEW: 'Daredevil' - Matt Takes on a Ninja and His Weapons Before Crashing Back in His Apartment in 'Speak of the Devil'

Netflix's Daredevil - Episode 1.09 "Speak of the Devil"

When Fisk gains the upper hand, the goal to destroy him becomes even more difficult, while Daredevil faces his own demons.

For the last few episodes, other characters have been wondering if Matt Murdock is capable of going over the line and killing someone in order to protect his vision of Hell's Kitchen's future. As the season has gone along, Matt's situation has grown more dire. Wilson Fisk is gaining more and more control and influence in the city while the man in the mask has become the most hated person out there. He is desperately working alongside Karen, Ben and Foggy to establish some kind of criminal connection to Fisk that they could use against him in court. And yet, they are continuing to come up with nothing. They don't have anything that could help them take down the monster philanthropist of Hell's Kitchen. With all that being said, it's looking more and more likely that Matt will have to kill Fisk.

The concept of taking another man's life is weighing heavily on Matt at the moment. He knew when he first put on the mask and fought crime in the city that he would have to do bad things for the right reasons. His faith is so strong. And yet, it's not bringing him any kind of clarity in regards to what he should do now that his mission has grown more complicated. He has only seen the monstrous side to Wilson Fisk. The man who wants to control the city by any means necessary and will destroy all of the innocent people who stand in his way. Matt doesn't see that as right. And yet, killing Wilson isn't the right decision either. If he continues on this path, Matt will need to kill Wilson Fisk because that will be the only option left to make. And yet, he's still struggling with it because of his believes in justice.

It would help Matt immensely if Wilson Fisk was just a human personification of the Devil. That way if he did end up killing him it wouldn't be as severe as killing a man with any humanity. That's what makes it so compelling that when Matt has his first face-to-face with Wilson, it's between him as a lawyer and the man as a philanthropist in Vanessa's art gallery. He went there to get information on the woman in Fisk's life. He left with a glimpse at the humanity and love of Wilson Fisk. In that scene, Wilson really is positioned as a man with honorable intentions for the city. None of his ruthless qualities are apparent. He is simply a man trying to make a difference in a city he loves standing next to the woman he loves. That reveal makes it so much harder for Matt to see murder as an honorable and justifiable action. His priest can bluntly talk about the inner turmoil happening in Matt's mind. But ultimately, it is going to be Matt's decision. It will have so much importance in the future if it should happen because Matt had the opportunity to see both sides of Wilson Fisk.

However, all of Matt's personal and ideological struggling comes crushing back to reality following the death of Elena. The firm has been working so hard to stand up for the people of her apartment complex against the developers - which now includes Fisk. Matt is angry standing over her dead body in the morgue. He needs to get justice for her because no one else is capable or willing to do so. He and Karen want to believe that the people who did this will be judged for it. And yet, it is easier for Matt to go get that justice by himself with his fists. What he finds is so much more dangerous than that though.

After beating information out of the drug addict who killer her on where Fisk's base of operations is, Matt is ambushed by Nobu. It's a fight sequence shown at the very beginning of the episode and then again in the middle. It's a more fantastical action sequence where the use of acrobatic martial arts and weapons makes it more exciting and lethal. The brief teases of the fight throughout the episode do work because they instantly bring a sense of action and momentum back to the hour as it's busy explaining how Matt gets to this position in the first place. It's different than any other fight this season so far. That's good because it shows that the style of fighting is evolving just like everything else this season. It's a fight that wears Matt down. He is broken but refuses to give up despite the numerous cuts and injuries he sustains by Nobu's skills with his weapon. In the end, Matt is clever enough to prevail - by using the sparks from a falling light fixture to set Nobu on fire, who opts to keep fighting until his very last minute.

Despite emerging victorious in his fight with Nobu, Matt is incapable of taking on another opponent and that's when Fisk and his men enter the scene. This is not the same man that Matt met in the art gallery earlier in the day. No, this is Wilson Fisk the ruthless criminal who needs Matt died to bring order back to his operation. Matt doesn't know if he'll be capable of killing Fisk but he's still willing to try. Despite being barely able to stand, he attacks and gets a few punches in. Those punches though barely seem to faze Wilson. As he towers over Matt, he's the one in control of this fight only serving to break Matt further and further until it seems that Wilson has won and Matt will soon be dead.

Matt does successfully escape from the warehouse. That was the only option left to him at that point. He needed to escape in order to survive and hopefully return to take on Fisk stronger than he was this time. And yet, that's going to be much more difficult. As he arrives home and crashes immediately from his exhaustion and wounds, Foggy enters the apartment afraid that something has also happened to his best friend. He's ready to take on the man in the mask when he sees him walk out of the shadows. Once the man collapses, he's willing to call the police until the light shines on his face and he notices that the man looks like Matt. He hangs up the call to pull the mask off the man's face to have his suspicions confirmed. This is a moment that will truly change the dynamic between Matt and Foggy. That can only mean good things for the final part of the season as their relationship definitely could use some more honesty to it. It's probably not what Matt wants. But now, he's incapable of changing it. The truth has been exposed. And now, he'll have to deal with his best friend passing judgment and concern over what he has been up to during his nights.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Speak of the Devil" was written by Christos Cage & Ruth Fletcher Gage and directed by Nelson McCormick.
  • It's nice to see that Matt is still capable of being charming around other people. He's spent so much of the last few episodes being angst-driven. It was a nice remainder to see that side of him when he walked into the art gallery.
  • Wouldn't Wilson Fisk think it's odd that the lawyer representing the person standing in his way of developing Hell's Kitchen is at the gallery talking with Vanessa?
  • It's great that Charlie Cox doesn't do a gravely voice for when he's Daredevil, but wouldn't either Ben or Wilson recognize his voice when they meet him as Matt? Or is their hearing simply not as strong as Matt's?
  • At least Matt, Karen and Foggy actually did some bonding together. Too bad it had to be rooted in depression and anger following Elena's death.

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.