Monday, October 22, 2018

REVIEW: 'Daredevil' - Matt Must Make a Crucial Decision About How to Handle Fisk in 'A New Napkin'

Netflix's Daredevil - Episode 3.13 "A New Napkin"

Matt prepares to cross the line, as Dex becomes more dangerous than ever and Fisk enacts his endgame.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Daredevil.

"A New Napkin" was written by Erik Oleson and directed by Sam Miller

It seemed very likely that Daredevil wasn't going to close its third season in the same that it did its first. Wilson Fisk was the main antagonist in both who complicated Matt and his friends' lives in some significant ways. The fact that he was able to emerge with even more power this year made it seem likely that a different fate would befall him. He was destined to die because that's the only way that Matt could see ending this threat to Hell's Kitchen for good. That's the decision he has been wrestling with all season long. He tried doing things the legal way again. He encouraged Foggy's plan of getting Ray to testify and build a new, much stronger case against Fisk. That only led to Ray's death. And now, Matt has no idea that Ray recorded his dying confession in which he named some of the agents who are working for Fisk. It's such a damning piece of evidence that is able to turn all of this around once more. The team was defeated after seeing just how controlling and far-reaching Fisk was. He succeeded in everything he wanted. He was exonerated to the public and is able to marry Vanessa. He is so happy to be with her again. Of course, her character arc is very streamlined this season. She only appeared in two episodes. The previous one stated that she was just as monstrous and brutal as Fisk. And now, she's basically reduced down to nothing but the supportive wife whom Fisk is willing to sacrifice everything in order to save. There is no further confirmation of her own villainous tendencies. Fisk surrenders to the police even though he would much rather have Daredevil kill him. That's the fate that he wants at the conclusion of this story. He believes he can continue to brutalize Matt past the point of no return for him as a hero. He was able to do so in a very effective way with Dex. He became a murderous individual who couldn't be controlled. All it took was him learning about Julie's death for him to realize that Fisk has been manipulating him. Sure, it's lame how most of the female characters are just used as explanations for terrible men's actions across this finale. That's awkward and unoriginal. However, the conflict that fuels Matt, Fisk and Dex's final confrontation is still very exciting. Sure, it's complicated largely because Matt had to tease Dex first with new information. That afforded him the opportunity to sneak past the increased security during the wedding. And yet, all of this builds to Fisk once again going to jail. There is the sense that he won't be able to plot his escape this time around because law enforcement now understands the tactics that he used to corrupt a significant portion of the FBI. It's enough to make the public very distrustful of the federal government. But that's still somewhat the same ending that was presented in the first season with the takedown of Fisk. As such, it feels a little anti-climatic with the more powerful scenes happening afterwards. The future of these characters is actually very hopeful. Matt returns to Maggie hoping that she can still help him. And Foggy actually gets support with his idea to reopen the law firm and partner with Matt and Karen again. That's the perfect ending that the three of them deserve after all of this uncertainty lately.

Overall, the third season of Daredevil was fairly strong. It may have been the most consistent season of any Netflix-Marvel show to date. Some other shows have had stronger high points. But this season was able to keep things consistently entertaining with every twist and turn feeling necessary. It actually used its 13-episode running time quite well. In hindsight, the first half of the season probably plays in a more unflattering light because of how inept the FBI was. The show was purposefully deceiving the audience. But the switch that made those characters entertaining and compelling was very strong during the second half of the season. The buildup from "Revelations" to the finale was a pretty solid run of episodes. However, I still have to question if Daredevil has a future on Netflix. This partnership with Marvel has thrived for many years. It has produced six separates series. But in the last two weeks, both Iron Fist and Luke Cage have been cancelled. Of those two, it's truly shocking that Luke Cage is ending abruptly considering the teases for what would occur in a third season. Because of that, it seems likely that any Marvel show on Netflix could be ending unexpectedly. The partnership between the two companies may not be as strong as it once was. And so, if this is it for Daredevil, would it represent a solid ending for these characters? That hopeful moment of Matt, Foggy and Karen plotting the return of the firm is a solid moment of peace that provides some conclusion for all of them. However, this season wasn't written as if it would be the end. The audience just has to look at Dex's arc to understand that. This season was an origin story for the villain Bullseye. He was still a significant antagonist throughout these episodes. So, it wouldn't feel like the audience was deprived of that story should a fourth season not be ordered. But it's clear that's the direction that the story wants to go in because it sees so much more left to tell in this world.