The Cut Man marks a stunning episode of Daredevil
The best comic book-based shows quickly ditch the menace of the week subplots in favor of a more organic serial theme. With the benefit of the full season drop on Netflix, the showrunners don’t have to worry about winter or spring breaks disrupting the flow of an extended storyline. That’s certainly put to good use in Cut Man, which picks up from the same night Daredevil/Matt Murdock hears a young boy being kidnapped in the series premiere.
Unfortunately for Matt, his lack of powers and superior fighting skills comes back to bite…or more specifically stab and pummel him as the episode opens with our hero bleeding out in a Dumpster. It’s a jarring opener in showing the not so glamorous life of an aspiring vigilante.
On the plus side, Matt gets helped by Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson, Top Five), a kindly nurse who after getting past her initial shock of a blind man trying to protect Hell’s Kitchen, helps put Daredevil back together again. Speaking for the audience, Claire says his outfit kinda sucks. In a nice response, Matt says it’s a work in progress. Dawson proves a welcome voice of reason in addition to providing a necessary ally for Matt in his neophyte stage as a crime-fighter.
This episode also devotes a bit more time detailing Matt’s childhood living with his past his prime boxer father Jack (John Patrick Hayden). The set for the Murdock apartment is tiny and dimly lit, which seems both a result of intentional setting of the mood and budget restraints.
Flashback scenes have become somewhat cliché, but they work here in fleshing out Matt’s experience with corruption as he learns his father is getting payoffs to take dives. Jack decides he wants to make Matt proud of him and doesn’t take a dive against Crusher Creel, who may or may not be the same Creel who battled SHIELD in their show. Jack bets all his money on himself since he knows his upset win will lead to a massive payout and will provide for Matt’s future. Jack’s unexpected win doesn’t sit well with the bookies and costs him his life. While inevitable, the Jack/young Matt scenes were enjoyable and Jack’s death probably occurred too early in the series.
On a lighter note, Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) go out for drinks. Their scenes have no real consequence to the overall story beyond Karen saying she’s afraid now after the numerous attempts on her life. While they’re not significant big picture, their interaction definitely helps lighten the mood. Hopefully, the writers aren’t going the cliché route of setting up Foggy and Karen so she can ultimately realize she’s really in love with Matt. Foggy deserves better.
Failing in their first attempt to take down the masked man in black, the Russian brothers send one of their henchmen off to Claire’s apartment in hopes of finishing the job. Daredevil takes him down by dropping a fire extinguisher on his head before interrogating him on the rooftop. Claire confides that she’s heard stories of the masked man helping people and wants to believe in him. After hearing the henchman gloat about the boy getting killed, Claire suggests Daredevil stab him to get the boy’s location justifying the show’s TV-MA rating. Daredevil then tosses him from the rooftop with little regard if he lands in the Dumpster. Ouch. Daredevil is definitely not vying for the friendly-neighborhood vigilante title.
In the best action sequence of the first two episodes, Daredevil goes to the Russians’ hideout kicking off an intense hallway battle. The scene is mesmerizing as it shows the grueling physical toll of being a regular human crime-fighter. Matt manages one last surge of adrenaline before his punches lose their effectiveness and his opponents are getting back up faster than him. Battered and bruised, Daredevil tells the boy he doesn’t have to be afraid and slowly carries him to safety in a stirring final image.
The Batman films have almost conditioned us to think a person can handle being stabbed, shot and beaten and recover quick enough to battle countless hordes, but Daredevil is providing a realistic and thus far fascinating glimpse of the true sacrifice of a non-powered hero.
Read the Episode 3 recap: Rabbit in a Snowstorm
Photo credit: Barry Wetcher © 2014 Netflix, Inc.