‘Daredevil’ continues to paint the darkest portrayal of a Marvel Cinematic hero yet in a tension-packed episode that gives courtroom drama new meaning and finally reveals the dreaded face running the criminal operations in Hell’s Kitchen.
For the brutality that bookends ‘A Rabbit in a Snowstorm,’ the bulk of the episode is spent creating a sense of uneasiness in the viewer as we try to make sense of everything.
It starts with John Healy (Alex Morf) killing a businessman at a bowling alley with a bowling ball, then calmly asking for an attorney once the police arrive. Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore), the liaison for the true mover and shaker in Hell’s Kitchen wants Nelson & Murdock to represent Healy. Wesley’s elusive and pompous demeanor immediately irks Matt (Charlie Cox), but Foggy (Elden Henson) wants to at least consider the offer Wesley’s client makes after getting handed a check full of zeroes. Matt gets curious after tracking Wesley and speaking with an overconfident Healy, who already seems assured that he’s going to be acquitted.
Cox does a fantastic job of playing Matt as a focused, determined attorney, but hopefully the series won’t have him being too Batman-lite the entire run as both Matt and Daredevil often prove to be just as enjoyable with a lighter tone as well. So far the series is opting for a darker, more Frank Miller-influenced grim and gritty take. That’s fine and all, but Daredevil is skewing a bit father to the extreme side of vigilantism as opposed to the middle ground between Spider-Man and The Punisher where he works best.
Of all the Marvel heroes, Daredevil easily has one of the more TV friendly day jobs, Audiences dig shows about lawyers anyway so an episode focused on a court case not too surprisingly makes for good TV in addition to being faithful to the comic. Foggy and Matt effectively do their job in the courtroom while Matt tries to uncover Healy’s secrets as Daredevil.
While a neat trick early on, the zooming in on Matt’s ears to show him focusing on certain sounds doesn’t fully convey his radar sense. As conveying that in a more comic book style could be costly on the series’ budget to do every episode, it’d be a nice to see occasionally to explain that the exposure to the radioactive material didn’t just allow Matt to hear really, really well.
This episode successfully introduces another key figure in the Daredevil mythos in Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall in an inspired casting choice), a veteran reporter desperately trying to get proper medical care for his ailing wife and getting to the bottom of a story connecting Union Allied Construction to a major conspiracy. Urich’s subplot likely resonates a little deeper with me as a newspaper journalist also feeling the battle to stay relevant in a digital blogging world.
Karen is confronted with her own crossroads with Union Allied as she meets with the legal team of her former employer who wants to pay her hush money to not raise anymore of a stink about the incident that left her co-worker killed and several attempts on her life. Initially this seems like a time-filling subplot to give Karen something to do, especially as she visits her co-worker’s widow for some clarity only to learn she took the payoff to ensure her family’s safety, but it comes together when Karen meets Urich and wants to share her story.
The show continually makes effective use of Daredevil in action as he goes after Healy for answers. This fight is another dark, sickly yellow streetlight captured brawl that would benefit from a bit more distance from the camera and the combatants. Daredevil tortures Healy with some cut glass to force him to give up the name of Wesley’s employer – Wilson Fisk – but knowing he’ll be made an example of, Healy impales himself in a moment that justifiably warrants the TV-MA rating. Fisk has been built up like the biggest boogeyman ever to the point his henchman are so fearful of raising his ire they don’t even say his name. This is the first mention of Fisk’s name but already we know he is going to prove a serious problem for Matt/Daredevil.
As Daredevil is aghast at what has occurred, we see Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) admiring some artwork — ironically a white canvas that decidedly contrasts with all the red that’s been spilled in Hell’s Kitchen lately in his name. It’s a stirring way to introduce the series’ main villain and effectively mirrors the final sequence of the last episode.
Three episodes in and this series is making it nearly impossible not to just keep plowing on through the remaining 10 episodes.