When viewers step back and reflect on this season, ‘Stick’ will likely stand out as a fan favorite. Hard to imagine it not being thought of as a series standout though as it details how young Matt Murdock learned how to hone his senses thanks to the not-so kindly guidance of his own Obi-Wan Kenobi — the man known only as Stick (Scott Glenn).
In our first introduction to Stick, he takes out a panicked Yakuza member who foolishly empties his gun before Stick appears carrying a sword. While it’s not Hattori Hanzō steel, it’s good enough for hand slicing action at least. And one more thing, Stick is completely blind, revealing there’s an even more skilled blind fighter running around.
At Nelson & Murdock, the team is wrapping up case research when Karen leaves to continue her own side investigation into Union Allied Construction’s shady dealings. Foggy notices she’s acting a bit more on edge, but Matt doesn’t notice as he’s anxious for Foggy to leave so he can follow up on Vladimir’s tip on Wilson Fisk’s money man, Leland Owsley.
Karen checks in on Elana who’s back from the hospital following the Russian eradicating explosions. Karen’s been so wrapped up in the United Allied Construction conspiracy that Elena has to spell it out that Foggy likes her, but Karen’s response indicates Foggy has been Friend-Zoned. After leaving, Karen is cornered by two guys who warn her to stop snooping around when Foggy, armed with a baseball bat, makes the save. Karen is so grateful she brings him into the fold with Urich and they break down the players in the Hell’s Kitchen drama and ponder if the mysterious king of the underworld will beat the man in the black mask.
Leland is meeting with fellow Fisk associate Nobu (Peter Shinkoda) and suggests they stick close together or meet a fate similar to The Russians. Nobu isn’t interested in any side arrangements though and heads off leaving Leland to get cornered by Daredevil. Before Daredevil can crank up his intimidation interrogation, he gets distracted by the rattling of a cane, which gives Leland enough of an opening to shock him with a Taser and dismissively drive off. Leland is often portrayed as the most grounded and realistic of the criminals so it was fitting that he was able to so easily take out Daredevil.
Matt recovers just as Stick walks up to him saying he needs his help taking down Black Sky, a group that has at least a passing connection to Fisk. We flashback to their first encounter when Stick meets Matt (Skylar Gaertner) at the orphanage and asks if he’s done playing the victim or if he’s ready to take advantage of his gifts. Stick doesn’t have time for niceties and isn’t interested in being Matt’s surrogate father especially when Matt offers a bracelet made of the wrapper from the ice cream Stick bought him.
Essentially Stick is the quintessential cold-hearted bastard, but his blunt, say-anything demeanor proves a welcome addition to the other straight-laced good guys. Stick doesn’t agree with Matt’s lifestyle — the needless secret identity, personal luxuries and especially friendships — but Matt agrees to help him provided Stick doesn’t kill anyone. Stick offers Matt the use of his escrima sticks suggesting he’s gonna need them. Nice foreshadowing.
Stick’s word proves less than reliable as he tries to kill Nobu’s special delivery, a shackled boy, but Matt stops him and lays out Nobu’s men. Matt finds Stick sitting on his couch gloating that he killed the boy while Matt was handling Nobu’s soldiers. Matt’s had enough with Stick’s condescending tone and lies and starts brawling with Stick. Like a schoolyard bully, Stick taunts and berates his pupil as he re-assers his dominance. Matt reaches down deeper and lays Stick out. Stick seems impressed and walks out. As Matt starts cleaning up, he notices a new object on the floor. It’s the bracelet he made for Stick. The old goat has a heart somewhere. Way deep down.
Stick reports in to another figure who asks about Matt’s progress and Stick answers he has no idea if Matt will be ready. Is this the first reference to The Hand? I kinda hope this mystery doesn’t get revealed this season so there’s a big plot line to develop for Season 2. Another fun outing and hopefully just the first of many more appearances by Stick.