After the action-packed craziness of last episode – Matt battling a Hand ninja was only the third most significant event — it made sense for things to slow down a bit to let the characters (and viewers) recollect themselves as we head for the season finale stretch. And even in a ‘cool-down’ episode, ‘Daredevil’ continues to show why it’s a top tier show in the comic book TV genre.
Battered, bandaged and stitched up Matt has a confession of a different kind this episode. Not with Father Lantom, but with best friend Foggy Nelson, who is a mix of anger, confusion and outrage over Matt failing to mention he’s the man in the black mask causing all this chaos in Hell’s Kitchen.
Foggy understandably is hurt going so far as to ask Matt if he’s really blind and having little patience for Matt’s explanations. The acting has always been solid, but this episode was spectacular as Henson showed believable and relatable anger countering his typical happy go-lucky take on Foggy while Cox displayed great emotion. Matt knows he’s messed up and his tears aren’t from any pain from his battle with Nobu, but from the realization that he may have permanently ruined their friendship.
This was a great twist on the typical hero reveal where the sidekick/love interest is the one in tears over the lies as the hero calmly explains they were keeping a secret to protect their loved ones. This scene wonderfully illustrated that Matt actually gives a darn about Foggy and is crushed that he let him down.
Emotionally, it was powerful stuff, made even more gripping by the flashbacks that further explore the bond between Nelson & Murdock.
The flashbacks were the biggest highlight of the episode as we see their first encounter as roommates — where Foggy isn’t weird-ed out about the prospect of a blind roommate and is more excited about their potential with the coeds. He amusingly compares them to Maverick and Goose until Matt reminds him how that turns out. The show has largely shown us angry and focused Matt so seeing him joking around with Foggy revealed another side to our black mask-clad hero.
The writers have been very coy about sprinkling in Easter Eggs to other Daredevil characters and the greater Marvel Universe, but this episode teased one very important character in the DD mythos and another you easily could have missed if you weren’t paying attention.
In the flashback, Foggy jokes with Matt about taking Spanish so he could check out that Greek chick — a clear reference to Elektra Natchios aka Daredevil love interest/rival Elektra.
Interestingly with his hair switched up, Cox could pass for ‘Ant-Man’ star Paul Rudd’s twin. We see them striking out on their own to form Murdock & Nelson, which Matt nixes as Nelson & Murdock has a better ring to it.
Current day Matt explains to Foggy that he couldn’t shut out the sounds of people crying out for help any longer and the final straw was when he heard a girl being molested by her father. In a first take on his all-black vigilante gear, Matt viciously attacks the father (although child molesters can’t ever really get beaten up too much in my book) and warns him never to touch her again. It was a convincing argument and one Foggy could accept as Matt’s reason for administering his own justice, but he cuts Matt harder than any blade when he says if the roles were reversed he would have told Matt and leaves.
The Urich/Karen subplot was a bit underwhelming this episode. We learn his wife has Alzheimer’s, which is making him reconsider working the Fisk case, but Karen takes him to a nursing home where they meet Fisk’s mother — another Alzheimer’s victim. It’s odd how between Ben’s wife, Kingpin’s mom and Peggy Carter, Alzheimer’s is the go-to adversary for senior citizens in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t get how this information will do much as Fisk has already positioned himself above a newspaper article at this point questioning his character and everyone really just wants to see Daredevil vs. Kingpin II.
Turning to our favorite anger management case, Fisk meets with Madame Gao, who rightfully questions if Fisk will have no further need of her and have her killed like The Russians and Nobu. She says Vanessa is making him soft and that he can’t be both savior and sinner, which is either a warning or a threat based on the next scene.
At a charity fundraiser, Fisk is barely managing through his speech (I love how completely socially awkward D’Onofrio makes Fisk in settings where his name alone doesn’t have people cowering) as Wesley, Leland and Vanessa chat. Leland makes an offhand remark about (Cornelius) Van Lunt and his crackpot astrologer — a sly reference to the Zodiac, a criminal cartel in the Marvel comic books. They would actually make for a worthy adversary for the ‘Defenders.’
The party is going fine until one attendee falls to the floor foaming at the mouth after drinking champagne, followed by another and then Vanessa who also had some champagne. Whoever did this really better hope Vanessa recovers otherwise they may wish their head was crushed in a car door.
With the cliffhanger and few episodes remaining, it certainly seems like the final three are poised to be intense and there won’t be any time for nice couch side chats and banquets. Should be a fun ride to the finale.
Read the Episode 11 recap: The Path of the Righteous