Fisk gets the spotlight this episode and it kicks off with his regular routine of being awakened by nightmares and calming himself by gazing at ‘Rabbit in a Snowstorm,’ the nickname of the painting he bought from Vanessa’s gallery. Bet you thought when he told her it was the first thing he sees in the morning that was just a line. He prepares an omelet and sits at an excessively long table just as alone as he described the painting to Vanessa. In an interesting visual gag, Fisk pores over his suit collection — all of which appear to be black — before donning his father’s cuff links and seeing himself in the mirror as a blood-covered boy.
The Fisk dynasty has some problems though as Det. Blake, one of the police officers Fisk had shot to pin on Daredevil is regaining consciousness and Wesley is worried he might give up Fisk and they conclude Blake needs to be killed. Fortunately, Blake’s partner, Det. Hoffman (Daryl Edwards), is on the payroll as well. Still, Hoffman has known Blake for 35 years and isn’t thrilled about being asked to kill his longtime friend. Ever the shrewd negotiator, Fisk asks Hoffman ‘How much are each of those years worth to you in round figures?’
For the brief Karen and Foggy interlude, they reluctantly tell Matt about Karen’s efforts to bring down Union Allied with Ben Urich’s help. Daredevil arrives to late to stop Hoffman from injecting poison into Blake’s IV, but gets Blake to spill on Fisk’s operations before he dies while Hoffman spins the murder like Daredevil was the culprit.
Fisk and Owsley meet up at Melvin Potter’s place as Potter is tailoring Owsley’s suit. To really make sure there’s no mistaking Potter’s comic book identity as Gladiator some random saw blades are on display. Up to this point the show hadn’t gone too Easter Egg heavy so this was a welcome tease for a future Daredevil opponent.
Fisk is realizing his control over Hell’s Kitchen is slipping. Worse, his lieutenants Owsley and Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) recognize it as well. In his typical flippant manner, Owsley says ‘the situation is being taken care of, but not by you’ while Gao more succinctly warns Fisk to get his house in order or he’ll find himself the odd man out of their alliance like the Russians. Gao’s advice sends Fisk in another of his murderous rages, but the only available victim is the table, which he flips over.
Ever the observant right-hand, Wesley invites Vanessa over hoping she can calm his boss down and help restore his battered confidence. Fisk is leery of telling her about his childhood, but she wants to know everything and he refuses to lie to her so she gets the gospel of Wilson Fisk.
Through a series of flashbacks, we see Fisk’s childhood and cause of his recurring nightmares. His father, Bill Fisk (a perfectly cast Domenick Lombardozzi who can play the down on his luck tough guy in his sleep) is a beaten down loser trying to make a difference by taking out a loan to run for City Council.
Bill frequently clashes with his put-upon wife Arlene (Angela Reed), who he feels pampers Wilson. Like most fathers, Bill wants Wilson to turn out better than him and not get victimized so when a bully bloodies Wilson, Bill forces Wilson to pummel him for payback. Disgusted again by Wilson’s lack of drive and goals, Bill makes him look at their blank apartment wall as he prepares to settle with the loan shark, but that leads to a heated conversation with Arlene resulting in Bill punching her and beating her with his belt. Taking his father’s advice to heart, Wilson grabs a hammer and repeatedly bashes him in the head until Wilson kills his father before calming down by looking at the wall. Arlene wastes little time and tells Wilson to get the saw. WOW! Arlene gives him the cuff links and starts cutting up Bill. Wilson recalls they carried bags of his father to the river for weeks.
The story doesn’t seen Vanessa racing to get into witness protection though and she seems more fascinated knowing the tragedy that led to Fisk’s strained relationships with others. As Fisk tells her people are trying to take what he’s worked so hard to create she replies simply ‘well are you going to let them.’ Vanessa is a Ride or Die chick.
Armed with new information, Daredevil comes to Urich and gives him everything he has on Fisk, who he says is only so powerful because he’s a shadow and the first way to take him down is to drive him into the light and tell the people about Fisk.
Vanessa spends the night and enthusiastically helps him choose a lighter suit and a different set of cuff links. Based on the symbolism of this moment, this would have been the perfect opportunity for Fisk to don his more traditional comic accurate white suit.
Urich is putting the finishing touches on a masterful article that outs Fisk when he sees a press conference with Fisk introducing himself and pledging to end crime and corruption in Hell’s Kitchen. This is a nice spin on the final arc of the previous Daredevil comic series where Daredevil outs himself rather than let the Serpent Society expose him. (Read that here: Daredevil By Mark Waid Vol. 7) In another comic nod, Urich deletes his story outing Fisk just like in the comic when he figured out Daredevil’s secret identity.
Bringing everything full circle, Matt listens in on Fisk’s announcement and realizing how this will affect his war against Fisk’s criminal empire, tosses his laptop. Tables are cheaper Matt.
This was a smart episode that made Fisk to be a smarter villain than the typical comic book foes who can’t come up with a counter when the hero is wrecking their plans. It’ll force Matt to step up his game in order to take down his savvy opponent. The show hasn’t had a weak episode, but this glimpse at the inner-workings of Fisk definitely made this a standout.