Should I start with the hallway fight? Yeah, let's start with the hallway fight.
The fight scene at the end of this episode, where a seriously injured Matt takes on about a dozen Russian mobsters who have kidnapped a young boy simply to get to him, is probably the best action scene we are likely to see this year. I doubt there will be anything in any of this year's blockbusters that will match it. I've seen people compare it to True Detective's famous six minute tracking shot, but I honestly think this tops it.
The logistics that went into making this scene must've been a nightmare. Taking place entirely in one small stretch of corridor, the whole thing was shot in one continuous take that had to be filmed in one day after only two days of rehearsal. I honestly cannot lavish enough praise on director Phil Abraham, fight coordinator Philip Silvera, director of photography Matthew J. Lloyd, Charlie Cox, his stunt double Chris Brewster, and the rest of the stunt team for all the hard work they must've put into making this scene a reality. They all deserve Emmys, and it's just too bad they probably won't even be nominated due to the Emmys' general snobbery towards any sci-fi or fantasy series that isn't on HBO.
Far too often we've seen heroes overcome serious injury to beat the odds and save the day. We see it, but we don't always believe it. Their recoveries are just too miraculous to be believable. Here, though, I believed it. But more importantly, I felt it. Matt goes into into this fight in pretty bad shape (a few broken ribs and a concussion) and you never forget that for one second. Throughout the fight he was stumbling about and falling over himself, bumping into the walls and sometimes struggling just to stay on his feet. By the end it is clear that there is nothing he would rather do than just lay down and die. Matt's greatest power isn't his enhanced senses, it's that big headed Murdock determination that just won't allow him to quit no matter how much he wants or needs to.
If this episode contained just that scene and nothing else I would still be tempted to give it a four. Luckily there was a lot more to shout about. I really liked how, after spending an entire episode establishing Matt as a fearsome fighter, we start this episode with him laying in a dumpster after getting his ass handed to him. It's rare for a show like this to show its hero this vulnerable this quickly. Normally they save that for a big mid-season cliff-hanger.
The title of the episode refers to the individual responsible for fixing up a fighter during a match. We saw Matt performing this role for his father in the flashbacks (albeit, post fight) while Claire did the same for him in the present. It looks like Claire is being set up to be Matt’s confident, the Alfred to his Batman if you will, someone to stitch up his wounds and argue with about the morality of his night time activities. Oh, and to participate in importune rooftop torture sessions. Yeah, I could’ve done without that. The minute sharp objects are heading in the direction of eyeballs I know I need to look away. Claire is actually an amalgamation of two characters from the comics - Claire Temple, who is Luke Cage's ex-wife (so don't be surprised if Rosario Dawson shows up in that series), and the Night Nurse, who is sort of like a mob doctor for superheroes.
I was wary of how the show would handle the story of Matt's father because of how dead parental figures have become one of the worst clichés in comic book storytelling, second only to girlfriends in refrigerators. We've seen hundreds of different variations of this storytelling trope over the decades, from Batman's parents to poor doomed Uncle Ben, and almost all of them make the same mistake of not making the characters people we should care about before their inevitable demise. They exist simply to die so the hero has added motivation to put on tights and fight crime. Why bother (-to) making Thomas and Martha Wayne three dimensional characters when they are going to be dead by the end of the first act? Thankfully, Daredevil hasn't made that mistake. Very quickly, I came to care about Battlin' Jack Murdock and the bond between him and his son. I’m not going to deny it, this storyline got to me. I was close to tears by the end. When Jack looked around at the crowed cheering his name I pretty much lost it. It really is a shame Drew Goddard had to leave the series, because he has done a tremendous job scripting these first two episodes. The ball is now in your court, DeKnight.
Notes and Quotes
--Because he wouldn't tell her his real name, Claire referred to Matt as "Mike". This is no doubt a reference to that time in the comics Matt posed as his own (not blind) twin brother in order to throw off suspicion that he was actually Daredevil. No, seriously, that's what happened.
--Karen and Foggy didn’t have much to do in this episode. They just hung out at Josie’s, getting drunk, and talking about how crappy post-Loki New York is. It's too bad their night out didn’t end in a karaoke bar so Foggy could further show off his amazing singing voice.
--Jack's fight was against Carl "Crusher" Creel, who showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the start of the current season.
--Karen really should move, but I imagine even after an alien invasion finding a great apartment in Manhattan for an affordable price has to still be next to impossible (unless your names are Monica and Rachel).
Jack: "Sometimes… even when you get knocked down, you can still win."
Matt: "It ain’t how you hit the mat..."
Jack and Matt: "...It’s how you get up."
Claire: "Your outfit kind of sucks, by the way."
Matt: "Yeah, it's a work in progress."
Matt: “I know you’re afraid. But you can’t give in to the fear. If you do, men like this win.”
Foggy: "Could you... could you hear me just now?"
Foggy: "The correct answer is, 'Yes, and you sound amazing.'"
Karen: "Well, of the two lies, I took the lesser."
Matt: "There's someone in the building, a man, going from door to door."
Claire: "How do you know that?"
Matt: "Shh. He's on the third floor already. Smells like Prima cigarettes and discount cologne."
Claire: "You can smell a man on the third floor?"
Matt: "You'll smell him soon enough. He really likes that cologne."
Claire: "Okay, that right there, that's what I'm talking about. Okay, I find a guy in a dumpster who turns out to be some kind of blind vigilante who can do all of this really weird shit like smell cologne through walls and sense whether someone's unconscious or faking it. Slap on top of that, he can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint."
Daredevil: "The last part's the Catholicism."
Four our of four fire extinguishers.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.
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