Daredevil: Rabbit in a Snow Storm

Spot the Avengers reference.
"It makes me feel alone."

In the criminal justice system, the people are intimidated by two separate, yet equally important groups: the criminals, who threaten and blackmail them so they can get away with bowling related murder, and the vigilante lawyers, who beat up the criminals so they can't get away with bowling related murder. These are their stories.

*chung, chung*

I knew it wouldn't be long before we got to see Matt and Foggy in a courtroom (they are lawyers, after all), but I never expected it would be to defend one of the Kingpin's henchmen, who tried to claim his assassination (which involved the incorrect use of a bowling ball) was an act of self defence. We didn't get to see much of this trial, just the opening and closing arguments (we didn't even get a cross examination), so it wasn't exactly a great opportunity to see how good Matt and Foggy function in the courtroom, although we did learn that Matt can give a closing argument with the best of them.

Despite his habit of circumventing the law after hours, Matt is still something of an Atticus Finch, a principled man who believes in the letter of the law and will only defend those he knows to be innocent. No way was he going to stand in front of that jury and tell them his client was innocent when he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he wasn't. So he walked a very fine line with his closing statement, telling the jury outright that his client was a killer and that he should only be acquitted because the prosecution failed to prove he didn't act in self defence.

James Healey wasn't an innocent man, the state was just unable to prove he was a guilty man. Unable or unwilling? Matt is starting to get an idea of just how powerful and influential his enemies really are. They probably had the outcome of his trial arranged before Wesley even stepped into the offices of Nelson and Murdock. On the bright side, at least Matt now knows the name of the man at the top of the criminal food chain. And the firm got some much needed revenue. That I just loved. None of this "I'm too noble to take your blood money" crap. They took Wesley's cheque and they cashed it. The men and woman of Nelson & Murdock may be righteous goody goodies, but they still have to pay the bills like the rest of us.


With so much of these episode set in courtrooms, boardrooms, interrogations and offices, it was a rather talkie episode, bookended by two exceptional fight sequences that resulted in a gruesome suicide that left Matt visibly shaken. Describing an episode as "talkie" can sound like a negative, but not when the dialogue scenes are so well written and acted as they are here. Take, for example, the scene that introduced one of my favourite Daredevil characters to the series, reporter Ben Ulrich, brilliantly played here by Vondie Curtis-Hall. It was a terrific two header between two veteran soldiers of declining empires (print media and the Italian Mafia respectively) as they chatted away about the new world order against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

Silvio was smart enough to see the way the wind was blowing and decided to check out now. He was all too aware that his type of criminal, who always sends flowers to the widows of the men they've killed, was now an endangered species. It was time to pack up and head to the sunshine state. Ben was less willing to accept change and accept that the days of Woodward and Bernstein are well and truly over. Editors aren't interested in the stories he's writing, not unless they can increase circulation. They're just not "sexy". This all reminded me of the final season of The Wire, which  focused heavily on local reporters struggling to do their jobs despite cutbacks due to dwindling sales. I didn't much care for that story thread (and I know I'm not the only one), but I'm hopeful Daredevil will do better because, unlike any of the journalists of the Baltimore Sun, I like Ben and actually give a damn about what happens to him, even if the b-plot about his sick wife was the exact kind of storytelling cliché I was hoping this show would avoid.

Ben wasn't the only one unable to let the Union Allied story just go away. Since the assassins have failed, the bad guys have unleashed their most dangerous weapons - lawyers - to clean up the Union Allied mess and deal with Karen. This involves writing out a huge cheque in exchange for her silence as well as everybody else's. Daniel Fisher's murder is being swept under the rug and everyone seems to be just letting it happen, even Fisher's wife. She decided to sign the papers, take the money and run. She advised Karen to do the same, but Karen, much like Ben and Matt, can't let it go. A good man has been murdered and as far as she is concerned those responsible should not, and will not, be allowed to get away with it.

Speaking of which, we finally got to see the man who has been pulling everyone's strings in this episode. Once again, Daredevil does the unexpected by revealing its villain not in a moment of ultra violence that would make his minions want to head-butt a spike rather than face his wrath, but in a moment of surprising vulnerability. Just from this brief scene alone it's clear that Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk isn't going to be some one note mustache twirler. I can't wait to see more of him.

"I don't get it. What is it? Avant-garde?"
Notes and Quotes

--In the comics Ben Ulrich worked for the Daily Bugle, the same newspaper as Peter Parker. Because Sony and Marvel hadn't worked out their deal by the time this show went into production he now works for the New York Bulletin. Was his editor reluctant to publish his piece because of circulation issues, or is he being pressured from on high to make the Union Allied story go away?

--I liked how the henchman who was intimidating the juror came across as less of an intimidating creep and more like a guy just doing his job, a job he didn't seem to particularly like.

--How often has Matt used "Hey, I'm blind, I bump into things" to explain away injuries?

--In case you haven't already heard, we're getting a second season. The writer of this episode, Marco Ramirez, will be one of the people taking over for Steven S. DeKnight as showrunner.

--So who was put off going bowling any time soon after watching this episode?

--Wesley may be the right hand man of a powerful crime lord, but at least he knows proper arcade protocol.

--Matt is obviously still worried about the spiritual cost of his night time activities. He was back at Father Lantom’s church, but hesitant to actually step inside and bare his soul, even after Father Lantom offered him a latte. If the church offered a free latte with every confession they’d have queues outside the door. Never underestimate the limits people will go to for a free latte.

--If you want a guy to talk, Matthew, stabbing him in the throat isn't exactly the best idea.

Ben: "Kings don't have bodies in the trunk."
Silvo: "Tell that to Macbeth."

Foggy: "We need better wi-fi."
Matt: "We need better everything."

Matt: "A man is dead. And my client, John Healey, took his life. This is not in dispute. It is a matter of record... of fact... and facts have no moral judgement. They merely state what is. Not what we think of them, not what we feel. They just are. What was in my client's heart when he took Mr. Prohaszka's life, whether he is a good man or something else entirely, is irrelevant. These questions... of good and evil, as important as they are, have no place in a court of law. Only the facts matter."

Vanessa: "People always ask me how can you charge so much for what amounts to gradations of white. I tell them it’s not about the artist’s name or the skill required, not even about the art itself. What matters is, how does it make you feel?"

Three out of four less than great final seasons of a modern classic.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

7 comments:

ChrisB said...

What a fantastic opening paragraph, Mark. I laughed out loud.

This was an interesting episode as it seemed that everyone was alone. Matt, obviously, as no one knows who he really is. Foggy, because Matt was making decisions without him and generally annoying him. Karen, because she is going out alone to talk to people she might not want to.

The final suicide was horrific to watch. Network television this certainly is not.

JRS said...

I'm always overwhelmed by Victor D.- he really pulls off the final scene, mixing threat with vulnerability and coming off as this unbelievably sexy monster.

Great review!

Jess Lynde said...

An interesting change of pace from the first two episodes. I enjoyed meeting Ben, and really love your thoughts on the Ben-Silvio scene, Mark.

It's interesting to compare Mrs. Fisher's choice in this episode to the choice Matt's dad made in the previous one. You note that she she's letting her husband's murder be swept under the rug and is willing to let the people responsible get away with it, while Karen is not. But in fairness, she has her children to consider, which she points out to Karen. She wants them to be safe, secure, and to continue to be there for them, especially since they already lost their father. So she decides to accede to the criminal element. Whereas Jack was unwilling to do that, ultimately leaving Matt with the gambling winnings from the fight, but no father.

Which is the better choice? A tough call, obviously. As a mother of two, I have tremendous sympathy for Mrs. Fisher in this circumstance, and think I might make the very same choice, no matter how much it pained me to let my husband's killers roam free.

Patrick said...

After binge-watching this show the weekend it came out, I'm now going back and watching it again at a more deliberate pace so I can take in each episode more individually. What I took away most from this episode is that even if we got zero superhero stuff, I could watch Charlie Cox, Elden Henson & Deborah Ann Woll(man it is so good to have her back on my screen) headline a "Nelson & Murdock" legal drama and be just as hooked. The three of them are all fantastic, both individually and as a team.

Josie Kafka said...

Patrick, I binge-watched the whole thing, too. I'm got a second binge-watch planned for when all the reviews are up. I consider that the closest I can come to "pacing myself."

The bowling alley scene was so awesome.

Patrick said...

I hear you Josie, it's tough not to race through the whole season again. But I'm trying to absorb each episode for what it is mostly so I can better comment on it here when its review gets posted :)

Josie Kafka said...

Josie Rewatch Comment:

Wilson Fisk is Keyser Soze!

Also: interesting theme of sight running through this episode.

--Matt talks about how some people can see the line between good and evil, right and wrong quite clearly. For others, it's a blur.

--Vanessa asks Fisk what he sees when he looks at the overpriced painting. Or, more specifically, she ask him what he feels when he looks at it.

--Fisk sees himself: alone.

--That theme of reflection is picked up in the opening of the last fight scene: Matt thinks he has the jump on Healy, but Healy sees Matt's reflection in the car's back window.

--Paired with the whole "Fisk sees himself" thing, we have to wonder if the show is drawing an implicit comparison between Matt and Healy. Both take money from Fisk, albeit for different reasons. Both have some questionable moral systems, albeit in different ways. They both seem to enjoy it: Matt claimed as much in the previous episode.

--Healy kills himself by stabbing himself in the eye with that protruding shard.

--In doing so, he's basically completing the act (on himself) that Matt began in the previous episode with the Russian henchman, when he stabbed him in the trigeminal nerve.

--And, of course, the whole damage to the eye socket, Matt is blind thing.

--Which is related to the secret-identity thing. When Matt and Fogey are learning about how to defend their second client, Matt isn't wearing his glasses. When he hears Karen come in, he puts them on. It's like he's got identities under identities. With Fogey, he's more "revealed" than he is with Karen.