Daredevil: World on Fire

The hero we deserve.
"God! Feels like a place in a movie where you'd buy a clone... or maybe a robot baby. Or the clone of a robot baby."

This episode got me thinking about who is the real saviour of Hell’s Kitchen? Is it Matthew Murdock, blind lawyer turned vigilante? Or is it Wilson Fisk, reclusive crime boss/art aficionado? The answer is neither of them. The real saviour of Hell’s Kitchen, and the true hero of this series, is Franklin P. "Foggy" Nelson, lawyer by day, lawyer by night, and adorable human being 24/7.

Fisk believes that in order to save Hell's Kitchen he must first destroy it so that it can be reborn. Hmmm, okay, wasn't that basically Malcolm Merlyn's scheme in season one of Arrow? Matt, meanwhile, genuinely does want to help the people of Hell's Kitchen, but he's become so focused on taking down Fisk's criminal empire he's forgotten that helping people isn't just about beating up criminals. Once he caught a whiff of Fisk's scent he forgot all about helping out sweet Mrs Cardenas and went chasing after his white whale. But Foggy Bear... he didn't forget. He’s doing what Nelson and Murdock was founded to do – help the helpless. No, wait, that was Angel Investigations. Whatever, point is Foggy was putting the needs of his client before anything else, first by standing up to her evil landlord's evil corporate lawyers (which included his ex), and then by rolling up his sleeves and helping to repair all the damage done to her apartment. After the bombs went off I like to imagine he commandeered a bus and gathered up all the injured people and drove them to the hospital personally and put them all on his insurance. I know, it's completely unlikely, but until I'm shown otherwise, that is what I choose to believe.

Until the, quite literally, explosive finale, this was a rather uneventful episode. Well, mostly uneventful. There was still one great fight scene (shown entirely in one take from the inside of a taxi), and Matt did break a few of a dirty cop's bones, but that was all still rather tame compared to what previous episodes have given us. There wasn't even any sudden outbursts of shocking gory violence, which is something I am grateful for because I still hadn't fully recovered from watching Fisk going all Gallagher on Anatoly's head. That is going to stay with me for a good long while. Luckily Fisk's latest date with Vanessa, which involved watching an entire neighbourhood set on fire so as to eliminate the Russian’s entire operation in one swift strike, went off without any interruptions. The Kingpin got to watch his enemies go up in smoke with the woman he loves in peace and quiet and absolutely no one was decapitated, although I was worried for the maĆ®tre d' for a second.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.
Doesn't mean they want to watch it alone.
Fisk was very honest with Vanessa in this episode. Note I said very honest, not completely honest. He may have revealed his entire plan to her, but he left out a few key details to better paint himself as a noble figure, ridding the city of its unsavoury elements. He neglected to mention that those same unsavoury elements were, until very recently, his business partners. And that he has several construction companies in his pocket ready to scoop up the lucrative reconstruction contracts such devastation would no doubt reap.

Still, even if Fisk wasn't looking to gain immensely from this action, he just blew up an entire neighbourhood. That came with some serious collateral damage. Why isn't Vanessa running as far away from this man as she can? She recognises that Fisk is a dangerous man, which is why she brought a gun to their date, but why even go on the date in the first place? Yes, she's clearly attracted to him, but is that enough to override her survival instinct? Or is self preservation what is driving her to get so close to this man? Does she actually think, as Fisk does, that it is safer for her to be at his side than away from it? Maybe that would be true if being powerful was a guarantee of safety, but history has shown that it most certainly is not. Caesar had power, a lot of power, and it didn't do him any favours. Beware the ides of March, Vanessa. Or, more specifically, a pissed off Russian gangster with a grudge.

We got some insight into how Matt perceives the world in this episode as he explained to Claire exactly what he "sees." It was an nice scene, but it highlighted one of the big issues I'm having with the character of Claire. Despite Rosario Dawson's best efforts, Claire is less a character and more a device for the writers to deliver exposition. Since she is the only character who knows his secret, many of their scenes together consist of Matt explaining the mechanics of his abilities to her or his reasons for doing what he's doing. And then there's the romantic sub-plot, which feels very forced. She comes across as the typical worried superhero girlfriend, telling the hero that they can't be together because of yadda yadda yadda. Come on, guys, you can do better than this. I know you can.


Notes and Quotes

--I have to say again that I'm really loving how bilingual this series is.

--I'm very interested in the relationship between Fisk and Wesley. They seem to be more than just criminal mastermind and right-hand man. Fisk even goes so far as to describe Wesley as his friend.

--When Vladimir screamed "All!" at his lackey, Nikolai Nikolaeff was clearly channeling Gary Oldman in Leon:


Claire: "How do you... I mean, I know that you're blind, but you... see so much. How?"
Matt: "I guess you have to think of it as more than just five senses. I can't see, not like everyone else, but I can feel. Things like balance and direction. Micro-changes in air density, vibrations, blankets of temperature variations. Mix all that with what I hear, subtle smells. All of the fragments form a sort of... impressionistic painting."
Claire: "Okay, but what does that look like? Like, what do you... actually see?"
Matt: "A world on fire."

Leland: "Where are the Smiley Twins? Sleeping off another kidnapping?"
Wilson: "The Ranskahovs are no longer a part of this organization."
Leland: "Since when?"
Wilson: "Since I removed Anatoly's head... with my car door."

Foggy: "I can't go to L and Z alone. They're gonna shark attack me, Matt. Look at me, I'm delicious."
Matt: "Well, take Karen."
Foggy: "I mean, yeah, if she wants to."
Karen: "Oh... sure. Never seen sharks feed up close before."
Matt: "Try not to splash too much. It attracts 'em."
Foggy: "You both are so funny."

Wilson: "I've done things that I'm not proud of, Vanessa. I've hurt people... and I'm going to hurt more. It's impossible to avoid for what I'm trying to do. But I take no pleasure in it... in cruelty. But this city isn't a caterpillar. It doesn't spin a cocoon and wake up a butterfly. A city... crumbles and fades. It needs to die before it can be reborn."

Three out of four overpriced pumps.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

6 comments:

sunbunny said...

Yeah the two big problems I have with the series are the relationships between Fisk and Vanessa and Matt and Claire.

What is Vanessa doing? I know "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac" and all but good god. RUN WOMAN.

And Matt and Claire...I agree with everything you said. It's almost sad to see Rosario Dawson try to give this character life when the writing just isn't there. Honestly her character is my biggest disappointment of the whole series. Hopefully they'll do better by the character (and the actress!) next season/on other shows.

Great review!

lisianpeia said...

i have already watched s01, but i'm coming here 'cause i loved your reviews. i also remembered Gary Oldman "EVERYONE" in that episode and absolutely love how bilingual the series is - it respectful. I love how caring Foggy was in this episode, but i hadn't thought in the lengths you did - he really was the hero in this one. i think the way they're handling Claire didn't upset me so much 'cause they are doing great work with Karen - which isn't a excuse to write poorly the other female character, i know.

Billie Doux said...

I just saw that Daredevil is Netflix's top rated series.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/37116/-daredevil-is-netflix-s-top-rated-series

Josie Kafka said...

He’s doing what Nelson and Murdock was founded to do – help the helpless. No, wait, that was Angel Investigations.

This is so very true, right down to the Cordelia stand-in secretary with sex appeal who gets lured into helping the helpless after she almost becomes a victim but fights back.

I like the Claire subplot, perhaps more than I should, because I feel like each of their scenes is incredibly fraught with potential.

And I love the horribly awkward date between Foggy and Karen.

Swoooze said...

The end with Fisk and Vanessa watching the exploding buildings was pure Fight Club. I almost expected to hear 'Where is My Mind?' by the Pixies play.

Billie Doux said...

I'm slowly getting into this series. Loved Foggy in action, almost as much as Karen did. Except Karen is obviously hot for Matt. Which is sad for Foggy. Although it sounds like he's used to it.

As you noted, Mark, I'm finding myself wondering a lot about Wesley. His coolness and complete loyalty is so interesting, but what is he really thinking? Ditto Vanessa. She's obviously smart. Why is she hanging around instead of getting on a plane for another country?

Everyone has neglected the most important unanswered question. What happened to the cat that Claire was catsitting?