Daredevil: Daredevil

"Nelson and Murdock. Avocados at law."

It is very easy to view Daredevil's first season as a superhero origin movie told in 13 parts. One of the big problems with modern superhero films is that they have an annoying tendency to fall apart in the final act, as plot and character development is pushed to the side in order for the hero and villain to smack each other around while some doomsday machine counts down to oblivion. Daredevil, sadly, is no exception. Although there was no doomsday device. I bet they are saving that for The Defenders.

I've loved pretty much every episode of the series, but I found this one to be something of a letdown. The first half of the episode rushed too quickly to move all the pieces into place for the grande finale, stretching credibility to breaking point. Wilson figured out Leland's betrayal and killed him (did Leland really think he could intimidate Fisk?), then set his men after Hoffman so he wouldn't talk, but Matt grabbed him first and one Puccini fuelled montage later Fisk’s entire empire was in tatters.

The swiftness with which Fisk was toppled was incredibly far-fetched. Would Hoffman, who is basically a mid-level enforcer, really know enough about the inner workings of the organization that his testimony alone would bring the whole thing crashing down? Hoffman would know enough to implicate Fisk since he dealt with him directly, but I find it hard to believe that he would have so much knowledge of the other aspects of Fisk’s operation to cause such serious damage. More importantly, what could he prove? Without anything to back up his claims his testimony would have been more or less useless. If the FBI’s case against Fisk and his associates hinged solely on Hoffman’s testimony, then it would've been a very short trial indeed. I don't even know why Fisk ran, any half decent lawyer could've got him out on bail within an hour.

That wasn't the only thing that felt rushed. Our hero and his BFF started talking to each other again and after one heart to heart in the gym and Matt, Foggy and Karen were all working together again as if nothing had happened. I would've thought we'd at least get a scene of Karen biting Foggy's head off for missing Ben's funeral. That is not something I see Karen easily forgiving, regardless of his reasons.

The second half of this episode was just one continuous action sequence as Fisk, after boring his guards and us with his long winded take on the Bible story of the Good Samaritan, made his escape. This situation presented Matt with the perfect opportunity to show off his fancy new costume. Yes, after 13-episodes Matt is finally wearing Daredevil's classic red costume, mercifully skipping the original red and yellow one he first wore in the comics.

He was going through a phase. 
You know, I'm really going to miss his previous costume. It may have been seriously lacking in terms of protection, but it looked damn good. This one? Not so much. It isn’t a disaster, and is a vast improvement over the Affleck version, but it still looks a little silly. It reminds me too much of the one the character wore in the 90s. I think my main issue is with the cowl, it just look like it wasn't designed well to go with Charlie Cox's face. Maybe I'll get used to it in time, but right now I am firmly in the "I don't like it" camp.

After so many amazing fights this season, I couldn't help but find the final showdown between Matt and Fisk, which pitted speed and skill against sheer brute force, rather disappointing. It was just your standard good guy/bad guy dust up, and nothing more. If this had been any other show I'd be okay with that, but this is Daredevil, the show that gave us that mind blowing corridor fight in episode two, and that brutal ninja fight in episode nine. Can I be forgiven for expecting something truly special for the finale?

Ultimately, I felt this episode wrapped everything up too quickly and a little too neatly for my liking. Fisk was taken down and locked up, with nothing but that surprisingly familiar wall for company, while our heroes were all happily reunited and ready to get on with the business of saving Hell's Kitchen, Sure there were one or two loose threads, but nothing that is likely to keep fans up at night.

Notes and Quotes

--Everyone is still clueless as to who really killed Wesley. I'm not even sure if Matt and Foggy know he was killed, but Matt has sensed that something has not been right with Karen lately.

--As well as donning the classic costume, Matt is now using a perfectly balanced billy club, Daredevil's signature weapon.

--The magazine cover is actual Daredevil cover art by Alex Maleev, one of the best artists to ever work on the comic.

--The song that plays during Ben's funeral is 'Many Rivers to Cross' by the great Jimmy Cliff. The song that played during the arrest montage is 'Nessun Dorma', one of the most famous opera arias ever written, from Puccini's Turandot.

--Are those Stiltman's stilts in Porter's workshop?

--I guess this means that Leland won't be turning into the Owl any time soon. Oh well, there's always his son.

--They really made you work to spot the Stan Lee cameo.

Father Lantom: "How you holding up?"
Matt: "Like a good Catholic boy."
Father Lantom: "That bad, huh?"

Foggy: "Last time you went after Fisk, I found you half dead! More than half. You go after him in the mask again, he might kill you. Or you might kill him, which would probably have the same effect on someone as Catholic as you are."

Karen: "Daredevil. That's what they're calling him now. The man in the mask."
Foggy: "Daredevil? Sounds like he's gonna jump Snake River Canyon on his rocket cycle."
Matt: "It kinda does, doesn't it?"

I hate to say it, but two and a half out of four perfectly balanced billy clubs.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


Billie Doux said...

Congratulations on finishing the first season of Daredevil, Mark! and I agree with you about the costume.

JRS said...

Awesome review and you echo my thoughts about the quickness of the finale and in particular the quickness of Matt and Foggy healing their relationship.

sunbunny said...

it's been a while since I saw this one but I remember being annoyed at how easily Matt and Foggy made up. Especially considering how well paced the rest of the series was and how long they had, it seemed like they should've given that more time and thought.

Jess Lynde said...

Once again, I took no notes on my reaction, and I suspect that’s because, like you, I found this finale underwhelming and certainly not up to par with everything that came before. I think “resolving” Matt’s season-long struggle with whether or not to kill Fisk by having him take Fisk down via the legal system bugged me a good deal. Not because it was an unsatisfactory choice for Matt to make, but because it all worked out too easily and too well, as you say, Mark. It just wouldn’t be that simple to go that route, given how extensive and connected the operation was.

I was also pretty sad to see the black costume go. :( Ah well. It was a very good season overall, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Thanks, Mark (and Josie), for all your insights on S1!

Josie Kafka said...

Congratulations on finishing Daredevil, Mark!

I've put off rewatching this episode for all the reasons you mentioned: it's just sort of a letdown. Still fine, but not as good as all of the other episodes, especially 2, 9, and 10.

I do like Fisk's speech about being the "ill intent," though. Sure, it's a bit on the nose, but Fisk is a nosey guy.

Mark Greig said...

I'm glad everyone has enjoyed these reviews and given us so much great feedback. And thank you, Josie, for helping out. I honestly don't think I would've finished this season without your help.

Josie Kafka said...

So, I'm like Matt Murdock himself? Helping those in need? Solving problems?

Billie Doux said...

Coming late to the party -- I definitely agree with your review, Mark, and the comments. There was stuff to like about this finale, but it was mostly a let down. It would have made a lot more sense if it had been Leland whose testimony took Fisk down, and I was disappointed that Karen's secret about Wesley never came out. And the costume. Sigh. I like the black one so much better, even though Matt desperately needs body armor. Couldn't he be wearing black body armor and no horns?

Mark Greig said...

Well done on finishing season 1, Billie. I hope you enjoy season 2 as much as I did.