Daredevil: The Ones We Leave Behind

"It's a difficult thing, isn't it? Taking a life... feeling of the weight and responsibility of all the years the person you've murdered has lived... moments that they've cherished... the dreams that they've struggled towards, gone... because of you. I want you to know something. Something important that I've learned. That it gets easier... the more you do it."

Those bastards! Why would they do that? WHY?

Okay, we’ll get to that later. First, let’s talk about Karen. Right now there is nothing to link her to Wesley's murder. She was clever enough to cover her tracks, which kinda implies that she may have done this before (or just seen a lot of detective shows). But if Fisk's mother says something about the nice blonde girl who visited her to her son then Fisk will come after her, and her friends, with everything he's got. And this will be a Fisk without the calming influence of James Wesley so it will be a complete bloodbath. Karen knows this and as such all her actions in this episode were driven by paranoia and survival. Which is why I found that entire nightmare sequence unnecessary. Karen's paranoia was evident throughout the episode, we didn't need a dream to give us this insight into her mental state.

Why didn't Karen confide in her friends? They would've seen that what she did, she did as self defence. Wesley did abduct her and threaten to kill everyone she loved. Was she afraid that they would encourage her to turn herself in (unlikely, Ben, Matt and Foggy aren't that stupid) or that this would expose her dark past and cause them to think less of her? If she'd shared with someone her paranoia might not have consumed her, which lead her to push Ben to publish the article, inadvertently kick starting the chain of events that eventually lead to his death.

I’ve watched enough TV over the years to know when something horrible is about to happen. There is always this unnerving stillness, where things just seem way too calm. When Ben was walking to his car after getting fired I was certain that something terrible would happen. Either he would be attacked or his car would blow up. When he got in his car and drove away I breathed a sigh of relief. Then he got home and knew he was going to be attacked, and when it was revealed that Fisk was there I knew that Ben’s days were numbered.

Barring some last minute deus ex machina there was no way Ben was getting out of this one alive. I wanted one, as bad as they are, I wanted one. I wanted Thor himself to come crashing through the window and send Fisk flying into the Hudson with a swing of his mighty hammer. From a storytelling standpoint, that would have been terrible, but I would've accepted it all the same because I love this character so much and I did not want to see him die. I was screaming at the TV when it happened. I didn’t want Ben to die. I didn’t think Ben could die. He’s been an integral part of the Daredevil universe for decades. I thought for sure he would have plot armour ten inches thick protecting him. Those bastards, why did they have to kill off one of my favourite characters?

Sigh, rest in peace, Ben Ulrich. You are going to be deeply missed. And a big thank you to Vondie Curtis-Hall for bringing this character to life so well. I'm really going to miss having him around.

'Stick' was the first episode to suggest that there was something mystical going on beneath the surface, something that has now all but been confirmed in this episode. There was definitely some magic at work here. Gao's workers appeared to all be in some sort of trance, which was broken when she had them swarm Matt. And then Gao herself threw Matt across the room like he was nothing. Who is she really and where is she from if not China? The logo on her drugs is a pretty big give away for all you comic readers out there.

When he wasn't getting tossed around by old ladies, Matt was showing off his mad parkour skills. Those healing meditations really work wonders, don't they? In the previous episode Matt couldn't even walk from one side of his apartment to the other without reopening his wounds. And in the show's timeline that was, what, a day ago? Now he's running around rooftops like a bat out of hell. Even though they did show him tending to his wound afterwards, I still found it difficult to buy that Matt would be able to pull off such acrobatics quite so soon.

While his body may be healing at a phenomenal rate, Matt's spirit is still very much battered and bruised. It is rare that we ever see a superhero vulnerable, and I mean emotionally. We often see them physically vulnerable, which even the non-superpowered ones recover from with inhuman quickness so they can take down the bad guy in the final act. But emotional vulnerability is rare and crying is usually reserved only for the death of a loved one. I can't think of the last time I saw a hero break down and cry because the pressure of everything was finally getting to them. And that is what I love so much about Matt Murdock. Despite all his superhuman abilities, he is the most human costumed hero around.

Notes and Quotes

--Foggy is still pissed at Matt, but I'm glad he's no longer drowning his sorrows and is actively working to find something to bring Fisk down.

--This week's most obvious symbolism was Karen washing herself from head to toe in a futile attempt to wash away a stain that just ain't gonna come out no matter how hard she scrubs.

--The music playing in the car during the Parkour scene is Bach's Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor.

--Does Matt go back for his sticks or does he just buy new ones?

Ben: "Run the article. It'll sell papers, it's sexy."
Ellison: "You sound like a whore."
Ben: "Well, I learned how to be one from you."

Foggy: "You and I should not drink."
Karen: "Yeah. Yeah, I'm thinking about giving it up, moving on to the hard stuff."
Foggy: "Narcotics? Deal me in."
--Holy foreshadowing, Batman!

Three out of four mad Parkour skills.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


Diogo said...

Great review! But isn't her name Gao?

Mark Greig said...

My mistake. Goa was the name of the restaurant next door to the one I eat at last night

Remco said...

I offer you two typos:

"They would've seen what she did she did as self defence."
"which was broken when she had them swam Matt."

Josie Kafka said...

Remco, I think the first one makes more sense if you say it out loud: "They would've seen [that] what she did, she did as self defense."

I've fixed the swimming!

Mark, I'd like to congratulate you on all the words you spelled correctly. :-) And on the awesome review!

But emotional vulnerability is rare and crying is usually reserved only for the death of a loved one. I can't think of the last time I saw a hero break down and cry because the pressure of everything was finally getting to them. And that is what I love so much about Matt Murdock. Despite all his superhuman abilities, he is the most human costumed hero around.

Ditto, a thousand dittos. I think this vulnerability is why I like Daredevil so, so much more than everything else in the MCU.

Gao seems awesome. I hope I can leap around like that when I'm her age. Hell, I'd settle for leaping around like that at my age.

Josie Kafka said...

I haven't rewatched this one yet, so I have forgotten if it is this episode or the next that has Ben's funeral.

If it's the next one, I apologize for the tiniest of insigificant spoilers: They all looked so incredibly cold. Polar vortex cold.

Remco said...

"They would've seen [that] what she did, she did as self defense."

Ah, tripped up by the infinite complexity of the English language. I considered putting a deliberate typo in my post for fun, but I should've known it would not be necessary. ;)

Something that makes this show stand out from superhero movies and action movies in general is how much weight it lends to the subject of violence. If there is one thing you learn from TV, it's that you should kill people on a daily basis. Not so in Daredevil. Sure, there's a lot of punching. But killing is a line Matt has much difficulty crossing. I'm sure it will happen eventually if they keep raising the stakes. How long can the audience of an action series go without death?

Similarly to how the audience has been desensitized to violence, Fisk has been desensitized to killing from an early age. Now that Karen has had her first taste, I wonder how long it will take for her to kill again. She doesn't put herself out there like Matt, but she's changed and he's noticed.

Jess Lynde said...

I didn’t takes notes on my reaction to this one, and it has been awhile since I watched it, so I don’t remember many of the particulars. But I will second your distress over Ben’s death, Mark. Like you, I felt it coming most of the episode, but was still somehow hoping it wouldn’t come to pass. Even though I knew there had to be some response for Wesley’s death. [Mournful sigh.] And the endless cycle of vengeance and violence continues.

Katie Hart - Freelance Writer said...

I, too, was waiting for Ben's car to blow up or something. I will really miss Ben next season! I wish the writers had Fisk go after Ben's wife instead, which I think would have made sense in a "you try to get to me through my mother, I get to you through your wife" way.

JRS said...

*lights a candle for Ben*

Billie Doux said...

It's not that I don't like Karen, and I absolutely loved the way Matt cried in her arms. But wow, the people around her are dropping like flies. Honestly, I wasn't surprised. I could feel his death coming for several episodes. Ben was like Mrs. Cardenas. He wasn't supposed to die.

Wow! One more. And then I have another season waiting for me!