Season One, Episodes Eleven, Twelve, & Thirteen — “The Path of the Righteous”, “The Ones We Leave Behind”, “Daredevil”
By Jarrod Jones. Of all the people in all of Daredevil, the two I was rooting for — really hoping to see make their way through the war of Hell’s Kitchen — were Ben Urich and James Wesley. Like most deaths in Daredevil, the deaths of the two most charismatic characters on the show were reliably unceremonious, abrupt, and incredibly thorough, but what set them apart was that they were doled out by the most unlikely of perpetrators. I mean yikes; was this show in a hurry to kill everyone off before the finale, or what?
Yes, I’ve finally made my way through all that is Marvel’s Daredevil, on time and with a week to spare. (Yes, I did. Think about it: thirteen episodes wouldn’t mean thirteen weeks for a normal serialized program, but my gripes with Netflix’s release policy are for another column, I fear.) And I somehow dodged every single spoiler along the way. (For the next week or so I’ll be skulking about similar websites to read about the show to feel like it was all worthwhile.) So, yeah. Karen meets Wesley. Ben meets Fisk. And Matt meets his destiny. (And maybe Spider-Man in Season Two.)
WHAT WORKED: It’s not vitally important that this happen every episode, but having Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) walk about the streets of New York in broad daylight, soaking in the zeitgeist with his extranormal abilities is always an awesome thing to see. I dunno about the parkour that followed, but it’s nice to actually witness Matt using his damn superpowers.
While they were not something I exactly wanted to see, the deaths of James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore) and Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) were handled as well as could be expected in a show as bug-fuck insane as Daredevil can decidedly be. While Wesley’s out-of-left-field demise effectively stunned the hell from me, the very second it became clear that Ben was sharing a room with Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), there was only one conclusion to make. But top-notch teleplays and even better acting made the journey a worthwhile endeavor, so it’s with a heavy heart and high spirits that I write these words. *hoists drink* To Ben.
The fall of the House of Fisk was a gorgeous montage to behold. Set to Puccini’s Nessun dorma (sung, naturally, by Luciano Pavarotti), every single cog of the Kingpin’s enterprise crumbles under the might of the law, just as Matt, Foggy (Elden Henson), and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) would like it. But a man as shrewd as Fisk has yet another ace in the hole — even in police custody — and you better make damn sure he’s not gonna reveal it before he provides another compelling-ass monologue. I’m going to miss Fisk next season.
Everything about the final showdown between Fisk and Daredevil is perfection. Everything from how Matt puts his escrima sticks away just before (because he feels he won’t need them), to how Fisk thinks brute force will be enough to crush his adversary (when finesse would actually give him leverage). This is Marvel Comics brought to life, folks; a series that effectively shamed every television endeavor DC Comics has ever brought before us (that isn’t called The Flash). Somewhere, perhaps deservedly so, Frank Miller is patting himself on the back.
WHAT DIDN’T: It’s a case of, “yeah, but it’s in the comics”, but I still don’t have to like it. Watching Matt prey on poor Melvin Potter’s (Matt Gerald) delicate sensibilities just so he can look like a red leather bondage boy was definitely one of the goofier moments in Daredevil history. Yeah, I hear you, Bendis Dorks! Not everything translates as perfectly as you want it to, dammit!
Ben Urich and Karen Page’s pussyfooting about concerning whether or not they should or shouldn’t do something about Fisk or whatever is easily the nose-pickingest nonsense Daredevil has to offer. It’s bland, trying, and about as unconvincing as believing Foggy Nelson can actually knock a decent pair of boots. (Ick.) Next season likely won’t burden itself with such issues, as Jon Bernthal’s presence as Frank Castle will probably keep all the conspiracy theories to a minimum.
Episode Twelve “Just remember: wind blows hardest the closer you are to the mountaintop.” – Leland Owlsley’s feeble attempt at Wesley-like sage advice.
“I’m not here to threaten you. I’m here to kill you.” – Fisk, to Ben.
Episode Thirteen “How you holding up?” “Like a good Catholic boy.” “That bad, huh?” – Matt and Father Lantom (Peter McRobbie).
“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.” – Foggy.
BEST MOMENT: This finale required only one moment, and that was the showdown between Charlie Cox’s Daredevil and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin. Nevermind that the police caravan sequence was nearly a shot for shot recreation of Harvey Dent’s walk of shame in The Dark Knight, or that Daredevil had finally succumbed to its silly-ass Cinematic Universe; that punch-for-punch was a cathartic ending to a series that injected much life into an enterprise that was desperately searching for a second wind. Forget Age of Ultron (and go ahead and laugh at Ant-Man); Daredevil is everything a Marvel Zombie could ever need.
SERIES MVP: Wilson Fisk. As much as I needed Charlie Cox here, it was Vincent D’Onofrio’s turn as the Kingpin of Crime that consistently kept my eyebrows halfway to my hairline. I’ve often said that Marvel Studios has a problem with their villains (you can read more about that here), but D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk is easily the greatest baddie Marvel’s had since Tom Hiddleston vamped his way into all of our hearts. Because Daredevil decided that there will be no corpse for Wilson Fisk, there’s every reason to look forward to seeing him again. Season One turned Fisk into a man with nothing but hope. And a man with nothing but hope is — paradoxically — a man without fear.
– Sadness is a blind man holding a monkey balloon.
– Guess I missed the Stilt-Man stilts from an earlier episode, because there they are, right there in Melvin Potter’s workshop.
– Gladiator likes Yoo-Hoo. It’s a fine product.
– Only Wilson Fisk can make “I’ll make them suffer for what they’ve done” sound like “you’re looking fabulous, baby.”
– That baggie of good shit bares the same symbol as Danny Rand’s mortal nemesis, the Steel Serpent.
– That’s fine, beardo. Fire Ben Urich. That means he can actually work at the Daily Bugle next seaso — OH MY GOD.
– I dunno why it took me this long to realize it, but… Fisk has a real “Lenny from Of Mice and Men” thing going on, doesn’t he.