Yes, I admit it. I went and watched three episodes all at once and then a second time. I am trying to use as much restraint as possible though, as I want to really enjoy each and every savory morsel of this delicious Netflix series rather than gorging myself just because I can. I am a mega Daredevil fan and thus far, this has been a series that has given me hope once again that there can be a good superhero television series that is true to the character and true to itself portraying an honest and solid look of what it is to be a hero and what it means to be a bad guy. As Daredevil 1.3 plays through, we get tastes of both. And what you see is that no matter how bad you are, no matter how good you are, you are still just a human being with problems who must make decisions that may be for better or for worse. But regardless of the decisions, they are just that. And you must render the consequences for each and every one of those decisions. This is my last review of the series and I have been having to break from my DD fan biases, resorting to splitting my consciousness and unleashing my inner N.E.R.D. or a person who NEVER EVER READ DAREDEVIL. I promise that this is the last time I do this. Quite frankly, it gives me a headache. But, I want to make sure that my own super excitement of a series that has been very pleasing to my fan preferences so far does not cause me to lose my objective edge. So here we go for one more run…
For as poetic and beautiful the final fight sequence of episode two was, Daredevil 1.3’s opening fight scene is just as equal, but in brutality instead of art. A man seeking a simple desire to bowl a few games brutally (and I mean brutally) murders the person who appears to be a player in the bad guy world. Enter Nelson and Murdock who are asked to defend this man with a large sum of money given as a retainer by the henchmen who we already know as representing the great unknown bad guy that is controlling things in Hell’s Kitchen.
Matt, suspecting something is up, goes to investigate and hears what his suspicions were reporting to him. He takes the case (much to Foggy’s objections) to defend this career criminal and we go into a full blown Law and Order episode with some superhero elements as Matt and Foggy do their due diligence in defending this criminal while Matt’s alter ego Daredevil snoops around both before and after the case to gather additional information in who is providing the funding for this trial and apparently pulling the strings as well. It all ends with the name of the previously unknown baddie being revealed (and subsequent response to that naming). The final shot has this now known bad man staring at a completely white painting stating that it makes him feel “alone.”
Like the other episodes, two additional side stories are at work as well as we are introduced to a hard boiled news reporter named Ben Ulrich who wants to get to the bottom of some strange things going on with the criminal element in Hell’s Kitchen. There is a new player in town and Ulrich wishes to dig deeper. But personal responsibilities with his sick wife and his unmotivated editor to pursue such a course of story are in his way.
Adding to the obstructions, enter Ulrich’s last hard hitting corruption piece with Union Allied that became dead as fast as it was released as the players involved disappeared and the company itself split up. Despite Union Allied’s break up, this hasn’t stopped Karen Page who feels something is simply wrong as she is offered a settlement as well as threatened legally for her involvement in stealing a top secret file from episode one. She eventually works her way to the wife of the murdered coworker that she was framed for killing and ultimately to Mr. Ulrich himself, stating her suspicions and asking his help.
This whole episode felt a little bit anticlimactic after the super action of the previous episode. Sure we have Daredevil in action. But much of this story was more at work in establishing things and in identifying our bad man number one. He seems like a man of few words, but has the same level of power that he can actually like an all-white painting and it’s all ok. You can bet that this man wields mighty power. And if Mr. Healy (Matt and Foggy’s murder client) doesn’t convince you how bad this man is through his own actions, then I don’t think that you can be convinced.
Okay, now to my fan boy review. I agree. This episode felt anticlimactic. But like the movements of pieces on the chessboard, episode three worked to establish bigger moves for the future. The pawns were moving so as to expose the king who in this world is the one and only Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. Vincent D’Onofrio in playing Fisk, no doubt lacks the physical prowess of the comic book Kingpin. You would probably need CGI for that rendering. But in this lean and mean Hell’s Kitchen world of crime and punishment, D’Ornofrio makes for an interesting choice, with intensity in the eyes, yet a fractured psyche as well of a person who may control all that he surveys, but who is also utterly alone in many ways as well. Unless that is, he and the lady at the art house end up having a relationship that plays out. Not sure if it happens here, but any fan of Daredevil knows Vanessa and her history with Fisk, so it is very likely.
As a fan, I can’t help but to like Ben Ulrich. He is a man of substance and pushes for the truth. True to character here, Ulrich speaks with both criminals and regular folk in looking for those angles to that big story that may not sell papers, but is relevant for the masses. It means something, just like fighting tooth and nail to take care of his ailing wife. Ben is played to perfection by Vondie Curtis-Hall. He steals the episode here all the way around.
Alas, despite Curtis-Hall’s wonderful performance and D’Onofrio’s scowling look, this has been the most pedestrian of the episodes to date. It was still good, but nothing that overwhelmed me like the opening two. But for what it is, major characters were revealed, Nelson and Murdock got to show their skills in the courtroom, and Karen Page continues to build block by block a fighting spirit and prowess that will eventually make her what she will ultimately become one day. I liked it, just not as good as I liked the previous two.
Daredevil 1.3 – Rabbit in a Snowstorm Director: Adam Kane Writer: Marco Ramirez Distributor: Netflix, ABC Films, Marvel Studios Runtime: 60 Minutes Exclusively on Netflix