It’s been 11 episodes, and there have been a few lives taken in the Kingpin’s consolidation of power over Hell’s Kitchen. But this is the first time that one of the good guys has had the power in their hands to take a life--and taken it. (No, I’m not counting Stick as one of the good guys. If there’s ever been someone who is chaotic neutral to a tee, it’s that old fucker). Superheroes make a lot of bluster about not killing. Some people find it old-fashioned (“Why doesn’t Batman just kill the Joker?” says everyone), and it drives a lot of people towards “edgier” characters like the Punisher or Deadpool. Daredevil is traditionally pretty firmly in the “no killing” camp, with the exception of the several times he’s tried to kill Bullseye. Apparently, in the MCU, Daredevil is anti-killing, but Karen Page isn’t. Karen Page is a woman with secrets, and apparently those secrets can be lethal.
This episode starts and ends with big bangs: Fisk and crew crash a hospital to get some emergency care for Vanessa, and of course, Karen takes a life. In between, the thematic arc of the episode (and arguably, the series) begins to come to a head. Hell’s Kitchen is full of people like Matt and Fisk with the devil in them, and some of them strive to do the right thing in the face of that wickedness, while others strive to serve their own needs. When it boils down to it, we all agree that it’s probably not right that Matt dresses up in a costume to try to kill a man to protect the city, but Fisk’s people make it pretty clear that they are only in it for the paycheck, even if Fisk himself is on some kind of crazy fascist “I will fix this city if I have to ruin the city to do it” track.
This is one of several of the moments in the last half of the series that really cement Matt’s desire to become something bigger. When the series started, he was one man in a mask trying to help tourists who were getting mugged, or women in danger. Now, as the threat is getting bigger, so is Matt, going so far as to ask Melvin Potter to make him “a symbol.” There are a few more nails in this coffin coming down in the next couple episodes, but the acceptance of the need to put on a costume and become something more than just a man in order to serve the city is a step from vigilante to hero. It’s also a pretty direct Dark Knight trajectory that continues through the back half of the season, but one other way that Daredevil outshines Dark Knight is the arcs of its supporting cast. Ben and Karen have some really good moments in this episode, hell, even Foggy and his lawyer with a heart of fool’s gold ex-girlfriend have some charming interactions.
As per usual, the end of this episode of Daredevil left me reeling. For as much as this show sometimes sinks into standard crime drama, there are some technical achievements on the storytelling side and the actual filming side that make it shine. That final scene with Karen and Wesley goes on for roughly six minutes, and where the nu-famous fight scene from “Cut Man” is a six-minute release valve, this one is a slowly inflating balloon, waiting to pop. It’s the fact that Wesley can respond to “Is that supposed to scare me?” with “No... but this is” while pulling out a gun and it doesn’t play for laughs; it’s the fact that the whole conversation is allowed to play out without cutting away or characters defusing the situation. Daredevil knows when to punch some guys for a long time, and when to just let their characters cut each other with their words.
And back I go into the next episode. I’ll see you tomorrow, gang.
Daredevil 1.11 - "The Path of the Righteous" Director: Nick Gomez Writers: Steven S. DeKnight & Douglas Petrie Distributor: Netflix, ABC Films, Marvel Studios Runtime: 60 Minutes Exclusively on Netflix
- Sad Matt Murdock with a balloon is my new favorite reaction picture.
- There is mention of the Japanese getting a whole city block--Coming Soon: Shadowland?
- “Martyrs, saints and saviors all end up the same way: bloody and alone.” Damn, Claire.
- I don’t think I know how confession works. I thought, if someone came into confession and said “I’m going to kill this person,” the priest had to run that up the chain to the cops, as it were. Matt is always coming into church and being like, “Hey, I tried to kill Fisk again yesterday. Didn’t take, but I’m gonna try again. Us Murdock boys, we always get back up.” And the priest’s reaction is usually something glib about lattes.
- More sage Ben Urich adages: “We all do what we can... Sometimes, it’s enough.”