“Each man must stand for himself or fall with the unworthy”
‘Stick’ took a breather after the events of ‘Condemned,’ allowing us a greater look at Matt Murdock’s past. His old (in both all senses of the word) mentor, Stick, arrived to ask Murdock for help. A powerful weapon, Black Sky, was being moved into Hell’s Kitchen, under the aegis of Nobu (with the help of Wilson Fisk). Black Sky is the MacGuffin to reveal more of Murdock’s past, and open up (again) the question of what Murdock will have to do to conquer Fisk. Karen and Urich’s story continued with the help of Foggy. In a sense, the plot did slow down, but there was still plenty on offer here in the form of character development. We got a greater insight into why Murdock does what he does…
Our first look at Stick occurred in an office building. He chopped off a Japanese man’s hand whilst asking about ‘Black Sky.’ The Japanese man told him it was heading to New York City…cue Stick getting in touch with an old friend, Murdock. However, he arrived to distract Murdock as he was questioning Owlsley. Murdock heard the familiar tap of a walking stick. The flashbacks about Stick and Murdock were simple and to the point. Stick found Murdock in an orphanage (the same one as Skye’s in ‘Agents of SHIELD?) and taught him how to use his blindness (and heightened senses) to his advantage. Stick was looking for a warrior, Murdock was looking for a father figure. Stick punished Murdock again and again, but the young Murdock still looked up to him. In our first flashback, we see young Murdock screaming in pain from hearing everything. In our last flashback, we see young Murdock using Eskrima to fight Stick. We have the clichéd ‘stop trying to hit me and hit me!’ part, but apart from that, the flashbacks did what they needed to do with efficiency and entertainment.
They melded perfectly with the present, cutting between the two with beautiful cuts. Stick left young Murdock after Murdock gave him an ice cream wrapper bracelet; the same ice cream Stick treated him to when they first met. Stick left him, but returned with the same resentment. Murdock can’t be the hero he needs to be and have “the women, the comforts, the fancy job.” Murdock is surrounded by bullshit that serves only to distract him from his main priority. They work together to stop the Japanese receiving Black Sky at the docks. When Murdock sees that Black Sky is only a child, he stops Stick from killing the child (even though in a Terminator 2-esque promise beforehand, Stick said “I swear I will not kill anybody”). They part ways after a close fight, but Stick’s words linger on. “There are no half measures,” he said at one point, reminiscent of Breaking Bad. But of course, Murdock will only use half measures to deal with crime. He’s not a murderer…but could he become one? There’s a lot more to Stick and Black Sky that we may not see in this series (especially Stick’s meeting with the man with many scars), but that wasn’t the point. The flashbacks teased out the inner contradictions between Murdock’s beliefs.
“There are no heroes. No villains. Just people with different agendas”
The news about ‘The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’ (the headline about Daredevil) rumbled throughout the lives of Murdock’s associates. Foggy was quick to castigate the Masked Man, but Karen was quick to defend him (being saved by the Masked Man swayed her opinion!). Of course, their minor interaction was shorthand for how Hell’s Kitchen feel about the Masked Man. Some people have been saved by him, so have conflicting opinions about the headline. Others suck up the media like a can of cola, believing whatever they read. Karen continued her investigation with Urich, and even he was swayed by the media (ironically). Although their conversation was marred slightly by Karen’s explanation of the Yakuza as the Japanese mafia (well, I never!), it showed that even the most intelligent people can be swayed by the media. Urich, a man inside the media, counter-acted Karen’s claim that the Masked Man saved her by saying that he could have saved her to hurt someone else. His claim that “there are no heroes” initially rang false, considering he lives in a city where The Avengers saved the world. But, on the other hand, where were The Avengers in the aftermath? Are they clearing up the destruction? No, that is left to men like Fisk. Like Owlsley said in one episode, Fisk and company have the heroes to thank for all the destruction they caused.
Karen, Foggy et al were not there merely to fill in time between the adventures of Murdock and Stick. Foggy got to be a hero after he saved Karen from some thugs outside the block of apartments where Elena lives. Foggy followed Karen after concerns that she was hiding something from Murdock and Foggy. Urich and Karen let Foggy in on their investigation. At the top of Urich’s board there was an unnamed King of Diamonds (who we know is Fisk). Urich puts the Jack of Hearts next to him, with ‘Black Mask’ written in black. Of course, we know that Daredevil is working against the King of Diamonds. But to the general public, Daredevil is an agent of fear and terrorism. Urich and Karen’s investigation didn’t have great development, but it was more about explaining the impact of ‘Condemned’ than anything else.
VERDICT: 8/10. Another almost faultless episode of Daredevil. A tempered episode in some ways. But the flashbacks boosted the story of Murdock’s development, both in the past and in the present. Foggy got to play the hero! Never a dull moment, and great from start to finish.
(Click here for my review of Daredevil, Season 1, Episode 6: Condemned)
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