“Put your mind to it and make it happen”
The first episode depicted the event that caused Murdock’s superpowers, and ‘Stick’ showed us how Murdock became a fighter. ‘Shadows in the Glass’ is Fisk’s origin story. We see the childhood event that defined him as much as being doused in chemicals defined young Murdock. Like ‘Stick’, plot developments were in the background here. It was more about developing the character of Fisk. Dialogue packed rather than action packed, ‘Shadows in the Glass’ still had plenty on offer.
The episode begins with Fisk’s morning routine (involving a look at ‘Rabbit in a Snowstorm), after waking up in a sweat. At the end of his routine (which we see again later on), he looks at himself in the mirror and sees a blood-covered younger version of himself…The proceeding flashbacks into his past are neither contrived nor lazy. They create even more parallels to Murdock. Fisk’s father forces a drink on his twelve year old son, just like Jack Murdock made his son drink alcohol to stitch him up. Both sons feel responsible for their father’s death. Matt believes that he convinced his father to win the fight he was paid to lose, thus causing his father’s murder. Fisk brutally murders his father to protect his mum from a beating. Has there ever been this much depth to a Marvel villain?
We even see the root of his fascination with the painting ‘Rabbit in a Snowstorm.’ Young Fisk is staring at a wall similar to the painting before murdering his father. His mother also gives him his father’s cufflinks. Young Fisk smiles as his uses a hammer to kill his father. The evil is in his eyes, even though he was saving his mum (the only jarring aspect about it was the mother’s calmness after the murder. “Get the saw!” she demands, no panic in sight). After confessing the murder to Vanessa, he says “I did it for me.”
After some harsh truths from Madame Gao, Fisk is uncontrollably angry. However, a visit from Vanessa sets him right. She spends the night, and spices up Fisk’s morning routine. The difference in Fisk is made obvious by the different routine. Madame Gao’s truth was that since Vanessa, Fisk has gotten sloppy with business. He is distracted by matters of the heart rather than matters of money (again, an interesting parallel between Murdock and Fisk: Murdock repelled Claire in favour of his vigilantism, whilst Fisk is besotted with Vanessa). However, by the end of the episode, Gao’s words ring a little false. Vanessa suggests to Fisk that he rise out of the shadows and become a public figure…
“You get what you deserve”
Unfortunately, this occurs at the same time that Murdock, Nelson, and Urich decide to out Fisk as the man in the shadows. Urich helps them after a little visit from the Masked Man. “I’m trying to protect the city,” he tells Urich. There seems to be no other option; Murdock tried and failed to stop Hoffman killing his partner. A few whispers about Fisk was all Murdock received (and the blame for Blake’s murder). Again, Hoffman is another man Fisk pays off to kill another man. After Hoffman says he’s known Blake for thirty years, the response is “how much are each of those years worth to you…in round figures.” Outing Fisk to the public seems to be the only course of action left to Murdock, short of killing Fisk…
Urich’s voiceover leads to the definite highlight of the episode as it reaches the end. The article he is reading out is a perfect monologue for the times we are living in. Every message hit the nail on the head. (unelected) People working from the shadows to control our lives. They disregard “the rules, the ones people like me and you, the people that work and struggle to live our lives, just live, don’t apply to them.” But it is our ‘shadows’ that they exist in; our shadows of indifference to anything but our own little worlds. “…they keep taking, until all that’s left for the rest of us is a memory of how it used to be before the corporations and the bottom line decided we didn’t matter anymore. But we do.” It’s a monologue that we can all relate to, one that we can all scream ‘hell yeah’ at. It gets to the bottom of what is really wrong with society. Simply outstanding, on a parallel (in different terms, of course) to THAT fight scene in ‘Cut Man.’
It leads into Urich revealing Fisk’s name…however, as Urich is typing the letters, Fisk appears on TV. “My name is Wilson Fisk, and together we can make this city a better place.” Urich immediately deletes his article. Foggy and Karen watch with unmitigated disappointment. Murdock smashes some stuff in his apartment. The perfect ending to that monologue; the bad guy gets more than he deserves because he has all the power. You can complain about it and write about it, but the bad guy is always one step ahead. That’s been Fisk all over. What’s left for Murdock and co now?
VERDICT: 8/10. Wilson Fisk is Marvel’s greatest on-screen villain and this episode emphasises why. The exquisite monologue at the end is a fist-punching one until the gut-punch of Fisk’s public reveal…very well done!
(Click here for my review of Daredevil, Season 1, Episode 7: Stick)