“Do you believe in the devil, father?”
‘Speak of the Devil’ handles the age-old question of whether it’s morally right to kill an evil man. The side-question is, of course, should a super-hero kill a super-villain? Should Daredevil kill Fisk? It’s a theme well-explored in comic books. But here, the question is given a religious slant. What does the Catholic priest advice? Although well-worn territory, ‘Speak of the Devil’ manages to hand the theme fresh clothing. Murdock also ends up fighting a ninja, which can only be a good thing, in another gripping episode of Daredevil.
The episode opens with Daredevil being punched in the face by a ninja. The ninja whips out a swinging blade and cuts Daredevil to shreds. We go back in time to find out how Murdock ended up fighting a ninja…Firstly, Murdock consults his priest as to the existence of the devil. The priest’s words ring true within Murdock’s life. Originally, Satan meant ‘adversary.’ Afterwards, all of the ‘satans’ in The Bible were merged into one Devil as propaganda for the Church. The fear of a big evil monster easily forced people into the Church. Of course, Fisk is Murdock’s ‘satan,’ or adversary, just as Murdock is Fisk’s adversary. And Fisk has used his ‘satan’ to create fear in the people of Hell’s Kitchen and push people to believe in Wilson Fisk. However, Murdock isn’t interested in theology. He wants to know whether it is right to stop the Devil.
In a later meeting between the two, the priest advises that “judgement and vengeance are best left to God.” A righteous man doing wrong will twist the morality of the community. However, looking at Hell’s Kitchen, it’s hard to believe that Daredevil killing Fisk will spread immorality any more than it’s already spread! But it will also spread through Daredevil’s ethics, meaning that murder is an evil method he will use to dispatch villains. But if he doesn’t take out Fisk, then evil will continue to happen. In these two meeting with the priest, Murdock gets a resounding ‘no’ to the question of murdering Fisk/The Devil. But Fisk orders the murder of Mrs. Cardenas to halt any attempt by Nelson and Murdock to use her to target Fisk in a court of law…
“You could always ask him yourself”
It’s a murder that hits home not only with Nelson, Murdock and Karen (almost all three are reduced to tears after the news), but with the audience. A frail old lady, simply wishing to remain where she lives in peace, is murdered because she poses a threat to Fisk. It’s heartless and cruel logic. Is Murdock’s morality compromised because he won’t kill Fisk? Are the bodies piling up in Fisk’s name also piling up because Murdock won’t stop him?
Before the murder, however, Murdock advises Foggy and Karen to “know you enemy” in their investigation of Fisk. Murdock takes his own advice and visits Vanessa in the art gallery. However, in a great swerve turn, Fisk shows up during their conversation! Instead of building up to their first meeting, Murdock and Fisk meet up in a matter of chance. It’s a brilliant moment, and a brilliant, yet awkward, conversation between Fisk and Murdock. They both make clear their love for Hell’s Kitchen, but it’s Murdock who retreats. A glimmer of recognition shines in Fisk’s eyes! In the second meeting with the priest, Murdock admits that seeing the woman that the Devil loves has disturbed his case for murder. The priest replies that maybe Murdock was looking for a reason not to kill Fisk…The constant questioning about murder should be boring, but it isn’t. It comes across as a serious and involving discussion about what Murdock should do and what he shouldn’t do. Religion plays a big part in Murdock’s heart.
Murdock is led to the ninja after finding the druggie who murdered Mrs. Cardenas. The druggie gives him the location of Fisk: a warehouse on the docks (and Murdock threatens to kill the druggie if he doesn’t hand himself in to the police…another great moment!). Of course, Fisk isn’t at the warehouse, but the ninja is…and it is Nobu. Earlier on in the episode, Nobu demanded that Fisk give him the apartment blocks that were promised to him (the same apartment blocks that Mrs. Cardenas was living in). Fisk, in return, asked Nobu to eradicate the Masked Man. Nobu took it upon himself to fulfil his part of the deal. The proceeding fight is bone-crunching and thrilling. Nobu manages to get the upper hand, using the aforementioned swinging blade to tear Daredevil apart. However, Nobu somehow manages to be set alight and burns to death. It’s an odd death scene. Did Murdock intend to kill Nobu? If so, it renders all the talk about murder moot. If not, why didn’t he try to put the fire out? It’s the only jarring part of the episode, convoluted and questionable.
“I’m going to kill you”
However, as Murdock met twice with the priest, he meets twice with Fisk, as Fisk enters soon after Nobu is killed. He thanks Daredevil for ridding him of Nobu, as he was becoming a nuisance. Daredevil, bleeding and battered, attempts to fight Fisk. But he is no match for the brute strength of Fisk, who takes pleasure in pounding Murdock to a pulp. “Disappointing,” Fisk utters, after slamming Daredevil WWE-style through a table. Their first fight is one-sided, but not at all disappointing. It shows that Fisk is a worthy adversary for Daredevil in purely physical terms. However, Fisk won’t dirty his hands with murder. He leaves that to his guards, who botch the job. Murdock escapes, and turns up in his flat, just as Foggy breaks in…Foggy pulls of the mask and sees the identity of the Masked Man…
VERDICT: 8/10. An impressive episode, dealing with tough concepts like murder and evil. It’s accentuated by a unexpected first meeting between Fisk and Murdock, and an even more unexpected fight between the two later on. It also hosts a cracking fight between Daredevil and a ninja…what more could we ask for?
(Click here for my review of Daredevil, Season 1, Episode 8: Shadows in the Glass)