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Marvel’s Daredevil: Searching for the Devil (episodes 8-11)

Episodes 8-11:

8: Shadows in the Glass
9: Speak of the Devil
10: Nelson v. Murdock
11: The Path of the Righteous

After the war with the Russians, both Murdock and Fisk have to look within themselves and plan for what’s to come next.

Recap

Fisk is struggling with pressure from Nobu, Owlsley and Madame Gao after their recent troubles with the Russians and the vigilante. As the pressure mounts, he starts to lose his composure and starts to question his methods and direction. During this period, there are a lot of interspersed flashbacks to his childhood. Fisk was taught violence by his brutish and prideful father.  When he turned the violence towards his mother, Fisk responded by bludgeoning the man to death. Rather than report it, his mother begins to disassemble the body and they slowly dispose of it. Because he was into the mob for money, no one batted an eye at the man’s disappearance.

In the present day, Fisk has a meeting with Madame Gao, who basically tells him that he needs to figure out what kind of person he wants to be. After the meeting, Fisk finds himself particularly angry. Wanting to help, Welsley summons Vanessa to Fisk’s apartment. At this moment, Fisk decides to let her in completely. To let her know about his past, his current enterprise, and how he struggles to not feel like a monster. Vanessa accepts everything and, after the two spend the night together, she becomes a part of his morning routine, showing how she’s helping to “cure” some of his past ailments.

During all of this, Nelson & Murdock have been working with Ben to get something on Fisk. Ben is also paid a visit by the Vigilante with information on Fisk and his dealings. However, everything they have gathered is heresy because Fisk has continued to cover his tracks. He even had the detective that they shot killed by his own partner. They come up with a plan to expose Fisk by simply putting his name out in the public, but Fisk beats him to it. Fisk, Vanessa and Owlsley appear on TV and blame the recent unrest in Hell’s Kitchen on the vigilante. This effectively kills the strategy to get the upper hand on Fisk.

After revealing himself, Fisk sets a trap for the vigilante. He has a junkie attack and kill Mrs. Gardenas, knowing that the vigilante has shown a weakness for helping the weak and innocent. The clues purposely lead the vigilante to a warehouse where Nobu was setting up his plans. Nobu doesn’t really seem to know about what’s happening, making the trap seem like it’s almost as much for Nobu as it is for the vigilante. The two warriors go at it in a fight that takes up about half of an episode. Ultimately, Nobu is burned to death and the vigilante is badly injured.

After the fight concludes, Fisk saunters into the room, ready to take the easy pickings. He even gives the vigilante a shot at him but, in his weakened state, Matt is no match for Fisk. Fisk orders Wesley to finish the job but Matt is able to escape into the nearby river. He gets back to his apartment, but is in bad shape. Matt happened to crash into the apartment as Foggy is outside the door trying to talk to him about the investigation. He makes his way in to find the vigilante on the floor and unmasks him to find his friend’s face behind the mask.

After calling Claire at Matt’s insistence, Foggy and Matt have it out about his secret. Foggy struggles to piece together their relationship in the wake of this revelation.Foggy is obviously hurt, but he continues to hear Matt out about what has been happening this whole time. Despite Matt’s intentions, Foggy’s still not on board with Matt’s behavior and walks out on him and the law firm.

Ben has also decided to walk out on the investigation of Fisk after their media gambit. He comes to Karen to let her know that he’s dropping the investigation and taking a different job. His wife’s insurance problems are continuing and he thinks that caring for her is more important that pursuing Fisk. There is also the thought in his mind that the promotion is somehow Fisk’s way of paying him to go away. Before she accepts his resignation, Karen takes him to another assisted living facility. When they get there, she takes him to the room of Wilson Fisk’s mother. To both their surprise, she starts to spill the beans about Fisk murdering his father. This new revelation is enough to keep Ben interested, but it still isn’t enough to incriminate Fisk.

Fisk has continued to become a prominent social figure with Vanessa by his side. However, Gao and Owlsley grow more concerned about Fisk’s behavior. They notice that his relationship with Vanessa is changing him. On top of that, Nobu and the Russians have both ended up dead thanks to Fisk’s recent machinations. Gao is concerned that Fisk is of two minds. She tells him that “Man cannot be savior and oppressor, light and shadow, one has to be sacrificed for the other”. Still, Fisk pushes ahead with his plans to move forward in the public eye. He holds a fundraising dinner for a bunch of influential people with deep pockets. The banquet is interrupted when people start to drop to the floor, their drinks apparently poisoned. As Fisk and Wesley go to leave, Vanessa falls victim to the poison as well. Fisk rushes her to the hospital, where he refuses to leave her side.

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Like Fisk, Matt is going through his own inner turmoil. Claire pays him a visit and tells him that she understands his mission, even if she won’t be with him because of it. She says that he may be as much the man that the city created as the hero it needs. Later Matt goes to see the priest, who admits that he knows who Matt is and what he does, even if he’s not sure exactly how he does it. On top of struggling with whether or not he is a killer, a hero, a devil, or something else, Matt’s being haunted by visions of his fight with Nobu and Fisk. Karen also comes to see him, and is becoming more and more distraught by the rift between he and Foggy. Foggy’s been so thrown for a loop that he ends up back in bed with his ex, Marci.

Even though he’s not sure about everything, one thing Matt does know is that he needs to be better prepared the next time he goes up against Fisk. He seeks out the person who made Fisk’s armored suit. It turns out to be a mentally challenged man named, Melvin. After initially getting into a fight with him, Murdock is able to convince him that he can protect those close to him from Fisk.

While Fisk is still distracted by Vanessa, Wesley receives a phone call from Fisk’s mother about the visit she received from Karen and Urich. Realizing that Karen is more of a threat than they first thought, Wesley goes to deal with her. He doesn’t want to disturb Fisk, so he goes off alone without telling anyone where he’s going. Wesley kidnaps Karen and tries to coerce her into flip flopping on her story and convincing everyone that Fisk is who he says he is. When Wesley is distracted by a call from Fisk, Karen grabs the gun that Wesley arrogantly placed on the table to intimidate her. With Wesley’s threats against her and everyone she cares about looming, Karen shoots Wesley to death and flees the scene.

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Favorite/Other/Notable Moments

  • I loved the opening of episode 8, which showed Fisk’s daily presentation routine. It ends with him seeing the bloodied version of his childhood self. This was used to great effect, especially when it was mirrored with Vanessa later on.
  • It’s a little thing, but I like how the style of Fisk’s violent outbursts match between him being an adult and him as a child. It shows some of the innocence of his world view.
  • Matt tells him about the first time that he went out as the vigilante. He attacked a guy who was abusing his daughter after the police failed to do anything about it.
  • I appreciate Wesley’s bluff about not being dumb enough to leave a loaded gun near Karen. The irony being, of course, that he was dumb enough to leave a loaded gun near his hostage.

Commentary

I think this is the part of the series that’s really going to determine how you rate the series as a whole. The series has taken a break from its early saturation of violence to deal with character development and introspection. On one hand, it offers an almost unprecedented level of character development for a comic-book based series. On the other hand, that time taken doing development, could be seen as slowing down the pace of the series. There’s a viable argument for whichever way you feel about the show’s choice.

The interesting thing, to me, is that the show isn’t just developing Matt Murdock, but Wilson Fisk as well. Neither character has become the version of themselves that we’re already familiar with from the comics. Matt isn’t the Daredevil just yet, neither is Fisk the Kingpin. Both of them are searching themselves and weighing their goals against what it will cost them. Obviously, this isn’t a comic book story, and this take on the Kingpin is taking some creative license. But, it is an interesting idea of following two characters on the path to becoming a hero and a villain. I’m also a fan, overall, of what they’re doing with the Kingpin. While, I do like the idea of a Kingpin that’s just bad because he’s bad, I can’t deny that this version of him is interesting. I suspect that a good deal of that has to do with D’Onofrio’s portrayal of the character as much as the show’s writing. I also really love his two accompanying characters, Wesley and Vanessa.

Now that Wesley’s been killed, I imagine that we’re going to start seeing the Kingpin descend into the darkness. Welsey was actually his friend, something that Fisk doesn’t have a lot of. This will leave Vanessa and Fisk’s mother as the only things tethering his humanity and we’ve already seen that Vanessa is down with his darker side. I do kind of regret that she’s unconscious because I really want to know more about what makes her tick.

As Fisk gets worse, it would make sense for Matt to get back on the horse and keep fighting crime. I don’t know if that means that he’ll have to come to terms with what he’s doing in a specific way. No matter what he does decided to do, I don’t think it’s going to involve letting Fisk just run amok in the city.

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