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Marvel’s Daredevil: The Daredevil and The Kingpin (episodes 12-13)

Episodes 12 and 13:

12: The Ones We Leave Behind
13: Daredevil

Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock no longer have the luxury of contemplating their lot in life. With Fisk’s “Better Tomorrow” plan about to come into fruition and losses piling up around each of them, the two combatants are forced into a final showdown.

Recap

Vanessa wakes up from her poison coma and it’s eventually revealed, to the audience, that Gao and Owlsley were the ones responsible for the attack. However, neither of them are sure of what happened to Wesley and they are surprised to hear about his death. Even though his girlfriend is awake, Fisk soon finds out that his best friend is now dead. He is unaware that Gao and Owlsley planned to take Vanessa out in order to keep him focused. The danger posed by Fisk as well as a visit from the vigilante that ends with her heroine operation going up in flames leads Gao to leave the city. She leaves Owlsley in the lurch with the city literally on fire in the background.

After visiting Madame Gao’s place Matt’s day just goes to crap. He’s devastated after seeing the people enslaved by Gao’s drugs. Matt is later attacked by a police man, who believes that the vigilante is responsible for the killings of the detective and the other officers that was orchestrated by Fisk. Matt is able to subdue him, but the entire evening seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. He comes back to the office where he finds Karen. When she confronts him about pushing her and Foggy away, he breaks down saying that he can’t continue by himself. Karen tries to comfort him as best she can without knowing everything that’s going on. Neither of them realizes that, elsewhere in the city, another tragedy is unfolding.

Ben has been fired from his job for trying to push the Fisk story. As expected, Fisk had the paper on his payroll. That meant that he was also able to figure out that Ben had been to see his mother. Encouraged by Karen, the vigilante, and his wife, Ben was going to write the article anyway and publish it online. When Ben gets home, he is confronted by Fisk, who was waiting for him inside the house. Enraged by the idea that he would bring his mother into the investigation, Fisk kills Ben with his bare hands.

After looking at the numbers that Wesley put together for him, Fisk realizes that Owlsley has been moving his money around. He pieces together that Owlsley and Gao were the ones behind his attempted poisoning and Vanessa’s subsequent victimization. Owlsley admits that they conspired to poison Vanessa, not Fisk, in an attempt to get Fisk back on track. Owlsley also has detective Hoffman, the one Fisk paid to kill his own partner, hidden away as an insurance policy. Unfortunately for Owlsley, it might’ve been better if he had tried to kill Fisk. Knowing that he endangered Vanessa, Fisk kills Owlsley and then sets to work trying to find Hoffman.

Foggy, Matt and Karen are all gathered at Ben’s funeral. The one silver lining to his death is that his life insurance would make sure that his wife is taken care of. Despite that, Matt is convinced that this happened because he hadn’t stopped Fisk already. Foggy shows up again and tries to convince Matt to go after Fisk using the law, the way he told Foggy and Karen to before. To an extent, Matt takes his own advice and he and Foggy head to the police precinct.

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When Foggy and Matt head to the police precinct, Matt overhears some cops talking about going after Hoffman. Using documents that Marci got them, they are able to figure out where Hoffman is being hidden, but Matt has to put on the mask in order to get to him before Fisk does. He makes it just as a bunch of crooked cops are about to silence Hoffman. He gives him very explicit instructions to turn himself in to a cop that they trust as well as going to Nelson & Murdock for representation. Hoffman makes it to the police station and unveils all of Fisk’s operation. Senators, media contacts, lawyers, cops, everyone on Fisk’s payroll is hauled off in one fell swoop by the FBI. They come after Fisk last and arrest him, but he has a plan.

Fisk has arranged for an armed force to hijack his transport and take him to meet Vanessa. He gets away from the FBI, but not from Matt, who goes to Mevlin to get a new armored suit for the occasion. He manages to find Fisk and take down his transport and chase him into an alley. There, Fisk and the vigilante have their showdown. After being brought in, Fisk has decided that the city doesn’t deserve him, that it deserves people like his father. Matt is able to stop Fisk and is found by the same trusted sergeant, who lets him go and takes Fisk in. Realizing that the time has passed, Vanessa is ushered out of the city by Fisks still loyal men.

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The next day, the papers have dubbed the vigilante the “Daredevil” and are thanking him for bringing in Fisk. Nelson & Murdock are back together and have put their sign up out front. Foggy is working with Marci on Fisk’s case, which could take a while. However, they’re taking solace in the fact that he’s behind bars. Even with all this behind them, Matt realizes that there’s something wrong with Karen. She still won’t tell him about what happened with Wesley, but she does say that everything’s not alright. Matt tries to console her by telling her that all they can do is move forward together.

Favorite/Other/Notable Moments

  • Fisk tells the story of the Good Samaritan
    This scene had a great juxtaposition of the Nelson & Murdock crew celebrating as Fisk was building up to demonstrating his domination of the criminal justice system. I do wonder just how much money it must take to orchestrate the escape that Fisk did.
  • The papers name the characters
    It was a nice touch to have “Daredevil” be a name that just subtly appeared in a newspaper headline instead of being a big “roll credits” moment. I actually don’t think Wilson Fisk has been fully dubbed the “Kingpin” just yet, even though the word has been used in conjunction with him.
  • The Death of Ben Urich
    It’s a shame that they got rid of a character like Urich, who is commonly tied in with Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in the comics. Even so, it might’ve been worth it to get the face off between D’Onofrio and Vondie Curtis-Hall.

Commentary

There’s a lot of good things that happen in this series. It’s a little sad to say that the ending isn’t really one of them. I felt like there were two big moments that this finale was building towards. One was the reveal of the Daredevil suit and the other was the final fight between Daredevil and Wilson Fisk. Both of those things seemed like lesser versions of things the show had already delivered.

Personally, I prefer their portrayal of the black vigilante outfit to the more militarized, functional Daredevil suit. Both suits were modified to make them look more grounded or functional. However, I don’t think the black suit suffered too much from that. The red armored suit, however looks more like a vague interpretation of the Daredevil costume than a modified version of the comic costume. I completely understand why the costume looks the way it does and I think they do a good job of justifying it through the story. Even so, it’s just not that exciting to me.

The same goes for the final fight. There were extenuating circumstances for each participant, but I feel like we’ve seen better combat from both characters. I thought the best use of Fisk during the finale was the sequence where he was broken out of jail. He didn’t actually fight anyone, but I thought he looked much more threatening/imposing than he did in the alleyway slug fest with Daredevil. Again, it’s not all bad. The fight is the culmination of a lot of different emotional elements and story build up. It just didn’t quite deliver on the action the way some other fights in the series did.

The best parts of these last couple of episodes were the way that all the different story elements came together. It really highlighted the idea that Matt Murdock needs to operate as Daredevil. It also showed that Fisk really needs to be a complete villain in order to accomplish his goals. I thought the scene with Fisk going after Ben was the real turning point. Without Wesley and his compatriots, Fisk decided to go after people on his own. He’s no longer smartly hiding behind anonymity or a public persona. Instead, he’s now brazenly breaking the law with the confidence that his power trumps the justice system. Despite all the problems that being Daredevil had caused him, there was no other way for Matt to truly deal with a villain like Fisk other than being a vigilante.

That’s the real crux of this season of Daredevil. It’s watching Murdock and Fisk grow into these two opposing forces for good and evil. It’s a well told story with some great action and even better character moments. This medium (Netflix) really suits itself to telling a broader story like this. It’s a great start for Marvel on Netflix and sets the tone appropriately for a darker, grittier hero story.

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