After hitting it’s nadir in episode five, Daredevil returns loud, in control and totally assured of its longterm plots. Condemned is the series’ strongest episode yet. At long last, all story threads from the past few episodes come into play here. And most importantly, we finally have our first conversation between Daredevil and the Kingpin.
It’s not a face to face confrontation, but Matt and Fisk finally get a brief chat over the radio. In some ways, this is almost better; Matt is as far from Fisk as he’s ever been in that basement, feeling like he’s never going to get ahold of him, until Wilson’s voice just crackles through out-of-nowhere. It’s a great surprise for both Matt and the audience. They do the obligatory cliche “We’re not so different, you and I” bits which are all too common in superhero films. But the scene quickly distinguishes itself because Matt and Wilson are disgusted with each other. Neither have respect for the other man’s means or methods. I don’t think Matt would’ve walked out of that building even if he had killed Vladimir.
The Matt/Vladimir dynamic was also very well-defined, and a ton of fun watching the two bat each other around. Ultimately, Vladimir is right: he sees the hypocrisy in Matt’s actions. Matt is willing to let Vladimir die, but isn’t willing to take his life directly. It will be interesting to see how Matt approaches Fisk and if his “no killing” policy changes. After all, he’s already been in a courtroom bought by Wilson Fisk. He has to know that Fisk is untouchable in a court of law. Like with Fisk, Daredevil and Vladimir don’t really respect each other, but Vladimir understands that this vigilante is his only shot at posthumous vengeance.
This episode was a great showcase for Charlie Cox. He spent the entire episode with that black bandana covering his face, but he never felt limited or restricted by Daredevil’s mask. Cox brings a great physicality to the role. Though I think Daredevil himself is a little underwritten, Cox is a fantastic Matt Murdock, and one of the best heroes in the MCU right now.
Fisk is smaller in this episode than the last two, but also smart and exciting and conniving. When Urich’s presence upsets his plans to kill Daredevil and Vladimir, he decides to frame Daredevil for the explosions throughout Hell’s Kitchen. This episode shows how entrenched Fisk’s forces are; the police themselves are his army.
The rest of Daredevil’s cast is in short supply this episode, which is fine since most of it seems to be setting up future plotlines. Even when she’s back at work, Claire is still firmly in Matt’s pocket, frequently stealing away to a stairwell for conversations. Still, it’s great to actually see her talking to other characters. Urich is at the scene of the hostage crisis, and after seeing a cop killed in front of his eyes, I don’t think he’ll be too keen to join Daredevil’s cause. Foggy and Karen are mostly sidelined at the hospital, watching the bombing aftermath play out on TV. Matt will probably be forced to take a hardline stance against Daredevil since Karen will be one of his most ardent defenders. Typical superhero stuff.
The episode ends with more momentum than it’s ever had. Matt has the name of Leland Owsley, Fisk’s money man. And for him, this score is personal: Fisk has framed Daredevil for his own crimes. There will undoubtedly be a citywide manhunt for the Masked Man, with most of the police directly under Fisk’s employ. Though Daredevil right now is at his most vulnerable, he’s also closer and more motivated to capturing Fisk than he has been before.
4.5 Road Flares out of 5. Claire’s a better person than me; I would’ve given Vladimir stitches with the half-full box of nails.
It is the slightest bit grating that they still aren’t any closer to saying Daredevil. I always feel weird actually calling Matt “Daredevil” but “the Masked Man” seems dumb.
There’s no way Matt would keep his phone unsilenced. I don’t think he would even set it to vibrate: I’m sure he could hear the light turning on if someone called.
Speaking of lights, Matt doesn’t realize Vladimir has the gun trained on him because he can’t see the light. Those flashlights probably don’t emit heat.