Daredevil’s most Fisk-centric episode is one of its most compelling. Shadows in the Glass makes bare the ghosts that have been haunting Wilson Fisk all season. So much of this episode hinges on the tortured contortions of Vincent D’Onofrio’s face. In this episode, Wilson proves himself to truly be the dark mirror of Matt Murdock. Matt has used his childhood tragedies to make himself stronger; Wilson still sees himself as a scared little boy covered in blood.
My favorite part of this episode is that it justifies Fisk’s absence during the beginning of the season. Dramatically, I understood why Fisk was gone; it was to establish him as a presence, this unassailable crime Kingpin who is more figment than man. But this episode reveals the true reason for Fisk’s absence: a brutal midlife crisis. Wilson’s emotions are out of control. He keeps fixating on his childhood, questioning every decision that brought him to this point. His allies can see it, as evidenced by a courtesy visit from Madame Gao. That visit leaves Fisk reeling; Fisk looks so mortified and exposed when Gao reveals she knows he is multi-lingual. When he realizes that other people can see his overwhelming weakness, he flies into an uncontrolled rage. Wilson is caught in a tsunami of his own emotions.
It’s a bit cliche that Vanessa brings healing to Wilson, that she’s the only one who loves him the way that he is. But because D’Onofrio and Ayelet Zurer have fantastic chemistry, the scenes still work. I love how unperturbed Vanessa is at the news that Wilson dismembered his father; there is a dark streak in that woman.
All of this excellent character work sadly culminates in the show’s stupidest scene. Absolutely nobody knows who Wilson Fisk is; it’s a huge part of his backstory. So why is there a full television crew covering his press conference live? If the mayor or a city councilman was there, then I could buy it. But instead, Fisk’s only associates are his shady criminal allies. I think the show made a huge error by depicting Fisk as a total unknown. From the start, Fisk should’ve been this completely altruistic, unassailable businessman. When Healy revealed Fisk’s name in episode 3, Matt should’ve said, “Bullshit. Fisk is the cleanest man in the city.”
The Fisk flashbacks are far more fun than they have the right to be, mostly because the always excellent Domenick Lombardozzi is hamming it up as Wilson’s abusive dad. Lombardozzi imbues career loser Bill Fisk with so much warmth that it’s difficult for me to buy him as a wife beater. Even when he calls Wilson fat, Lombardozzi’s face is contorted in concern for his son.
To be honest, I’m not sure that an over-the-top paternal dismemberment adds much to Fisk’s backstory. A life of murder, brutality and life outside the law seems like it would be its own torture for the soul. I almost think that a greater tragedy would be if Bill Fisk was alive, a lifetime of failure at his end. Bill could serve as a living warning to Wilson that mediocrity is worse than death.
The heroes are in short supply in this episode, and they don’t come away looking that great. Daredevil either can’t or doesn’t prevent the death of Detective Blake, but shows up in time to let himself be easily framed for the crime. Daredevil and Urich have a face-to-face, but they don’t end up as easy allies.
Speaking of Urich, there’s an astonishing moment at the end of the episode where Wilson Fisk starts using almost identical terminology to an article Ben Urich is writing. For me, the takeaway in this scene is that Ben Urich is a mediocre writer, mostly crafting empty platitudes that even a first-time public speaker can write. It tells me that Karen’s investigation is screwed, since their story is in the hands of a hack writer. But I get the feeling that this is not how the show wants me to feel. I don’t know why this series just whiffs every single scene involving the media.
If you couldn’t tell, that scene really irritated me. Having said that, this is still one of the best episodes of the season. Shadows in the Glass is an excellent study of the show’s best character. Although I’m left a little concerned that one of the series’ strongest episodes is one where its heroes are almost completely absent.
4 Omelettes out of 5. Fisk really should watch his cholesterol.
The episode opens on Matt’s wrecked apartment, still destroyed from his fight with Stick. This show has been really rigorous about its continuity; there’s no Mad Men-esque flash forward to months in the future. It seems like this whole show will take place over less than a month.
I was wrong; Black Sky is dead. That’s a really frustrating end to the storyline, killing a major character offscreen like that. But Nobu reveals that “Black Sky” is not just that one child, but a type of person. I’m very curious to see what they actually are.
Wesley is very very loyal to Fisk, almost like he has a crush on his boss. When reprimanded by Nobu, Fisk is not offended, but Wesley is.
Great slo-motion shot of the hospital hallway as the elevator doors open on Hoffman. This show does love its continuous hallway shots.
If Fisk’s current closet is any indication, we won’t see him wearing the iconic white suit anytime soon.