Daredevil episode 3 sees the heroes hunting for where their moral lines begin and end. In his closing arguments to a jury, Matt says that for many people, the line is more of a blur, and it’s hard to distinguish between good and evil. Matt thinks the line is sharp: he knows who the villains are, and when he can’t bring them to justice in court, he makes sure justice finds them in the street. But his actions suggest it’s a bit blurrier than he realizes.
The A-plot finally brings Matt and Foggy to a courtroom, defending a criminal hitman named Healy. Healy is a great role, allowing Alex Morf to show off a man with lots of power with his lawyers, and almost no power with Daredevil. This plotline is a great glimpse into how Matt’s life as a lawyer and a vigilante intersect. As a lawyer, Matt uses his powers in court to discover that there is a bought juror. As Daredevil, he tracks a bought juror and coerces the man intimidating her to get her off the jury. Matt compromises his own moral line to take on a client he knows is guilty, but doing so gets him the name of the crime lord choking the life out of Hell’s Kitchen.
Even though Foggy’s not the focus of this plot, this still gives a great glimpse into his character. For the first time, Foggy has to argue with Matt that they shouldn’t take on a criminal client, that they need to stick to their moral compass. It’s a great reversal for Foggy, and establishes his bona-fides as Matt’s partner. When Foggy inevitably finds out he’s been a pawn in Daredevil’s schemes, it’s going to break his heart.
This episode introduces Ben Urich, one of my favorite heroes of the Marvel Universe, and I couldn’t be more excited to see him join the MCU. Urich is someone who is willing to rub shoulders with criminals to go after the powerful mob bosses of the New York crime scene. He puts himself in harm’s way to discover the real story, and is honest and uncompromising. Urich is not the most sympathetic character, but he’s Marvel’s premiere journalist. Vondie Curtis-Hall does a great job of capturing Ben’s hard-nosed, obstinate, investigative nature.
It’s a shame that Urich’s in Daredevil’s stupidest scene, haggling with an editor about coverage on his crime story. If the New York Bulletin exposed an embezzlement scandal after a major attack on New York, that would’ve been the biggest story of the year. The Bulletin would’ve made national news, they would need more reporters covering that story just to fend off competition from the Times and the Post. Instead, the world of Daredevil says that speculating about subway lines sell more papers than sprawling crime and corruption. It is precisely backwards, existing in a bizzaro-world that doesn’t resemble any type of reality I’ve ever seen. The scene is so jarring that it wouldn’t surprise me if Urich’s editor is in Fisk’s employ. (Plus, that would enable Urich to migrate to The Daily Bugle, now that Spider-Man is in the MCU.)
The c-plot of Daredevil 1×03 is more moral lines, as Karen is faced with a deal from the devil (but not the good kind). Karen’s former employer, Union Allied Construction, says they won’t pursue legal action against her and will pay her a generous severance if she agrees to be silent about their illegal activies. It’s a tempting and seemingly easy deal, payment and safety in exchange for inaction. But at the beginning of the episode, the bruises are still fresh around Karen’s neck. The last time Karen investigated Union, she was framed for murder and two men tried to kill her. Even after being told to take the deal from her coworker’s widow, Karen still ends up approaching Urich. Though Karen might be a “mere” secretary compared to the Summa/Cum Laude grads of Columbia, here she shows herself to be every bit the moral tower Matt believes himself to be.
The final moments give us our first look at Vincent D’Onofrio, playing Daredevil’s arch-nemesis Wilson Fisk. My biggest fear is that D’Onofrio would be playing Tony Soprano-lite, but the sheer strangeness of his first line and D’Onofrio’s delivery give me a lot of optimism. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a villain on the brink of tears because of a painting, and I know I’ve never seen that as his introduction. I’m very curious to see both the power and vulnerability of Fisk play out.
This episode is not quite as strong as the first two. The budget is noticeably cheaper, with more interior scenes, limited action sequences, and restrained cinematography. But this episode is also setting up more longterm plots than the first episodes. More than anything, I’m glad that the conspiracy to kill Karen will motivate her storyline for the season. Too often in films and television, a single act of violence is quickly forgotten to set up the next one. But for Karen, being strangled in a prison cell is the defining moment of her life. Daredevil knocks their characters down in a bloody heap, but doesn’t forget that when those heroes get up, pieces of them are left on the ground.
3.5 Long Lunches out of 5. Matt doesn’t even flinch at being the asshole boss.
Kingpin is so mysterious that not even his righthand man has a name. Say what you will about Marvel Television, but they do a great job at creating slimeball number twos. The way Toby Leonard Moore bristles when describing Fisk’s art predilection probably mean that he’ll be a thread to get to Fisk sooner than later.
The human trafficker / gun dealer at the beginning of the episode is Turk Barrett, a two-bit Marvel thug.
I really hope Foggy buys Matt a dog, just for court appearances.
Though the budget is smaller, the audio design of this episode remains stellar. This has the best use of Matt’s powers yet, finding the bought juror based on her heartbeat. The Daredevil/Healy fight also has all kinds of punches, scrapes, and blows.
My favorite line this episode: “Kings don’t have bodies in the trunk.” “Tell that to Macbeth,”
Runner-up: “That’s not a client. It’s a shark in a skin suit!”
Check out our previous reviews.