“How far would you go to do the right thing?” This is the question at the heart of Daredevil. In order to do the right thing, Matt has to do a lot of wrong things along the way. Nelson v. Murdock puts Matt on the (figurative) defense stand, and instead of being his attorney, Foggy Nelson is the prosecutor.
Though I have my misgivings about Daredevil’s writing and plot direction, the show has an absolutely exceptional cast of actors. This episode in particular serves as a showcase for Elden Henson, perhaps Daredevil’s best find. Though the other lead actors in this series have multiple roles proving their bona-fides, Henson has been mostly stuck in one-note character roles. Nelson v. Murdock calls on Henson to show a distraught, frightened, angry, man, skipping from tragedy to betrayal, and Henson never misses a beat.
This episode showcases two main Matt/Foggy storylines, flipping between the present day and flashbacks to the two in college. Like most of Daredevil’s other flashbacks, it feels a bit more expository than truly revelatory. Charlie Cox and Henson have such great chemistry that I never particularly needed to see a flashback showing the origin of their friendship, especially it seems like there was no new information revealed. Having said that, these scenes are great showcases for Cox and Henson. I particularly like Cox’s incredibly awkward delivery on, ”It’s even worse for me I think because my senses are so… uh… mm,” as though he said something profound and was agreeing with himself.
But there is at least one critical flashback in this episode, showing Matt’s first mission as Daredevil. It’s a great scene, and it answers basically every unanswered question I had about Daredevil. Matt doesn’t kill people because killing people is wrong. Given his history with Stick, I wondered if Matt had a fully-defined ethos when he suited up. But ultimately, Matt just wants to help people.
But over time, Matt has gone from beating up pedophiles to torturing Russian gangsters into a coma. I wish that Matt took more time to question himself and his own morality, but he’s just so sure of the righteousness of his mission. I liked this flashback a lot. Matt wailing on a pedophile is the show’s most unambiguously heroic moment. Instead of just attacking criminals, or participating in hostage situations as part of elaborate traps, Daredevil is actively saving people. That’s what’s really been missing on this show.
I’ve said it a few times, but I really feel like the show misstepped by making Wilson Fisk an enigma instead of an unassailable public figure. Having said that, I’m glad that’s where his character is now. Fisk is now rubbing shoulders with wealthy socialites and senators, but his criminal collaborators aren’t exactly thrilled at the change. Fisk has an excellent scene with Madame Gao, most of it spoken in Mandarin. ”Man cannot be savior and oppressor. Light and shadow,” Gao says to Fisk, which is basically what I said in my review of the last episode. The show slowly course-correcting Fisk, making him into an actual villain. But ten episodes in, it might be too late.
If Daredevil wanted to make Fisk truly villainous, they should’ve made him the owner of Ben Urich’s insurance company. Urich’s scene with his ailing wife is the first time I’ve really liked the character. I wish they would’ve included it in his very first appearance, instead of simply keeping her asleep until now. We understand where Urich is coming from, a man torn between trying to be a good journalist and a good husband. But Karen is able to lure him back in, having found Fisk’s mother at an upstate nursing home. This will probably be the start of Karen and Ben putting together a trail, leading to all of Fisk’s past criminal activities. How many people would the Kingpin of crime have to kill to become so anonymous?
The episode ends with Foggy boxing up his stuff and leaving the office, dropping the Nelson and Murdock plaque in the garbage behind him. It’s a great visual, but perhaps one that would’ve been better served in the second or third season. This is the major problem with Daredevil’s first season: it’s telling a long, decompressed origin story, but raising questions as though the characters have been established for years. Nelson v. Murdock asks if the world needs Daredevil, but we still don’t really know who Daredevil even is yet.
4 Wounded Handsome Ducks out of 5. Girls love it! Like Maverick and Goose!
Nelson v. Murdock: Dawn of Justice.
The title of this episode made me realize there’s only been a single courtroom scene in this whole series. For a show starring two lawyers, that’s a little odd. And hell, Nelson and Murdock have only had like three clients so far? And one of them, Karen, didn’t pay?
Matt doesn’t remember forcing Foggy to call Claire, conveniently meaning Rosario Dawson doesn’t appear this episode. And where has she been? She basically dropped off the face of the Earth after episode 6.
I love how Foggy flips out about the legal implications of Matt listening to Karen’s heartbeat.
I hate the way that Daredevil is embarrassed by the character’s comic roots. I’ve accepted that we won’t see the red suit until the final episode, and that Matt might not even be called Daredevil by the end of the show. But I really don’t like Foggy making fun of Matt’s backstory for being too ridiculous. It has shade’s of X-Men’s “yellow spandex” joke. Foggy’s cynicism doesn’t even make sense, considering he lives in a world where a 1940s super soldier ws resurrected to fight aliens mere blocks from where Foggy is standing.
Please never use the phrase “world on fire” again Daredevil. Every time you do, fucking Smash Mouth gets stuck in my head. Reviewing Episode 5 was a nightmare for me.
The “You’re very pretty” guy in the nursing home feels like a Stan Lee cameo that fell through. You think we’ll see the Generalissimo in the last three episodes?