It finally happened. All I’ve wanted from Daredevil thus far is to see some fancy Hell’s Kitchen lawyering, Matt Murdock style. I mean the fights are cool, sure. The acting is top notch. Lots of atmosphere and grime in this back alley corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are plenty of things to love about the show. But this is a lawyer who is a human lie detector. He can hear the jury’s heartbeats to tell if his opening statement is hitting. He can sense the judge’s stomach rumbling and know when they are going to call for lunch recess. If he was on Judge Judy, he’d have been able to tell seconds before Bailiff Byrd is about to make a wise-crack about the evidence being suspect. The possibilities are limitless. It’s like A Civil Action meets Limitless. Limitless limits!
Matt and Foggy are hired by the man I call Glasses but who’s actual name is Wesley, played by Toby Leonard Moore. They are brought in to defend a guy who walked into a bowling alley, said “I just wanna throw a few balls,” broke a guy’s elbow in a million places, and then got arrested for it. He had a gun but nobody saw it and he hid it in a pinball machine—which is absolutely a nod to The Who’s Tommy and the deaf, dumb, blind kid. I don’t care if Daredevil-himself popped out of the tv screen and swore that it was a coincidence, this is still 100% a Pinball Wizard nod. As these episodes unfold, it becomes clear that this bowling alley fight was over the rights to the city’s cab companies, a small portion of a major crime syndicate run by Wesley’s boss, Wilson Fisk, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Leland Owlsey (Bob Gunton), Nobu (Peter Shinkoda), Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), and these badass Russian brothers Anatoly and Vladimir.
They are also the crew behind the United Allied scandal from episode one, that was an attempt to frame and then kill Karen Page before she started working at the law firm for Matt and Foggy. Karen is called in by representatives of her former employer and asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement preventing her from talking about her former company. In return, they’ll give her six months salary but she is hesitant to sign, which is crazy. Do you know how fast I would sign this thing? I would sign seven of them and hope they give me 36 months salary and never talk to anyone in New York City ever again. I would be out of Hell’s Kitchen so fast, Matt Murdock’s supersonic hearing wouldn’t even be able to pick-up the sound of me leaving. Instead, Karen goes to see the reporter Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall), a grizzled newspaper man whose bosses would rather him write polls about what color subway line they want in Hell’s Kitchen instead of hard-hitting news, that doesn’t sell papers. How in this world, an article about a possible new subway is more interesting than a giant corruption scandal—I do not know. But Ben and Karen start snooping around, trying to see what they can find on the company formerly knows as Union Allied.
Matt knows the bad guys have fixed the court case because he can hear one juror’s heartbeat go bonkers when she sees Glasses enter the courtroom. Matt knows he’s there because he can hear Glasses’s watch ticking like a time bomb. They’re blackmailing a juror with a tape from when she was “19 and pretty” so Daredevil tracks the blackmailer down and bodies him in a back alley. The only reason he’s even on this case is because he’s hoping to find out more about Glasses’s organization, who are paying him and Foggy a good amount. Foggy does the opening statement. As each episode progresses, Foggy’s hair continues its transformation into ‘70s-era Al Sharpton levels of quaff. It is quite impressive. Matt does the closing argument and it is so beautiful. Lots of legal language and statutes and self-defense, etc. But the jury is hung because Glasses knows how to tie up a loose end. So Daredevil shows up as the defendant is let out and beats the name Wilson Fisk out of him. Its a name you’re not supposed to say. Daredevil doesn’t kill him but the guy is so shook for saying the name, that he impales his own head on a spike. Right through the eye (they always go for the eyes on this show).
Then we finally meet Wilson Fisk. He’s at an art gallery, staring at a big blank white painting. A beautiful woman who works there, Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer), turns on the charm to get him to buy it. And then everybody falls in love. Seriously. Matt Murdock has to go see Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), the night nurse that is hiding out because she saved Matt from a dumpster when the Russians were after him in episode two. Daredevil keeps screwing up business for the Russians, which is mucking things up for Fisk and the rest of the syndicate. The Russian brothers are determined to find Daredevil so they wake up their hospitalized friend from his dumpster coma with a needle of epinephrine to the heart. He tells them about Claire, they go back to her apartment, find her neighbor friend, Santino, who tells them where she’s hiding. The Russians track her down and kidnap her. She calls Matt and he goes after her as Daredevil. He takes out like ten Russians at their cab company, saves Claire and brings her home to sew her up, just like he used to sew up his daddy’s broken face, and then they make out.
Because Daredevil was able to beat up all the Russians, Fisk starts to position his syndicate to eliminate them. He offers to take over their share of the business. The Russians are against it—it’s not surprising they once broke out of a prison in Siberia using a dead guy’s ribs as knives. But Fisk is too busy trying to woo Vanessa, the art dealer. I’d be so down if the whole rest of the season is just Fisk going to first dates with women. He is so awkward, it is incredible. Cringeworthy. I want Kingpin Hell’s Kitchen tindr. He gets Vanessa to come out with him but oops, one of the Russian brothers crashes the dinner and ruins everything. Fisk walks her home but she is kind of not into it. Just when you think Fisk is a real sad sack with no game, he meets up with Glasses and Anatoly. Then he proceeds to beat the Russian with a car door until his head falls off. That is not an exaggeration. His head actually comes off. They send the body to his brother and make it seem like Daredevil did it. Vladimir declares war. Fisk gets Vanessa to agree to go out with him again. He takes her to a private restaurant overlooking the city. They talk for a little bit but Fisk knows she has a gun in her purse. She drops the charade, she knows who Fisk is and what he does. He hits her with the “I’m trying to fix this city. I’ve hurt people and I’ll hurt them again. But I don’t enjoy it.” And she is super into it. He is so bald and blunt, it rings her bell. His “no game” game comes through.
Foggy and Karen end up on their first date. They had a case that involved a slumlord wreaking havoc on an old building. So they decide to help the people living there. As a reward, their client cooks them dinner. Karen asks Foggy to feel her face so she can understand how Matt “sees” people. It is almost quite a moment except…
Matt is off trying to find out who Wilson Fisk is. He goes to the police station to track down some leads on the slumlord case but uses his super-hearing to listen in on an interrogation room where a couple of dirty cops have one of the Russian thugs. The Russian also gives up Wilson Fisk’s name to them so the cops pretend like he went after their gun and kill him. At this point, Wilson Fisk’s name is the worst kept secret in all of Hell’s Kitchen. There is more privacy in any given room at the Millford Plaza than there is mystery surrounding Wilson Fisk’s name right now. Daredevil beats up a cop, because Daredevil likes to solve every problem with violence, a source of contention with Claire, who wants to believe in him but is having a hard time justifying his extreme actions. Daredevil gets the cop’s phone, which has all of the locations of the Russian’s hideouts. Vladimir is still trying to go after Daredevil when an informant tells him it was actually Fisk that killed his brother. His brother with no head. He used to have a head but he does not any more. Vlad puts a million dollar hit on Fisk.
And then one of these blind drug runners from Madame Gao’s crew shows up at each Russian safe house and blows the joint. Including where Daredevil is currently about to get his hands on Vlad. Everything was a set-up. All the bad guys were in on it. It’s like the end of Fight Club—explosions across the city. In perfect view of Fisk’s date. And Vanessa is so into it. Foggy and Karen are nearby and their romantic face-touching interlude is interrupted by the explosions. Vlad survives, and Daredevil catches him. Fade to black on Matt Murdock with his hands in the air, surrounded by cops.
Things are getting hot in Hell’s Kitchen.
The best parts of these three episodes not mentioned above are:
1) Glasses making a reference to Iron Man’s suit and Thor’s hammer.
2) Bob Gunton’s one-liners to Wilson Fisk: “this from a guy taking heads off with a car door” and “I’m getting my stun-gun out of storage.”
3) They actually showed the hospital where everyone is recovering from Daredevil incurred injuries, which leads me to believe we may get an ER-inspired hospital episode to go along with the courtroom drama episode!