Daredevil: Rabbit in a Snowstorm

Posted on April 15, 2015



And now, that thing that all good series must do early on if the people involved in its creation know what they’re doing: world-building and place setting. This was the episode where we learned a little bit more about what this version of Hell’s Kitchen is like, who lives there, and what the various competing agendas are going to be going forward. There was a growing sense of unease and danger throughout the episode, as if, at any moment, great tragedy was going to come raining down on someone’s head. In fact, we’d say the entire series vibrates with that feeling; that sense of doom. It tends to make even relatively by-the-numbers episodes like this one work our nerves to the hilt. We found that we have to take a break from these episodes every now and then, instead of bulldozing and bingeing our way through them. We’re just too darn sensitive to handle the harsh world of Matt Murdock for more than a couple of consecutive hours, apparently.

Contributing greatly to that sense of unease was that opening scene, in which a brutal killing via bowling ball occurs, setting the stage for our hero(es) to find themselves in the center of the machinations currently going on for control of the neighborhood. But before they get caught up in it all, Matt goes to see the local priest in broad daylight, not so much to confess as to unburden himself, which he fails to do, even though he clearly wants to. This is, in fact, the very first scene in the series that takes place in daylight and in which you can see the characters clearly. We tend to think this happens whenever Matt is forced to be a little more honest about what he’s doing. It also helped to really highlight his wounds and scrapes, and how he’s paying a heavy price for his heroism; more so than the usual superhero type.

In a similarly confessional daylight scene, we meet Ben Urich and his old mobster friend, who’s getting the hell out of town because Big Things are coming. It’s all very ominous and vague.  “Take a pass on this one, Benny,” his retiring mobster friend warns him. “Some fights just get you bloody.” But Ben is clearly not going to take a pass on this one, and the story sets him up as not only an old time newspaperman with a moral center and high principles, but pretty much the only one left in an industry that’s more about blogging and cool graphics than it is about imparting information to the masses.”There used to be a time when the people in this building wrote the hell out of the news,” he says, in a line that’s just a tiny bit of a cliche, but one that we’re willing to overlook because sometimes a superhero story needs to go a little broad. We’re talking about a story that’s determined to portray a New York City stuck in the throes of circa 1978 or so, after all. A little “hard-edged newspaperman” cliche dialogue is to be expected.

We also find out, in yet another instance of ominous foreshadowing, that Ben has a wife in long-term care and he’s having trouble making sure she’s covered and gets the care she needs. If he goes up against the bad guys, who have already been shown to be extremely connected and willing to do anything, we fear for that poor wife of his.  Interesting side note here: when Ben is talking to the hospital administrator, she mentions that her “best nurse” is out for the day, which is no doubt a reference to Claire, who’s gone into hiding. Not only does this help build the world of Hell’s Kitchen up and make it feel like a real community, but it starts to pull all the various threads of the story together. Ben is going to investigate this new threat, while Claire tends to both his wife and to the vigilante who’s committed to taking it out. We can’t necessarily see where the story is going, but we can see how it’s going to start coming together.

In other news – and another instance of threads coming together in various doom-laden ways, the former Union Allied Construction pressures Karen into taking a payout in exchange for never publicly talking about what happened to her again. For some reason, she’s not particularly interested in going to Foggy and Matt with this information and instead winds up in Ben’s office. Karen in particular is someone who seems to have a black cloud of doom following her around in all her scenes. Deborah Ann Woll’s doing a great job of playing her as someone with a strong moral center who’s scared out of her mind but determined to do the right thing somehow. She’s one of the more heroic characters in the story right now – and she stands as an example of how to do a modern “damsel in distress/possible hero’s love interest” character who has agency and a story of her own to tell. Both she and Claire are being done right by the show creators, as far as we’re concerned.

The smarmy, un-named right-hand man of the mysterious crimelord pulling all the strings finds himself in the offices of Nelson & Murdock (again, threads being pulled tight) with a check in hand and a job for them, spurring on much discussion about what kind of lawyers Foggy and Matt want to be.  “Let’s win cases, be popular and make money,” Foggy says brightly, but of course, Matt quietly counters with, “It’s not about that, Foggy.” But they take the money anyway, mainly because Matt sees it as an opportunity to learn more about the mysterious benefactor behind Confederated Global Investments. He doesn’t find out much of anything, of course, because he’s in way over his head at the moment. We do get to see him try a case, however, and we hope we get to see more of that going forward. Charlie Cox plays Matt with such quiet charisma that we can’t quite tell if his closing argument was by-the-numbers or just plain brilliant. All we know is, we could’ve listened to him expound on questions of morality all day. It’s all for naught, however, because the jury’s been bought off and Healy, the bowling ball killer goes free – only to force his own head on a spike because Matt beat the name of his mysterious un-named benefactor out of him. And while you’d want it to be some grandiose name befitting all the fear about saying it out loud, we come to find out (those in the audience who aren’t nerds and didn’t know this already) that his name is the relatively benign and harmless-sounding Wilson Fisk.

But when we finally lay eyes on Fisk, in the hulking form of Vincent D’Onofrio, the impression we get is anything but benign or harmless, even as we watch him partake in nothing more ominous than looking at some artwork and chatting up a pretty lady. D’Onofrio imbues Fisk with so much menace and pain that we feel like we’re encroaching on some massive, cornered animal; a truly intense and unsettling performance that somehow makes that final, sad line land like the clap of doom.

“It makes me feel alone.”

Somehow, that sounds terrifying, coming from him.

[Still: tomandlorenzo.com]

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