The world of Daredevil is ever expanding, seen this week as we learn more about the heads of the Russian organization, the brothers Anatoly (Gideon Emery) and Vladimir (Nikolai Nikolaeff). We see them first in a flashback where they were literally fighting to the death, vowing to one another that they’d escape their current prison and make it somewhere big. Then they use someone’s bones as makeshift weapons and I’m once again realizing just how grim this version of the MCU can be.
I love it.
Their involvement ties together with Rosario Dawson’s Claire, who I fell for even more once she hissed at a cat outside of her window. Shes being the voice of reason and telling Matt that he really needs to invest in some body armor if he wants to avoid being killed. She continues to patch him up, and the chemistry between Charlie Cox and Dawson is palpable and it’s something I’d like to see more of. I’d love to see more of Dawson period because her presence in any movie or show always leaves it mark and makes me miss her once she’s off screen.
The Russians are feeling the pressure of Daredevil’s work in the city and are looking to take him out of the equation, finding his pressure point when they kidnap Claire and keep her hostage, trying to force Daredevil’s identity out of her. She keeps telling them that she doesn’t know, and Vladimir is ruthless until suddenly, all of the lights in the warehouse go out and the Daredevil begins his decent on the goons. It’s yet another fantastic fight sequence where the darkness is utilized to his advantage.
There’s a nice scene that follows between the two, where Matt confesses that he never thought anyone would be put at risk, having shouldered the weight of his nightly activities for so long that the immediate consequences seem to have been ignored up until now. Matt tells Claire his name to try and regain her trust, and it’s an honest moment between the two characters who are both a little beaten and both a little vulnerable from the last few days. It’s a scene that humanizes Matt, who’s spent so much of the last two episodes underneath his mask. “In the Blood” allows us and Claire a brief but poignant look at the person underneath the vigilante.
Due to the character work done with Claire and Matt, Karen and Foggy take a bit of a backseat turn in this week’s episode, their storyline feeling all together separate. I’m sure it will pick up soon and I’m not at the point where their lack of inclusion makes me feel their absence, but it can’t hurt for the show to begin to stream all of the moving parts a little better, rather than isolating one to get to the other.
It’s a small criticisms that I’m sure will be rectified as the show gains its footing.
Even with the Russian brothers and their organization getting more screentime and even with Claire and Matt making for an electric onscreen duo there is another facet of the episode that truly solidifies its success.
The biggest surprise in this episode is Kingpin aka Wilson Fisk and his entire demeanor which is so polar opposite of what I was expecting. Fisk’s main storyline of the episode is going on a date with a gallery owner, Vanessa. He’s soft spoken, accommodating and not the imposing figurehead of an entire crime organization taking place throughout all of Hell’s Kitchen. His influence roams throughout the city that he claims to love and credit is due to Vincent D’Onofrio who manages to play the character with just enough childlike vulnerability to keep us on our toes.
All of this set up builds up to the end of the episode where Anatoly makes a fatal decision in interrupting his and Vanessa’s dinner date. Anatoly is angry that Fisk has kept as many secrets as he has and is turned away before causing more of a scene. This culminates later when Fisk bodily rips him from the car he’s in and proceeds to smash his had with the car door, suddenly this monstrous force that we’d all been anticipating and that’s just as frightening as we’d have imagined. It’s even more so when you realize it’s done out of humiliation and little else.
This is the villain that makes sense in this world. He’s what the city has made him and he’s latched onto his dreams for what he can make it. He’s the other side to Matt’s mission, the one that also wants to save the city but believe it needs to be torn down and rebuilt first into something greater while Matt believes he needs to save what currently exists. A villain is always at their most interesting when their ideals mirror our shades of grey protagonist. The parallels are there and I’m excited to see how he develops from this point on.
This show continues to surprise me.