Episode five is when I like to think that the show really hit its stride. Narratives began to hit their mark clearly and simultaneously, not one plot feeling extraneous. There were action-packed set pieces, much needed character development with Foggy and Karen, Vladimir on a warpath against the devil of Hell’s Kitchen, and stakes that felt real and palatable. It was a fine hour of television and solidified itself as a benchmark for comic book adaptations on television (and maybe even period). It’s not the best episode of the show in its entirety, but it’s the strongest one to date and the one where the show’s purpose felt most clear and exciting.
There’s a ton going on in this episode and it never feels overcrowded-even Foggy and Karen’s scenes feel poignant, a rarity for me. Things begin to heat up as Daredevil is put into more and more precarious positions but it starts out on a more muted note with Claire and Matt.
Claire is still banged up after being attacked by Vladimir and she and Matt are growing closer, both finding someone to trust in the other. What passes between them next is a scene that grants us greater insight into our protagonist when Claire asks him what he sees, after realizing that he can tell when she’s in pain from minute details. He tells her that due to the chemicals he sees in different ways through heightened sense but what he really see’s is a world on fire. If ever we were to question why Matt is so convinced about the notions of good and evil, right and wrong, knowing that his world is constantly set ablaze helps clears things up.
I really like these two.
It’s the calm before the storm because pretty soon Vladimir has found his decapitated brother and the Daredevil has been framed. Vladimir is out for blood and has become too unpredictable for Fisk and the rest of the crime syndicate.
Matt learns that Russians think he killed Vladimir’s brother and is out to gather as much information as possible on their link to Fisk and his organization, wondering how big the reach is throughout the city. His reach, he learns, touches even the precinct while in the police station waiting to do some digging, he hears Hoffman and Blake, two detectives, discussing who’s going to kill the man they’re interrogating. Matt’s reaction is a mix of shock and disgust and when even “the man with no fear” get’s shaken it’s a way to up the intensity of the episode at hand. He isn’t living in a city that’s safe and forgiving-he knows this-but he didn’t know just how far the crime underbelly ran until he listened as a cop took a suspect’s life in cold blood.
Foggy and Karen get their first substantial storyline and I do enjoy the two of them behaving as friends, even if there is some attraction on Foggy’s side. The two of them are dead-set on helping Elena better her living situation since Fisk and his crew are trying to shake her out of her home by refusing to fix any preexisting problems with the apartment. This sets up a nice sequence where Karen and Foggy are genuinely good people, not trying to gain anything from their interactions and are even treated to a first date of sorts by Elena who makes them dinner as a thank you.
Fisk also has time for a love life (which is still such a weird decision for the show but not a bad one) as a hesitant Vanessa gives him a second chance after their first date had been interrupted. She is smart and she knows he’s a dangerous man, but the attraction continues to linger. He tells her that he has a dream for Hells Kitchen, one that will revitalize the city he loves and he promises that the safest place she could ever be is at his side.
All of our characters are at different points on the map at this time-Matt is out tracking Vladimir, Foggy and Karen on their impromptu date and Fisk on the top of the world. After taking it’s time setting up the pieces throughout the hour ,the end of the episode is a rapid fire of motions, all of which is deliciously shot. Vanessa and Fisk stand atop their ivory tower and literally watch the world below them burn (there are some obvious Fight Club inspirations in this shot), Fisk having set fire to all of the Russian territories which catches Matt as well as Foggy, Karen and Elena in the blow as well. Foggy get’s to take on the hero status himself as he helps a wounded Elena and everything is shot in such a state of controlled chaos that you get the sense of discombobulation that the characters would be feeling after having the world shaken from under them.
Despite his complete disorientation, Matt still manages to heave himself up and track down Vladimir who is also stumbled away from the flames. Matt has him cornered and beaten into near submission when suddenly the cops arrive and corner him, leaving us on our very first real “cliff hanger” of a moment.
Well, it would have been if it hadn’t been on Netflix.
The fight sequences this episode are fun and you see different styles seep into each action scene. The style is in a way likened to Captain America’s brawling style but without the superhuman aspect, making each fight mean more with actual consequences. He’s smaller, quick and agile. The violence is abrasive and staggering and such a tonal shift from everything Marvel has done that sometimes it’s easy to forget that they’re in the same universe at all.