“Then why did he put the Devil in me?”
After two episodes where the emotional stakes are at their peak it’s hard not to view “The Path of the Righteous” as a bit of an exhale. The characters are collecting themselves in the moments of calm before the ending moments of the episode shake the core of the narrative once again.
The characters are largely splintered this week, each own in their own worlds. Foggy and Matt are dealing with the fallout from their fight (aka friendship breakup) and neither are handling it particularly well. Foggy is drinking himself stupid and ignoring both Karen and Matt.
Fisk is standing by Vanessa’s side as she recovers from being poisoned, grappling with whether or not he should send her away to keep her safe. If you’re wondering why I dedicate so little time to the character it’s because his romance woes simply aren’t my prime interest. I do enjoy that the show went out of their way to make every character feel like they served a purpose and when Vincent D’Onofrio gets to play Fisk as an overgrown child -a violent one-I’m always impressed. I’m not quite as impressed when he’s playing the soft-spoken Fisk that is always around Vanessa. His performance is a two hander for me depending on which version of the character he’s getting to play.
Matt on the other hand is still in the process of being stitched back together-literally and figuratively-as Claire tends to his injuries. We haven’t gotten to see much of her as of late and it’s a nice reminder of why she’s so effortlessly compelling. Rosario Dawson and Charlie Cox have a tremendous amount of chemistry and it’s a shame the show didn’t utilize it more. She tells him that he isn’t just what the city needs but what the city created. She believes he’s seeking some sort of martyrdom, despite his protests otherwise. She tells him she’ll always be around to patch him up but otherwise that’s where their relationship stops. It’s a tender scene between the two and a highlight of the episode where Matt is still in a vulnerable state of mind.
Matt also starts the process of finally making a better suit and has a confrontation that’s sadder than maybe it was intended to be, with Fisk’s hired help being essentially a gentle giant. Matt promises his protection in return of a suit that sends a message.
The single best scene of the episode comes when Matt is having a conversation with his Priest, as he desperately tries to put the pieces of his life in order. He tells him that he feels the devil inside of him trying to claw its way out. It’s a moment where Matt’s desperation shows and his psychological push and pull about what he does at night and how it contradicts what he considered to be his morality. Cox continues to kill it in this role.
The show has a problem with how they write Karen. It was something I’d tried to ignore because Deborah Ann Woll has been putting in some solid work but her characterization in episode 11, aside from the very end, was weak. There were notes even in “Nelson vs. Murdock” that had me rolling my eyes due to the overall note of contrivance it struck. I enjoy the scenes between Matt, Foggy and Karen. They’re sweet and keep the show from sinking into a consistent depressive state of mind. However, when Foggy told Matt in the last episode that Karen deserved to know all I could think was why? I buy that Foggy deserved to know being Matt’s best friend-that makes complete sense and fits the story the show is telling. As far as our knowledge goes though we don’t think that Matt and Karen have any type of strong bond. We’ve seen him have a greater chemistry with Claire and a greater friendship with Foggy.
So, to have her spend much of the episode either delivering Matt the saddest balloon I’ve ever seen all the while hinting that there may be some unresolved feelings for him, or complaining about the three of them not hanging out gets grating and quick. Karen is one of the very few female characters on the show so it would be nice if she didn’t get stuck with all of the lame lines.
The show almost makes up for it in the end even if I’m conflicted about the outcome. She’s taken hostage by Wesley after he realizes she’s been in contact with Fisk’s mother. He believes he has the upper hand after threatening everyone she loves before she grabs the gun and shoots him repeatedly, killing him.
On the one hand it’s interesting that Karen ends up being the one to kill someone, not Matt, and there’s a poetic structure to it after we first met Karen after being awoken to find herself framed for murder. It certainly makes me want to take a second look at the character, one who I’d written off a bit at this point much to my own chagrin. But Wesley was an immensely intriguing character and one that I’m actually sad to see go, even if he was a dick. His motives were never fully realized and his loyalty and friendship to Fisk gave insight into a villain where most films or shows would have allowed no depth.
Regardless the ending was a shocker and when there are so few shows that I can say I was genuinely surprised by it makes it all the more satisfying of a development.
It was a filler by nature episode, bridging the fallout from episode 10 to the last two of the season.