Daredevil, Season 1, Episode 9 (Speak of the Devil) / Episode 10 (Nelson V. Murdock).
Both episodes open with typical television tropes, both provides a perfect twist. Speak of the Devil opens with a tease of a showdown between Daredevil and Nobu, we’re lead to believe that this will be the climax of the story as the episode builds up to that moment. Of course it’s the after part that really surprised us. Catholic symbolism plays a major role in Daredevil, and perhaps some of the best dialogue comes from Matt and Father Lantom as they discuss the morality of Matt’s actions. “Do you believe in the devil?” is quite an obscure question coming from a character who’s dubbed a ‘Daredevil’ himself. But it leads to the ultimate question which has been building up to the season: how would you come across to kill the devil? Is killing the right thing? Of course we’d stereotypically imagine that this question wouldn’t be tested until the final episode, yet there’s a comic-book glee as we see Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock come face-to-face, but then later see the Kingpin and Daredevil face-to-face too. I’ve established a differentiation between their overt and their secret identities primarily since Wilson is still unaware Matt is the Daredevil. Seeing Wilson and Matt face each other was a shock enough! Matt targets Vanessa as his next logical source to find out more about Wilson, yet her delivery of “well you could always ask him yourself” will forever be chilling as we see the first scene of Matt and Wilson together.
Would Matt kill him? Could Matt kill him? His morality and regulations is part of what makes Matt’s character, only taking that away could we see Matt willingly kill a man who has a woman whom adores him. Sure, Wilsons death would theoretically benefit society as a whole, but it would be a irredeemable act in Matt’s eyes. Yet as Father Lantom says, “the darkness of taking another mans life will spread” effecting everyone. Seeing the characters face-to-face was the realisation that Matt in his current mindset cannot possibly end Wilsons life.
“I know my soul is damned if I take his life”.
But where does that leave Wilson’s fate? To add an extra threat to the mix and really test Matt’s morality, the writers unfortunately killed off poor Elena. Despite her only being in a few short scenes, she really did bring upon life and a friendly atmosphere to the series and it’s devastating that she had to be killed. Karen asks whether Matt’s faith helps with darkening situations such as Elena’s death, yet “not today” honestly leaves as in an ambiguous state where we cannot tell if Matt will overcome his regulations or not. Yet Wilson has been manipulating his way all season, and even him convincing Nobu to deal with the Daredevil was another decisive move. The epic showdown between Matt and Nobu wasn’t the actual test for Matt, Wilson intended for Nobu to die, and Wilson always gets what he wants.
But then enters the Kingpin himself.
No matter how much Matt at this point was willing to settle the situation with Fisk, he physically couldn’t Not only was he in such pain after his battle with Nobu, but Fisk proved that even Matt’s abilities couldn’t evade the fact that Matt is incapable of destroying the Kingpin. With barely a hope of life left, Matt uses one last trick to escape the area and return to his home, undetected. Foggy on the other hand was intentionally underused in Speak of the Devil to make his drunken discovery of the identity of the masked man even more shocking. No one could have expected such series of events happening from the opening sequence of Nobu. No one.
Now this leads to the second overused television trope, the unaware best-friend feeling betrayed when discovering the protagonists secret. Nelson v. Murdock is less focused on the two characters disputing, but instead is more about how can the series move forward now that Matt acknowledges Wilson is stronger than he had anticipated. The key here is having Foggy aware of Matt’s secret identity.
I’ve often applauded the convincing characterisations from the series, in fact I’m certain that this is the best and realistic set of comic-book ‘television’ series characters yet. Nelson v. Murdock extends my gratification of these characters as we see how Foggy and Matt first met and how they became partners. Thankfully the episode takes a break from the action (apart from one small flashback fight scene) and really showcases how important these character dynamics are.
Other than Matt and Foggy, we also see Karen and Ben with their own sidelined storyline. Usually these characters are left with less important plot-pieces than what Matt has to deal with, yet the episode surprisingly leaves them with the biggest revelation. It’s the little details such as Ben previously trying to extend his wife’s hospitality which add to the experience as this little detail in previous episodes is what causes Ben and Karen to venture out to a nursing home. Karen deliberately recommended this one, at first you could assume because she had someone she cares about there, but then we discover that his is where Marlene (yes that’s right Wilson’s mum) is residing. And now Ben and Karen have a playing card against Fisk.
In the end, the episode ends with three climaxes which will be interesting plot branches in the remaining episodes: Ben and Karen discovering Wilson’s fathers death, Foggy apparently fallen out with Matt, yet also Fisk’s event being poisoned and Vanessa being one of those effected. With three episodes remaining, we’re guaranteed to have some non-stop action next!
– At first I’d like to apologise for this review having a day-late delay.
+ But let’s get back to the episodes, tell me who didn’t gasp and scream when Vanessa was poisoned?
+ Nobu coated in flames yet still trying to take down the man in the mask was absolutely bad-ass. It’s a shame he’s dealt with already.
+ Did anyone catch the Steel Serpent reference when Matt tracked down the junkie hired to kill Elena? Are we to actually see Steel Serpent in later seasons?