Daredevil, Season 1, Episode 11 (The path of the righteous) / Episode 12 (The ones we leave behind).
Karen has been an under-utilised character who hasn’t impacted the Daredevil series as much as other characters. Her private investigations whilst somewhat important, wasn’t the featured storyline in previous episodes – that was until these two episodes. We’ve seen her be the damsel in distress in her debut episode, yet there’s a secretive layer to Karen which we hadn’t seen until she was in another dangerous situation. Standardly, we’d expect Matt to swoop in and save the day as always, but Karen proved her vitality by ‘saving’ herself.
The past several episodes has explored the morality of killing, and whether to kill things such as “the devil” is the right thing to do. Instead of testing the hypothesis on Matt, we see Karen faced the dreadful situation. Yet let’s hold on that for the moment.
During The Path of the Righteous, Karen was evidently out of the loop from the events of Nelson v. Murdock. To avoid having a tiresome storyline of a character out of the loop and nothing to do, the writers decided to give Karen her own engaging plot. To do so, it required Leland and Madame Gao to team up against Wilson and attempt to eliminate Vanessa, so that Wilson is focused on their master plan. Of course heads were turning amongst Wilson’s team as they wonder who would’ve plotted to kill (the target they presumed to be) Wilson. “My money’s on the Japanese” Leland states to excuse himself from the betrayal. Then when Wilson was vulnerable enough, Wesley receives a phone call from Marlene who reveals she’d been visited by two strangers. No matter how much Matt commanded Karen to be careful, she was still easily identifiable by Wesley.
So whilst Foggy’s on his sexual bender, Matt visits Mr. Potter’s lair to finally have his own suit developed, Ben’s extensively investigating the Fisk case, Karen is all alone. In comes Wesley. But after a sinister scene, we’re pulled by one of Daredevil season one’s last few twists with seeing Karen – the character we’ve often underestimated – pull the trigger on Wesley. This isn’t one friendly shot, this isn’t a second warning shot, in fact she shoots Wesley with eight consecutive shots… Well I’ll be damned!
“Do you really think this is the first time that I’ve shot someone?”
Of course after a plot-twist like that, the following episode The ones we left behind shows us the repercussions and guilt of having taken a life. We even see a blatant fake-shock moment as Karen dreams Wilson Fisk to be discussing the burning feeling of murdering. But Karen has to put it behind her. After all, Matt has said himself “everyone has their secrets”, and just as Matt hides his endeavours, Karen hides her guilt. There’s even a moment where Matt flinched while talking to Karen, not as a fault from Charlie Cox, but rather a deliberate action to show Matt senses Karen’s suppressed anxiety. Even so, Matt remains silent and acknowledges that she should have her secrets just as he has his.
As Karen attempts to live through her normal life, she talks to Matt, talks to Foggy (who’re still arguing) and goes to Ben discovering he has a lead in the Fisk case. Unfortunately Ben who keeps pursuing a bigger and enlightening story to print becomes fired from the Bulletin. Foggy has his own source of information as he convinces Marci to commit “career suicide” and fight against Fisk too. Marci has been perhaps one of the weakest characters, which is disappointing considering that there’s only three main female leads in the series. Perhaps later storylines will give her more relevance and redeem her obnoxious characteristics as she’s more in-line with Foggy, but as for now her scenes have been mainly hit-or-miss.
Matt’s lead of course has the most focus, because it’s Matt. He discovers Madame Gao’s lair where she’s been preparing and distributing the Heroin, which leads to quite a showdown between Madame Gao and Matt. It’s the obligatory violence which had to be fitted in to enforce its comic-book roots, fortunately it doesn’t feel as uncomfortably imposed as some rather calm episodes have.
“Is this what we are now? Three people that don’t even talk to each other?”
These characters have been branched out with their own separate leads, three people with their own individual plots (a fourth including Ben) and no sense of cohesion. Yet Matt can’t do it on his own. The ones we leave behind was probably the bleakest episode of the series as all characters are miserable, alone and have nothing but to cling onto their hopeful leads to stop Fisk. So it seems that the three characters and Ben would hopefully be reuniting again for the season finale? Well there’s one last separation, one which will obviously be used to motivate the characters, just as Elena’s death had done. Fisk confronting Ben was horrible, as we knew that it could only end in one way. Wilson didn’t come to threat, but to kill!
It ironically seems that we can’t get a break from death even from a show where the protagonist refuses to kill.
R.I.P Ben Urich, you’ll be missed.
+ What a fantastic penultimate episode. Seeing Karen dealing with her actions and then superficially hide it so that Matt and Foggy doesn’t detect it was wonderful.
+ So we’ll finally see Matt in his full costume next episode, how exciting!