TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Ep 12 "The Ones We Leave Behind"
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EPISODE 12: "The Ones We Leave Behind"
SYNOPSIS: Fisk seeks revenge while Karen is haunted by recent events. Daredevil makes a startling discovery about Fisk's financing.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
It is the home stretch for the first season of Daredevil and not everyone makes it out of the penultimate episode alive. In fact, where this episode goes suprised me a bit. Maybe it is because in the comics, Ben Urich is a character who has existed for decades, but I never expected them to kill him off in the first season. Vondie Curtis-Hall's performance was one of the better ones on the series and he will be missed, but his death serves as a catalyst for what Matt Murdock must do next. More than any of the events this season, Matt will now have motivation to become Daredevil like never before.
The first half of this episode primarily deals with the tension still existing between Karen, Foggy, and Matt. Foggy, who is sleeping with Marcie his former flame, has found a renewed vigor in trying to take down Wilson Fisk by using the legal system while Karen laments her actions in murdering Wesley in the previous episode. She is haunted by visions of Fisk and how it felt to kill a man, but this only serves to draw her closer to Matt. In the comics, Matt and Karen have a long romantic history and now they are finally getting closer in a way they haven't explored in this series. But, Matt first investigates the blind Chinese workers that seem to be involved in the heroin trade in Hell's Kitchen and therefore are connected to Fisk.
One of the highlights of Daredevil has been the location shooting. Filming in New York City has given the show a realistic feel that was absent from the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and lends itself to the tone and style of this show. Tracking a blind courier thanks to the classical music in her car, Matt Murdock gets to show off some of his parkour moves as he runs across the city rooftops. While the moves are cool, they are clearly not being done by Charlie Cox. The wigs are pretty bad in what otherwise is a well shot sequence. But, we now get to see the payoff of seeing the blind characters throughout the earlier episodes. Infiltrating Gao's operation, Matt takes down her thugs and sets the building ablaze. He shows down with Gao who shows a surprisingly adept martial arts background, which Matt was not prepared for.
This leads to the next big reveal: the poisoning of Vanessa was at the behest of Gao and Owlsley who planned to murder Fisk's love to get him back on track. They never expected her to survive which has thrown a wrinkle into their plans. Neither takes credit for Wesley's murder but Gao bids farewell to Owlsley and departs for her homeland (see below for the MCU connection). Fisk, meanwhile, is happy that Vanessa is recovering and tells her she will be leaving the country. But, Vanessa is instead insistent that she stay by his side so he can make her attackers pay. Vanessa is very different than how she is portrayed in the comics, but I am loving Ayelet Zurer's take. Fisk is also still mourning the death of Wesley and learns that the last call he received was from Fisk's mother, leading him to Ben Urich.
Ben Urich makes the decision in this episode after speaking with Karen and a masked Matt Murdock to reveal all he knows about Fisk, proof or not. He calls out his editor as being on Fisk's payroll and promptly loses his job but he still plans to write everything and share it with the world. He returns home, pours a drink, and begins writing. But, at that moment, Wilson Fisk reveals himself in the room. He gives a good speech about how the world is different than when they were younger and shares his respect for Urich as a reporter. But, having gone after his mother, Fisk says he is there to kill Urich. First he asks if anyone else was there and Urich protects Karen but Fisk lunges at him and chokes him to death.
Many have called into question whether this take on The Kingpin is a fair one compared to the comics. Fisk is here presented as an emotionally-based killer with serious pyschological issues stemming from childhood. But, this series is as much his origin as it is of Daredevil himself. I am sure we will see both grow into the hero and villain they each are known to be but so far their actions are pretty damn intense and I am enjoying seeing them develop. This was a much better hour than the previous few but I still feel like the show stalled a bit leading to the finale. We will find out tomorrow if the pay-off was worth the ride.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Steel Serpent is referenced again as the name of Gao's heroin. Ben Urich looks at a cover story he wrote about The Battle of New York. Gao indicates she is from "much further" away than China which could be a reference to K'un-L'un, where Iron Fist was trained.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: Episode 13 "Daredevil" - In the season finale, a boxed-in Fisk and a desperate Murdock, Foggy and Karen are forced to play their end games.