TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Episode 10 "Nelson v. Murdock"
Missed an episode? Check out all prior reviews of Marvel's Daredevil here.
EPISODE 10: "Nelson v. Murdock"
SYNOPSIS: Murdock and Foggy's relationship is put to the ultimate test while a new enemy against Fisk emerges.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
It may seem like a non-issue thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but superhero secret identities matter. The reason a lot of comic book heroes have alter egos is to protect those close to them. But, with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, and The Hulk all having their real names out there in the open, we have taken for granted the purpose of secret identities. Matt Murdock's identity being unknown is vital for this series to function so when his best friend discovers he is actually Daredevil, we see how much it matters.
At the conclusion to the previous episode, Foggy stumbled onto Matt lying bleeding and unconscious in his apartment after his brutal fight with Nobu and Wilson Fisk. Still taking the time to dress his best friend's wounds, the next hour is spent both reflecting on how these friends met as well as how their friendship has gotten to the brink of collapse. Matt has been lying to Foggy since they met in college, bonding over girls and a shared childhood in Hell's Kitchen. Foggy cannot fathom who his friend truly is and is aghast at the powers he displays. Elden Henson feels incredibly genuine in these back and forths with Matt and you feel that this has created a true rift between them. He even states how Matt's abilities go against everything he stands for as a lawyer and what the legal system represents.
But, this still comes across as the weakest episode of the season. Aside from Foggy and Matt sporting different hairstyles in their college flashback scenes, the episode is stagnant. Outside of these moments, we also have Ben getting some sensitive moments with his ill wife. The insurance extension he has been waiting for is denied and he will have to put her in hospice care, something he doesn't want to do. With the Fisk story dead and an offer to become an editor at the newspaper, Urich instead decides to take a sabbatical to see his wife through her final days. That is when Karen comes up with the heartfelt idea to take Ben to a retirement community upstate to...reveal she found Wilson Fisk's mother?
The motivation behind Karen's actions are so selfish and, frankly, f*cked up that the knowledge that Fisk murdered his own father feels like a buried lead. Ben has a newfound desire to investigate Fisk, but it comes at the price of being with his wife. I understand this scene was needed to forward the narrative, but it really dropped Karen Page to be an unlikeable character. Plus, what will the knowledge of Fisk mudering his father do? Wouldn't the statute of limitations be up since it was over thirty yeara ago? This doesn't seem to matter but will likely be addressed in the next episodes.
In Wilson Fisk's scenes, the Kingpin is preparing for a gala being thrown in honor of his efforts to revitalize Hell's Kitchen. But, both his associates Madame Gao and Leland Owlsley are losing confidence in him, citing his focus on Vanessa. Gao is more direct in her threats to Fisk and tells him to pick one of his two paths and to let the other go or she will do it for him. Owlsley concurs albeit less dramatically. Fisk seems undeterred and attends his gala with Vanessa on his arm. It is during his time shaking hands with donors and polticial contacts that people begin to collapse violently. It appears someone has poisoned the champagne and before Fisk can escape, Vanessa collapses in his arms, bubbles foaming out of her mouth.
Who poisoned the guests is not revealed in this episode but it is treated more like a cliffhanger or a stinger to the episode and feels a bit out of place. The real kicker here is that despite all of his explanations to Foggy about why he does what he does, Matt is unable to convince his friend. We see Matt convince Foggy to leave Landman/Zack to open their own firm and you get the sense he would follow his friend into the depths of Hell, but this episode shows Foggy throw the plaque that reads Nelson & Murdock into the garbage and closing the door behind him.
Overall, this could be a lone weak episode in an otherwise stellar season, but I felt the momentum the series was building comes crashing to a halt. Charlie Cox and Elden Henson killed their scenes and Vincent D'Onofrio was solid, but the rest of the episode just felt too slow and disjointed, something I have forgiven the show for thus far. Hopefully the next hour recovers.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The gala thrown for Wilson Fisk was paid for by Cornelius Van Lunt. In Marvel Comics, Van Lunt is an enemy of the West Coast Avengers and Nick Fury under the name Taurus. Roxxon Oil is also mentioned which was featured on Agent Carter as well as in other Marvel Comics.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: Episode 11 "The Path of the Righteous" - Fisk and Murdock wrestle with the consequences of their chosen paths, while Ben and Karen get closer to Fisk's true past.