TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Episode 13 "Daredevil"
Missed an episode? Check out all prior reviews of Marvel's Daredevil here.
EPISODE 13: "Daredevil"
SYNOPSIS: In the season finale, a boxed-in Fisk and a desperate Murdock, Foggy and Karen are forced to play their end games.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
With everything building up to a showdown between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, my expectations were to get something very different that the face-off between Ben Affleck and Michael Clarke Duncan in the 2003 movie. This entire season has been about the origins of both Murdock and Fisk, so to neatly tie up their storylines and leave no room for further seasons would have been foolish. What showrunner Steven DeKnight was able to do here (he also wrote and directed this episode) was to bring these two face to face for the first time on equal footing. The results are satisfying if not a little anti-climactic.
The hour starts with the funeral for Ben Urich where Karen admits to his wife that she feels responsible for Ben's death. She, of course, tells her it is not her fault and how much Ben liked her. Karen is not at ease with her conscience, but it renews her desire to team with Matt to bring down Wilson Fisk. Fisk, reunited with Vanessa, discovers discrepancies in his accounts which leads him to confront Leland Owlsley. Owlsley admits he has been stealing from Fisk but has the back-up of Detective Hoffman in his possession to prevent Fisk from killing him. Naturally, it doesn't work. I have not been completely sold on the impulsive nature of Fisk as it has resulted in his entire network of villains leaving him or dying at his hand, opening him up to being caught.
It becomes a race against time as both Fisk's crooked cops and Matt descend on the safe house where Hoffman is being kept. Matt takes care of all the thugs and threatens Hoffman if he doesn't deliver a statement implicating Fisk. After he does, we get a nice montage of all those associated with Fisk being taken down. Senators, judges, cops, and even Ben Urich's coworker are taken down. At his penthouse, Fisk gives Vanessa instructions to leave New York without him and gives her an engagement ring as the FBI hauls him away. Nelson and Murdock have triumphed...and we are only halfway through the episode!
Of course Fisk is going to escape. Even Karen Page says it seemed too easy to celebrate. Fisk's hired guns take down his armored transport to help him escape to a waiting Vanessa where they can leave the country together. But, Matt Murdock is not going to let that happen, not now that he has gotten his custom suit from Melvin Potter. After Fisk delivers a stirring speech about a Bible story, he tells his guards that while he thought he was a good samaritan he now knows he is the ill intent that causes men to do bad things. This is the first indication that he is becoming the true Kingpin. But, now Matt is the true Daredevil. He takes down Fisk's truck and the two showdown.
There have been a handful of fights on this series that are memorable. Aside from the amazing hallway fight sequence, there have been few of equal caliber, but this match with Fisk is pretty damn brutal and a perfect way to conclude the season. Fisk, like a pedantic child, screams at Matt as the reason for all of his failures to fix Hell's Kitchen and threatens to kill him. We see Fisk's strength as he delivers blow after blow to the now armored Matt. Matt still bleeds, giving Daredevil a good deal of humanity missing from other stories about indestructible superheroes. They go back and forth before Matt finally gets the finishing blow on his nemesis and saving the day. But, as Fisk warns, this victory will not be lasting and there will be more fights to come.
By the end of the episode, Fisk is in prison, Vanessa is safe and plotting ways to save her love, Foggy and Matt are reunited and prepared to be avocadoes at law, and the city is safe. But, while Foggy goes off to see Marcie, we are left with Matt and Karen. Claire Temple is gone and Foggy and Karen's relationship seems to be a non-starter, so will these two end up together? Matt still senses a pain in Karen but the two make a connection as they enter the firm together, potentially teasing more than a working relationship next season. The season ends as it should, with Matt atop a roof in his new Daredevil suit, jumping down to save the weak and helpless in his city.
Overall, I liked Daredevil quite a bit. It got a lot more things right than it did wrong and I hope the second season can avoid those same issues. For one, Rosario Dawson was woefully underused and her entrances and exits from the season felt abrupt. Her relationship with Matt was one of the more interesting aspects of the season and yet it was dropped to seemingly prepare for the Matt and Karen relationship teased at the end of the hour. The supporting players were great, especially Elden Henson as Foggy, who deserved the screen time he got and could have stood to get more. I think there needs to be a greater balance between Nelson and Murdock's legal career and Matt's activities as Daredevil as this season seemed unable to strike one. Taking down Fisk, the goal of the whole season, ended up being a little too easy in the end, but I can excuse that as an aspect of the world-building the writers needed to do.
Overall, Daredevil easily ranks as one of the better offerings from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and definitely has provided one of the best villains to date. Vincent D'Onofrio's portrayal of Fisk has been polarizing because of how different he is from the Kingpin, but I have a feeling that as the show progresses, he will take on more characteristics of the classic adversary. Charlie Cox was very solid and there is still a lot to tell about his path to becoming Daredevil and now we have the template to explore a lot more next season. My only request is that the writers watch that hole they fell into from episode eight through eleven when things came to a halt. If they can make a season as strong as the first five and final two episodes, next season is going to be something special.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: None
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: See you next season!