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TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Episode 2 "Cut Man"

04.10.2015

Missed an episode? Check out all prior reviews of Marvel's Daredevil here.

EPISODE 2: "Cut Man"

SYNOPSIS:  Murdock makes a near fatal error while trying to save a kidnapped boy, and finds an unlikely ally when he needs saving himself.

BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).  

After enjoying the first episode of Daredevil quite a bit, I was expecting a similarly structured episode to follow, but boy was this a surprise. Rather than have a standalone second episode, "Cut Man" picks up directly where the first episode left off. Matt Murdock is in a dumpster, beaten and bleeding after failing to save a young boy kidnapped by the Russian gangsters out for the blind vigilante. It is here that we meet Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple, a nurse who finds the injured Murdock and wants to help him. Despite sharing a name with a Luke Cage love interest, Dawson is playing a variation of Night Nurse, medic to the superhero community.

The relationship between Claire and her impromptu patient feels similar to the debut of Karen Page in the prior episode, but there seems to be a bit more chemistry here. Or, maybe it could be that Claire feels the same desire to help the citizens of Hell's Kitchen the way Matt does. The majority of this episode focuses on Claire learning about what Matt does and how he does it. We are teased with more uses of his "powers" which maintain the same realism as Frank Miller's run in the Daredevil comics. Claire is nonetheless still blown away by Matt's ability to smell someone several floors below them or detect if someone is truly unconscious. Her reaction serves as our reaction and it is handled perfectly. She also sees the level Matt will go to in pursuit of saving the kidnapped boy and helps him torture a Russian gangster in one of the episode's more intense and bloody scenes. Matt's true nature is very ambiguous as he portrays himself to others as a merciless killer, but Claire sees that he truly isn't a murderer at heart.

We also get more backstory as to how Matt's father, boxer Battlin' Jack Murdock, falls prey to the hands of criminals wanting him to take a dive in a match against Carl Creel which he instead wins. This leads to his death but not before we get to see several scenes where the elder Murdock preaches the importance of education and being a good man to his son. The 2003 film version painted Battlin' Jack as a man forced to work for criminals to support his son whereas this series makes him more of a kind-hearted figure. In either case, the eventual death of his father will serve as a catalyst for Matt to become Daredevil. It seems odd to wrap this part of the backstory so soon, so that likely means we are going to meet Stick sooner rather than later.

The rest of the episode follows Foggy and Karen as they enjoy a drunken romp around Hell's Kitchen. Afraid to return to her apartment, the scene of a brutal murder, Karen follows Foggy to various bars as they share some bonding moments. This is definitely the weakest segment of the episode and seems to serve only as moments of levity in an otherwise dour episode. The writers don't seem to know what to do with Foggy and Karen as they periodically ask "where's Matt?" and try to find the missing Murdock. Eldon Henson and Deborah Ann Woll show some great chemistry here and play drunk well but these scenes just end up feeling like filler.

Now, if the preceding forty-five minutes of this episode were a bit unbalanced in terms of tone and pacing, the final five minutes makes up for it in every conceivable way. A single take fight sequence that is very reminiscent of the hallway fight from OLDBOY, this is a beautifully choreographed scene that is brutal, violent, and most of all steadily framed. You see every blow whether it be a kick or punch and each one lands with less force as the toll of his injuries visibly weighs down on Murdock. If has ever been a scene in any superhero film or series that depicts the toll of battle better than this, I have not seen it. Some of the action goes off camera and then comes back into frame, but each and every moment is lensed to perfection.

Overall, this is a good episode. Not as good as the first, but I am still stunned by how well shot that final sequence was. Daredevil already feels more believable and realistic than anything Marvel has done yet. Charlie Cox is knocking it out of the park as Matt Murdock and the show is hitting the tone perfectly. If they can fix the pacing and balance of characters in future episodes, I have no doubt that these first pair of stories will be easily topped.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Matt's father fights Carl Creel, also known as The Absorbing Man. Creel made an appearance in the second season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it is unknown if they are the same person or just share a last name.

NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: Episode 3 "Rabbit in a Snow Storm" - Murdock and Foggy take on a mysterious wealthy client, but Murdock is convinced that there's more to the case than just the facts.

Source: JoBlo.com

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