TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Episode 5 "World On Fire"
Missed an episode? Check out all prior reviews of Marvel's Daredevil here.
EPISODE 5: "World On Fire"
SYNOPSIS: Fisk moves forward with plans that threaten to rip Hell's Kitchen apart. Murdock and Foggy take on a case helping tenants victimized by a slumlord.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
It never occurred to me that Daredevil would end up being a show about relationships, but here in the fifth episode, we find three distinct couples at the cusp of formation, all with very distinct implications for the characters and the direction of the series. Couple that with the events at the end of this chapter and we have the table set for where the rest of the debut season of Daredevil will go.
First up we have the inevitable pairing of Matt Murdock and Claire Temple. You do not cast someone like Rosario Dawson on your series unless she is going to be a significant character. Whether she recurs after this thirteen episode run will reveal itself over the next eight episodes, for now she is becoming the Gwen Stacy of the show. After heroically saving her in the previous episode, Claire is now recouperating in Matt's apartment where he reveals how his heightened senses help him detect smells like the copper scent of blood in the air and the sound of broken bones via his fingertips. He describes the impressionistic painting of his skills as a "world on fire". He recommends Claire stay with him for safety and the two kiss, bringing three episodes of sexual tension to release. Dawson and Cox work well together (words I have often said in other contexts) and I look forward to their pairing as the show moves forward.
We also have the more unlikely coupling of Foggy and Karen. From the first episode, Karen felt like she was drawn to Matt but that did not deter Foggy from flirting with her incessantly. As they take on a case involving a known slumlord trying to push poor residents out of their rent-controlled apartments, Foggy and Karen take a trip to the lawfirm of Landman/Zack where he interned with Matt. There they run into Marci Stahl, Foggy's former flame, who is defending the slumlord. Karen gets to see a different side of Foggy which they explore later as they help Mrs. Cardenas in her home. Sharing a romantic dinner, they discuss Matt's blindness and Karen requests Foggy feel her face as if he were blind. There is clearly something there between Karen and Foggy but we can see as clearly as he can that she also has burgeoning feelings for Matt Murdock, as well. Before these can be explored, an explosion rips through the building.
That explosion, of course, is part of the end game for Wilson Fisk. After brutally killing Vladimir's brother Anatoly, Fisk has put in motion a war that will set up Daredevil against the Russians so the Kingpin can close in on his circle of cohorts and take over the city. The plan Fisk is attempting to bring peace to the city and weed out the corruption he feels is poisoning Hell's Kitchen. In that regard, he is as blind as Murdock in that he cannot see what his actions truly are. Unless he doesn't care which is entirely probable as well. We know Fisk's influence is far-reaching as Matt witnesses two cops murder a man who knows Fisk's identity as well as the explosions that rip through the city at the end of the episode.
Which brings us to the final couple. Wilson Fisk brings Vanessa Marianna to a private dinner overlooking the city to apologize for the events of their last date. Vanessa is clearly stronger than she leads on and Fisk knows it, even deducing she has a gun in her purse. She tells him she knows who he really is and demands to know what his true intentions are. Vincent D'Onofrio is sold in these scenes as he drops all pretense and reveals his vision for Hell's Kitchen and New York as a whole. He wants to reshape it in his vision as a city full of promise and hope, but also one under his iron grip. He tells Vanessa the bad men responsible for terrible crimes are being eliminated. Her reaction is emotionless and a single word: "good". Fans of the comics know she will eventually be Vanessa Fisk but the genesis of her indoctrination into his world is quite stirring.
Overall, this episode is pretty damn good and serves as the catalyst for what is to come in future chapters this season. The pairings of these couples will be important for where develops from here. The episode ends with a brutal fight between Matt and Vladimir where each punch lands with a crackling fury. But, before he can land the final blow he is surrounded by police, leaving us with a cliffhanger moment that could reveal his true identity.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Claire asks Matt if he is a billionaire playboy, obviously referencing Tony Stark.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: Episode 6 "Condemned" - Daredevil finds himself trapped in the fallout of Fisk's plan to take control of Hell's Kitchen. Ben Urich digs closer to the truth.