TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Episode 8 "Shadows in the Glass"
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EPISODE 8: "Shadows in the Glass"
SYNOPSIS: While Murdock, Foggy and Karen's mission becomes clearer, Fisk's world spins further out of control in his battle for Hell's Kitchen.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
If you are not sold on the interpretation of Wilson Fisk for this series, this episode is not going to win you over. Upon his introduction, Vincent D'Onofrio seemed to be playing Fisk as a meek, socially awkward man with psychological issues and a thirst for power. Through his appearances over the last half dozen episodes, we have seen more of the calculated plan Fisk has in action as well as his courtship of art dealer Vanessa. Through this episode, we truly see who Wilson Fisk is and will be by the end of this series.
Fisk is mired in routine as evidenced by the dialogue-free opening sequence that shows him abruptly waking from a nightmare only to calm himself by looking at the painting he purchased from Vanessa. He then rises, makes himself an omelet, and eats his meal alone as the sun rises over New York. He then picks his clothes for the day, including the cufflinks he previously told Vanessa belonged to his father. As he turns to look at himself in the mirror, he instead sees a young, chubby boy, covered in blood. Clearly, this is how Fisk sees himself and by episode's end, we know why.
Through flashbacks, we learn that Fisk's father was a brutal man who ran for city council. Using money from a local gangster, Bill Fisk treats his son and wife like garbage as he spouts the importance of being somebody and not taking shit from anyone. Despite losing the election, the elder Fisk continues to spout his philosophical beliefs while forcing his son to brutally beat an older teen who bullied him. One night, Bill Fisk forces his son to stare into a wall that looks eerily like the painting hanging in his adult bedroom and tells him not to move until he knows what kind of man he wants to be. Fisk then beats his wife with a belt until young Wilson grabs a hammer and murders his own father. If that were not enough, he and his mother proceed to chop up his body and night by night drop bags of body parts in the river.
Clearly, Wilson Fisk has daddy issues. On top of that, Nobu, Leland Owlsley, and Madame Gao are losing faith in their business partner. Gao even visits Fisk and offers him a courtesy to fix his affairs or they will cut him out of the deal. Fisk devolves into a temper tantrum of rage. Despite learning that Fisk speaks all of the languages that have thus far been translated for him, Fisk's awkward persona is no mere act. He is a troubled and lonely man. Wesley, Fisk's assistant, calls for Vanessa who spends the night. Fisk trusts Vanessa and she brings him happiness which allows him to not go through his normal routine. The next day, she picks out his clothes and different cufflinks, and when Fisk views himself in the mirror, he no longer sees the scared little boy but the man he truly is.
It is dangerous to make us care about a villain as much as this show has made us feel for Wilson Fisk. Like Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates, Wilson Fisk now has sympathetic qualities that make us feel like we could understand and believe in him. Even the brief scenes featuring Murdock being framed for the murder of Detective Mahoney and then revealing everything he knows to Ben Urich don't dissuade us from liking Fisk. Murdock wants Fisk destroyed and uses the investigation being worked on by Foggy and Karen to help him push Urich into an article smearing the future Kingpin. Alas, the entire cast watches on the news as Fisk reveals himself to the world as someone there to help the city and stop the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, essentially destroying everything the team had worked on to date.
This was one of my favorite episodes of the season in that it gave us a ton of insight into an iconic Marvel villain in a way we have never seen before. Marvel villains have always tended to be easier to identify with in broad strokes, but this take on The Kingpin makes him more human and at the same time much more frightening than anything we have seen before. VIncent D'Onofrio's presence and range in this episode was quite stunning and he almost felt as if he could go toe to toe with Thanos or even Loki. This Kingpin in a cross between Lex Luthor's ambition and The Joker's madness which is more than enough to make him one of the best foes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: No direct references in this episode.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: Episode 9 "Speak of the Devil" - When Fisk gains the upper hand, the goal to destroy him becomes even more difficult, while Daredevil faces his own demons.