TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Episode 7 "Stick"
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EPISODE 7: "Stick"
SYNOPSIS: An important figure from Murdock's past reemerges seeking his help to battle a new enemy threatening Hell's Kitchen.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
It has been several episodes since we last saw Matt Murdock's formative years, but this episode relies heavily on introducing us to who helped a young blind boy become the masked vigilante we know as Daredevil. Essentially a standalone episode that you typically do not see in a thirteen episode seaon, this is one of the better hours you would find in most television series in terms of acting, pacing, and overall tone. A lot of that is owed to the great Scott Glenn who portrays Matt's mentor and trainer, Stick.
To say Stick makes an entrance would be an understatement as we first find him in Japan, cutting the head off of an informant as he looks for something deadly. This guy clearly means business and Scott Glenn portrays him as a mixture of Caine from the old Kung Fu television series crossed with Yoda. There is also a little bit of Oscar the Grouch in there for good measure. Told in both linear and flashback segments, we learn that Stick has returned to New York City in order to find a weapon known as Black Sky. Once in the city, Stick looks up his former student and finds him confronting Fisk's financial man, Owlsley who drops Murdock with a taser when his attention is on Stick.
The flashbacks show that Stick knew about Matt before arriving at the church he was living at. Stick, blind since birth, shepherds Matt in the ways of his other senses, teaching him via a series of incredibly quotable lines of dialogue, how to kick ass with the best of them. It is only when Matt shows some affection and offers Stick a bracelet made from the wrapper of the ice cream they shared when they first met that Stick abruptly ends the training as warriors like them cannot have any ties to friends or family.
In contemporary New York, Matt clearly does not trust Stick, mainly due to his abandonment as a child. But, Stick convinces Matt to help him stop Nobu and the Yakuza from bringing Black Sky via a cargo ship. Matt obliges under the condition that they will not kill anyone, showing Matt's code as a hero is similar to others within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The weapon ends up being a young boy in shackles and Matt stops an arrow intended for him. After dispatching the Yakuza in another solid action scene, Matt returns to his apartment where he fights Stick who went on to kill the child. While we never learn what the kid's true nature was, this is enough for Matt to kick the living hell out of Stick and command him to get out of his city. Stick agrees and as Matt laments his departure, he finds the bracelet he made as a child, signaling that Stick truly does care for him.
While there are some scenes involving Karen and Urich continuing to investigate Union Allied, the best non-Murdock scene comes when Karen is saved from some Fisk thugs by Foggy. Karen had just left Mrs. Cardenas' apartment who mentioned the handsome lawyer Karen works with. Karen assumes she means Matt, but she was referring to Foggy. Obviously, Karen and Matt are going to end up together, but I almost wish she would stick with Foggy as Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson have some great chemistry. Karen does introduce Foggy to Ben Urich and the three are now set to try and figure out just who the Black Mask is.
A very strong episode that manages to keep the narrative on track while also illuminating Matt Murdock's back story quite a bit. From the teasers for the show, I expected Scott Glenn to be a bigger presence on the show and after seeing this episode, I wish he was around for more. Hopefully this guest role will expand in later episodes.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The stinger scene of the episode shows Stick reporting on Matt Murdock's progress to a shadowy figure with a scarred back sitting in front of some burning incense. He asks if Matt is ready but Stick says he has no idea. The man appears to be a member of The Hand or The Chaste, the organizations that are vital to the introduction of Iron Fist.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: Episode 8 "Shadows in the Glass" - While Murdock, Foggy and Karen's mission becomes clearer, Fisk's world spins further out of control in his battle for Hell's Kitchen.