TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 Episode 9 "Speak of the Devil"
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EPISODE 9: "Speak of the Devil"
SYNOPSIS: When Fisk gains the upper hand, the goal to destroy him becomes even more difficult, while Daredevil faces his own demons.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
It is always risky starting an episode in the middle of a fight with no context as to who the opponent is, but Daredevil is all about the unexpected. Each episode to date in the first season of the series has defied convention by implementing different narrative techniques and formats to tell the wide ranging stories that make of the Marvel version of Hell's Kitchen. In this episode, we see Matt Murdock receiving the beating of his life, but it is by no means close to the worst he will face in this hour.
After Wilson Fisk's reveal to the public in the previous hour, Murdock, Foggy, Karen, and Ben Urich are at a loss as how to proceed. Fisk now owns the tenement that Mrs. Cardenas calls home and is offering the tenants double what their previous landlord had offered. Matt suggests she take the money, but Foggy and Karen are adamant that she needs to fight back. The struggle for Matt to keep his nighttime activities a secret from his professional life is becoming more difficult as both of them are converging on Fisk's operation. But, this looks to be the breaking point.
At the same time, all of Wilson Fisk's partners are beginning to lose faith in the future Kingpin. Madame Gao voiced her concerns last hour and now Nobu no longer feels Fisk has his best interests at heart. Nobu requests a specific block of Hell's Kitchen for his needs and Fisk in return asks for a warrior to help eliminate the Masked Man. Nobu, a man of honor, decides to take the task upon himself. This begins with the murder of Mrs. Cardenas which sends Foggy and Karen into an emotional tailspin culminating in a makeshift wake for their slain client.
Matt, who spends much of the hour conversing with Father Lantom, delves into his Catholic upbringing to find out if pursuing the death of Wilson Fisk would be the right course of action. Lantom discusses whether the true devil really exists but leaves the final decision up to Matt. Of course, we know that a few Hail Marys will not cure his frustration, so Matt takes a trip to visit Vanessa's art gallery. Under the false pretense of searching for art, Matt has a nice conversation with Vanessa before unexpectedly meeting Fisk himself. Their discussion turns, naturally, to Mrs. Cardenas and the future of a better Hell's Kitchen, but you can sense Matt is restraining himself from ending Fisk right there.
Matt pursues the men who stole Mrs. Cardenas' purse and finds a junkie who Matt beats until he agrees to turn himself in for the crime. This leads Matt to a warehouse on the waterfront where he faces off with Nobu. Their battle is the most martial arts we have seen on the show and Nobu is clearly at an advantage over Matt. Dressed in red and sporting a blade, Nobu slices Matt and drags him to his certain death. But, before he can kill his opponent, Matt throws his staff and sends sparks into an open pool of gas, setting Nobu ablaze. At that moment, Fisk enters the room. This is the second face-off in one episode for Fisk and Murdock, but this time Matt is ready to attack.
The fight is quick and very one-sided. Matt does get a good slice into Fisk's armored suit but the larger man prevails as he lays a brutal beatdown on Matt. Like in the comics, Wilson Fisk is a massive force and she shows here, more than in any prior appearance on the show, that he has the upperhand physically. Nobu sliced Matt Murdock across his body, but Fisk takes him to the brink of unconsciousness. Before his thugs can finish the job, Matt leaps from the window and into the river below. Fisk's men are going to hunt Matt, but he finds his way home. Stumbling into his apartment, Matt collapses just as Foggy comes in to check on his friend. Foggy instead finds the vigilante and unmasks him to reveal his true identity.
This was an uneven episode compared to the rest of the season so far. While Murdock's Catholicism has been a vital component of his character in the comics, it feels more tacked on here. Father Lantom is used narratively to propel this hour and offers some of the best analysis for what Matt Murdock feels he must do. Even the fight scenes here feel more brutal than we have seen to date, but they feel stronger than the rest of the hour. The surprising reveal of Matt's identity to Foggy in the closing second should set up some serious dialogue for the next hour.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Foggy makes a Captain America reference. The packets of drugs originating from Madame Gao feature the same symbol associated with Steel Serpent, a foe of Iron Fist.
NEXT ON DAREDEVIL: Episode 10 "Nelson v. Murdock" - Murdock and Foggy's relationship is put to the ultimate test while a new enemy against Fisk emerges.