Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review - 'Daredevil', S01E09 - 'Speak of the Devil'

As great as this first season of Daredevil has been, so far, there has been one lingering issue that only seems to have become more apparent as we move toward the season's end - that being, Wilson Fisk.

It's not the way that he has been characterised throughout the season that is the issue, of course - he has been a complex and fascinating figure from the moment that he first appeared. And, it certainly isn't with the way in which Vincent D'Onorfrio has played him - his performance has always been very impressive.

The issue, for me, is with the fact that we have yet to see Wilson Fisk truly become the dangerous and effective criminal master-mind that he is supposed to be. This is understandable to an extent, of course - after all, this first season is clearly intended to provide something of an origin story for both characters. But, Matt Murdock has already made some fairly significant progress toward becoming 'Daredevil' - so, it feels like it is well past time that we see the future Kingpin do the same. Thankfully, that seems to be exactly the character arc that this episode seems intended to set in motion.

Fisk's decision to step out into the public spot-light in the previous episode, during a press conference in which he publicly declared himself to be entirely devoted to helping to rebuild Hell's Kitchen, was the beginning of this. It was a decision which, effectively, placed him above suspicion, as far as public opinion was concern - and, which also had the advantage of undermining Ben Urich's own plan to write a scathing article about his illegal business dealings.

So, now, we have something of a reversal of fortune between the two foes. Fisk, who had previously seemed in other his head as his criminal empire slowly crumbled around him, now finds himself practically untouchable - While Matt, he had previously been confident about his ability to bring Fisk to justice, now finds himself feeling entirely powerless. Once more out-played in his efforts to deal with Fisk through purely legal channels, Matt finds himself wrestling with the classic 'superhero' question of whether it would be easier to simply kill the villain. It's a complicated question for Matter, in particular - one that plays strongly into his deeply held Catholic faith. So, it is fitting, perhaps, that Matt's desire for a proper answer drives him to seek out the guidance of a local priest.

It is a fantastic basis for some genuinely compelling character drama on both sides. Both Matt's moral conflict forms a great contrast to Wilson Fisk's new-found confidence. Of course, if that isn't enough, then this is also the episode in which Matt Murdock fights a ninja.

With Fisk moving to deal with any loose ends and re-establish control over his base of power, he turns to Nobu for help in dealing with the small matter of the masked vigilante. Nobu admits that he does know someone who he believes possesses the necessary skills for the job - someone who, of course, turns out to be Nobu, himself. This development gives us what is, quite possibly, the season's greatest action sequence - as Matt's adversaries once more play on his emotions to lead him into a trap and, perhaps for the first time, Matt finds himself confronted by an opponent whose skills might exceed his own.

The ninth episode of Daredevil is another clear highlight in a season that has been of very high quality, overall. It provides a fantastic blend of tense drama, and exciting (if bloody) action as the stakes continue to rise for our heroes. It also contains some interesting, if indirect, expansion on the plot elements introduced by Stick earlier in the season. Although, we still aren't given any clear answers about what, exactly, Nobu was planning, the hints of some shared history between Noby and Stick promise interesting developments for Daredevil in the future.

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