Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil Season 1: Episodes 1 & 2

Hey everyone! It’s time for a new rewatch project. (You  missed it these past few weeks, admit it!) The timing may feel weird for this. It kind of IS! But I realized that two episodes a week (finales get their own post) gives me a full six month of posts. AND finishes up a second watching of Iron Fist in July of 2017. (still going to binge when it hits in March!) If The Defenders winds up with an October drop date, like Luke Cage, or a November like Jessica Jones (either is likely) it gives me a few months to organize my thoughts, rewatch episodes that I think link well together, or just full on binge again!

The other thing that is I need some inspiration right now, and I think this will do it. These are stories about standing up for the people around you against those who would exploit and disregard them. Granted, the heroes do it with super powered punching, but the principle of the thing.

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes.

I really was trying to wait until it would line up exactly.

Also it might move to Wednesday when West World Ends. Who knows! We’re flying by the seat of our pants here.

We start with Daredevil Season 1 today. If you’re interested in my first reaction to this season of television, you can read it here, SPOILER ALERT, it might be my favorite season of anything ever. (I love it a lot). This is the first time I’m revisiting, so, deep breath, here we go.

daredevil

Daredevil: Season 1: Episode 1: Into The Ring

About ten seconds into Daredevil there are two things we know about Matt Murdock, he was in a tragic accident with some chemicals, and it happened because he was saving an old man from that same crash. We know immediately that Matt Murdock is a hero. The little boy rubbing his eyes as his lights go out forever is not the defining thing about that moment. It’s such a small thing but it’s so perfect and so defining.

I also love the kinetic feel of this scene. The confusion that Jack Murdock feels looking for is son is so palpable in this moment. It’s so good.

We’re ten seconds in and I’m already gushing. This project is going to go well.

When we next see Matthew Murdock, he’s grown up, sitting in a confessional and impossibly dreamy. This confessional scene means a lot to me, but I’ve outlined that before. It’s also pretty good writing. Matt clocks his own faith, his family history, his fear of his anger and his difficulty accepting the violence of his life choices. He’s so afraid of the anger, of “the devil in the Murdock boys.”

We then get the first of so many brutal, brilliant amazing fight scenes. But all I could focus on was how good that costume looks. I love the Daredevil suit, but the black mask and outfit are really, really effective. But I also forgot that this is the first place we see Turk, which is weird, because he’s terrifying here, forcing three women into a shipping container, and he’s basically comic relief in Luke Cage. 

I love these opening credits. They’re so Catholic, man. I heard a lot of people teasing about the dripping liquid because they didn’t understand the candle wax imagery. But it’s so good.

The next scene is where we meet Foggy, and my notes express my excitement at this development quite succintly. Also Matt is shirtless in this scenes. All of this equals, I had some trouble focusing. Then Foggy bribes Officer Brett Mahoney, who is my favorite, non Claire recurring character. So, we’re barely ten minutes into this and we’ve gotten a lot of what I really, really love about this show. Matt and Foggy tour their office, and Matt flirts with their realtor, they talk about “The Incident,” which is still a term that I love.

The hard cut to Karen standing in a pool of blood with that knife, just as Matt insists they’ll only take innocent clients is so imossibly perfect. This is just such DAMN GOOD TELEVISION. Anyway, her arrest, Brett calling Foggy and Matt, and their swift move to represent her all happens so seemlessly. And seeing the three of them together makes me so happy. The heart of this show is their relationship. We also get one of my favorite Daredevil tricks here, the human lie detector thing, where he listens to heartbeats.

After this we meet Wesley and I didn’t realize how much I missed him in season 2 until this scene where he threatens the prison guard who then tries to kill Karen. And let’s talk about that scene, which is so brutal and so violent, in a way that the fight scenes aren’t because there’s no aesthetically cool choreography here. Just a large man, going after an unarmed, scared young woman, and it’s brutal and terrifying.

I also kind of forgot that the whole Daredevil story starts because Karen noticed the company she worked for moving money around in a shady manner. It seems so, small, compared to what it becomes and it’s kind of genius. Anyway, Matt takes the terrified Karen back to his apartment and there’s a very tense scene where he tries to get more information out of her, that I really love because, I noticed there is no music which is always eerie, until Matt realizes that Karen’s lying and her heartbeat races.

The big meeting between all of the bad guys makes me giggle, mostly because of Nobu, who is not yet an immortal ninja man, and because both Owlsley and Wesley are deeply missed on this show as midlevel bad guys.

When Karen sneaks out of her apartment and is attacked, it’s shot like a horror movie and that’s pretty cool, but that she doesn’t know that Matt is The Devil of Hell’s kitchen (a name he doesn’t yet have) is just a huge jump in superhero credulity. I don’t mind, it’s just tough.

Matt’s passed out flashback to his childhood is chilling and wonderful. I really love John Patrick Hayden as Jack Murdock, he brings this brilliant vulnerability to the character, and it’s well done. Matt coming back to life as his father says, “come on Matty, back to work,” is so inspiring, and this fight is so good.

When Foggy and Matt and Karen regroup after Karen is cleared, and she gives them a caserole, is the scene is what made me fall in love with the show back at Comic Con 2014, so I have a deep affection for it, but I also just love the friendship between these three characters, but the actual finale of the episode, a montage of Hell’s Kitchen mayhem, while Matt beat’s the crap out of a heavy bag at Fogwell’s gym is a masterpiece. And as that little boy gets dragged away from his father, and Daredevil hears it, diving into action, I was overwhelmed with excitement to watch this series again.

Daredevil: Season 1: Episode 2: Cut Man

Back when Luke Cage premiered, I made an off the cuff statement on a friend’s facebook status that Luke Cage is about blackness, Jessica Jones is about rape, and Daredevil is about ninja fights. Obviously, that’s a simplification of all three series, and I’m gonna try this time around to hone in on another theme, and I want to say it’s about the cycle of violence. But also DAMN those ninja fights.

Obviously this episode ends with the most infamous of them all, dubbed “The Hallway Fight,” where Matt fights off like ten guys in a hallway to retrieve a kidnapped child. It’s an exceptional bit of stunt work and thrillingly shot. It’s been written about ad nausiem and it’s no less impressive watching it again.

But that isn’t all that goes on in this episode. Most importantly to the Defenders universe, we meet Claire Temple. Fucking Boss Ass Nurse Lady, Claire Temple. She’s the best. Just the absolute best. Her taking Matt in, fixing him up and helping him torture that Russian is easily the most pivotal moment in Daredevil season 1, and probably in the Defenders (Luke and Jessica would be very dead, if Claire hadn’t decided giving medical help to superheroes was her calling.).

This episode also features Jack Murdock’s death. His decision to not throw a fight, to bet on himself to give Matt a safety net and every small detail of this story, from Matt learning to read in brielle, to Jack calling someone (Matt’s mom Maggie? We’re two seasons in and we haven’t heard from her) to Matt’s role stitching Jack up, which to me creates this connection between helping with injuries and an act of love. There’s something there, or maybe it’s just that Rosario Dawson could have chemistry with an actual door.

The final bit of this episode is Foggy and Karen getting drunk which is so adorable, I can barely stand it. Also, Karen is wearing a very pretty flowered dress.

This episode is exceptionally emotional and wonderful.

Other Stuff:

  • Matt’s powers that we know of: Can hear heartbeats, super smell, super hearing, ability to constantly have 5 o’clock shadow, looking good in a suit and pectoral muscles.
  • I wrote a lot of notes about how hot he is. Charlie Cox is a deeply attractive man.
  • What America needs right now is a Foggy Nelson to get it drunk and make it smile. I’d volunteer but I’m not as beffuddingly charming as Foggy.
  • Here are some notes that I wrote down about Claire: “Claire as known Matt for five seconds and is already done with his shit,” “Claire’s hood in the torture scene is creepy,” “Claire keeps Matt human.”
  • Architect Nobu is not as interesting as immortal Ninja Nobu
  • Wesley is great.
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