Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 1 Episodes 7 & 8

Seriously, when I talk about how Daredevil season 1 might be my favorite season of any TV show ever, it’s these two episodes that I point to most.

daredevil

Episode 7: “Stick”

In this episode we learn more about Matt’s training as a blind ninja at the hands of Stick, a mysterious blind ninja who wants to enlist him into a war that he gives no description of. Stick came to Matt at the behest of the nun’s who were raising him, and immediately began to train him in the ways of The Blind Ninja when he was little.

Unfortunately after an incident with a craft project, Stick realized that Matt wasn’t going to be a good soldier because of his emotions, or something and abandoned him. Now it’s 20 years later and Matt’s pissed as hell when Stick shows up again. Stick is hunting down a black sky, which in this case is a little kid that Nobu is bringing in. Nobu also gets hinted at in his “immortal ninja-ness.”

Anyway, Matt agrees to help Stick as long as no one gets killed, which of course, Stick agrees to, except for you know the whole killing a child thing, which Matt then severs ties with him for. Black Sky and Stick’s war are going to come back big in season 2, and I assume in Iron Fist and The Defenders, but you know, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before.

The Karen and Foggy half of the episode focuses on them finding the guys who broke up Mrs. Cardenas apartment and Foggy joining up with Ben and Karen’s quest to find out the truth about Union Allied. While Matt’s quest to expose Fisk, and this story eventually do dovetail quite nicely, and I actually love all of Stick stuff, I do see that this starts the problem with season 2. Daredevil wants to be a serious crime drama, and in many ways, succeeds at that, the problem is that a serious crime drama can’t coexist with a show about a mystical war between good ninjas and evil ninjas. Both shows are great! But it causes tonal whiplash, and makes the whole thing feel a good deal sloppier than it needs to.

Episode 8: “Shadows In the Glass”

This episode is so good that it gives me chills to even think about it. Wilson Fisk’s back story is crazy well executed. The first thing we see is Fisk waking up to the view of “Rabbit In A Snowstorm” and he begins his day, with clock like precision he eats, gets dressed and looks in the mirror, to see rather than the large behemoth of a man that we see, he sees a young boy covered in blood. It’s so shocking and so good.

The flashbacks hinge on Fisk’s father, who was monstrously abusive to his son and wife. Wilson snaps one day while his father beats his mother and beats his father’s brains in with a hammer. This moment of ultra violence is shot not as a triumph or a horror, but as a simple fact. Vanessa comforts Wilson about this actions, he was child, and she decides to stand by him, as he goes public with his crusade to “save” Hell’s Kitchen.

Meanwhile, Matt learns about Foggy and Karen and Ben’s plan. He yells at them about how dangerous it is, but they don’t back down. He puts on the mask and talks to Ben about Fisk, and Ben agrees to write about him, but it’s too late, Fisk has managed to beat them to the punch so to speak.

Other Stuff

  • I don’t have much here, but I am glad these two episodes lined up with each other. Both expose the pasts and critical moments for Matt and Fisk, which helps the two sides of a coin narrative and the cycle of violence theme. If Stick had stuck with Matt, he’d have become a soldier of The Chaste rather than a rogue agent of chaos, curb a bit of the violence that he feeds into, but a lot of people would suffer for that loss. Fisk has also chosen to control his violence in a system, but that violence cannot be contained, it explodes.
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