Jumping back in, ‘Daredevil‘ definitely stepped up its game for episodes 6 – 10, lots of reveals, action, plot advancement and character moments. When watching ‘Agent Carter‘ earlier this year, I often felt that while the show was great, there just wasn’t enough going on each episode, that somehow they weren’t aware that they only had 8 episodes, and were not trying that hard to put as much as possible into each installment. That is definitely not the case here, as every episode of ‘Daredevil’ is jam-packed. As such, just wanted to remind readers that I’m recapping 5 episodes, so if something is left out, I apologize, and feel free to add it in the comments below.
Picking up right where episode 5 left off, Murdock is being held at gun-point by the police, one of whom lets slip that they had orders to leave ‘no witnesses.’ Matt realizes the dirty cops work for Fisk, which gives him full license to take them out, pounding on the pseudo-law enforcement officers, and then escaping with Vladamir, who he hoped he can get more information from. Unfortunately, Vlad took a bullet from one of the cops, and after taking refuge in a nearby warehouse, Matt realizes he needs to call Claire for help in saving the man’s life. After explaining to Claire that she was helping the bastard that had her tortured, she reluctantly agrees to help, coaching Matt through cauterizing the man’s wound with a road-flair (an especially intense and epic scene, and I loved that Claire though the intense pain was a perk for the procedure, punishing Vlad for what he did to her). Vladamir’s screams attract cops scouring the area (both for survivors of the bombing, and on Fisk’s orders to sweep up any remaining Russians.) After a brief encounter with the first cop, who Matt learns was not on Fisk’s payroll, the building is soon surrounding by dirty cops, who are prevented from storming the building by the appearance of Ben Urich, who is following the story for the paper, and the dirty cops know the elderly reporter would just love to witness the cops breaking protocol to follow orders from Fisk. Most of the episode is Vlad and Matt trapped in the building, Vlad slowly releasing information as Matt convinces him to help in the war against Fisk, and that Fisk was the one who killed his brother. At one point Matt and Fisk speak on the radio for the first time, both getting a sense of the other, and Matt realizes even more how dangerous the man is. Fisk has already planted seeds that the Black Mask was responsible for the bombings, and he further ruin’s Matt’s reputation by having a sniper shoot down cops outside the warehouse (including the dirty cop that Matt stole the phone from last episode), and pinning the blame on the Black Mask. Vlad and Matt eventually escape through tunnels below the building, but they are followed by the cops. After Matt takes down the first wave, Vlad takes a machine gun, and says he will stay behind to cover Matt. Before he exits, Matt is told by Vlad that the only way to end things with Fisk is to kill him.
Foggy and Karen spend the episode at the hospital, where they have taken Mrs. Cardenas, and are helped by Claire, who has finally returned to work now that she and Matt knows the Russians will no longer be hunting her (as they’ve all been blown to bits). When the news starts reporting that the Black Mask is responsible for the bombings and and the police killings, Foggy immediately jumps on the anti-vigilante bandwagon, though Karen remains skeptical, remembering the man who saved her life in episode 1.
In episode 7 we are introduced to Stick, the blind martial arts master who trained Matt as a youth. Stick is in town to stop Fisk, Nobu and Madame Gao from getting their hands on something known as Black Sky (which rumor has it, though relatively unexplored in this episode, might play into the big picture involving all the Netflix Marvel series’, and be a lead in for ‘The Defenders’ – so to speak, it’s the Tesseract of the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
During the episode we get many flashbacks to Matt’s life in the Catholic orphanage, his introduction to Stick, learning his handicap is really his ‘gift,’ and then Stick abandoning him once he realized Matt was starting to see him as a father figure. Stick is basically a bad-ass warrior, but a serious jerk as well. He has no qualms about killing, which bothers Matt, and he is unimpressed by the life and friends Matt has garnered in the 20 years since Stick last saw him, saying that Matt should be living a solitary warrior life without the accoutrements of normal life. They team up to stop the Black Sky shipment from coming into the dock, but almost too late Matt realizes that Black Sky is a child (perhaps an Inhuman?) and Stick intends to kill him to prevent the gangsters from having him. Matt stops Stick’s initial attack, but apparently after they left the dock Stick tracked down the boy and killed him anyway, which enrages Matt. He and his former mentor have an intense battle in Matt’s apartment, destroying many of the comforts Stick had chided him for having, with Matt eventually besting his teacher. He tells Stick to leave town, and in a later scene with Stick and an unknown man, Stick admits Matt has more skill than he gave him credit for.
Meanwhile, the news media has begun calling the Black Mask the ‘Devil of Hell’s Kitchen,’ leading the way for the eventual name of Daredevil (at this point I shall drop calling him Black Mask and go with Daredevil in the recaps). Karen and Ben Urich continue their investigation, Ben mentoring Karen on the finer points of investigation, and also bringing in Foggy following an attack on Karen after she visited Mrs. Cardenas to ask for more information on her landlord, an attack Foggy interrupts with a baseball bat, saving Karen’s life. He claimed Karen was acting funny, and he thought it best to follow her, and she was lucky he did, despite her protestations that she could look after herself because she had mace. As for Fisk, the rest of the crime lords are continuing to lose faith in him, especially as he had promised Nobu that the docks would be clear of police and there would not be a problem bringing in Black Sky.
Episode 8 delves into the backstory of Wilson Fisk, as we learn he was a chubby kid growing up in Hell’s Kitchen with a father suffering from alcoholism and delusions of grandeur, getting heavily into debt with the mob to finance a campaign for city council where the elder Fisk is sure he will secure financial stability for his family. After losing the election, Willie gets into a fight after trying to stop a kid from tearing down his dad’s signs, and after he tells his father about it, his father takes Wilson and confronts the other kid, beating the kid senseless, and forcing Willie to kick the kid while he was down (repeatedly, and literally, not to mention rather violently). Willie and his mom see the darkness coming over the dad, and on one belligerent night, when Willie’s father reveals the gangsters want to meet with him to discuss the money he owes, Willie’s parents get into a bad argument, which culminates with the man beating his wife. Willie stands up for his mother, grabbing a hammer and repeatedly smashing it into his father’s skull. In the aftermath, he and his mom chopped up the corpse, and took it out to the river a few bags at a time to hide the evidence. The whole story comes to light after a disastrous meeting between Wilson Fisk and Madame Gao, where she basically tells him to get in line, as they are all getting tired of his failures. His assistant, Wesley, being one of Fisk’s only friends and knowing what the big man needs, calls Vanessa over to comfort Fisk, and per his agreement to never lie to her, Fisk delves into his past, telling her about his dark history with his father. Vanessa tells him it is not his fault, that he was only protecting his mother.
Meanwhile, the dirty cop shot during the warehouse siege is beginning to wake up in the hospital, and Fisk knows he will realize that it was Fisk who tried to have him killed, and he needs to silence the man. He calls in the man’s partner (who’s also on the payroll), and demands that the man kill the other. Which he does, but not before Daredevil shows up to ask the recovering cop for information on Fisk. The timing is unfortunate, and while Daredevil does get some information from the man, and knock out his partner, he is too late to save the cop, and the death is pinned on the hero. Which means even more bad press for our hero, and more mistrust from Foggy, which is hard for Matt to reconcile at work. Daredevil approaches Ben Urich, with information about Fisk and everything going on, but Urich points out that they have no actual evidence, to which Daredevil responds it will be enough to force Fisk into the light, to bring the spotlight onto him. Urich begins his article, but at that moment Fisk holds a press conference, brilliantly manipulating the media by announcing his presence to New York and the world at large, and pledging to do everything in his power to clean up the city, and bring to justice the masked vigilante plaguing Hell’s Kitchen. Fisk is seen as a kind of philanthropist hero, Urich and Matt’s plans are ruined, and the world at last has met the man known as Wilson Fisk. (in the comics Fisk has a double life as well, Kingpin of Crime by night, philanthropist and humanitarian by day, so it was nice seeing the show bring in that element).
Moving along, Fisk is visited in a warehouse in the docks by Nobu, who demands to know why the city street he was promised has not been cleared out. He is referring to the apartment building where Mrs. Cardenas and her neighbors live, basically warning Fisk that he had better meet his promise soon, as Nobu and his organization will not tolerate more failures. Fisk says it will be done, and asks Nobu for help with Daredevil, asking if there was anyone in his organization with the skill to take out the masked vigilante. Nobu says there is, the pair begin laying out the trap, with Fisk pointing out the easiest way to draw out Daredevil is to use his emotions. As for Matt, he is struggling with the idea that the only way to stop Fisk is to kill the man, a notion introduced to him by Vladamir, and hammered home by Stick. He visits Fr. Lantom at the church where we saw Matt give confession in the pilot, and they discuss the nature of the devil, and whether or not murder can ever be justified. Back at the office, Matt meets Ben Urich, as everyone is now in on the Fisk investigation, though Matt is unhappy with the idea of his friends openly investigating, and instead insists they try to do what they can within the confines of the law. In the comics, Ben Urich figures out Matt’s alternate identity pretty quick, but that is not stated in the show just yet. As the day progresses, the team teams from Mrs. Cardenas that Fisk has offered her and her neighbors a much bigger settlement to leave, and many are considering it. They urge her to stay strong, a sentiment they later regret at she is found dead with multiple stab-wounds, a heartbreaking scenario for the team, who only wanted to help the elderly Guatemalan woman. Though the official report is that a junkie in her building robbed her and killed her, Matt and the team are convinced Fisk was behind it, especially since she was the one still fighting him on leaving the building. So while Foggy and Karen go out drinking (getting HAMMERED mind you), Matt takes to the streets to get out his grief, beating on criminals near Mrs. Cardenas’ building until he finds the junkie who killed her. The man admits that he was paid to do it, and gives Daredevil the location of a warehouse, and then Matt tells the junkie to turn himself in for what he did. Daredevil arrives at the warehouse, finding it empty, except for a crimson shrouded warrior, who we learn is actually Nobu. The trap is strung. The fight between Nobu and Daredevil is sprinkled throughout the episode, and at every turn it seems clear that Nobu has the upper hand. Until the end, when a grievously injured Matt manages to set the man on fire, (though not entirely on purpose) ending the duel. Fisk and Wesley arrive in that moment, congratulating Daredevil on taking care of Nobu for them, as he was becoming a problem. Daredevil, enraged, says he will kill Fisk, and Fisk invites him to try. They brawl, but Daredevil, still bloody, cut, and exhausted from his fight with Nobu, is no match for Fisk, who is a surprisingly good fighter. He beats down Daredevil, but before Wesley can shoot the hero, Matt turns the gun with one of his wooden batons and crashes through a window, falling in the water outside.
Karen sends Foggy home, aware the two of them have had far too much to drink, but instead Foggy goes to Matt’s apartment, wanting to talk through his grief with his best friend. He hears a crash inside, and makes his way into Matt’s apartment, where he finds Daredevil, collapsed on the floor. Foggy pulls back the mask and sees Matt, and he is shocked. We later learned that Matt stopped him from calling an ambulance, and instead got Claire to come over, who stitched up his many wounds. Foggy spends the next day at Matt’s apartment while Matt recuperates, incensed that his friend has been lying to him for all these years, and is engaged in vigilante activities after so much talk about the importance of the law. We get many flashbacks to the early days of their friendship, meeting as roommates in Law School, their dreams for the future, their days as interns and their decision to start their own practice, every instance showing the trust, respect and love between the pair, to contrast with the present where it’s clear that Foggy cannot bring himself to forgive his friend. Matt tells him everything, about his abilities, Stick, Fisk, and while Foggy hears it, he does not understand Matt, nor does he want Matt or the Daredevil in his life. He leaves, heads to the office where he packs up his things, and disappears.
Karen, after being unable to reach her friends, is met by Ben, who we learn is dropping the investigation. His sick wife needs him, and since his insurance would not pay for more time in the hospital, he was going to have to bring her home and take care of her himself. Karen convinces Ben to go on a drive with her, to see a place upstate that takes care of sick people, a nursing home. He agrees to go, curious, and after visiting, he realizes the place is far too expensive for him, and wonders why Karen actually brought him there. It becomes clear when they meet an elderly woman with dementia, who we learn is actually Wilson Fisk’s mother. She tells the pair about her son, and also the story of how he killed his father with a hammer at the age of 12.
Fisk meanwhile, has another meeting with Madame Gao, who warns him about ambition, and asks at what point she will get in his way and be put down. Fisk assures her that, unlike the others, he has respect for her. Gao seems unconvinced. Meanwhile, while Fisk and Leland Owsley (the gangster CFO) get fitted for tuxes, they discuss business, Daredevil, and a request by Fisk for Leland to have a talk with Gao. Leland reluctantly agrees, and when we next see him, after Fisk has made a fine speech at a benefit gala (with Vanessa by his side), Leland says he spoke to Gao. As Wilson and company mingle, champagne is handed out, which Vanessa indulges in. Not soon after, people begin collapsing, all of them holding champagne glasses. As foam begins to rise out of her mouth and she falls to the ground, Fisk realizes Vanessa and the others have been poisoned.
TO BE CONCLUDED…