Daredevil Season 3, episodes 10-13
- “One Last Shot”
- “A New Napkin”
“God’s plan is like a beautiful tapestry. And the tragedy of being human is that we only get to see it from the back. With all the ragged threads and the muddy colors. And we only get a hint at the true beauty that would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side…as God does.”
The exciting build-up we’ve seen through the first 9 episodes of Daredevil have been the twists and turns before we reach the final hill of a roller-coaster. It’s been a breath-taking ride of unexpected twists, familiar curves, and injecting us with an adrenaline-induced fervor. But as we hit that last hill, the realization sets in that it’s almost over and the disappointment becomes tangible. The final four episodes were that last hill; fun and exciting in its own right, with some standout moments, but lacking the initial downhill delight of the first three-quarters of the journey.
While not quite a disappointment, one of the things that hold the final third of the season back is how it begins. Episode 10, “Karen”, takes us back in time to experience what led Karen Page to where she is now. It was a depressing glimpse into an integral piece of the character and, while it did give more background into the whispers of what we already knew, it shorts out the momentum of Episode 9’s “Revelations”. Sure, the idea may have been for “Karen” to let viewers catch their breath while also fleshing out one of the show’s primary characters. Unfortunately, the first half of the episode doesn’t offer much payoff of the wider story but, wow, the end nearly makes up for the earlier pace.
After her reckless attempt to provoke Fisk by admitting her part in James Wesley’s death, Karen knows she’s on Fisk’s hit list. Thinking she’s safe in the church, Karen’s terrified when Dex arrives, pounding helpless parishioners in search of his target. Matt arrives in time and though he puts up a fight, he’s still on the losing side. Even worse is that Father Lantom becomes a casualty of the chaos, sacrificing himself to save Karen. It’s another biting loss for Matt, losing someone else that has been so vital to his life and the framing of his moral code. It only fuels his desire to take Fisk down permanently, to hell with the law or his own convictions.
What happens next is a whirlwind of events as the three amigos—Matt, Foggy, and Karen—are finally reunited. Though initially resistant, Matt eventually relents to his two friends’ plea to use the law and not murder to take Fisk down. When Ray Nadeem agrees to testify before a grand jury, it looks like the gang has exactly what they need. But then Matt hears the proof that Fisk got to the grand jury, both eliminating the hopes of Fisk’s indictment as well as sealing the information Nadeem testified to. It only fills Matt with even more resolve to kill Fisk and, as for Fisk…
There is truth to the idea of too much of a good thing.
As it relates to Fisk, the effectiveness of the character in the first two seasons was that he was on a pitch count. He didn’t appear onscreen in season one until episode 3 (“Rabbit in a Snowstorm”) and we only got a three-episode sample for season two. Giving us just enough of Fisk and not having him get too much airtime (and D’Onofrio’s exquisite performance) made us clamor for more of the breakout TV villain. Season 3’s biggest misstep was having his hand in everything, strong-arming virtually everyone with some form of extortion, blackmail, or murder; it was a tiresome narrative to always have someone trapped in a box due to his iron grip. In addition, a couple of his speeches (to the public and to Vanessa) were too heavy-handed, forcing a verbosity that came off as stilted (true to his character) but also lacking any of the past craftiness in his dialogue. Adding Vanessa back into the mix was also a bit cumbersome. For plotline purposes, she needed to stay gone until the end but it may have helped had she returned one or two episodes earlier. If she had, those last few hours may have been a bit less frenetic and a bit more coherent.
“You have a generous heart, Matthew. To see the good through all the pain.”
In the end, though, this is Matt Murdock’s show and, with that, it’s only fitting that he has the strongest arc of any character in the series. The pain and loss he has experienced in his life are on display this season more than ever. His initial persona after his own resurrection begins things a spiteful and bitter soul, trying to distance himself from those he loves. His fear is that such attachments make him weak, vulnerable, not to mention the guilt eating him alive at not being able to protect them. The helplessness of seeing his city and innocents suffer at the hands of Wilson Fisk nearly drives Matt beyond reason and he comes so close to crossing the line—killing Fisk—but thanks to the constant support (and tough love) from Foggy and Karen and the wise words of Father Lantom then Sister Maggie, Matt turns the corner and re-establishes his faith in God. No matter what Stick tried to burn into him, Matt understands that it’s the support of those who love him which gives him the strength to do what he does. As a man of faith, he will always have problems with the violence and darkness within him. It is in those darkest times where he will need to lean the heaviest on his support system.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Thus come the end. Though the back third of Season 3 did not live up to the anticipation created by such a strong first 9 episodes, that’s not to say it didn’t work. There are some great moments sprinkled into the chaos. Foggy and Matt working together again after so long apart, doing their damnedest to take Fisk down the legal way, with Karen also making contributions to the team; Nadeem, after so many bad choices, redeeming himself, and Matt finally accepting (and forgiving) Maggie for her decision long ago to stay out of his life; these were all strong performances and narratives pieces that led us to a just ending. At the same time, a few scattered pieces held it back. Dex’s breakdown after finding Julie’s body, Vanessa’s inclusion into Fisk’s world, and Nadeem’s death all could have used some polish. This is not to say that the end was bad; far from it. However, in my opinion, it did not quite live up to the thrilling ride of the first nine episodes.
The big question is how does Daredevil stack up against the first two seasons? It’s not always easy to compare seasons of a television show. Sometimes, while a later season may be thematically better than a preceding one, if that earlier season was still kick-ass while taking viewers by surprise, a nostalgia factor could play into people’s opinions. With that said, season 3 was going to blow the first two out of the water. From the amazing fights, the newest baddie that acted as Matt’s kryptonite to the Sister Maggie reveal, all signs pointed towards this being the best season of Daredevil yet. Unfortunately, it stumbled just a bit down the stretch, sapped Season 3 of some of the tremendous momentum it had going. Maybe, after a second viewing, my thoughts will change on the matter but, as of now, I have to say that Daredevil season 3, while amazing in its own right, falls just a couple steps behind season 2.
Even with that, if you’re a fan of Daredevil, watch the hell out of this season. If not, what in the world are you waiting for?
“Let the devil out!”
- The Daredevil vs Daredevil rematch in the church was a brilliant piece of storytelling. It’s not just the amazing choreography or Matt once again getting his butt kicked, rather the surrounding story that adds the extra spice to an already tense moment. From Karen putting herself in danger to Father Lantom sacrificing himself for her, it culminates in a shot straight from the comics. After batting Dex over the balcony, Karen goes to the unconscious Matt and cradles him in her arms, whispering his name as she fights through the tears. It’s a seminal moment, for both the series and repairing their fractured relationship.
- Who can forget the WWE-style triple threat fight between Fisk, Dex, and Matt? From Matt’s uncanny senses to Dex’s unerring accuracy, and Fisk’s power, this fight had it all. Not only did the three men take turns bloodying and battering one another but Matt also had the extra aspect of trying to keep Vanessa alive, putting himself at a disadvantage on more than one occasion to prevent Dex from delivering the coup de grâce to the recently wed Mrs. Fisk. It ends the only way it can with Matt choosing to spare Fisk instead of killing him. It’s a testament to Matt’s fortitude that he does not go that extra mile. Though it was the right thing to do for Matt (and by standards of the law), one wonders if that will come to bite him in the butt if we get a season four.
- Agent Ray Nadeem may have given up his life in protection of his family, but he also knew that his death-bed confession would be admissible as evidence, circumventing his sealed grand jury testimony. Though his death was anticlimactic, he did have two particularly wonderful scenes with Matt. The first of which was the pair working together to get through Fisk’s ambush as they rushed to the courthouse for Nadeem’s testimony. The other was when Matt, after saving Ray and his family from two assassins, reveals himself to the agent. It was a major step for Matt to take, but any concerns his unmasking may have brought up were rendered moot with Nadeem’s death.
- And then there’s Dex. Paralyzed with a broken back thanks to Fisk, he’s on an operating table as his spine gets reconstructed by none other than Dr. Oyama. Better known as Lord Darkwind, he is the inventor of the adamantium grafting process used on Wolverine. Due to ‘adamantium’ being tied to the X-Men (and thus FOX), the writers had to go with Cogmium steel. Regardless of that minor hiccup, if we do get a season 4 (please!please!please!) it won’t be special agent Poindexter coming after Matt. It’ll be the psychotic and homicidal Bullseye.
So what do you think about Daredevil season 3? What did you like? Love? Could’ve done without? And what are your thoughts on a 4th season?