The following article contains spoilers for ‘Daredevil’ Season 3.
‘Daredevil’ Season 3 opens with Matt Murdock mentally and physically broken after the events of ‘The Defenders’, setting the stage for the man to be rebuilt in 13 episodes’ time. If you don’t know how this turns out, by all means go watch one of the best seasons of TV Netflix has produced. If you do know how it turns out, it’s time to explore whether Hell’s Kitchen is best served with Matt returning to his status quo.
Consider the penultimate episode ‘One Last Shot.’ Foggy and Karen convince Matt to take down Wilson Fisk via testimony in lieu of blunt trauma to the head. As Matt fears, the plan fails, prompting him to pursue a more final solution. Daredevil unleashes Agent Poindexter, allowing a psychopath who could play darts with Hawkeye to assault dozens of people of varying degrees of innocence. Does Poindexter kill these people? It’s unclear, but the first person Matt saves from Bullseye’s rampage is Wilson Fisk. This is in line with a long tradition of comic book vigilantes allowing the possibility of death to befall extras, but never against the most deserving. It’s particularly baffling in this case, considering Daredevil was prepared to kill Fisk himself.
We see that, ultimately, Matt doesn’t kill and it works out. Poindexter is incapacitated and Fisk agrees to return to prison, not out Matt as Daredevil, and not kill his friends as long as Vanessa remains safe and free. It was the best case scenario of many that could have gone horribly wrong. Setting aside how much luck Matt relied on for this happy ending to emerge from chaos, we still should ask: would Matt, Karen, Foggy, and New York at large be better off had Daredevil killed Fisk? There are at least five reasons why we should think “yes, it would.”
1. The risk outweighs the reward.
Matt put his life and the life of his friends on the line for a deal in which many aspects are out of his control. Like Karen mentioned, what if Vanessa gets hit by a car? If anything happens to Vanessa, their leverage is gone and Fisk may do as he pleases without consequence. More than that, Vanessa is essentially untouchable to Daredevil. What if she wants to use her place to become the new Kingpin of Crime? Matt could do little to stop her without violating the deal with Fisk. Put these risks against the reward of…what? Matt not feeling bad about killing Fisk? The idea that it would be impossible for Matt to get over such an act is undermined by Karen, who seems well adjusted at the end of the season, despite killing Wesley.
2. Fisk could violate his agreement in brutal fashion.
If Fisk violates the deal, Vanessa will be harmed…but only if Daredevil and company are able to harm her. He could take the nuclear option and swiftly kill them all. It wouldn’t be hard with what he knows. The location of the law office of Nelson, Murdock, and Page will likely be public knowledge. A well placed bomb and a trigger man aware of when all three are present will close the deal for good, although it would make for a short Season 4.
3. Fisk could still do damage without violating his agreement.
Fisk could encourage soon to be released inmates to watch Nelson and Murdock closely and find out their secret. He could make criminals believe that Karen Page is their enemy for any number of reasons, making her a target again. Wilson Fisk schemes and any number of schemes could manipulate people to serve his goals without directly violating the agreement.
4. Vanessa should pay for her crimes too.
Part of Fisk’s deal was that Vanessa gets off scot-free. That is at odds with the idealized justice Nelson and Murdock stand for. She ordered a good man’s death and was aware of many other criminal acts. Vanessa belongs in prison, period.
5. If it’s the wrong decision, resurrect him later.
Matt’s experience with Elektra has made him acutely aware that death need not be final. The Hand can bring people back, which implies that anyone with the appropriate mystical knowledge can bring people back. The task is likely no more involved than the transference of the Iron Fist. This means that if, for some low-probability and unforeseeable reason, New York needs its Kingpin at some later date, that option is still available. This also has theological implications for Matt’s half-hearted return to the Church which partially informed his decision to not kill. In this universe, Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on the resurrection. Perhaps, if Jesus returned, it was by the same means as Elektra and not evidence of a moral law-giver. This would take the burden of following a moral law off Matt’s shoulders.
What do you think? Did Matt do the right thing or put everyone in needless jeopardy?