Deborah Ann Woll

May 1, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode Four: In the Blood (Matt’s Take)

SMASHING

In the Blood –Smashing

This is where the proverbial “rubber hits the road.” The fourth episode of “Daredevil” has the perfect amount of violence, and storytelling, that will likely pave the way for the rest of this first season (since this article has been written, a second season has already been order by Netflix).

“In the Blood” starts with a flashback of both Anatoly and Vladamir in a Ukrainian gulag five years prior to them arriving in Hell’s Kitchen and leading the Russian Mob and now running into the issue of the “man in the mask.”

Wesley arrives with a proposition for the brothers that will involve the help of Wilson Fisk. Speaking of Fisk, after his acquisition of “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” is goes back to the gallery and officially introduces himself to the art dealer, Vanessa, and offers to take her to dinner.

Meanwhile, the Russians are on the hunt for the “man in the mask” which brings them to abducting Claire and  questioning her for his whereabouts. Needless to say, Matt comes to Claire’s rescue and their relationship continues to blossom where she finally learns Matt isn’t Mike, but he’s Matthew.

On the other side of town, Karen wants been to become more involved in the United Allied liquidation, and Ben explains the dangers involved. While initially, skeptical, Ben accepts Karen’s proposal and begins digging a little deeper.

After the latest attack, Anatoly decides it’s time to go to Fisk for help, which angers Vladamir, but nonetheless accepts. The one mistake Anatoly makes is that you never interrupt Fisk while he’s at dinner….

These are just general brush strokes for an episode that unearths some interesting development, mainly about Fisk and how he views his relationships and business and how the two should never meet, and Anatoly can attest to that. “In the Blood” is our first real look into what we can expect from Fisk the rest of the season, and maybe even into the MCU if possible. Vincent D’Onofrio is calculated in every line he speaks and gives Fisk a sophisticated, but chilling, appeal. He’s put together well and while he speaks with authority, he also speaks with a sense of guilt and aloofness. He’s a worldly person, but at the same time afraid of the unknown and is incredibly protective of the city he lives in. While both the Claire and Matt and Foggy and Karen relationships will anchor this show, its likely the duo of Vanessa and Wilson that will have the widest and was interesting consequences in not only this show, but the future as well.

There weren’t as many Easter eggs in this episode, but the one that really stood out was Wesley’s comment about “men in iron suits or magic hammers.” It’s small, but it just goes to show you the care that has been taken with this universe.

The biggest takeaway, however, in this episode, at least for me, was the increased violence. There has been an increase in violence from the first two episodes to episode three and four, including two specific scenes; One, the attack on Claire, which hid most of the onscreen violence and swapped it with the aftermath. But it asks the question if this is going to be a trend on this show, starting with the attack on Karen in episode one, and continuing on from there. I understand that the “Damsel in Distress” plot device works, but I’d also like to see stronger female characters on this show, and there are glimpses in Karen and Claire, so hopefully that continues.

This brings me to the car door scene, which I won’t spoil per say, but I will say it’s one of the most violent scenes you’ll see in a Marvel property up to this point, and with that being said, it’s also an important scene, not only from a character trait that we see in Wilson Fisk, but from a Marvel standpoint its a flashpoint that is show the audience that they are willing to go to those dark places and they are will to possible take chances on more violent comic properties, namely The Punisher.

While episode three let it’s foot off the gas a bit, you can see the series starting to ramp up with a ton of machinations put into place; what will the Russians do now? What will happen with Fisk? Where will Matt and Claire’s relationship go? All this, and much more, on next week’s “Marvel’s Daredevil.”

Fun Fact: Back in 1987, Vincent D’Onofrio played Thor! In “Adventures in Babysitting.”   

April 24, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode Three: Rabbit in a Snowstorm (Matt’s Take)

Daredevil: Rabbit in a Snowstorm – Breather

After two exciting episodes, how can Marvel’s Daredevil keeping upping the ante; easy, have a third episode silly. While the first two episodes seemed to concentrate on stand alone arcs and character development, episode three, entitled “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” starts to shape what we are going to see the rest of this season.

Matt and Foggy are still trying to find their groove with their law practice when their first big case falls into their lap; a murder in a bowling alley involving a man named Healy who seems to be well connected with James Wesley, a man we meet in episode one who works for a mysterious benefactor.
Matt is suspicious of Wesley and the reasoning behind hiring himself and Foggy.

Elsewhere, we meet Ben Urich, an old newspaper writer who is interested in a man in black taking on the Russian Mob. Urich, once a respected reporter, has seen the decline of the printed page and the rise of blogs, and has been relegated to writing fluff pieces instead of hard-hitting news.

As Healy’s case goes to trial, Matt uses his enhanced senses to remove jurors that seem to have been tampered with, but is dismayed to learn that even with that juror gone, the case still ends with a hung jury and Healy is back on the street, but is met by Daredevil who beats a name out of him; Wilson Fisk.

This episode is treated almost like a setup and is more filler than anything else. That isn’t to say it’s a bad episode, quite the opposite, it’s just that the previous two episodes were so good that this one “pales” in comparison. What we do get however is the introduction of Ben Urich, played by Vondie Curtis-Hall, who I’m sure is going to play into the grand scheme of things in a big way, especially since we are teased that both he and Karen Page will likely be working very closely together.

The other big reveal is of course the “rabbit” himself; Wilson Fisk, or in comic book parlance, Kingpin, played by Vincent D’onofrio. While we only catch a quick glimpse and only a few lines of dialogue, we see an icy, yet thoughtful man. As far as his look, and the complaint about his size, look people, to find someone the size of Wilson Fisk would be nearly impossible and not likely, so get off that, and listen, he’s the perfect look, and another thing; it’s Vincent F’ING D’onofrio.

The only real Easter egg of sorts in this episode would be a newspaper article that we in Ben’s off with the byline of “Battle of NY” which is an obvious nod to the events in “The Avengers.” It’s still a nice little shout-out of course.

The last thing I’ll bring up in this episode is the elevation of the violence this time around. We have a broken arm with a bone poking out of the skin, a head based with a bowling ball, another broken arm with the sound effect being the payoff, a stabbing with a shard of glass, and the coupe de grace; a suicide via a shard of metal through the eye.

While “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” might not be the strongest effort so far this season, in no way is it lacking; it’s merely a formality where new story lines need to be opened up and characters developed.

Fun Fact: Wilson Fisk’s first appearance was in The Amazing Spider Man #50 in 1967.

April 17, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode 2: Cut Man (Matt’s Take)

Daredevil: Cut Man – Heart

HEART

As we continue season one of “Daredevil” on Netflix, I’ll say this; after one episode of the show I was nearly floored by how serious the content was being taken, while still show signs of heart throughout the pilot. We legitimately cared by Matt Murdock and Karen Page and hung on every moment. With that being said, episode two, entitled “Cut Man” does in fact cut, and it cuts deep. We get further insight into the Murdock family, and the tragedy that befalls Matt. We also get one of the best fight scenes in the MCU’s history, the only thing that comes close is the Steve Rogers and Winter Soldier fight in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

The episode begins with Matt Murdock being found in a dumpster bloodied and beaten. A nurse, named Claire, takes him to her apartment and tends to his wounds. Meanwhile, Foggy and Karen go out of a “date” to blow off some steam.

As Murdock and Claire get to know each other, the back-story of Matt and his father, Jack Murdock, is further revealed. We learn that Jack is a down-on-his-luck boxer who is throwing matches for some local gangsters. On the eve of a big fight with young up-and-coming fighter, “Crusher” Creel, Jack reneges on his deal and wins the fight, and pays the ultimate price.

The end of the episode closes the lone cliffhanger from the first episode with Matt finding the young boy who was kidnapped by Russian gangsters. Again, another episode that pretty much wraps up much of it’s story beats but of course leaves you wanting so much more.

Once again the acting is above the material it’s being given, and the introduction of Claire, aka, Night Nurse, played by Rosario Dawson, is great. You can tell that Dawson likes material by Frank Miller considering her participation in Miller’s other work, “Sin City.”

There are three things to take away from this episode in particular;

1. The relationship between Matt and Jack Murdock is a beautiful thing, and it reminds me a lot of the opening of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s a tragedy that isn’t something just brushed underneath the carpet and is something that affects our hero to this day.We see hints of how this affects Matt in the pilot, but we understand the true nature in this episode. Whether we see more background on their relationship is pending, but the way it’s wrapped up is both engrossing, and heartbreaking.

2. Something that a lot of people might miss as well is the introduction of Carl “Crusher” Creel. You’ll notice a poster in the gym in episode one of a boxing match between Jack Murdock and “Crusher” Creel. This is something I actually overlooked the first time watching the pilot. Of course, this is the fight that actually costs Jack his life, so it will surely become more of a plot point in the future. This brings me to that ramifications of this fight and the eventual introduction of the super-villain; Absorbing Man. While he has already been mentioned in the “Agents of SHIELD” TV show, I would love to see a fleshed out villain who could rival Bullseye or even Wilson Fisk himself.

3. The third aspect of episode that stood out, and in a huge way, was the final fight scene. An obvious nod to”Old Boy” with aspects of “The Raid” series, we see the fighting of Murdock on full display. Whereas the fights in the first episode were done in darker conditions, it was difficult to see what was really going on, which I’m sure was done on purpose considering that Daredevil is blind. Not only is the fight brutal, but the fact it was done in a single-shot format makes it even more epic.

Where will “Daredevil” go from here; anywhere it wants. After two episodes needless to say we are in store for a series that is only only going to give us great storytelling, but unbelievable action, and I’m sure some incredible acts of violence.

Fun Fact: Frank Miller began his Daredevil run in issue #158 in 1979.

April 10, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode 1: Into the Ring (Matt’s Take)

REDEMPTION

Daredevil: Into the Ring – Redemption

So, I’ve made the commitment to myself and to you, the audience. I will not binge “Marvel’s Daredevil.” In a society that demands everything be served to them right away, especially on Netflix, it’s almost a crime that we have forgotten about the timeless tradition of waiting for something. Of course we live in a fast-paced world now, with everything to be found with the click of a mouse or the typing of a keyboard, but there is something special about it, and this is why HBO is still so important right now….they still make you wait week to week to see what happens.

This of course brings me to “Daredevil” Marvel’s latest foray into TV, only this time without the limits of network rules. For the sake of explanation in these entries, I’ll review each episode individually, one a week, for 13 weeks. It’s going to take some willpower, but after just one episode I know this isn’t a show I’ll want to binge; this is a show I’m going to want to savor.

Episode One, entitled “Into the Ring” begins with our origin of a young Matt Murdock involved in a chemical accident, rendering him blind. Boom, origin established. As our episode unfolds we meet an older Matt, now a lawyer, and his partner-in-law, Foggy Nelson, looking for office space in New York’s Hell Kitchen. Elsewhere, a young woman named Karen Page is found in her apartment crying over a dead body. The police arrive and instantly she is the suspect of the murder.

Nelson and Murdock take up the case and as things unfold we find out that Page might be a part of something much bigger involving the corrupt construction company, United Allied, and something about pension payments. By the end of the episode most of the loose ends are tied up, but we catch a glimpse of things to come, and frankly, the excitement overwhelms me a little bit.

While there isn’t much bad with this first episode, I’ll concentrate on all that is good. The film adaptation of “Daredevil” is fuzzy in my mind, and to be honest, I’m not going to revisit it, there isn’t much to compare at this time. From top to bottom, “Daredevil” is a very meticulous attempt by Marvel to create a realistic alternative to it’s film universe and it’s TV brethren “Agents of SHIELD” and “Agent Carter.” While DC’s TV creations “Arrow” and “The Flash” have ruled many fanboys’ TV for the past three years, Marvel’s ‘Man Without Fear,’ will likely leave these two in the dust (full disclosure, I’m still a big fan of “The Flash” melodrama and all).

The casting is A+ with Charlie Cox, who you should remember as Owen Slater from “Boardwalk Empire, as Murdock, sporting a spot on American accent and the martial arts moves to match. Deborah Ann Woll, who played Jessica in “True Blood,” plays the woman-in-peril Page with conviction and emotion, and Elden Henson, who you of course remember as Fulton Reed in “The Mighty Ducks” franchise, plays Foggy Nelson with a certain slimy charm.

Full disclosure, I’m not an avid Daredevil reader, but I know the basics, and this season is shaping up to be the perfect balance of back story, fan service, world building, and allusions to future Marvel-ness, namely “The Defenders.” In short, you’d be blind to miss “Daredevil.”  

Fun Fact: The first appearance of Daredevil is in “Daredevil #1” from April 1964.

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