Enter Kingpin… This episode of DAREDEVIL expands the storyline. We meet some new characters and the mystery of who really runs Hell’s Kitchen gets more development. The focus was more on Matt Murdock, the lawyer, than the masked vigilante.
Compelling drama drives this hour of NETFLIX’s latest binge-fest.
The story begins with a stranger strolling into a bowling alley. He seems harmless at first, but we soon realize this man has ulterior motives. A quick flashback tells us the stranger got a gun from the baddies in Episode 1. Back in the bowling lanes, a fight ensues. This guy has athletic prowess, dispatching these bowlers with lightning fast martial arts. Turns out this stranger didn’t need a gun, he just needed a bowling ball.
Wow, this was gruesome. Buddy caves in the target’s face. DAREDEVIL is not for kids. Be warned.
Cue, Matt Murdock walking down the city streets with his cane. It’s not like he needs it. I like how Murdock relies on people dismissing him as blind and helpless. There’s a clear distinction here between the lawyer and the vigilante.
Before long it’s revealed that Murdock and Foggy will defend the Bowling Lane Basher.
But first, we meet a journalist named BENNY URICH (played by VONDIE CURTIS HALL). Throughout the episode we flip back and forth to this character. I like how he asks for a report over the phone and they tell him to check online. He responds, “Of course.” I sensed the cynicism there. The Internet is ruining his profession. He’s a true journalist, not a blogger or celeb gossip reporter. The Interwebs have an immeadiacy and interactive quality print media can’t compete with.
I think ol’ Benny here hates the way technology dominates society and distracts everyone from what really matters. He fights for the truth. He fights to spread awareness. I’m thinking he’ll soon uncover the mystery regarding Union Allied Construction and the corrupt Kingpin running the whole city. More on that in a bit.
Which leads me to Foggy and Karen Page (DEBORAH ANN WOLL). They’re in the office joking about last night. No, not that DEMI MOORE movie kinda “last night”, remember these guys were “definitely not (on) a date.” Murdock walks in, worse for wear from last night’s epic BIRDMAN / THE RAID fight.
Not long after, Kingpin’s HENCHMAN (from the previous episodes) enters The Practice seeking represention for a client: HEALEY a.k.a. The Bowling Lane Basher. Henchman says he works for a “Consortium” as a representative for the Crime Syndicate Family. So it seems like he really is working for The Kingpin. I love how instead of ordering a hit mob-style to look like a mistake, Healey is sent in unaccusingly to get the Bowlers to initiate a fight so he can claim self-defense. Smart, cold-blooded, and lethal tactics are employed. Kingpin is one bad dude.
Murdock is supicious of Henchman. After the baddie leaves the office, Foggy holds up the cheque and says: “You wouldn’t be worried if you could see all these zeroes.” Murdock has a great reply, “Maybe you would if you couldn’t.” Matt leaves to pursue Henchman, using the tap of his cane as echo location.
These echoes coat the surface of every object allowing Murdock to see. I like the blurred edges effect, with the item of interest in focus. Nice style. Matt also uses his super hearing powers to track the specific sound of baddie’s watch ticking – which will prove monumental in a later courtroom scene.
Before Murdock goes all ATTICUS FINCH, we watch the Henchman return to the scene of the crime. He needs to hide evidence. See, Healey hid his gun under a pinball table. Too bad some people are playing the game. I know what this evil Henchman is thinking…. “Don’t tilt. No tilting!” Sorry, retro joke. So, Hench-y McHench-erson will have to wait until later to retrieve the weapon.
Josh Hench-erson continues his cover-up operations, meeting with Karen. He offers her a lot of cash, like a number with a lot of zeroes. It looks like the Kingpin controls the city with blackmail and hush money. Later on, we learn that the man found murdered in her apartment (Episode 1) was offered a bribe too. But he didn’t take it. And look what happened. This ups the stakes a lot. It’s serious business. Luckily, Karen has Daredevil on her side – even if she doesn’t know it… yet.
We learn a bit more about the journalist, Benny. He visits a hospital where we realize he’s fighting for his daughter’s (?) life. I’ve mentioned a lot of parallels before in earlier reviews. I love this technique. Here, the fighting for your child motivation mirrors the efforts of JACK MURDOCK. These echoes are a fabulous bit of storytelling.
Later on, Karen will approach this journalist with one helluva story for him. I’m anticipating the fall-out of a publication revealing the corruption of Union Allied Construction – and the danger this brave pursuit of truth entails.
There might be an Easter Egg here. A hospital employee mentions a measles outbreak (topical) and that how their best nurse has the night off. Hmm. Is that ROSARIO DAWSON’s character Claire she’s talking about? She definitely knew how to take care of Murdock’s injuries (Episode 2). Is Claire the DAREDEVIL hero known as THE NIGHT NURSE? Remember when she said, “The less you know about me the better.” Well, dun dun duuuuun. Maybe Claire is a vigilante too. That’d be awesome. It looks like Daredevil might have a partner in crime… er, a partner to fight crime.
The courtroom stuff later let’s us see Murdock the lawyer in action, commanding the room. His speech was pretty good. This is why Marvel selected someone like CHARLIE COX to play Daredevil. His acting chops make these courthouse scenes weigh more, bringing gravity to this supernatural world. By the way, there are some great superpower moments here, like the familiar clock ticking to identify Mr. Henchman, and the irregular stressed heartbeat of a juror.
Murdock’s impassioned closing arguments enforce the ideas of justice and the judicial process. Murdock asserts that according to law, his client is innocent.
Later on he’ll discover the truth, where Daredevil will be judge, jury, and executioner. Hearing of a hung jury verdict, Matt lowers his glasses, ready to pull down the black masked face of the vigilante.
Cue the final fight between Healey (the Bowling Lane Basher) and The Man Without Fear. This battle was exciting, kinetic, and energetic. Healey is a worthy advisory and skilled combatant. The two trade blows and blocks until Daredevil bests him, warning his opponent to “stay down“.
Murdock demands the truth, from Healey, yelling like Christian Bale’s DARK KNIGHT, “Give me a name!” Healey finally relents, “Fisk!” I love how we get the big bad bald one’s real name as the reveal. It leaves a little room for mystery for the average audience, but comic book nerds know what this means… Kingpin!
So… revealing the real name of the most ruthless gangster in Hell’s Kitchen kind of reduces your life expectancy. Healey knows this and takes the coward’s way out – head-banging a spike through his face. OUCH.
Again, DAREDEVIL sure isn’t for kids.
Enter Kingpin, with a glorious and poetic introduction. We see the back of this imposing figure, staring at a piece of art in a museum. Someone approaches him talking about the painting: a canvas painted pure white. She talks about deciphering art, and the hidden messages contained within. She jests, “It’s a white rabbit in a snowstorm.” She asks the large man what he thinks.
Cut to close-up and we meet KINGPIN for the very first time on-screen, played by the sure-to-be menacing VINCENT D’ONOFRIO (FULL METAL JACKET, THE CELL). He speaks devoid of emotion, hinting at buried emotion, “It makes me feel alone.” Absolutely. Chilling.
Allow me to get all artsy-fartsy for a moment… For me, the painting does indeed reflect a hidden message – as it mirrors the Kingpin’s modus operandi. Appropriately for DAREDEVIL, this image echoes with the villain’s egomania and intelligent approach to crime.
Like a “white rabbit in a snowstorm,” Kingpin hides in plain sight for anyone to see.
This illusive (near mythological) figure has been built up and teased in earlier episodes. You’d think this most wanted man would be in hiding. But instead he is so certain of his abilities, so egotistical, he thinks he’s untouchable.
This suggests that nobody knows who this (Marvel version of) KEYSER SOZE really is. The cops have no idea of his real name or what he looks like. This intellectual art conissuer couldn’t possibly be a dirty violent street criminal. They’d think “he’s one of us.” I just loved the brilliant allusion with the painting and Kingpin’s methods.
I did not expect poetic imagery in this series, but I’m thankful for the dashed expectations.
DAREDEVIL focuses on character and story – and the series is better for it. The steady pace builds and builds each episode, exciting us with compelling mystery and kinetic action sequences.
I’m looking forward to the next episode where we might see a little more of the Kingpin in action. And maybe a little Night Nurse in action?
Stay tuned for the next review coming soon.
an inspiring opening credit sequence
What do you think? Leave a comment below.