Enter STICK… This episode of Marvel’s DAREDEVIL introduced us to our masked vigilante’s mentor in an impressive manner. Character introductions are consistently strong in this Netflix series.
First up, we get another creative camera shot, another consistent beauty of DAREDEVIL. The camera descends behind the stairwell as an anxious man runs down each level. He desperately retrieves a gun and fires off a few rounds into an empty elevator.
I was expecting Daredevil to pop out of nowhere. Instead, we got something even better.
I love it when a scene is staged, and this one is beautifully crafted. A Japanese samurai hidden in the shadows severs the man’s hand with a silent swish of his Katana. The samurai’s face is revealed: an old blind man a.k.a. STICK a.k.a. Master Splinter a.k.a. SCOTT GLENN.
There’s a great mystery here too. He talks of “Black Sky”. I wondered if he worked for the Yakuza, as one of those blind couriers from earlier? Or if they employed blind assassins too?
We get some answers once Daredevil meets him during an interrogation gone wrong. Murdock has one of the Criminal Syndicate head honchos pinned, when a firing of TAP TAP TAPs perforates the air like bullets. Stick is coming. Fast. The Syndicate Man takes this distraction to taze the Man Without Fear and takes escapes.
Stick continues to tap his way into a reveal and confronts Murdock. Looks like these two have a history. Cue flashbacks.
Back in the day… Murdock is going insane from all these sounds constantly bombarding him. Stick helps the young boy deal with his super-senses, like some sort of hybrid Mr. Miyagi and Professor Charles Xavier.
Stick refers to these skills as “gifts – the special kind.” Is he aware of other mutants in the world? Has he trained others?
These sequences were actually really impressive. I liked the tough teacher role. Stick isn’t sympathetic, he’s a hard-ass like JK Simmons in WHIPLASH. I really liked their chat on a park bench.
The serious drama is lightened by some good jokes, like when Stick asks Matt, “You like ice cream?” Matt delivers an obvious and obnoxious, “Yeah.” Stick dryly jokes, “Good. Shut up and eat it.”
DAREDEVIL gave us another great training montage moment, once again sprinkled with some great philosophical guidance. Stick wisely preaches stuff like, “All you need are the guts to let it in… The world is friggin’ huge.” Stick seeks a warrior, an “heir to the Spartans.” He waxes, “Cut yourself free… Cut them loose… They will suffer, you will die… Relationships are something you or I can’t afford.”
Geeze, stone cold or what. And Scott Glenn is perfect in his portrayal as the grizzled martial arts veteran / Jedi Master.
There’s a hidden connection between these two that both try and hide. There was a beautiful moment with the ice cream wrapper turned bracelet. It was touching to see, after the final confrontation, that Stick still kept the bracelet all of these years despite his teachings of no ties to anyone.
Stick is an old school ass-kicker, tough as nails, swift to act, and ruthless – but that’s not to say he doesn’t have a heart, or his share of lighter moments. My favourite joke was when he opens a beer and tosses the cap, bouncing off all the walls and into a bucket. Nothing but net. Give this man a Big Mac.
But seriously, Stick’s senses are as impressive as Daredevil’s, without the super-powers. This helps gives you an idea of Murdock’s full potential.
There’s some more highlights in the flashback segments, like when Young Matt asks his Yoda, “You gonna help me?” The Jedi answers, “No… I’m gonna train you… You’ll need skills for The War.”
What war?! There’s going to be a war. I like how we get these mysterious clues throughout the episode.
The strangest and most curious one was when Stick spoke to his boss(?) – a deep voiced scar covered baddie(?) I wonder if this wise mystical warrior is IRON FIST?
Regardless, this moment definitely sets the stage for intriguing future events.
NERD ALERT 2000: Comic book geeks might remember this, but I thought it might be worth mentioning. The original black & white comic book of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES was heavily inspired by DAREDEVIL – from the setting, to the characters, to story elements. I guess in this analogy the Turtles are Daredevil. These gangster baddies that Murdock fights were called The Hand in the comics, TMNT translated that into The Foot. MASTER SPLINTER is Stick. And this new deep-voiced baddie should be SHREDDER.
I remember being greatly amused when I was younger and heard this theory. What do you think?
Meanwhile, Karen Page and Benny are hard at work researching the mysteries of Allied Union Construction, and the enigma behind it all, the Wizard of Oz – Wilson Fisk. Karen describes it perfectly, “It’s like trying to straighten out a bowl of spaghetti.”
They talk of the bombings taking out the Russian mob, the masked vigilante, and the dead Yakuzas. Karen is scared, and won’t feel relieved until these men are all behind bars. While Benny is also motivated by the thought of winning a Pulitzer. He assures Karen, “We’ll be alright. They’re not gonna win.”
I hope so. I’m starting to like these two daring detectives.
Karen visits Nana. She brings groceries, in trade for information. She also learns that Foggy has eyes for her from the sweet old lady. During this sequence, Karen drops another hint to her past. She talks of having to learn to toughen up and get more aggressive once she moved to New York.
I wonder if something bad happened to her early on? We’ve had a brief mention before about her “previous activities”. It was a subtle clue this time, if at all. It just makes me wonder? How about you?
As far as Foggy goes, he shows up to save the day like he’s Casey Jones or something. Karen was getting roughed up by some street thugs, when good ol’ Foggy Nelson comes in all WALKING TALL, with a bat ready to swing. It was nice to see him save the day. I wonder how he’ll react when Karen eventually tells him “this definitely isn’t a date” again.
By the end of the episode, we find out that Black Sky is. A crate arrives. Within it, is no weapon of mass destruction. It’s a small – chained and shackled – child.
Is this Black Sky weapon a bio-hazard – like some sort of disease hidden within the child’s blood?
Well, before we can find out Stick tries to kill the boy with an arrow. Which was cool in itself, right. I mean, a blind sniper. That’s awesome. AND we got to see Daredevil take out some fools with his dual ninja sticks.
There were some great moments of attack during this scene – as per usual for this amazingly choreographed series.
We’re at the halfway point of reviewing DAREDEVIL. Several compelling mysteries are brewing. Murdock is getting closer to Kingpin. And Foggy teams-up with Karen & Benny. He’s shown “the board” where Daredevil is represented alongside the King(pin) by a JACK – of all trades… but also (ironically) the name of his father, Batllin’ Jack Murdock.
Stay tuned for the next review, coming soon.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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