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Review: “Condemned” – Episode #6 of Marvel’s Daredevil

Sorry for the delay guys! Let’s get back on track with the Netflix episode reviews. I’m still not sure when I’ll get to my Daredevil #15 review, but I may possibly wait until Daredevil #16 comes out and write a combined review. This month, we have the stand-alone Daredevil #15.1 to look forward to however, so I will definitely cover that when it comes out.

Recap

We pick up right where we left off in the last episode. Matt, with his hands in the air is cornered by police. He gets down on his knees and they cuff him. When he hears them talking about killing Vladimir, as they had been instructed, he pulls out his mad ninja moves, using only his head and feet to fight. When everyone is down, he gets the keys from one of the cops and uncuffs himself. He takes Vladimir with him and escapes before any of the cops come to.

Matt after taking out all the cops, as seen in episode six of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Ben Urich is looking at his chart of playing cards and news clippings in his office. At the top, there’s a king of diamonds with a question mark on it. Next, the office comes alive when they hear the news about the explosions in Hell’s Kitchen. When Ben hears the list of addresses that were hit, he realizes the one thing they have in common is that they’re controlled by the Russians, and gets going.

Wesley and Fisk are in a car (it’s always a car with them…) when they learn that Vladimir got away alive. This is a big problem for both of them. Aside from this being a problem in itself, Fisk is worried that Gao will be disappointed, especially after the help she’s provided. Meanwhile, Blake and Hoffman arrive at one of the Russians’ sites to do a little cleanup. They’re trying to pressure one guy, on the verge of death under a slab of concrete, into telling them where Vladimir is. When he doesn’t know, they shoot him, and ask the others to do the same if they find anyone alive.

Matt carries Vladimir into an abandoned warehouse, and puts him on the ground. They have a conversation about everything that’s been going in, with Matt telling him that he did not kill his brother Anatoly, and that he’s not with Fisk.

Foggy and Karen rush Elena Cardenas to the hospital, as seen in episode six of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Meanwhile, Foggy and Karen arrive at the hospital with Mrs. Cardenas, who is bleeding from a cut on her head. In a nice little twist, Claire is the one who takes care of her. Karen and Foggy catch the action on TV and decide to call Matt. Foggy only then realizes that he’s badly hurt and bleeding under his jacket.

Claire’s boss, whom we’ve already seen Ben talk to about his wife in previous episodes, finds her back at work. She is busy with patients when Matt calls and asks Claire to help him save Vladimir because he needs the intel. She asks what’s around him that they can use and Matt somehow magically knows exactly what’s in the room with him (groan). He cauterizes the wound with a flare from a roadside emergency kit while Vladimir screams in pain.

as seen in episode six of Matt cauterizes Vladimir's wound, as seen in Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

A police officer approaches Matt and Vladimir’s location and calls it in. Matt jumps him and starts asking questions about his loyalities. He realizes the cop, who only has two months on the job, is clean by listening to his heartbeat. Matt tells him to call back and say it was a false alarm, but the young cop (bravely) does the very opposite, which makes a bad situation worse for Matt. As police cars approach, Ben Urich soon arrives on the scene and tries to get a statement from the very uncooperative officers Blake and Hoffman.

Back in the car with Wesley and Fisk, the two men talk about the man in the mask showing up and holding a young cop hostage. They worry about Ben Urich, whom they’ve learned is now on the scene and Fisk shows just how deep and widespread his connections are when we learn that he has the power to orchestrate media attention on what is about to happen next.

Matt ties up the cop he’s holding hostage and comments on the situation outside for the benefit of Vladimir who has regained consciousness. Vladimir is wondering about what Matt did to him and Matt keeps prodding Vladimir for more on Fisk and his connections. It becomes painfully obvious to Vladimir that Matt has only the vaguest of clues about the bigger game going on and proceeds to give Matt… nothing! Because he headbuts him! The two then fight and fall through the floor where they pass out.

Back outside, we check in with Ben Urich before cutting to Foggy and Karen in the hospital. Foggy has been admitted and Karen is unsuccessfully trying to get a hold of Matt. Foggy plays down his own concerns about his friend until Karen leaves and he is the one pleading with Matt’s answering machine. As we’re about to learn, Matt is not in great shape, though he regains consciousness and gets to his knees. He listens and hears Vladimir’s heart start to give out and frantically does chest compressions until Vladimir comes back.

Ben Urich on the scene where Matt and Vladimir are, as seen in episode six of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Before quickly checking in with Ben Urich, who is still circling the scene, we see Wesley pick up a walkie-talkie that will put Fisk in direct contact with the building Matt is in. Next, Matt listens near a window and then notices sounds coming through a grate in the floor, a potential way to escape! Before he can try to get out, Matt’s attention is grabbed by Fisk’s voice coming through the police officer’s walkie-talkie who fell down the hole with them when the floor gave out. The two talk. This is all good stuff.

In the distance, a police sniper is taking aim. While the conversation between Matt and Wilson Fisk continues, the sniper is asked to fire. He aims for Ben Urich (or does he?) but hits Blake instead. Two other police officers are shot as well and panic erupts. Matt is distraught and throws the walkie-talkie in frustration.

Matt talks to Wilson Fisk over the radio, as seen in episode six of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

At the hospital, Claire and the others see footage of the man in the mask on the news. Matt is trying to get the grate to budge when he gets a call from Claire telling him about what’s being said about him. Matt realizes that the police is closing in and worries that things might go the wrong way. He tells Claire to take care of herself. He finally gets the help he needs from Vladmir who tells him “this is not how I die.” The two of them together are strong enough to escape into the tunnel system below.

Moments later, police arrive where they left the hostage, Officer Sullivan. They kill him with a knife, but only after first reporting his death over the radio which means that Sullivan knows he’s about to die. This is seriously twisted stuff. Meanwhile, Matt and Vladimir have made it into the tunnel system. The police catch up but Matt fights them off. Vladimir then grabs a machine gun and surprises Matt by not shooting him. The gun is for whoever is on their way, as the Russian decides to stay behind. Before Matt goes, Vladimir gives him the name Leland Owlsley, Fisk’s money man. Matt takes off through a side door and as he exits the tunnel system, he can hear gun fire behind him.

Matt walks out of the tunnel system at the end of episode six of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

My thoughts

In many ways, this is one of the strongest episodes of the bunch. It gives us a lot of expertly paced tension, and features the first meeting – sort of – between Matt and Wilson Fisk. There is also the very interesting dynamic between Matt and Vladimir, the latter showing us much more of himself than what you’d get from a one-note villain. Across town, Foggy and Karen get to be heroes as they rush the injured Mrs. Cardenas to the hospital, with Foggy not even noticing his own injury until they’ve made it there safely.

This episode is the one that really raises the stakes for Matt. Not only is he nearly arrested, his actions (though he’s obviously innocent of the bombings) leads to his antics being splattered all over the news. He has to go harder than he probably prefers on an innocent young cop – who later ends up dead, though Matt is probably unaware of it – and get into the metaphorical bed with the same man who was behind the awful things that happened to Claire just two episodes ago.

Ben Urich's big board, as seen in episode six of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

On top of this, he has a very frustrating conversation with Fisk that does nothing for Matt except remind him of the dubious nature of his own activities and how badly he’s lacking any sort of bigger plan. Vladimir laughs at Matt’s cluelessness and a reporter like Ben Urich clearly has a much better picture of what’s really going on and how all the different players are connected than Matt does, as evidenced by his big board of playing cards. This is definitely the episode where the shit hits the fan, big time.

For all its many qualities, this was also the first episode where I found myself seriously annoyed with the portrayal of Matt’s senses. I know many of you reacted to the same scene of Matt in the warehouse talking to Claire on the phone where he goes through a list of things he can detect in the room:

“Half a box of nails, broken glass, wood, duct tape, old road side emergency kit, a lot of plastic sheeting.”
“The kit, are there any flares in it?”
“Yeah, two.”

To be clear, I easily buy the broken glass (he’s probably stepped in some and the windows are not what they should be), the wood (wood-smelling rubble?), and the plastic sheeting (it probably has a distinctive smell, there’s probably some flapping in the wind happening and it obviously reflects the sounds in the room differently than a solid wall or windows would). I will even buy the duct tape, which may also have a distinct smell. The half a box of nails though? How would he know that’s nails as opposed to screws or washers or whatever else from clear across the room? And the two flares? Does one flare have one specific unit of scent or something? It almost reminds me of the very first issue of Daredevil where it’s said that Matt can tell how many bullets are in a gun by its weight, as if there was only one kind of gun.

Matt semi-magically senses shit, as seen in episode six of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

The annoying part of this scene is that it would have been so very easy to make it better. If Matt had simply gotten up and walked around the room for a bit, just a couple of steps, it would have seemed so much more plausible. The thing to remember is that in the Netflix take on the character, he has no separate radar sense, so it’s up to the creators to make sure that his other four senses can actually do their job. If he got up and walked around, he would move through the ambient sound field and be able to get more detail, and he’d also be making sound to better be able to “see” with. That he’s just staying still and concentrating isn’t working for me at all here. It’s a shame.

Senses watch

See above. Generally though, I think this episode lost its way in this respect. Earlier episodes had done a pretty good job of communicating what Matt’s senses detect and how he becomes aware of things happening around him. This episode is much less ambitious that way. To be clear, if Matt had actually had a traditional (separate) radar sense, like in most takes on the character in the comic, the scene I mentioned above would bother me much less, but since there is no separate radar sense in this show, it leaves much to be explained.

This episode and the next one account for about 90 percent of my senses-related grievances for this entire show, which means that I’m very happy overall, but there’s really no excuse for this level of laziness when it would be so very easy to fix it (again, see above). Seriously Marvel and Netflix, you can do better than this. On a more positive note, the way he hears the sound coming through the grate in the floor is a really good use of his senses.

(Accessible) gadget watch

Well, he spends the entire episode in an abandoned warehouse, so none. Kudos to the show though for using a walkie-talkie that’s simple enough that it makes perfect sense that he would be able to use it as is (just a few obvious buttons, no crazy complicated interface with a bunch of labels).

Easter egg watch

Well, there’s been a lot of talk about the sniper on the roof having playing cards in his bag, which may or may not be a nod to Bullseye. It’s hard to say just how much we should read into this. Maybe they’re just toying with us. Then again, that’s the sole purpose of most Easter eggs so I’m not complaining.

Quotes

Wilson Fisk (in response to Wesley): “Letting the police do their jobs. That’s what I pay them for, isn’t it?”

Matt (to Vladmir): “That sounds pretty bad, but I don’t speak asshole.”

Claire: “It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies, you know.”
Matt: “I don’t really go to the movies. I like records though.”

Foggy: “A helluva first date, huh?”
Karen: “I’ve… actually had worse.”

Fisk: “You’ve been asking about me. I thought it was time we spoke.”
Matt: “Say your name.”
Fisk: “You first.”
Matt:
Fisk: “That’s what I thought. You and I have a lot in common.”
Matt: “We’re nothing alike.”

Star player

This is a big episode for Matt, so I’m going to have to go with our main character for this one. This episode showed him completely out of his depth in many ways, and it’s the first time he really comes face to face with the consequences of the high-stakes game he’s playing. This episode forces him to think about his methods and his endgame in new ways which makes for very interesting viewing.

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.

5 comments

  1. Good comment on the glass. The glass and nails were both high up on the complaint about senses. I do think the sulfur (and other chemicals) in a flare would have a distinct smell, but I’m not sure about telling the difference between one and two. Although having him walk around might not have been a solution because people might think he’s looking at things. But I could see him smelling a flare and feeling to see two.

  2. Even though I’m much more forgiving about what creators show him being capable of sensing, that scene got a big wtf from me the first time through. I was like “Okay what… how would he be able to… maybe… how???”

    That was the only flaw of the episode. The rest was solid gold and one of the best of the series. The exchange between Murdock and Fisk, while predicable and a little cliche, was so amazingly delivered by Cox and Donofrio. The Russians were a great set of villains for the first “arc” of the series.

    I will say that I think these first 6 episodes were the strongest overall, not that i didn’t love the rest of the season. i think my favorite two episodes as a fan came later, but as far a storytelling, style and pacing, these first 6 were top notch. I hope they look to these when they sit down to plan Season 2.

  3. The gymnastics Matt uses to get out of arrest were just awesome, weren’t they?

    Blake and Hoffman really come off as corrupt scum in this, basically executing people. I don’t like these guys, the writers really did do a great job of making villains hatable.

    I like how Foggy’s courage and selflessness is showcased in this episode. Foggy is just as smart and just as courageous as Matt, just different in how he expresses those qualities. Taking care of Cardenas and Karen before taking care of himself you see his inner core of steel. Foggy is a tough guy at heart, he just looks soft.

    SENSES WATCH

    I feel like I’m angling for a No-Prize watching some of these scenes. For the walkie-talkie, it’s not unusual for such devices, along with various sorts of portable radios, to have slightly raised icons on their buttons which Matt would be able to easily feel and would make using such devices pretty easy for him.

    For the warehouse: Christine already mentioned the broken glass. Structural 2×4’s are typically pine in the US these days and they smell like, well, pine trees. Flooring timbers from around the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries are typically oak, which also probably has a distinctive smell for Matt, and later 20th Century flooring was, again, often pine. That would account for the wood. Plastic sheeting used in construction sites, especially when “fresh”, do have a typical smell that are the result of solvents outgassing from the plastic. Plastic sheeting often has cornstarch on it to keep the folded/rolled layers from sticking together when packaged. And yes, plastic sheeting moves in air currents. OK, that could account for Matt’s comment. However, even if all of this can be accounted for with a little thought you shouldn’t make the audience think so hard about it, as it takes them out of the story.

    Roadside flares do contain chemicals that do have an odor, however, they are also typically wrapped up pretty tight in a package to keep moisture out of them. Well, maybe it was an open package. And Matt smelled the chemicals… but how would he know how many….? Yes, this takes me out of the story. There needs to be a better explanation here for the viewer, maybe Matt smelling flare chemicals then going to the roadside kit and feeling the number of flares.

    The nails? I got nothing. It would have been better if he had tripped/accidentally kicked the half box of nails while moving around in the warehouse. Seriously, with all the little visual bits put into this series this could have been made so much better so easily.

    I get that it can be hard for people to really get inside Matt’s sensory world, especially people used to working in a highly visual medium. The fact that we’re trying to visually tell the story of a man with no vision is yet another layer of difficulty here, one shared by the comic books as well.

  4. “For the walkie-talkie, it’s not unusual for such devices, along with various sorts of portable radios, to have slightly raised icons on their buttons which Matt would be able to easily feel and would make using such devices pretty easy for him.”

    Yeah, I had no problems with this at all. This is not an uncommon design for a police radio and it’s very straight-forward. No issues at all.

    And like you guys said, overall this was a very strong episode.

  5. “I will say that I think these first 6 episodes were the strongest overall, not that i didn’t love the rest of the season. i think my favorite two episodes as a fan came later, but as far a storytelling, style and pacing, these first 6 were top notch. I hope they look to these when they sit down to plan Season 2.”

    ^^^^ agreed with this

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