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Review: “Stick” – Episode #7 of Marvel’s Daredevil

Recap

Somewhere in Japan, presumably, a man is running from someone who’s chasing him. He grabs a gun and fires it into an elevator at his unseen opponent, only to find it empty when it opens. A man, whom we later learn is Stick, appears out of nowhere and threatens the man’s life with a sword – after first chopping off his hand – and asks for something called Black Sky. He learns that it’s heading for New York, and kills the man.

At the office, Foggy reads about the “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” and the three friends discuss the new “terrorist” on the scene. Karen takes a more defensive stance, whereas Foggy is convinced he’s bad news. While his friends talk, Matt is reading and tries to stay out of the conversation before being forced to admit that he thinks the man in the mask deserves a good defense and shouldn’t be tried and convicted in the press.

They change the subject and joke about getting a company softball team together. Foggy tries to hit on Karen before she leaves. When she’s out the door, Foggy tells Matt that Karen has mace on her keychain. Foggy worries that there are things she’s not telling them. They change the topic again and Foggy asks about the new girl Matt’s been seeing – i.e. Claire – and Matt tells him it didn’t work out. When Foggy takes off, Matt stays behind to work. We learn that he’s actually reading up on Leland Owlsley.

Matt and Foggy are talking in the office, as seen in episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Owlsley is meeting with Nobu in a parking garage. They’re discussing the cargo Nobu has coming in to New York and Leland attempts some light scheming of his own in light of what happened to the Russians. When the Japanese leave, Matt arrives on the scene and tries to get information out of Owlsley, specifically about the man he works for. When Matt hears Stick arrive, he’s temporarily distracted and Owlsley gets him with his stun gun. Stick mocks him and we cut back to Matt as a young boy. He is struggling with his heightened senses in the orphanage where he grew up after Jack’s death when Stick arrives and immediately tests his skills by throwing him a keychain which Matt catches.

In another scene, Matt and Stick sit in the park eating ice cream. Stick lays down the law, and asks about Matt’s background and special gifts. He tells him that he will train him. They practice sensing things in the park and we see Matt keep the ice cream wrapper. He finally asks about how Stick found him and gets some very vague answers in return.

Young Matt and Stick sit on a bench in the park, as seen in episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Back in the present, Matt recognizes his old master. He’s obviously not particularly happy to have him back, and we already get the sense that things did not end well between them. It is clear, though, that Stick knows the trouble Matt is in. Meanwhile, Karen and Ben Urich discuss their respective findings in a car outside of town. Ben tells her about what he’s found, including the Yakuza, and the bombings. Karen is surprised to learn that he thinks it may all be connected to Union Allied. Ben is clearly concerned about Karen being involved and, when asked, thinks she should be wary of the man in the mask.

Matt brings Stick back to his place. Stick chastises him about his apartment, his job, his silk sheets. They obviously have very different opinions about what constitutes the right way to live. Stick wants Matt to cut himself free from all the comforts, and his friends. Matt refuses. Stick is being a complete asshole and when he badmouths Jack, Matt grabs him. We immediately flash back to a training session with Stick and young Matt. Matt is struggling and ends up crying about how his dad’s death was his fault. He’s met with some very tough love on Stick’s end.

We’re back in the present. Matt calls Stick a dick. Stick grabs some beer. Matt asks what he’s doing there and Stick tells him he’s there for “the war.” Stick tells him about Nobu, and what’s on the ship that’s coming in, saying it’s a weapon called Black Sky. Stick wants Matt’s help, but is reluctant to word it that way, which amuses Matt. Stick then gets on Matt’s case about his reluctance to kill, calling what he’s doing “half-measures.”

Foggy and Karen defend themselves against attackers outside Mrs. Cardenas' apartment, as seen in episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Karen is at Elena Cardenas’ place, dropping off groceries. When Mrs. Cardenas offers her money, Karen refuses and says that she’ll accept information instead. Karen tells Mrs. Cardenas that she’s trying to find a connection between a construction company and the workmen who came to the apartment and didn’t finish the job. When Karen leaves, two men matching the description of the workers stalk Karen and pull her into an alley. She does a half-decent job of defending herself when Foggy arrives on the scene with a baseball bat. Karen is upset that he’s been following her.

Matt and Stick arrive at the docks where they gauge the situation. While Matt goes closer, Stick takes out a bow. He clearly has an agenda that he’s not informed Matt about. When they open up a large shipping container, there’s a child inside who is chained. Matt hears Stick draw his bow, and deflects the arrow. After taking out the guys who remain, Matt scans for Stick and realizes he’s gone.

Matt at the docks, from episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

We flash back to young Matt again, training with Stick and clearly improving. Stick talks about the next step in their training when Matt takes out a bracelet he’s made for Stick. The old man takes it and crumples it right in front of him before declaring that Matt’s training is over. This is the last Matt will see of him for the next two decades.

Back in Matt’s apartment in the present, Matt comes home to find Stick already there. He feels decieved, Stick had promised not to kill anyone. After Matt learns that Stick went after “Black Sky” and killed him, the two have a very violent fight that ends with Matt’s apartment looking like a warzone and Matt telling Stock to “get out of my city.”

Karen brings Foggy to Ben’s office to show him what Ben has been working on. Ben is annoyed, but Karen assures him that Foggy can be trusted. They look at the connections and add the man in the black mask to the board.

Matt is cleaning things off the floor of his apartment when his fingers find the bracelet that he had given Stick all those years ago. Stick had kept it. In the final scene, we see Stick reporting to a large man who can only be seen from the back. This man, Stone, presumably, is asking whether Matt will be ready when the doors open.

My thoughts

Aside from some sensory grievances (see below), this was a really good episode. You can probably tell from the number of quotes that it was, at the very least, quite quotable. Things get interesting right from the start with the introduction of Stick, and I also really enjoyed the conversation between Foggy, Matt and Karen in the beginning of the episode.

Matt and Stick in Matt's apartment, as seen in episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

What really stand out to me though, is the conflict between Matt and Stick, which is handled perfectly. While I don’t think anyone would describe the comic book version of Stick as particularly likable, it’s too easy to see him as a heroic figure. In my mind, the guy was always a bit of an asshole, and he proves it here.

It’s heartbreaking to see young Matt so hungry for a father figure, only to see Stick turn his back on him. Sure, the fact that he kept the ice cream wrapper bracelet all those years shows us that he does have a soul, but he’s mostly just using Matt for his own purposes. You really cheer for grown up Matt when he shows Stick that he’s proud of his accomplishments and that he made it through without him. And, that he doesn’t want to give up his friends, his job or his furniture(!) to join Stick’s crusade.

Foggy, Ben and Karen look at Ben's chart, as seen in episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netlifx

Karen and Ben also advance their relationship this episode. There are scenes later in the series where I think their story drags on a little too much, but it’s nicely handled here. Foggy is also brought into the loop and, again, gets to play the hero by protecting Karen. We love her for making it clear that she can take care of herself, but Foggy demonstrates a great deal of courage himself.

All in all, this episode was bound to be special for anyone familiar with the Daredevil comic book, and I think they found a nice balance between the new and the old. And Scott Glenn is an absolutely perfect casting choice as Stick.

Senses watch

I mentioned in my previous review that this and the last episode contained most of the scenes from the entire show that bothered me the most. I’m not going to get into a complete rant over this. I just want to point out the following:

  1. When Matt and Stick sit on a bench, Matt points out that the skin on the woman passing by is “too hot.” I’m going to assume that he’s picking that up by smelling a little bit of extra sweat because the whole sensing something marginally hotter than yourself from that distance is complete BS. I tend to think the idea that this can be done must come from getting infrared photography somehow mixed up with how we sense heat through the skin. This is probably its own post, so I may return to it.

    Another things that drives me nuts – and this happens in the comics too – is when there’s a presumption of too much random knowledge. Stick mentions milk from three different dairies. Has he been to every dairy in the region to sample their milk and catalogue the characteristics of each? If the answer to that is no, this is just silly.

  2. Apparently, Stick can rub his fingers together and determine that Matt has silk sheets. What the bloody *beep*?

  3. Last, but certainly not least: At the docks, Matt knows that the guns below are MP7s with supressors. How the hell does he know that??? Did he listen to one being assembled? (Again, this is early in his career so why he would know a great deal about different types of guns is doubtful in itself, and it’s not as if he can become acquainted with them through Google image search.) If no, then I don’t get how he can determine anything of that nature from that distance. This is bullshit. Pardon my French. The scene would have been fine without this details so there’s not even a point to it.

(Accessible) gadget watch

None, except that Matt reads a lot of braille in this episode (and he does it really fast). Through captions, we can see what Matt is reading about. It’s not the tenement case but about Leland Owlsley. It’s probably convenient to be able to sneak things like that past Foggy and Karen.

Matt reads braille, as seen in episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Easter egg watch

Stick asks the nun at Matt’s orphanage: “What about the mother? Is she dead.” The nun answers “No, well that’s another story.” And yes, it most certainly is.

The scene at the very end when Stick is talking to Stone (as confirmed by the end credits), looks almost exactly like the one from The Man Without Fear that it’s clearly based on. The dynamics between the two is different, as is the context. In the Netflix show, the conversation about Matt takes place when he’s an adult and there’s less emphasis on Matt being the “chosen one.”

Another interesting thing is that we see Sting use a bow and arrow in this episode. There is none of that in his training sessions with Matt, but in the comics, Matt learns to use a bow as well.

Oh, and one last thing: All Marvel Cinematic Universe phase two movies feature someone’s hand or arm being chopped off, apparently as a Star Wars tribute. Here, it’s happening again at the beginning of the episode!

Stick and Stone, in episode seven of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Quotes

Foggy: “Terrorists have causes. They claim responsibility. Al-Qaeda wanted the world to know exactly what kind of assholes they were. This guy? Not a peep.”

Foggy: “When are we getting a company team together?”
Karen: “We have three employees.”
Matt: “At least two of them aren’t blind.”

Matt: “Everyone has secrets, Foggy.”
Foggy: “I don’t. I’d like some.”

Ben: “In my experience, there are no heroes. No villains. Just people with different agendas.”

Stick: “Women are a distraction. Like furniture, apartments.”

Stick: “Maybe your old man fought for you, or maybe he did it for himself.”

Matt: “I’ve learned a lot since you’ve been gone.”
Stick: “Like what?”
Matt: “You’re a dick.”
Stick: “That’s true.”

Stick: “I needed a soldier, you wanted a father.”
Matt: “Well, I guess we’re both disappointed then.”

Star player

It’s going to have to be Matt again, and for a very specific reason: His standing up to Stick. Way to go Matt!

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.

14 comments

  1. You forgot the two best quotes 🙂
    “The mind controls the body. The body controls the enemy. The enemy controls jack-shit once we’re through with them!”

    “I swear I will not kill anybody. (dramatic pause) p****.”

    Yeah, as a Miller fan, this was one of my top episodes. Glenna was just amazing and he and Cox played off of each other perfectly. Though you were right again about the senses in this episode. The sheets thing was … yeah. I liked the callback to earlier when Owlsley says he was going to get his taser for protection.

    I really liked this version of Stick who, while not the abusive and invincible warrior of the comics, really had a humanity to him while still being a hardass jerk. I can’t emphasize how much I liked that they toned down Stick’s fighting abilities. While you might could argue Stick was going easy on Matt, in the comics Matt would’ve never laid a hand on him. I also like that they made it more of an angry and bitter relationship resulting from the abandonment, and less the “Yes sensei” subservient relationship from the comics.

    Fanboy favorite moments.
    All the many hints for future mystical ninja shenanigans.
    Stick was going to train young Matt to meditate… gee I wonder if that ever comes back 🙂
    STONE!!!!

  2. Stick is an abusive @$$hole, both in the comics and here. I really hate Stick. I understand why Stick is in the narrative, but I still loathe him as much as Fisk. Drafting children to be soldiers is loathesome. Stick gives no good reason why Matt should join in his army rather than try to live a fairly normal and ordinary life.

    This was my least favorite episode, the only part of which I really enjoyed being when Foggy rescues Karen from thugs. I really like Foggy’s chance to play the physical hero. I love that this series showed Foggy as someone just as capable as Matt, just expressed in a different manner. That, and how much braille Matt was using.

  3. Wow Broomstick, I mean I know Stick is a jerk, but by your rational you must really hate Batman, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Dumbledore, Gandalf, Merlyn, Rupert Giles, Professor X, Splinter, etc.

  4. Yeah, I don’t think we’re supposed to like Stick. That’s one thing I loved about this episode. Aside from the detail with the bracelet, there are no excuses made for anything Stick does. He probably feel he’s got some higher purpose, but he’s not a “good guy.”

  5. Tate, you don’t see a difference between Stick and those others? Stick is nothing but a drill sergeant, without an ounce of compassion for a young boy alone in the world. When the slightest bit of positive emotion enters the picture he runs away. How cowardly of him.

    Dumbledore, on the other hand, has many words of compassion for Harry Potter and friends even as he is a stern taskmaster towards them. Obi-Wan Kenobi spent time talking to Luke as a friend instead of telling him to give up all comfort in life for nothing but endless war. Ditto all your other examples, who are shown engaging in interactions other than beating the crap out of their students and telling them to toughen up. That’s ALL Stick does – brutal training and telling Matt how much life sucks. There is nothing nice or compassionate in his portrayal. He regards Matt as a tool, not a human being. He’s even more mentally deranged than Fisk, who is at least is still capable of human emotion, feelings like love and compassion towards at least a few members of the human race.

    Stick abandons Matt, then shows up years later, berates him for making something of himself without Stick’s help, then expects Matt to give everything up for whatever the hell Stick is fighting for and take up exactly where they left off, never mind that Matt is no longer a scared and lonely boy. When Matt pushes back Stick tries to beat the crap out of him and trashes Matt’s home. What a horrible thing to do.

    Stick is loathesome. It’s possible to admire his fighting skills, but I am completely unable to like him.

  6. I find myself rationalizing the more fantastical expressions of Matt’s (or Stick’s) abilities. They spend so little time on what Matt’s powers are like for him (beyond a world on fire), the over the top stuff doesn’t bother me much. I go back to the idea his powers are like touching everything at once. If this is true many things fall into place. Don’t misunderstand, Matt’s most interesting for what he doesn’t know than what he does. The dairies thing was extraneous and the guns at the dock went far afield, but just maybe body oils mixed with silk sheets smell different than when mixed with cotton.

    And I love Stick!

  7. Stick’s compassion is what made him leave 20 years ago. He was starting to care for Matt and maybe didn’t want to get him killed. Thats how I interpreted the bracelet at the end. Maybe he only came back now because some serious shit is coming to Matt’s world and he needed to see if Matt could handle it. From a certain point of view, maybe he did the right thing 20 years ago, and left Matt alone to have a life of his own because at the time he didn’t want Matt to turn out like him. Look, I’m not saying Stick isn’t an ass. I wouldn’t want to go have drinks with the man. If you read between the lines in the second training flashback though, they were becoming friends, which again is why Stick left.

    Brutal training? He’s teaching him martial arts. Matt’s gonna get a few bruises. And as far as verbal abuse, I’ve seen little league coaches more vicious than Glenn’s Stick.

    “Drafting children to be soldiers is loathesome. Stick gives no good reason why Matt should join in his army rather than try to live a fairly normal and ordinary life.”

    All those other mentors did the exact same thing, again they were just much nicer about it. Stick is the harsh version of the classic mentor archetype. With all of those others listed we also have the benefit of hindsight as to how those stories unfold. We don’t know what Stick’s Order is fighting. We don’t know yet what “ninja shenanigans” Matt will face. It would be like hating Giles in the first episode of Buffy, “This jerk should just leave this teenage girl alone and not make her fight vampires.” Nothing Stick does is as abusive as what Dumbledore ALLOWS Snape to do to Harry over the course of the novels.

    Whatever though. We all have different opinions about what makes these characters work for us. I just hope beyond hope that we get much more of Stick in season 2, and since this episode was basically a big teaser for future season plot lines, I bet we will 🙂

  8. “Stick’s compassion is what made him leave 20 years ago. He was starting to care for Matt and maybe didn’t want to get him killed. Thats how I interpreted the bracelet at the end.”
    Stick has no compassion for anyone but himself. He left to protect himself. He’s a pretty crap teacher if he can’t be as hard as necessary on his student AND be a human being to him outside of training sessions.

    Obviously, we see things very differently here.

    ”Brutal training? He’s teaching him martial arts. Matt’s gonna get a few bruises.”
    Yes, I understand combat training isn’t wholly safe. Bruises? Try broken bones – I don’t know anyone who has seriously pursued martial arts who hasn’t broken or sprained something. I’m not talking about the physical stuff here, I’m talking about psychological abuse, about demanding the boy cut himself off from everyone else in life. Isolating a victim is a classic trick of abusers.

    And as far as verbal abuse, I’ve seen little league coaches more vicious than Glenn’s Stick.”
    So, because other people engage in child abuse this makes it acceptable behavior…?

    “Drafting children to be soldiers is loathesome. Stick gives no good reason why Matt should join in his army rather than try to live a fairly normal and ordinary life.”
    All those other mentors did the exact same thing, again they were just much nicer about it.

    I disagree.

    Batman wanted to avenge his parents, he was the driving force there. In the Harry Potter universe Potter was locked against an adversary that had been trying to kill him since infancy, and had killed his parents and a lot of other people so the stakes were obvious. Gandalf was trying to aid people first in battling a dragon, the against a near deity-level adversary, and in both cases the volunteers were adults, they weren’t drafted. And so on.

    Stick has always looked like an @$$ who shows up, drafts a traumatized kid, tries to cut him off from the rest of humanity, and never explains why, or what this “war” of his is about. What is so damn important it justifies sacrificing the lives of children?

    ”It would be like hating Giles in the first episode of Buffy, “This jerk should just leave this teenage girl alone and not make her fight vampires.”
    Except Buffy was already fighting vampires when Giles showed up.

    Yes, we do have very different opinions on Stick.

  9. “Stick has always looked like an @$$ who shows up, drafts a traumatized kid, tries to cut him off from the rest of humanity… What is so damn important it justifies sacrificing the lives of children?”

    Ask Batman, he’s done it a few times now.

  10. I’ll have to take your word on that, since I don’t follow Batman.

  11. I joked to my friends that Matt’s looking more like a super chump than a super hero. Episode starts with him being taken out by an accountant with a stun gun. It ends with him barely beating a 75 year-old guy in a fight.

    That said, this is one of my favorite episodes. Scott Glenn hits the mark perfectly as Stick. the scene with Stick and young Matt eating ice cream on the park bench was a great riff on a grandfather-grandson relationship. And damn it made me long to be in Central Park again on summer day!

    The stun gun scene effectively highlights how physically vulnerable Matt is. A split second distraction can turn him into dog meat.

  12. I know it was my eyes playing tricks on me, but when Matt confronts Owlsley in the parking garage, there’s a camera shot that makes it look like Owlsley is perched on the hood of his car (of course, he’s leaning against it!), which DID make me think of his comics namesake.

  13. This was probably my favorite episode. I know Stick is a very controversial figure here and in DD cannon in general, but to me that is what marks him as a great character. He is flawed and complex, just like Matt and all the characters in this show. That is what makes them human and relatable and what makes this show, and the comic, so good. Scott Glenn was absolutely fantastic as Stick!!!! He was a perfect casting choice and I now cant picture anybody else playing the role.

    Stick is a dick, no arguments from anybody on that. But that scene in the park literally brought tears to my eyes. This was the best part of Stick on full display. Everybody has redeeming qualities and this was his. Stick took a boy who was at the lowest point in his life and pulled him out of the abyss. This is what a teacher does, he showed Matt a different perspective, he showed him how to “look” at the world in a completely different way, and that is one great gift! Stick got through to Matt that his world hadn’t ended and that by all accounts he did have a blessed life and even through all the tragedy he was given a gift in return. Stick then showed him how to harness his potential and make it work for him. Without Stick, Matt not only would have had no ability to focus his heightened senses but he would have had no outlet for his inner demons and rage. Matt literally would have destroyed himself from the inside out.

    Now granted Stick did this in a very extreme way, maybe even child abuse level and then child abandonment. But he showed Matt that is was a very violent and dangerous world and you had to “grab life by the throat and never let go”. Like all great characters Stick has layers and depth, and that includes some crappy sides. Stick is a self righteous dick that uses others for his high goals. He is a killer who lives an extreme lifestyle, and he has no patience for others who do not share his beliefs. Stick is also not above manipulating others to serve his goals. Stick may serve on the side of justice, but his extreme methods of getting that justice may just undercut its positive effects. He is an “ends justify the means” kind of guy (a lot like Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins). But to his mind he his fighting on the side of good and I truly believe that he cares for Matt. But his feelings for Matt just cant override his commitment to his higher goals. When Matt showed emotion and a wanting to have deeper relationships Stick new that he wouldn’t fit into his mold. And despite having feelings for Matt he had to move on, because his “war” trumps everything else.

    When you get down to it Stick is much like Matt. They are both emotionally obsessive men that will sacrifice a lot for their goals. Matt just has a little more humanity left in him and isn’t willing to go as far as Stick is. Matt is still concerned about his soul, which is shown in his refusal to kill, his continued need for relationships, and his talks with Father Lantom. Stick is just farther down the rabbit hole. He has accepted that he has dirtied himself beyond cleaning, and has accepted the world as a dark place that forces men to fight evil by any means necessary. Matt is still to much of an idealist for Stick. Matt holds the belief that you can hold yourself to high standards and still fight evil. Matt wants and needs to fight, but he still wants to hold onto that bit of normal that his father raised him to have. Stick had long ago thrown away any normal life, or any chance of being a simple good man. He is a soldier that has completely dedicated himself to fighting a war by any means necessary. He has no time for anything less than complete focus. Matt is kinda the definition of unfocused and emotional. In the end Matt is still fighting his demons and obsessions trying to keep himself in check while fighting the good fight; while Stick has accepted his path to the point of being a sociopath.

    But you have to admit that Glenn was hilarious at times in this and very charismatic (which is how he is both a great teacher and very manipulative at the same time). To me he is a character that you love to hate.

    So anyway a long rant to say it was a great episode! The fact that so much can be said and debated about the characters of Matt and Stick, to my mind, is testament to how complex and realistic these characters are. We all have our good and bad sides, and we all do bad things for the best intentions. That is what makes us human. And it is that aspect that is reflected in these characters and in this great show!

  14. But you have to admit that Glenn was hilarious at times in this and very charismatic (which is how he is both a great teacher and very manipulative at the same time). To me he is a character that you love to hate.

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