As you may have heard, the season two trailer is scheduled to blow up the Internet tomorrow. Okay, so that might have been a slight exaggeration, but it’s definitely coming, as revealed by the official Daredevil twitter account. I will return tomorrow with some quick comments, and I’ve already made plans with Claire from The Defenders Podcast, to do a podcast episode dedicated to reviewing the trailer, just like we did last year. Look for that on Wednesday or Thursday!
Before we get to any of this, I thought I’d start my series of posts looking back at the first season. This was an idea that came to me when I rewatched all episodes over Christmas break and found myself thinking of things that hadn’t occurred to me the first, second (or fifth) time around, or things that just spoke to me more when I saw everything with relatively fresh eyes. These little looks back will not follow any particular pattern, and will probably range from banal observations to things that are worthy of an entire essay – though I can’t promise I’ll have time to write anything too lengthy. What these posts are not, however, are reviews. I already wrote detailed reviews, with full synopses, of every episode last year. If you’re just joining us, you can find them on the archive page (look for the posts from April and May of 2015).
Into the Ring
So, let’s start at the beginning. The first episode is one that I – on the whole – like more than it probably deserves. It gets us off to a good start, definitely, but it’s not one of the strongest. It’s got a lot of nice little moments in it though. There’s the opening scene, which cleverly sucks you in (and breaks your heart with young Matt’s haunting cries), and the second scene with Matt in confession that lets you know right from the start that Charlie Cox has what it takes to bring the title character to life.
Then there’s that clever scene detailing Karen’s first meeting with Matt and Foggy. It doesn’t just have a nice touch of humor, but a great dose of realism in just how dragged through the gutter Karen looks. When you’re used to female characters on television waking up in full make up, it’s definitely refreshing to see something different. There’s beauty too, of course, in that scene of Karen walking up to the window in Matt’s apartment and bathing in purple light. Or, for that matter, the fight scene in the rain which, while brutal, has fantastic sound effects.
On the flip side, there’s the scene with Matt and Foggy on the phone. I know people have been divided on Elden Henson’s Foggy, but I think he’s perfect for the role and really enjoyed his performance. Except for this one scene. And it actually took waiting several months to watch the show again for me to really catch it, maybe because parts of that particular scene was in the trailer and thus too closely associated with my excitement. In it, Henson appears to simply be reading his lines, and the editing is choppy. I suspect the soundtrack on Matt’s end of the conversation was actually altered in post-production (because remember how very English he sounded in an early promotional clip?) and this adds to the strange timing of it.
I also find myself being less than impressed with the first fight scene, where Matt is rescuing the women who are being sold as sex slaves. The acrobatics and fight skills are amazing throughout the show, and this scene is no exception – thank you Chris Brewster – but it lacks the finesse of most of the rest of the season. Take out the action choreography, and it feels like it could be a school production. Rob Morgan is fantastic as Turk, but this is simply not one of his better scenes.
However, what I really wanted to talk about when it comes to the first episode, is the implications of the early scene of Matt in confession. Why? Because with all that happens later in the season, including Foggy finding out about Matt and Matt trying to make sense of himself, it has something important to say about who Matt was before he put on the mask. Or at least who he thought he was.
You don’t have to look further than the comment section to my Nelson vs Murdock (episode nine) review to see that I’m not the only one who has a hard time with Matt’s years of deceit. For me, that’s not actually limited to the television show. At least here, they are relatively fresh out of law school and mere weeks into Matt’s vigilante activities when Foggy finds out about him, in the comics it happens over thirty years into the history of the comic, at which point we can assume that Matt has been Daredevil for many years.
Aside from the fact that Matt has been lying to his best friend, what we’re really left asking is: Who is Matt Murdock? How much of him is real? When watching the first episode again you really get the sense that Matt didn’t really plan on putting on a mask. He explicitly states, when speaking about his father, that “I didn’t understand what he was feeling, deep down inside. I didn’t understand it. Not then.”
Matt kept up with his training after Stick left, and Foggy later calls him out on that, and he’s clearly been carrying around a lot of emotional baggage, and rage, that he can no longer contain. But there was still a flick that needed to be switched, and until it did, I don’t think that Matt himself believed that it was inevitable that it would. It’s one thing that he hides his heightened senses, which is understandable for a lot of reasons, but was Matt’s personality a façade as well all those years? I don’t necessarily think so, at least not a conscious one. Matt was who he desperately wanted to be, until the “devil inside” reared its head and demanded to be let out.
I’m also left wondering when exactly this scene really takes place. The first few times I watched it, I simply took it at face value that this scene takes place right before Matt goes out and rescues the girls, but it could just as easily have been before he went out and beat somebody up for the very first time, the way it tells it to Foggy in episode nine. Now, I do think this scene is probably set on the same day as Matt’s first meeting with Turk, and that I’m reading too much into it, but I also think it makes it more interesting to imagine that it precedes his very first fight. And if it helps make better sense of the character, then why not think about it that way?
I think I’ll end here. Any additional thoughts on this episode you’d like to share? If you want to talk about anything else related to the show, that’s fine too!