You know the drill! After the Recap, we have My thoughts (<– click to jump directly to it), “Matt’s thoughts” (where we track Matt’s mental state through the season), Senses watch (where I nitpick the shit out of the treatments of Matt’s senses, but also applaud all the good stuff), Quotes and Star Player.
We see Fisk step into a much nicer shower than the one he’s used to, while remembering the events from the night before. We are shown Fisk arriving at the hotel, while the agents talk amongst themselves about the casualties they suffered. Also at the hotel are Fisk’s attorneys. Fisk is shaken by the attempt on his life by the Albanians, and instructs them to locate Vanessa.
Fisk is shown his lavish suite, where he’ll be confined and monitored at all times. Agent Ray Nadeem lays down the law and uncuffs Fisk. When Ray says he’ll be safe there, Fisk has the poor taste of pointing out how he was nearly killed. Ray can’t contain his anger, and reminds Fisk of the agents that were killed.
We’re back with Fisk in the shower. He’s told that his lawyers are there to see him. Ben Donovan asks that the cameras be shut off while he speaks with his client. Fisk says to forget about the cameras. He wants to know whether Vanessa is safe. Donovan admits that he doesn’t know. Vanessa is missing. And with that, we cut to the intro.
Karen is having dinner with her boss, Mitchell Ellison and his wife Lily. They’ve also invited their nephew Jason, and amid the chit-chat about how to order food, and how annoyingly perfect Mitchell and his wife are together, Lily lets it slip that she and her husband had set up Karen and Jason on a kind of date. She thought he had informed them of this fact, and it gets uncomfortable for everyone, for Jason and Karen in particular.
Karen finds an excuse to go to the kitchen and her boss follows her. He apologizes and says she would never have agreed to it if he’d asked her. Karen points out that, while he meant well, he didn’t leave that choice up to her. Ellison says he just wants her to be happy. Karen asserts that she is, but when that sounds a bit flat, she simply states that she’s not ready.
Karen decides to go back to the dinner table, and they all enjoy a good time together. We learn that both Jason and Karen are interested in literature, and that Karen was going to be an English major, but that it didn’t pan out. When the conversation goes back to Jason’s cat, he says he enjoys the company and shared a room with his brother growing up. The conversation turns to siblings, and Karen says that she had a brother too, and that he died. Just as Lily is about to cheer them all up with dessert, Ellison and Karen get phone calls from the office alerting them to Fisk’s release from prison.
Karen and Ellison both get ready to leave, and Ellison tells Karen right away that she has to stay away from the story. Karen pushes back, acknowledging her history with Fisk but how that also makes her knowledgable and gives her a unique angle.
We cut to Foggy, who is sleeping on the couch of the apartment he now apparently shares with his girlfriend Marci. She is up working when Foggy wakes from a bad dream. It’s clear that she is familiar with Foggy’s recurring dreams about his dead friend.
Marci assures Foggy that he has nothing to feel guilty about, and that whatever happened to Matt wasn’t his fault. Foggy talks about how he has this great life now, but it’s clear that it feels empty to him. While Marci goes back to working on her brief, Foggy steps away and checks his phone. That’s when he, too, learns of Fisk’s new status.
Matt goes to check out what’s happening at the hotel where Fisk is kept. There are people all around, protesting, but we learn that rather than being alone, Matt brings with him his internal manifestation of Wilson Fisk. When he talks to himself, his inner version of Fisk talks back to him, telling him that God is angry with him for trying to kill himself, and reminds him that God restored his hearing just in time for him to hear the crowds chant his name.
Karen shows up at the hotel gates and, when Matt notices, his inner Fisk warns him that he’ll get her killed, along with all the other people in his life who died because of him.
When Karen starts talking to the police, Matt takes the opportunity to sneak out. As if catching something familiar in the corner of her, Karen spins around and narrowly misses Matt. She instead turns her attention to finding the person in charge, and is shown in the direction of Agent Nadeem.
Karen, obviously livid, is mocking Fisk’s sleeping arrangements and the life of luxury it affords him. Nadeem, feeling both pressured by the line of inquiry and sadness for his fallen colleagues, reminds Karen about the lives that were lost and tells her to write about them.
Matt, still in the area of the hotel, locates the back door and hangs around for a bit. He hears the code that opens the door being entered by someone from a maintenance crew and gets an idea. The back of their van is open, and Matt gets a spare jacket and some boxes to haul and makes for the entrance.
On the inside, he aimlessly starts walking around the hotel looking for clues, and listening on the FBI and security staff. Imaginary Fisk is back again, giving us a window into what Matt is thinking. It is clear that Matt doesn’t really have a plan for what comes next. And, he’s still trying to dissect the logic behind why Fisk would be let out in the first place, arriving at the conclusion that he must have cut a deal.
We go back to the real Fisk who is sitting, oh-so-sad-looking, staring at his wall. The agents in charge watch him on the monitors, while talking about what happened to their colleagues. There is resentment about Fisk getting a penthouse, when they have agents killed and severely injured.
Next, Fisk’s lawyers show up to tell him Vanessa has been located, and that precautions have been taken to keep her safe. It angers him to learn that she’s outside of Barcelona and not some place more exotic, given the risk of extradition, but Ben Donovan points out that Vanessa enjoys the art and can be very insistent. Fisk buys this explanation, briefly seeming to admire his beloved’s strong personality, but warns she’ll be easy prey for the Albanians. He tells his lawyers to get in touch with their contact, Felix Manning, to have her moved some place safer.
Foggy goes to visit District Attorney Blake Towers who is in the middle of his re-election campaign and is trying on suits and preparing a speech. Foggy really wastes no time getting ready to go up against Fisk and wants to inform Towers that he is willing to join whatever effort must certainly be waged to put Fisk back in prison.
Towers is rather dismissive of Foggy, and his concerns. He says he’s objected to the house incarceration and has done everything to fight it (not quite true, as you may recall from episode one). Foggy has already done some digging and says that they might be able to open up a state case to at least put him back behind bars. Towers argues that it’s just not feasible, and that there’s nothing he can do.
Foggy tries one last time to win him over, with moral arguments, and by reminding him of Mrs. Cardenas (from the first season), one of Fisk’s innocent civilian casualties, of which he is convinced there will be many more. Foggy is asked to leave, and tells Towers he’s cancelling his check.
People are still chanting outside, while Matt is wandering the hotel (and let’s be honest, he stands out like a sore thumb). He sits down at the bar and orders coffee. His inner Wilson Fisk joins him once more, and they have an (inner) dialogue about Matt’s options. Fisk is wondering if Matt will bring him back to prison, knowing there is only one way to stop him. When teased that he won’t take that route, Matt muses “You’re sure about that?”
Ben Donovan, on the phone to Felix Manning (presumably) passes behind Matt, and imaginary Fisk convinces him to follow Donovan to the elevator, where he is stopped by none other than Agent Poindexter who asks to see his room key. Matt feigns confusion and pretends to have left his key in the car, while Fisk-in-his-head comes up with ways for Matt to overpower the man in his way.
Agent Nadeem pays a visit to the hospital where his fellow agents are being treated. People are sobbing, and he offers his condolences to some people in the hallway. Ray finds his boss, and they discuss the status of an Agent Andrews. Ray admits to being scared to show his face, but Hattley insists that nobody blames him, and that moving Fisk was ultimately her call. She wants him to see the bigger picture, and that this is what protecting people sometimes looks like. Hattley leaves and Ray hugs his wife who is also at the hospital.
Back at the penthouse, Fisk is gets ready to eat while Dex watches. Fisk tries to strike up a conversation, beginning by thanking the agent for saving his life. He offers his condolences for the lives that were lost, and drones on about how having a loved one dying to save him must be particularly difficult for the families. Dex doesn’t bite, and tells Fisk to finish his meal.
Next, Fisk tries to flatter Dex by pointing out his spectacular talent, though the sentiment is obviously genuine. That gets at least a glance from the agent, but when Fisk asks where he acquired such skill, Dex decides that meal time is over.
We next spend some time with Dex at the therapist’s office. The appointment is mandatory given the ambush of the previous episode where he was personally responsible for shooting a number of attackers. Dex is impatient, and says that what he did would have been applauded if he had been wearing a mask.
After some back and forth, he goes along with the process. The therapist asks if he has a support system to process the stuff he goes through, and Dex mentions a woman named Julie. He says he has dinner with her most nights, and that she – a bartender – is like a professional listener and that he tells her everything. That she never judges him.
Matt, who has now spent most of the episode in and around the hotel, has now made it to the parking garage and is hiding in Donovan’s car. When the latter gets in, Matt loops a rope around his neck and forces him to tell Matt why Fisk flipped on the Albanians. Donovan does his best to play coy, but Matt wants to know what Fisk is getting out of this, aside from a sweet deal with the FBI. Donovan then says it all has to do with Vanessa, that the feds will drop all charges against her. Matt seems doubtful, but Donovan’s heartbeat checks out.
When other agents approach, Matt slips out of the car, and begins an extended cat and mouse game of hiding from, sneaking up on, and taking out agents one by one. He finally ends up in a one against many brawl with shots fired, but ultimately ends up on top. Imaginary Fisk shows up again and goads him into taking his rage out on the agents. Fisk reminds him that he’s going to lose everyone he loves.
At the Bulletin, Karen is chastised by Ellison for refusing to let the Fisk story go, telling her that she was spotted at the hotel by the colleague he assigned the story to. Karen goes on the defensive and tells him that she was actually there for her story. The Kazemis used to own the hotel, but Karen is pretty sure the hotel is now owned by Wilson Fisk. Specifically, it’s own through nested shell companies that are all represented by Fisk’s law firm. The hotel was sold by Mr. Kazemi a few months ago, but when he publicly announced his intention to buy it back, he was attacked. Karen is preparing a story, but an impressed Ellison still wants to give it to her colleague Mason. Karen is angry, but ultimately doesn’t care about the credit. All she cares about is that Fisk got out of prison.
Matt is back at the church, rinsing off his bloody fists. Sister Maggie comes to help take care of the wounds, while the two have a conversation about whether it’s possible for people to change. Matt says he believes that people are born the way they are. Maggie seems to think Matt is talking about himself, but he is referring mainly to Wilson Fisk. Matt thinks that Fisk is incapable of change, and that the FBI don’t know him like he does. When asked what he’s going to do, Matt openly contemplates stopping him for good this time.
Dex, nursing a bottle of pills behind the wheel of his car, watches a young redheaded woman, whom we immediately assume is Julie, lock up the bar where she works and head across the street to a pizza place. Dex takes out a monocular and keeps watching her from afar. She orders the kind of pizza that Dex previously told the therapist was her favorite. Clearly, this is the kind of relationship that only one of them knows they are in.
Foggy is drinking alone at a bar. He sees a brochure for Blake Towers re-election campaign, crumples it into a ball and throws it away in disgust. Suddenly, Matt is behind him and whispers his name. Foggy looks up in disbelief, saying “This isn’t real.” Matt, looking pretty tortured, confirms that it is. They hug, but Matt remains pretty subdued, and asks Foggy to take a seat. He insists that he’s not back, and that Matt Murdock isn’t going to be a part of him anymore. The only reason he came back was to warn Foggy and Karen that Fisk is out and that they’re both in danger.
Matt says that he’s had a rough couple of months, and been questioning the point of it all. But, since last night, it’s clear to him that he’s going to find a way to bring Fisk down, but need for Foggy and Karen to be safe in order to do that. He needs for them to stay out of it and leave it to him. Foggy won’t have it. He’s not going to promise to stay out of it. Matt then says that he was wrong to become Foggy’s friend; that it was selfish of him to put him in danger. He won’t make that mistake again, and says that they’re over.
Foggy, seriously hurt, tells Matt there’s something wrong with him. Matt casually agrees, and finishes by once again telling Foggy to stay clear of Fisk and to not tell Karen that they’ve met.
Matt steps outside and shows the audience a less cold-hearted version of himself. He lets out a deep sigh, and takes Foggy’s pick-pocketed wallet out of his coat jacket. He runs his thumb over Foggy’s bar association ID.
Meanwhile, Matt has ended up on Fisk’s radar. Donovan reports back to Fisk on what happened in the garage. He says that he wasn’t in the red suit, but it was “him.” Fisk turns to the window, and says “So, the Devil is back.”
This is yet another really strong episode. And, perhaps even more than the previous two episodes it manages to do quite a lot with everybody’s storylines without any of it seeming rushed. On the contrary, we are offered long scenes of things like Karen having dinner at her boss’s house and Matt exploring Fisk’s hotel, that would seem almost indulgent if it weren’t for the fact that every single scene serves a purpose.
In the case of the scene with Karen, it tells us something about her (close) relationship with Mitchell Ellison, and how he perceives her (not happy). We also learn a little bit more about who she was before we first met her in season one. She was going to be an English major, before something (which we’ll of course learn about in a later episode) apparently threw her off course. And of course, the painful memory of her brother is brought back. These are the kinds of scenes there just wouldn’t be time for in a movie, because, while hardly “filler,” they’re not absolutely essential. They’re a luxury.
In the vein of more “show” than “tell,” we see Fisk settling into his new home. The way they’ve shot him stepping into the shower, contrasting that with the ankle monitor and the prison-like demands is really nice, and the flash-back scene to the aftermath of the ambush is impressive as well. It’s got a perfect rushed feeling to it, where Fisk is very much a package being delivered, with everyone around him busy doing their jobs.
On this topic, I also want to talk briefly about Fisk’s lawyer, Ben Donovan (also known in the Marvel 616 universe as “Big Ben”). Donovan, played by Danny Johnson, may not be a member of the core cast, but is one of those great supporting characters who adds to this sense of the world we are in. Completely unscrupulous, he cares more about the letter of the law than the spirit in which laws were written. I just love such throwaway lines as “My client is not implying that he knows how to reach a wanted fugitive.”
Speaking of character moments, and supporting characters. Marci is back and very supportive of Foggy who is really going through a hard time. While Karen is worse at hiding how Matt’s “death” has affected her, Foggy is better than she is at putting on a brave face. It’s probably only Marci who knows how much he’s mourning his friend, and how guilty he feels about it. He’s mentioned it to Karen, certainly, but with her he’s taken on the role of the level-headed one.
This is a very strong episode for Foggy overall, which is why I’m naming him the “star player” this time around. The competition is tight, sure, but Foggy wastes no time at all doing whatever he can to put Fisk back where he belongs. By the time he shows up to speak with Blake Towers, he’s already done his homework on ways to undo what the FBI did. Which is why it’s such an insult when Matt comes to warn him and tell him to walk away. For both Foggy and Karen, the business with Fisk is just as personal as it is for Matt.
Speaking of guilt, Ray is swimming in it this episode. He doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but what we do see of him is pretty heartbreaking. From the aftermath of the ambush, and his confrontation with Karen outside the hotel, to his walk of shame at the hospital, there is this strong sense of failure. Going forward, we know that he has a vested interest in making sure that moving Fisk will ultimately be worth the sacrifice.
Agent Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter gets his first proper introduction this episode. Fisk is already starting to try to tease out who he is, obviously impressed by his conduct during the ambush. So far though, Dex isn’t biting.
But there is something off about him, and that’s probably clear even to those who are not familiar with his story in the comics. His scene with the therapist, specifically when he starts talking about a “Julie,” immediately got me thinking: “I wonder if Julie knows they are in a relationship?” My suspicions were confirmed when, toward the end of the episode, Dex is sitting in his car waiting for a woman to get off work and go to get her usual pizza slice across the street. He knows her favorite pizza and, apparently, every detail of her routine. I love how this is set up.
I said that Foggy is good at putting on a game face. Karen is a good example of the opposite. When Fisk is released she is like Foggy in that she runs right for that bone and refuses to let go. But Karen also projects this intense, rushed energy that makes her lose her cool at times.
While I’ve always felt that Deborah Ann Woll does a good enough job playing Karen, I have to admit I didn’t quite recognize her brilliance until this season. Seeing Karen, barely containing her rage, mock Agent Nadeem about what items might be on Fisk’s menu, reveals a much more interesting side to her character. She was always reluctant to back down, but now she does it with this increased energy that really grabs the viewers’ attention. Woll has a a great handle on this version of Karen.
Seeing Karen act the way she does in this episode also reminds the viewer of ways in which she’s similar to Matt. Of course, Matt has never allowed himself to look at any of his friends too closely, and that informs a lot of his actions. Between this basic tendency of his and his shaky mental state (more on that below), you can kind of understand why he believes that he is the only one with any legitimate claim to Fisk – and the only one with any real agency. It’s this kind of arrogance that makes him so lonely.
Given where Matt’s head is, I think it was a brilliant move by the writers to have him seem so emotionally cold during his reunion with Foggy. The latter clocks Matt as being completely bonkers, which is a prerequisite for Foggy ending the encounter more concerned than angry. When Matt says that “Matt Murdock isn’t going to be a part of me anymore,” it’s already starting to sound ridiculous to everyone (including the viewers), except Matt himself.
Before getting into the specifics of Matt’s mental state, I just want to give to thumbs up to how he’s handled throughout the episode. But, there are a couple of “Matt ex machina” moments, where Matt inexplicably shows up someplace without us knowing how.
I mentioned this issue in my previous review, and it is by no means a new phenomenon, but Matt is literally the only character that has any of these moments. My first example of this from this episode is when Matt is shown waiting in Donovan’s car, while we know he first has to find it, then get inside it. You can easily solve this problem by having him hide out, wait for Donovan, then sneak into the back seat of the right car when he hears it unlock. I will even buy that he smelled his way to the right car to save himself som time. But we honestly have no idea and he isn’t carrying anything he could use to open a car door.
A ten-second peak at what happens before this scene would have fixed this issue, and it is clearly fixable. The same thing goes for how Matt shows up at the bar where Foggy is (which isn’t Josie’s). We can assume that Matt followed him, that’s the most reasonable explanation, but the briefest of peaks at this would have made the writing even stronger.
Generally though, these are nitpicks on my part. The entire sequence of how Matt shows up at the hotel, manages to sneak inside, and spends much of the episode roaming about talking to his inner Wilson Fisk may sound banal when described this way, but it’s a wonderful character study. Very nicely done.
I guess this is the episode where Matt is getting better and worse, at the same time. While we never get the sense that Matt believes he’s having an actual conversation with Fisk – he knows these are his own thoughts – it’s unclear of whether he’s talking to himself out loud. He might be for all we know.
At the same time, it is Fisk’s release that actually brings Matt back into the world, and gives him a mission. This is not a bad thing, even though Matt’s ideas about what to do, and how he’s the only one to do it, are pretty messed up. (Also, does he really think that Foggy doesn’t know that Fisk was released, or is the whole reunion only a ruse in order to steak Foggy’s wallet?)
Of course, underneath this stern, single-minded focus lies a more heartbreaking truth. All of those conversations happening in Matt’s head are his thoughts. When Fisk says things like “They all died because of you, Matthew,” “Everything that’s happened since you refused to kill me is on you,” or “You’ll never keep Karen safe,” that’s all Matt thinking those things to himself.
He must really think of himself as this toxic person who can never allow himself real relationships for fear that he’ll ruin people’s lives. And when the people around him are clearly signaling to him that they think he’s worth it, he refuses to believe that they are the best judges of their own self-interest. It’s a perfect storm of arrogance and self-loathing.
Matt’s conversations with Maggie have matured though. He does confide in her, and probably assumes that her connection to him doesn’t put her in jeopardy. In their one scene together this episode, Matt returns to the theme of nature versus nurture: “I think we come into this world who we are. And maybe we get a little nicer. Or a little angrier. But we can’t change our fundamental nature.”
While he’s certainly not wrong in suggesting that people are not born as blank slates (anyone who has observed young children display distinct personalities will know this), Matt’s views on the topic seem to frame this inner nature as more of an innate curse than as a broad set of predispositions and temperamental tendencies that interact with the outside world. He claims to be talking about Fisk, but when he stresses that people might get “a little angrier,” it sounds as if he’s talking about himself. Is this some small admission that life’s circumstances may have made him angrier than he might have been?
Aside from those instances that I’ve referred to as “Matt ex machina” above (which are really more storytelling glitches than anything that necessarily have to do with Matt’s senses), this is a really good episode from a senses perspective. There’s nothing that strikes me as overblown, and a lot of interesting details.
I guess the most talked-about aspect of this, when it comes to this episode and the following one, is that Matt sets out to investigate Fisk while pretending he can see. This is no small challenge for an actor. Charlie Cox, while not obscuring his own vision, has to play a character who is blind with heightened senses, pretending to be sighted. Among other things, he has to act out trying to look people in the eye without actually looking them in the eye. That’s a lot of layers.
The way Charlie, as Matt, cleverly solves this problem is by just looking super-distracted. (And you kind of have to wonder, between Matt’s eyes being all over the place and his scruffy clothes, whether Dex, who stops him at the elevator might suspect that he’s high on something.) There’s also the clever use of a hotel brochure that Matt pretends to read.
I like that you also get a sense that there is real risk involved in this endeavor, though this is even more obvious in the next episode. Depending on the circumstances, Matt can get away with this ruse for any length of time. When I’ve suggested in the past that pretending to be sighted is not something he can do consistently for any length of time, I’m not talking about the casual encounters on display in this episode. But, this is still risky. Matt messes up the code on his first go (which may or may not be because he misjudges whether the number keys start at the top of the key pad), and he’s got not clue what a “BNC” is. Of course, this likely has as much to do with the fact that it’s a specialty term that lies outside his field of expertise, but this situation could just as easily have hinged on something else where his blindness might have been the main issue. Either way, the whole thing is well-played by everyone involved.
Ray Nadeem: “Good men died tonight. You will make their sacrifice mean something.
Marci: “What was it this time? Laughing Matt?”
Foggy: [shakes head] “Body Matt.”
Marci: “Foggy Bear!”
(Imaginary) Fisk: “Wouldn’t that be something? If I became more valuable to this city than you ever were?”
Foggy: “The Wilson Fisk case. I want to provide my complete, unmitigated, fully caffeinated support.”
(Imaginary) Fisk: “You can’t kill me. You can’t even kill yourself.”
Fisk: “You saved my life last night.”
Dex: “Yeah, we all make mistakes.”
Ellison: “You know, it took Ben decades to become this much of a pain in my ass.
Sister Maggie: So, you’re suggesting God set a dangerous mobster free just to spite you?
Matt: “Nah. Probably just a coincidence.
Sister Maggie: “Because that would be incredibly narcissistic.”
Yup, I’m going to have to go with Foggy. While this applies to Karen too – though even more so in later episodes – Foggy is proactive and just as interested in taking down Wilson Fisk as Matt is. And, he’s not afraid to tell his friend that. His baffled, almost disgusted, “No!” when Matt tells him to back down from Fisk is spot on. Why would he? How is Fisk any less of an enemy to Foggy than he is to Matt? He isn’t, and Foggy knows that.
We also get to see a softer side to Foggy, at home with Marci. The fact that he has nightmares about Matt’s “death,” apparently common enough that he and his girlfriend actually have code names for the different dreams, is beautiful and tragic. But way to go Foggy in creating a life for yourself, even if – as seen both here and in the previous episode – it isn’t quite what you imagined.