This is a follow-up from yesterday’s post. Once again, the post contains full spoilers for all thirteen episodes. And, just like in my last post, the items below are listed in no particular order.
This may be a surprise coming from me, but I really loved the relationship between Matt and his priest in this show. I’ve always felt that Matt’s Catholicism has been exaggerated when the character has been discussed outside of the comics. Going just by the publication record, you can easily plow through a stretch of twenty-thirty issues and see no overt references to religion at all. Being an agnostic myself, I’ve also never really had much invested in this aspect of the character.
However, the way religion is used in this show feels very appropriate, fits the character well, and is not over the top. Father Lantom, played by Peter McRobbie, provides sagely advice and allows Matt to reason his way through his own conflicted emotions, which is vital to Matt Murdock’s character arc in this show. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of him, which is really saying something coming from me.
Here’s another shocker for those who may have followed my initial reactions to the show. The first time through, I ended up getting really hung up on four-five different scenes where I felt that Matt’s senses where portrayed in that magical and nearly transcendental way I remember so well from the Bendis/Maleev run (and was basically the only thing I didn’t like about that run). Those scenes – which include Matt “remote-sensing” a little too much while preparing to provide first aid to Vladimir in “Condemned”, and sensing the silencers on the guns at the dock in “Stick” – still annoy me when I see them. And, “the world on fire” is perhaps the least intuitive rendition of Matt’s perceptions I’ve ever seen (considering many people’s inability to differentiate the literal from the figurative, I would have preferred that the creators had simply left that out).
However, the second time around, I realized that not only did almost every other scene depicting Matt sensing something not rub me the wrong way, but were actually really good, and very much in line with how I would want to see the things translated to a live action medium. All taken together, when you average things out, this series probably provides the most satisfactory interpretation of Daredevil’s senses ever, compared to any individual run on the comic. Go figure.
I’ll have reason to return to this in a separate post – if you’re new to this blog, analyzing Daredevil’s senses through the lens of biophysics and neuroscience has been a pet research project of mine for years – but all I can say right now is: My bad. I take it back. 98% of it anyway. 😉
The bad guys going down set to Puccini
It’s true that the would-be Daredevil of this show operates on a small scale, but the scene in the final episode that sees the rotten pillars of the community tumbling down to the sound of Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot (as performed by none other than Pavarotti), hints at the larger stage his adversaries call home. From small-time crooks, like Turk Barret (played by the inimitable Rob Morgan), to politicians and executives. It’s also a nice nod to the last scene in the first episode where we see the many dead left in the wake of Fisk’s killing spree to tuck away some loose ends.
Much has been said about the black costume, but I have to say that, when you see it in action, it’s pretty spot on. The static images we were first presented with didn’t do it justice. The in-story joke about it being a work in process also helps put things in a humorous light. Considering this is what a blind guy bought off the Internet, literally sight unseen, it’s not bad. Not bad at all.
What about the final costume? I think that works pretty well too. There is no way you could make the comic book version of the red suit look good on an actual person, so it was a logical decision to try to avoid that, and it makes sense to try to go for something more armored.
My only concern going forward, is that going “full superhero” might lead to a less grounded fighting style and a more lax relationship with the laws of gravity. We’re already seeing signs of this in the way Daredevil jumps from a building at the end in a way he wouldn’t have wearing the previous costume. Be wary of this, all you lovely people in charge.
The courtroom speech
My dad used to teach public speaking and classical rhetoric and has a big collection of old speeches from movies, many of them from courtroom scenes. As I was listening to Matt’s closing argument in the court case from “Rabbit in a Snow Storm,” I was thinking that this would be a great addition to the collection. The way Matt tries to balance legal correctness to defend his client, as he knows he must, with a silent plea for the jury to go against him is brilliantly executed and speaks volumes about the character.
This entire episode is great, if incredibly gory, and the shot of Matt’s face when he takes off his glasses, realizing that his efforts to “untamper” with a tampered jury were for naught, is what dreams are made of. Seriously.
The buddy system
Thus far, I’ve had little to say about Claire Temple and her role as Matt’s nurse, confidante and love interest, but there’s no denying that she has a very important role in Matt’s journey, and Rosario Dawson is fantastic in the role. She’s a great example of an everyday hero, and the decision to include her – or someone like her – was absolutely necessary with the kind of “grounded” appeal that the creators are going for.
Matt needs someone to patch him up, if he’s going to be hurt as badly as he is, and he needs someone to talk to. And, it also helps to have someone who can check the messages on the cell phones he picks off the bad guys.
Claire is mostly a no-show in the later half of the series, but I get the sense that if we get a second season, Foggy will be able to fill the role of confidante and cell phone checker. Despite the new costume, he’ll probably still need someone to patch him up though. Hopefully, Claire will still be around for that.
Madame Gao is easily one of the creepiest characters of the entire show. She’s like a psycho Chinese grandmother who dispenses wisdom when she’s not busy pushing heroin with the help of her blind minions.
I’m pretty much convinced that we’re going to see her pop up again in Iron Fist, if not before that, since she clearly ties into that world. And I’d bet that her real home is none other than K’un-Lun.
This show is set in New York and actually filmed on location. This makes a huge difference to the authenticity and feel of the show. We also see a city populated with real people, and the diverse cast of characters help add to that real New York feel. Did I mention I love New York? Because I do, it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. Even when it’s steeped in violence the way it is in Marvel’s Daredevil.
All the Easter eggs
Many others have already made lists of all the little Easter eggs in the show, and I won’t do a full investigation myself. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed all the ones I noticed, from obvious shout-outs to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to the subtle ones you have to be a hardcore Daredevil fan to notice.
I loved the way Claire comes up with the name “Mike” for Matt (Michael is Matt’s middle name, which is probably why he thought of the name Mike when he had to invent a fiction twin on the spot, way back in Daredevil #25), and I’ve seen way too many Easter egg posts leave out the name Farnum.
In this show, Mr. Farnum is the prison guard who owes a debt to the old mob boss Rigolette and is then tasked with killing Karen in her cell. In the comics, he is the building manager of the office building that housed Nelson & Murdock’s first office. Oh, and he’s also the villain Masked Maruder. Because, why not.
That fight scene (and others like it)
Much has been said about the fight scene a the end of “Cut Man,” usually by people who are considerably better than I am at gauging the quality of fight scenes. All I can say is that I agree that it’s brilliant. And there are other fight scenes as well that really break the mold, such as the 360 degree shot of Matt fighting outside a cab.
What I love about the fight scenes is how physical they are. They’re elegant, but never appear overly choreographed, and they really take a toll on the main character. How often do you see the hero wait to take a few breaths before continuing with the punches? Rarely. Then again, this is a rare gem of a show.