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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Apparently, Stick can rub his fingers together and determine that Matt has silk sheets. What the bloody *beep*?
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.
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!
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.”
It’s going to have to be Matt again, and for a very specific reason: His standing up to Stick. Way to go Matt!