So how does a blind kid from New York City learn to fight like a ninja? It’s one of the questions that’s fair enough to wonder about Daredevil, and the episode “Stick,” goes into that in detail. Stick, as comic fans know, is the name of Daredevil’s enigmatic mentor who taught him the skills he’d need to become a masked hero.
Stick himself doesn’t share Matt’s morality, as we see in the opening scene. Stick goes into action in Japan, ruthlessly disposing of some foes while hunting for something called “Black Sky.” When Stick finds out it’s going to New York, we know what’s coming next.
Back at the Nelson and Murdock Offices, the trio discuss Matt’s alter ego. The papers are calling him “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.” Karen defends the masked man, pointing out he saved her life. Foggy, for reasons that are never made clear, is convinced that not only is this “Devil” bad, but he’s behind the explosions that rocked Hell’s Kitchen. Matt tries to remain neutral, but is clearly upset about the explosions and the people hurt. After some teasing from Karen about the woman on Matt’s burner phone, Matt starts reading up on Owlsley the accountant that works for Fisk.
Speaking of, Owlsley is meeting with Nobu, the head of the Japanese part of Fisk’s UN of crime. Owlsely is prying into a shipment that Nobu has coming in, and Nobu is a lot less than forthcoming. When Owlsely expresses worry that what happened to the Russians may happen to the rest of them, Nobu gets very philosophical and answers, “Each man must stand for himself or fall if he’s unworthy.”
Owlsley isn’t done with odd conversations, as Daredevil shows up at his car. Daredevil is running out of patience with Fisk’s crimes, and takes some of that out on Owlsley. It’s not a pretty scene. Owlsley gets away after Daredevil is distracted at a critical moment by Stick. Thanks for the help, mentor!
There are a lot of flashbacks in this episode. Young Matt is trained by Stick, with the usual sort of training montages you’d expect in a hero origin story. Stick is not the kind, patient mentor. I was impressed with the kid playing young Matt. He, or his stunt double, get in some great fighting moves. In addition to the fighting, Stick helps the young Matt learn to use his senses, which Stick seems to share. One interesting bit- when Stick is checking with the nuns that are raising Matt following his father’s death, they don’t give him any useful information about Matt’s mother, an enigma in this series.
While Stick abuses Matt/Daredevil in the modern era, Urich and Karen are planning their investigation. Urich, like Foggy, seems convinced that the “Devil” is a bad guy. That makes a bit more sense here, as Urich is just plain jaded and cynical. Urich sums that up well by telling Karen that there are no heroes, just people with different agendas. I’m not quite sure how you say that in a world with Captain America in it, but I guess Urich would find fault with the various Avengers, too.
After Stick and Matt fight yet again (with some nicely done moves and counters), Stick tells Matt about why he’s there, and hints dimly at Nobu’s plans. Stick won’t say what the Black Sky is, he just talks about how dangerous it is. Stick also seems to know all about Fisk, and just doesn’t care. Stick also expresses disapproval about Matt’s decision not to kill. Stick’s just a warm, fuzzy guy.
One thing I’m really enjoying about Daredevil is that the supporting cast takes action on their own, not just waiting for the hero to tell them what to do, or rescue them. Karen spends a good deal of time with Mrs. Cardenas, working on more aspects of the case about the people trying to throw everyone out of Mrs. C’s building. Karen gets attacked on the way out, and a surprising person comes to her aid, not that she necessarily needs the help.
Down at the docks, there’s a massive fight between Daredevil and Stick on one side, and Nobu’s men on the other. One nice thing to see, is that Stick gives Daredevil his trademark club that he uses in the comics. When Black Sky is finally revealed, it’s a big surprise, and causes yet more tension between Stick and Daredevil. They have another fight before reaching a sort of grudging understanding.
Elsewhere, Karen brings Foggy to Urich to help with their Union Allied investigation. Urich isn’t happy, which is an understatement. After they bicker for a while, Urich adds a new card to his wall of crazy- the Jack this time. This apparently symbolized Daredevil, and Urich allows that DD and Fisk are working against each other. There’s a brief end scene of Stick reporting to someone we never get to see, and the mystery figure asks about Murdock being ready. Stick seems amused and says he has no idea.
What I liked: The fight choreography continues to be amazing. I like that Matt is a far from perfect hero. Karen, Foggy, and Murdock acting on their own is believable and I enjoy it. The divisions in Fisk’s empire also make sense, and the various crime bosses are well defined.
What I didn’t: We’re about halfway through the series, and Daredevil still doesn’t have a real costume or a name. The training scenes with Stick were done well enough, but nothing I haven’t seen before in many different hero origins.
I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. The series is gaining momentum; I just don’t appreciate all the side trips.