Daredevil: Speak of the Devil

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Speak of the Devil is the ninth episode of Daredevil’s first season on Netflix. It jumps back and forth in time a bit, showing a lot of character and exposition scenes and then going to a really ugly fight as Daredevil battles a ninja in red. The ninja has a chain weapon and is apparently even better than our hero.

Daredevil meets with his priest once again. By the way, this is something I have been meaning to give the show credit for. You rarely see a positive but believable religious figure these days. Either they are corrupt and evil, or saintly to a barely believable extreme. Father Lantom is neither of these, and he’s a positive presence in Matt’s life. I’m not a part of any organized religion myself, but this is a nicely done character. Matt and his priest discuss good and evil, and then Matt poses a possibly rhetorical philosophical question to Lantom. 

The Ben Urich/Karen Page/Foggy Nelson triumvirate try and come up with a new plan of attack. Fisk pre-empted them very well at his press conference, and they are at a loss for what to do next. They are also very divided on the subject of the masked vigilante. Foggy is very against him for reasons that are never made clear. He is buying the bad press over the man saving Karen’s life?

Another group of three are also planning and plotting. Fisk and his right-hand man Wesley are going over their accomplishments and future goals when they are interrupted by Nobu bursting in. Nobu is very unhappy about a lot of recent developments, including the delays on clearing the apartment buildings. Fisk and Wesley adeptly sic Nobu on their masked foe, even offering suggestions for how to draw him out. Nobu seems confident about taking care of him.

At the law office, Matt and the Karen/Foggy pair are on opposite sides as far as what to do about Mrs. Cardenas’ building. Karen and Foggy are all for fighting for her home, but Matt is urging caution. Of course, Matt also knows a lot more about what’s going on, and hasn’t told them. Matt is a bit unfair here– he can’t expect his friends to reach the same conclusion he has while withholding the data that led him to it. Mrs. Cardeanas drops by to visit, bringing news about a better offer from Fisk for the tenants to all move out. Again, Foggy encourages her to resist, and again Matt isn’t happy about this.

Doing some research, Matt goes to Vanessa’s gallery, and the two talk about art. Matt has a decent cover for being there– his friends find his apartment cold, and he needs advice. They talk and almost but not quite flirt until Fisk comes in. Matt barely keeps his himself in check as he and Fisk talk.

Unsettled by this exchange, Matt returns to Father Lantom, and they debate more. The priest is trying to point out that Matt is on the edge of taking a very dark path, and they go back and forth what Matt should do, and his motives for doing it. Father Lantom is very good at making Matt question himself in a positive way. After some good news back at the law firm, the bad news returns with a vengeance. Mrs. Cardenas has been murdered.

This is intercut with more of the fight between Daredevil and the Red Ninja. Like all the fight scenes on this series, it’s very well done and almost painful to watch. Matt has been in trouble before, usually from superior numbers. This time, he’s just plain out of his league, and the ninja is walking all over him. It’s brutal and bloody but amazingly skillfully done. The fight choreographers on this series deserve an award or two.

Matt gears up, giving us a view of where he hides his equipment and showing that he keeps his father’s boxing gear almost like holy relics. Daredevil goes on a rampage, fighting street criminals with a vicious edge, demanding information on where Fisk is. Eventually, Daredevil is guided to a warehouse, and that’s where the fight with the ninja we’ve been seeing started.

The only other interruption of the fight is Foggy and Karen. They are out mourning Mrs. Cardenas’ passing by getting really, really drunk. Foggy is blaming himself for the lady’s death, and really not doing well with it. Foggy does get a great, if bleak, line about, “The rules are just lies we tell ourselves to get through one more day.” He and Karen are both the worse for wear, but Foggy’s much more drunk, and more self-pitying.

I won’t say how the fight ends, but it’s not a clear cut victory for either masked man. They both end up taking a lot of damage. In true villain fashion, that’s when Fisk reveals himself. It’s like poor Daredevil just beat a major bad guy in a game and is suddenly confronted with an end boss. Fisk is initially cold and dispassionate, but he goes into another rage as he fights the masked hero. This is the same kind of brutal anger that led to Fisk killing the Russian gangster a while back. Daredevil just barely manages to get away.

More dead than alive, Matt goes home. He needs time to lick his wounds and stop bleeding all over the place. Instead, he gets an unexpected visitor. This sets up a major cliffhanger for the end of the episode, as Matt’s secret is discovered. This really doesn’t look like it’s going to go well for Matt or his costumed identity.

What I liked: As I said before, the fights are amazing. They are brutal, but realistic, and they flow amazingly well. The cast does a great job, even some of the smaller parts. I mentioned above the good use of the priest. Daredevil is now using the club/sticks that are associated with his comic book version as his signature weapon.

What I didn’t: Mrs. Cardenas’ death was predictable, as was the fallout. It may be a necessary part of the story, but Mrs. Cardenas seemed like she was pretty much a stereotype and a plot device from the moment she showed up. I keep hoping for an explanation of why Foggy is so against Daredevil, and it keeps not coming. Also, as I have mentioned before, I wish they’d let DD get a real costume already.

I’m giving this episode a 4 out of 5. This is the best hero series I’ve seen on the small screen, and certainly matches or beats the Marvel movies. I’m very much hoping the quality of this series carries over to the other Netflix/Marvel projects coming up.

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