“The Ones We Leave Behind,” is a very tension-filled penultimate episode for Daredevil’s first season. There are a lot of developments and surprises that I did not see coming. As the rest of the series has been, it’s a wonderfully-well written, brutal instalment of the story.
Taking almost immediately where we left off, Karen is dealing with the aftermath of her ultimately fatal encounter with Wesley. I’m really curious about her statement that Wesley isn’t the first person she’s shot. At any rate, she ditches the gun after doing her best to wipe prints off it, and proceeds to a night of bad dreams and heavy drinking. Eventually, she stumbles back into the real world.
Returning to the office, Karen runs across Foggy, who is “just there to pick up a few things.” Even in her morning-after state, Karen notices Foggy’s attitude about the masked man in Hell’s Kitchen has changed. Of course, Foggy knows who is under the mask now, so that makes sense. There’s a lot of tension that gets worse when Matt shows up. Karen is understandably annoyed at both of them, and lectures Matt a bit.
At the hospital, Fisk and Vanessa have a long talk about what happened to her, and why. Fisk is blaming himself for everything, and Vanessa isn’t having it. They debate about her safety and her choices. They do show that they are very much of the same mind set as far as dealing with whoever poisoned her.
Their talk is interrupted by more bad news from Fisk’s guards. Wesley has been found. They spent a good bit of time on the series showing that these two were friends, not just boss and minion, so Wesley’s death hits Fisk hard. Owlsley, one of Fisk’s few remaining lieutenants, shows up and stops Fisk’s horrific temper from claiming another victim. Owlsley is either supremely confident or has a death wish, since he keeps snarking during the exchange with Fisk. Me, if I saw someone beating a man to death, I might tread a bit more carefully.
Urich has a meeting with Daredevil, beginning in the traditional vigilante style of sneaking up on the civilian. I kind of wonder if Batman teaches a course in that or something; they all seem to do it. They talk about what’s going on with Fisk. The masked hero is worried about the intrepid reporter, but Urich insists he’s fine, and even picks up on some of Daredevil’s speech patterns showing a boxing background. The drug that Gao is dealing is called Steel Serpent. Steel Serpent is the name of one of Iron Fist’s foes from the hidden city of K’un L’un, and Iron Fist is supposedly the last of the four Netflix hero shows. There are rumors of production problems with that show, but that’s a problem for another day. Urich has a very similar scene with Karen a bit later.
Foggy proves he’s a good guy no matter what his feelings about Matt’s masked career are. Back at Josie’s, his dive bar, he meets up with Marcie. Marcie thought it was a booty call, and is not happy to learn about him going after Fisk. Fisk is one of the clients at her law firm, and she doesn’t want to talk about him. Foggy urges her to read instead of talk, and hands her some of the information Daredevil has collected. Foggy and Fitz from Agents of SHIELD are actually starting to remind me of each other. They are both really good guys who are not at all “action heroes” but are determined to do the right thing. I think there should be a mini-crossover at some point and those two should go out for drinks or something. Daredevil has amassed enough information that Marcie is both scared and impressed. Foggy asks her to do the right thing.
Acting on information that he and Urich shared, Matt is out on the streets in the area they have noticed a lot of blind Chinese men, who they think are couriers for Fisk’s drug empire. Between his enhanced senses and his parkour abilities, Matt manages to follow the man to a warehouse. He does leave behind his cane in the process, and that’s not the first time. Those things aren’t cheap, and he’s not making a lot of money at his law firm.
There are a few short scenes in a row that come up next. Matt calls in to work, telling Karen he’s taking a day off. What he’s actually doing as they talk is patching up his stitches that he ripped during his earlier run around the city. Urich gets into a major fight with his editor and finally pushes things to an extreme. Fisk has retrieved his mother from the nursing home, both trying to protect her and learn what happened to Wesley, whose phone had Mother Fisk as his last call. A bit later, Fisk and Owlsley try and figure out what’s going. Credit where it’s due- Owlsely wonders if the masked man is behind Wesley’s death, and Fisk responds that this isn’t how he works.
At Gao’s warehouse, Daredevil is skulking around. All the workers are blind, and have scars around their eyes. I’m not sure if DD’s senses were good enough to pick up on that, but it shows how ruthless Gao is. Daredevil starts taking out guards one by one, but is eventually spotted, and they turn the workers against him. He’s trying to go after the bad guys, not beat up helpless blind workers, so it was a good tactic on Gao’s part. The warehouse ends up going up in flames, and DD works hard to get the workers out. He has a brief run-in with Gao, and the old Chinese woman drops him effortlessly. After that, Daredevil has a brief encounter with Sgt. Mahoney, the honest cop Murdock and Nelson have been working with.
Gao and Fisk have a final meeting. She admits that she was behind the poison, working with Owlsley. They were targeting Fisk, not Vanessa, and Fisk is surprised. She also expresses her sorrow at Wesley’s death, and says she liked him. Things have gone too far, and she’s going home. When Fisk talks about China, she says her home is considerably further. I’m just short of positive that is another reference to Iron Fist’s city of K’un L’un.
Urich goes to visit his wife, who is having one of her better days. She encourages him to do what’s right, any way he can. They talk about going away together, but she tells him to finish what he’s working on first. Urich then talks to Karen and tells her about his plans to start a blog to get the truth about Fisk out.
Karen and Matt meet at their office. It’s a very tense scene, and neither of them quite know what to say to each other. Near the end of it, Matt has a mini-breakdown, talking about seeing the bottom of humanity but the pit keeps getting deeper. Matt is clearly nearing a make or break point in his dual life.
Urich’s home office has a framed story about “The Battle of New York,” which was the end of the first Avengers movie. It’s a nice nod to the larger universe. Urich’s writing is interrupted by a surprising guest. There’s no good way to do this without a big spoiler so this is your chance to stop reading. Really, if you haven’t seen this episode, stop.
Fisk is paying a visit, and he apologizes to Urich for calling him irrelevant. There are a lot of veiled threats, and then things get ugly. In the comics, Urich is a major figure in the ongoing Daredevil stories, and pops up occasionally in other New York based adventures. Well, the MCU is going it’s own direction, as Fisk ends up killing Urich. It’s an ugly death and it shows how ruthless Fisk can be. It’s also a hell of a note to end the episode on.
What I liked: I loved that there at least two hints at the Iron Fist series. Of the four announced Netflix shows, Fist is my favorite. I’m hoping the issues around that project get fixed. I like that Daredevil and Urich together were able to make progress on the drug case. The warehouse scene was done really well on every level- writing, fight choreography, the bad guys’ choices, all of it worked. I don’t like that Urich died, but it was a strong choice that I understand. I like Foggy’s nobility. He’s as much a hero as Matt, he just doesn’t have a costume. The Avengers reference in Urich’s office was a nice little touch.
What I didn’t: For all that he’s seen and done and been through, Urich seemed to be foolishly sure that nothing would happen to him right up until the end. He had taken no precautions, didn’t have a weapon, nothing. That seems very naive for a jaded reporter.
That’s it. I liked to loved the rest of this. I’m giving this episode a 4.5 out of 5. This is a truly amazing series and some of the best hero video work I’ve ever seen done.