Daredevil: Upstairs/Downstairs

Kingpin

Don’t you hate those awkward dinner meetings?

Last episode was full of repercussions and fallout, ending with some hope for what’s to come. Now, things move forward again, as Fisk’s webs ensnare everyone and some try and fight their way free. There’s less action and more plot development, but it’s a good episode. Despite the title sounding like a British show about the different social classes, “Upstairs/Downstairs” has a few different meanings.

After taking “Aftermath” off, Dex is back, returning home in the Faux-Devil costume. Fighting some audio flashbacks, he finds comfort in routine, which leads to a really entertaining visual. Ray, also having some flashbacks, goes to his office and starts doing some research. He comes up with the name we all knew he would, and sees some of the questionable video about some of the agent’s actions. Ray has a tough choice to make, and, while he got himself into this mess through ego, desperation, and willful blindness, I do actually feel a bit bad for him.

This next scene wasn’t a huge one, but it was in my opinion one of the better ones of the episode. Dex, despite having virtually no social skills, manages to talk to Julie again, not scare the life out of her, get his point across, and manage to be respectful and calm while doing so. It’s a huge step for him. Of course, we also see his sociopathy on full display just before the talk, but it was still a nicely written and acted scene. Ray and Daredevil (Dark-Devil in the all black?) meet up, still clearly not quite trusting each other. There’s a lot of back and forth between them, but they make some slow progress forward on both the matter at hand and their relationship. Ray gives his conditions, and they reach an agreement on what to do next.

Following up on the talk they had, Dex and Julie go to a coffee shop. He outlines his problems and clears up a possible misconception. It could have been horribly awkward, but he was cautious and polite in his presentation, and clearly made an impression on her. He even makes her laugh, and they have a cautious beginning to working together. It was another nicely done scene, especially with Julie’s compassion at war with her caution. He gets called to work, and we get an ominous hint they were not as alone as either would think. Foggy goes to see Karen, who looks horrible. She’s clearly on edge, and not really up for Foggy’s new plan. Despite herself, she goes over some details with him and they come up with a way to proceed. Karen shares Ellison’s decision from last episode. Fisk, from his hidden command center, watches one of his teams take care of a loose end to push another plot of his along.

Dex gets to the office, and is the focus of a lot of stares. He’s clearly ill at ease, and meets up with Ray. Ray brings him to a back office, and Dex is absolutely delighted by what happens next. It’s a masterstroke by Ray, kind of playing both sides of the current issue. My concerns here are that there is no way this meeting should be taking place at the FBI office, and that, if Dex finds out what the second motivation was for this, Ray is quite probably dead. Black-Devil (I’m going with that until something better comes) sneaks down a fire escape, does some subtle B&E, and meets up with Ray. They do a very illegal search, and Ray is impressed and a bit concerned by several displays of the hero’s abilities. They don’t find exactly what they were looking for, but do find some things that indicate Dex has issues (and again, shouldn’t have passed backgrounds for the military or FBI). At the risk of harping on this, Matt using fingerless gloves really bothers me from an evidence standpoint. Dex leaves his meeting with mixed reactions, and then his mood utterly crashes as there’s a development over text.

Ray and DD agree that things don’t look good, but it’s not enough for a court. Matt’s senses give him some warning as Dex gets back. Dex hears their whispered discussion and gets some improvised weapons that fit his skill set. As an aside, they take pains to show that his apartment number is 131. Bullseye first appeared in Daredevil 131. Ray and Dark-Devil flee, narrowly avoiding being killed by Dex. Dark-Devil goes above and beyond to protect Ray, and Dex shows off his impressive skills again. They mostly get away due to a worried neighbor. Karen gets to the Bulletin, and sees some protestors? Supporters? It’s unclear. At any rate, she leaves.

Foggy goes ahead with his plan, despite things being wrong from the start. It’s well thought-out, and requires a bit of courage on his part, but that’s not something Foggy has ever lacked. He does a good job with a fair amount of detail, acquitting himself well. When a sudden realization hits him, he departs, risking looking like a fool in deference to what’s really important, which speaks very well of him. Foggy may actually be the best character on the show, morally speaking. Karen, for her part, has decided on her own plan, and pays a call on Fisk. She gets some static from the agents on security, and manages to get her way regardless. Karen is very good at mustering arguments, and, if the reporter thing doesn’t work out, might make a good lawyer.

The scene between Karen and Fisk is a masterpiece of simmering tension. They both have some sharp arrows in their quivers, and both aren’t shy about taking shots at the other. Fisk, of course, is a looming menace because of his size, connections, and proven record of violence. Karen, however, can be just as nasty, taunting him with stories about his past, his family, and a particular loss that hit him hard. The mutual glowering seems like it’s about to escalate when agents burst into the room, separating the two, as Foggy looks on from the door. Karen is annoyed by what Foggy did, but partially flattered the agents believed his story.

Things speed up as the end of the episode comes close. Dex finally finishes with the cops, reviews his losses, and does something nice and dramatic that should be impossible in any modern apartment building. As he gets that going, he is summoned elsewhere. Ray, amateurishly patched up after his encounter with Dex, makes a call to his boss, and I think he’s going to start sharing things with her. He also calls his wife and does just what she told him not to. Dex has a meeting with Fisk, and the crime-lord is at his manipulative best. I have an idea what may happen toward the end of the season, and Fisk is taking a big risk here.

Matt is back in his hideout, cleaning up again. The amount of blood that man must have lost during his career is truly terrifying. Maggie looks on, and they talk about what Matt learned from Dex’s tapes. Some comparisons are made, and a few friendly barbs exchanged. Matt is very worried about what’s going to happen next, and he doesn’t even know all of what’s going on. Matt takes out his frustrations on the heavy bag (I wonder when they got that? He’s not using a laundry bag anymore) and Maggie goes to pray. She “accidentally” lets something slip that stuns Matt. Comic readers knew this, but I’m sure it was a big reveal to those who only know the character from the show.

What I liked: This was another very well-written episode. I say that in most of my reviews, but it’s true. The scene with Fisk and Karen was fantastic. Dex’s special shots were damned impressive, and I wonder how Matt’s going to counter that skill. Fisk is doing a great job pushing his plans ahead. Karen has a lot of guts, you have to say that. Ray is starting to redeem himself in my eyes, at least. Julie had some very believable reaction to her conversation with Dex, and that whole scene impressed me.

What I didn’t: Aside from the fingerless gloves (yes, I’m going to keep bringing that up, it’s dumb), I don’t like Ray’s call to his wife. The man needs to give her more credit. Fisk continues to border on all-knowing to the point I’m doubting some of what he does actually working.

This is, in my view, the best of the Netflix shows. They impress me almost all the time. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. I both want to see how all this turns out, and don’t want that final episode to finish a great series.

 

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