Daredevil Month: Into the Ring

I’ll admit that I’m only a casual fan of superheroes at best. I’m really picky about what I watch and I tend to prefer shows with female leads and good morals and lots of nerdy fun. Mostly, I love shows with really great writing that doesn’t stoop to soap opera levels. But given that everyone’s been talking about Daredevil, I figured I’d give it a watch.

So without further ado, the next few weeks will have posts of me looking at each individual episode of the Netflix-exclusive Daredevil series. Now I’m going into this with a casual knowledge of Daredevil as a whole. I didn’t see the movie that starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, but thankfully somebody critiqued it so that I don’t have to!

Now unlike my Firefly month, I won’t be analyzing the series for any sort of themes. I’m just going to critique the individual episodes, ending with an overall review on what I think of the characters and overall story.

The series starts out with “Into The Ring.”

The first scene that we see is a major car accident in New York City, where a young Matt Murdock goes completely blind from some radioactive chemicals that got into his eyes. The last thing he sees is his dad.

The next scene shows the grown-up Matt Murdock in a Confession talking about his dad and asking the priest, Fr. Lantom for forgiveness for something he’s about to do. As far as confessional scenes go, I feel like this one is at least decent. Fr. Lantom knows that he can’t forgive Matt for something he’s planning to do and he seems like a good and decent man.

What Matt seeks forgiveness for is his first outing as Daredevil, in which he saves some girls from a group of human traffickers. It’s hard to see the Daredevil outfit in this scene, but we see how Matt works as a hero. He strikes from the shadows and fights pretty brutally, but given the gritty tone of the show, it’s all good.

The next scene introduces Matt’s associate, Foggy Nelson, your typical defense attorney who isn’t above bribing cops. As slick as he is, he’s a good comic foil to the more straight-laced hero and he’s only bribing cops for information. The two of them check out an office space in Hell’s Kitchen where it’s implied that this takes place in the same universe as the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Foggy establishes that he still wants to make a living while Matt wants to defend the innocent. Given that they’re defense lawyers, business is gonna be tricky.

Thankfully, the two of them find their first client in the form of Karen Page, who is framed for the murder of her coworker. It’s during the interrogation scene with Karen that we see a glimpse of Matt’s superpowers. His heightened sense of hearing lets him listen to Karen’s heartbeat, making him able to tell whether or not she is lying.

The next scene features two men at a park. One man is an enforcer, James Wesley, who approaches a middle-aged man named Mr. Farnum. The enforcer threatens to kill Mr. Farnum’s daughter if Farnum doesn’t cooperate with him.

Meanwhile, Matt and Foggy discuss what to do with Karen. Foggy thinks of making a deal while Matt wonders why the arrest isn’t all over the papers if it seems to cut-and-dry that she’s guilty. We soon find out what Mr. Farnum, a police officer, was asked to do: kill Karen in a way that makes it look like a suicide. But thankfully, Karen fights back and lives to see another day.  

Matt and Foggy take Karen back to their offices and talk to Karen about her old job. It turns out that Karen’s former place of employment, Union Allied, has been profiting from government contracts to rebuild the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Karen, a secretary, was emailed a file for her boss and accidentally opened it. It turned out that it was a file relating to some ill-gotten-gains. She figured it was some kind of Ponzi scheme, so after her boss laughed it off, she consulted a co-worker who worked in legal. Unfortunately, that led to both of them being drugged and Karen being framed for his murder.

Matt lets Karen stay in his place, a sparsely decorated place that has a view of a big advertising screen across the street. Karen changes shirts and I will forever thank the director and cinematographer for not making the scene as fanservice-y as it could’ve been. Karen asks Matt about his blindness. Matt then asks her about the file that Karen came across. Karen lies to him.

The next scene shows a high rise meeting with people I assume will be the villains for the series. There are two Russian brothers, a Chinese woman named Madame Gao, a Japanese man named Nobu, and Leland Owlsley, a financial expert. Wesley arrives as a representative of his employer, whom he doesn’t want to name. (Is he working for Voldemort?) The group discusses the vigilante that attacked at the docks. Wesley asks the Russian brothers to take care of the situation so that Union Allied can stay out of its current scandal. 

Karen sneaks out of Matt’s apartment and goes to pick up the file in an abandoned building. An assassin is there waiting for her. Thankfully, Daredevil comes to her rescue, dressed in black. In spite of the fact that it’s night time, the fight scene can be seen clearly, leading out the window into the pouring rain. Daredevil flashes back to his childhood, to a memory of his father. The flashback motivates Daredevil to get back up and keep fighting. The fight continues as we see further examples of Daredevil’s powers. I love that this is a more realistic version of a fight scene, with just the super hearing being shown in subtle ways, instead of the over-the-top effects we’ve gotten so used to.

Daredevil takes the assassin and the file to the press. Wesley recaps the cleanup to his employer. The employer tells Wesley to start a file on the lawyers. Karen makes lunch for Foggy and Matt and decides to work for them as their housekeeper in return for them helping her out. The episode ends with Matt going to a gym and working out on a punching bag, all while a montage of the villains at work are shown. The last shot we see is Daredevil standing on top of a building, hearing a boy being kidnapped by the two Russian brothers seen earlier.

My major issue with the episode is that I don’t really know who the villains are. Of course, the montage at the end shows that we will probably see these villains later on. I also like that the end of the episode leads into the next one. As someone unfamiliar with the world of Daredevil, I don’t really know who the mysterious employer is. And btw: NO SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.

As far as first episodes go, this is a great start. I know the basics of the major characters and am curious to see where things go from here. Tune in tomorrow for my next recap!

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