Review: Marvel’s Daredevil – Season 1, Episode 1

Based on: Daredevil by Stan Lee and Bill Everett
Producer: Marvel Television
Created by: Drew Goddard
Showrunner: Steven S. DeKnight (Season 1); Drew Goddard (pre-Season 1)
Director: Phil Abraham
Writer: Drew Goddard
Starring: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Toby Leonard Moore
Distributor: Netflix
Genre: Action, Crime Drama, Superhero
Rating: 15 years or more (Blu-ray)
Marvel’s Daredevil is an American television series created by Drew Goddard and produced by Marvel Television for Netflix. It is based on the Marvel superhero, Daredevil. The series started on April 10, 2015 and continues to the present (September 2018). Although Drew Goddard started as the showrunner, he handed the project over to Steven S. DeKnight for Season 1, followed by Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez for Season 2 and Erik Oleson for Season 3.
On September 10, 2018, Netflix released a Season 3 teaser for the series. Season 1 and Season 2 are both also available on Blu-ray and DVD.

CONTENT GUIDE

Violence/Scary Images: A young boy is laid out in the middle of a huge car accident, with chemicals splashed in his eyes. A human trafficking victim is stunned with a taser. Brutal comic book-style brawling occurs throughout the episode, with the hero breaking the arm of one thug and throwing him out of a window. Hitmen kill various people, with their dead bodies shown throughout the episode. Hitmen repeatedly attempt to kill the main female lead, with one man attempting to strangle her and the other trying to stab her with a knife. The female lead claws at the attacker’s eyes. A boy is shown being kidnapped from his father.
Language/Crude Humor: One religious profanity (the name of Jesus is taken in vain). Two mild obscenities (hell). Two scatological terms. Supporting character jokes about sex.
Sexual Content: Human trafficking is attempted, but stopped by the hero. Supporting character jokes around with the protagonist about sleeping with someone. The female lead removes her shirt to change into a dry shirt. Her bare back is shown, with a very quick glimpse of the side of her breast.
Drug/Alcohol Use: A cocaine sweatshop is shown, with blind people as the workers.
Spiritual Content: The protagonist is Catholic, and goes to a confessional booth.
Other Negative Themes: A vigilante fighting the criminal underworld.
Positive Content: Defending the innocent. Endurance.

EPISODE RECAP

Into the Ring starts with a man walking into a chaotic scene in New York City. Bystanders are at the epicenter of the chaos; an ambulance alarm rings in the background. The man pushes the bystanders out of the way, finding a young boy in the middle of the street. The young boy is his son—a young Matt Murdock. The father, Jack Murdock, bows down to his son. The father cries out for help, and tells Matt to remain still. He looks over and sees others injured in the massive car accident. An elderly man says the young Matt pushed him out of the way and saved his life.
Matt says his eyes burn. His father notices barrels of hazardous materials dripping on the street, with some of the liquid splattered across his eyes. The sight of the young boy fades, with the last image being his father comforting him. The boy begins to shout he can’t see repeatedly, as ambulance alarms continue to blare.
As an adult, Matt sits in a confessional booth talking about his dad. His father was a boxer: He could take a punch and would get knocked down, but he would always get back up. Matt remembers when his dad got hit, he would snap. Matt’s grandma used to say that his father had the Devil inside him. When his dad got angry in the ring, he would corner the other boxer and “let the Devil out”. Matt didn’t understand his father as a young boy. The priest asks if Matt understands now. Matt says he’s not seeking penance for what he’s done, nor asking forgiveness for what he’s going to do. The priests says that is not how this works, and asks what Matt is going to do.
FIRST FIGHT
At night at an industrial dock, men attempt to throw three women into a shipping container for the purpose of human trafficking. The main man, Turk Barrett, tells them to be quiet, noting their costs. He says if they are quiet, they’ll get a bucket; if not, he will stun them with a taser. Turk does stun one of them, and the other thugs throw them into the shipping container. One thug supervises, sitting in a chair and eating.
Turk tells the women to scream all they want, because no one will hear them. As he begins to mock them, a blindfolded man in black stands on one of the shipping containers behind Turk, overlooking everything. Turk laughs, but the women catch the man in black behind him, causing him to turn around. This man in black is Daredevil, albeit before his official name and suit proper. Daredevil jumps down and tackles Turk. Other thugs come to fight the vigilante, but Daredevil beats them in hand-to-hand combat.
Daredevil breaks one of the thug’s legs. Turk pulls out a gun and begins shooting at the mysterious hero. Turk creeps around the shipping containers, keeping an eye out for his enemy. Daredevil suddenly ricochets a steel beam off the trailer and knocks out Turk. He also throws it at the man in the chair, knocking him into the water.
Daredevil finds the women and tells them to the flag down the first policeman they find and to stay in the light. Turk tries to shoot Daredevil again, but the vigilante tackles and beats him brutally.
INTRODUCING FOGGY AND KAREN
The next morning, Foggy Nelson, Matt’s fellow lawyer and best friend, wakes Matt up with a phone call. As Foggy walks the streets of New York, he says Matt needs to meet the real estate agent soon. Foggy starts talking about the possibility of Matt sleeping with the paralegal. Foggy stops the phone call to talk to an old friend who is a policeman. He gives the policeman a bag of cigars for his mother, in exchange for any information on interesting leads.
Later, the real estate agent guides Foggy through the office of their law firm; Matt enters and introduces himself to the real estate agent. Matt asks her to guide him through the office space. After a conversation, Matt says he’ll take the offer, but Foggy is apprehensive. Foggy and Matt discuss the direction of their law firm. Foggy argues as defense attorneys, they won’t be able to keep the lights on with the nature of their clientele. Nevertheless, they put an offer down and move in that day.
In an apartment, a woman kneels over a dead body with a knife in her hand. Blood drips from the point of a blade, covering her hands and splattered on the dead body. The police barge in, telling the woman to drop the knife; she pleads she didn’t do anything. The woman lays face down on the carpet looking into the face of the dead body, still proclaiming her innocence as the cops handcuff her.
THE FIRST CLIENT
The policeman from earlier calls Foggy, telling him about the woman. The policeman gives Foggy her name: Karen Page. Matt and Foggy enter the interrogation room where Karen is being held. The detective removes her handcuffs at Matt’s behest. Matt and Foggy then introduce themselves to Karen, also saying they may be able to help.
Karen questions who they are and who sent them. She finds it hard to believe someone is there just to help her. Matt says they are aggressively pursuing clientele. In fact, Karen is their first client. It registers with Karen they’ve never had a case before. However, she doesn’t have any money, and Matt needs more clients. Matt asks for her account of how she was found with the dead body of Daniel Fisher.
Matt asks how Karen knows Mr. Fisher, and she says they worked together at Union Allied Construction. Karen thought Daniel was nice, so she asked him out for a drink. They met at a bar and had a few drinks. Next thing Karen knew, she was in her apartment, covered in his blood. She doesn’t know what happened, and she insists she didn’t kill Daniel. Using his super hearing to listen to her heartbeat, Matt knows she’s telling the truth.
Elsewhere in New York City, Officer Clyde Farnum sits at a chess table eating a sandwich. From behind, James Wesley sits next to the off-duty officer. Clyde tells him to sit somewhere else, but Wesley repeats some large numbers—the amount of money Clyde owes Wesley’s boss. Clyde promises the boss will get the money, but Wesley says he wants to show him something.
ATTEMPTED HIT
Wesley pulls out a tablet. It shows a real-time video of Tracy, Clyde’s daughter, on a college campus. Wesley then shows a hitman is there with Tracy, unknown to her. The hitman, named Rance, waves on Wesley’s command, showing the reality of the threat. Clyde again says he will get the money. Wesley does not want the money. The boss of Wesley wants Clyde’s service in exchange for the forgiveness of the debt and Tracy’s safety. Clyde asks Wesley what he wants him to do.
In their office, Matt and Nelson discuss the Karen Page case. Matt does not believe she killed Daniel Fisher. He wonders why the police didn’t charge her already, and why this did not hit the media yet. Matt feels something is wrong. But, Foggy argues Matt does not do well with beautiful women. He notes the peculiarity of this, as Matt should not be able to see beautiful women. Foggy then asks a logical question: If Karen didn’t do it, who did? He also says while she may not be guilty, she may not be telling the truth.
In her holding cell, Karen lays on a bed. Suddenly, Officer Clyde attempts to strangle her. However, Karen manages to fight back and cry out for help. In the police station, Matt and Foggy meet with the detectives and demand they release Karen to their custody. Otherwise, they will disclose to the media how she was nearly killed in their custody. Both Foggy and Matt list other things they could legally address. Matt again demands the release of Karen and detectives agree. The detectives leave, but not before one of them threatens Matt. Matt still does not understand. He wonders if there is some evidence involved.
PROTECTING KAREN
Back at the law office, Foggy reminds Karen of the possibility of charges. Matt asks if she has somewhere to stay, and Foggy reminds them she can’t go back to her apartment. Matt asks why someone is trying to kill Karen; she knows why. As a secretary for Union Allied Construction, Karen accidentally opened an e-mail file. She noticed the extraordinary amount of the pension in the file, implying embezzlement.
When questioned, her boss said it was theoretical. Matt asks how Daniel ties into this; Karen says he was in the legal department. Karen repeats she thought Daniel was nice. She believes his killers “have people everywhere watching her”. Karen becomes hysterical, thinking she was the reason Daniel was killed. Foggy and Matt prevent her from leaving, despite Karen not wanting to put her lawyers in danger. She eventually breaks down in tears.
Then, Matt enters his apartment with Karen. She doesn’t want to kick him out of his own bedroom. But Matt notes the extremely bright lights of the sign pouring into the living room. Karen changes shirts in front of Matt, due to her’s being wet. Karen asks Matt how he became blind; he tells her it was a car accident when he was nine. He then says he remembers what it was like to see. Although trauma recovery taught him to value what he had, Matt admits to still wanting to see the sky one more time. He then asks Karen if he could ask her a few questions. Karen agrees.
DEDUCING THE CASE
Matt begins to deduce the case. He doesn’t understand why the person in charge of pension funds simply does not kill Karen. Although they tried to kill her in the jail, he doesn’t understand why they only framed her at the start. Matt figures they want to discredit her because she has something they want. In other words, evidence.
Matt then asks if Karen kept the file, but she denies it. However, Matt can hear the change in her heartbeat and knows she is lying. Karen claims the boss took the file away from her and that the IT guys cleaned out the computer. Matt does not reveal he knows the truth.
On the roof of Union Alliance Construction, several criminal heads meet, including Madame Gao, the Ranskahov brothers, and Leland Owlsley. Wesley joins them, as a substitute for his boss. The fact one of the boss’ underlings came and not himself insults the Ranskahov brothers. But, Wesley asks why they were short on the human trafficking job from earlier in the episode. The Ranskahov brothers state there was a mysterious man in black (Daredevil) that stopped them. Owlsley laughs at first, but flippantly accepts the excuse. Wesley desires to hear more, knowing his boss will be displeased. Madame Gao asks if Daredevil took the “cargo”, but the masked man released the women.
Wesley tells the Ranskahov brothers to deal with the situation quietly. But, the brothers bring up the Union Allied case and sarcastically state how that was dealt with “quietly”. After they bring up another incident, Wesley says they are handling it.
FIGHTING RANCE
Karen sneaks out of Matt’s apartment. But, Matt notices. Walking in the rain, Karen heads back to her apartment. She slips inside as the storm roars outside. She notices Daniel’s blood on her carpet. Karen then grabs the flash drive with the evidence from under a ventilation cover. Suddenly, the hitman Rance appears and knocks her down. He picks up the flash drive and pulls out a knife, preparing to kill Karen. Daredevil shows up just in time and starts fighting Rance. As Karen watches, Daredevil tosses the hitman out of the window, along with himself.
Temporarily out of commission, Matt remembers his childhood. The young Matt sleeps on the kitchen table and his father tells him to get up. Matt tells his father he’s tired, but his father tells him to continue studying. He says he never studied, which only got him a bloody face. Matt touches his father’s face, feeling the bruises. His father tells him to “get to work”, which echoes into the present.
Back in the present, Matt gets back up in the pouring rain in the alleyway. Rance comes to him and they fight again. The hitman grabs his knife, but Daredevil outmaneuvers him. Daredevil hears the clinging of chains behind him, so slight a normal person would not perceive them. He ties up the hitman with those chains and completely knocks him out. However, Daredevil is still injured and falls to the ground. Karen watches from the sidelines, completely perplexed. Daredevil grabs the flash drive from the hitman. Karen tells Daredevil he can’t tell anyone; so Daredevil says he’s going to tell everyone. Daredevil leaves Rance on the staircase of a building, apparently with evidence of the embezzled money.
CONCLUSION
The next day, Wesley rides in a limousine, reading a newspaper headline. The Union Allied Scandal is exposed. Wesley explains to his boss how they’re going to cover up all their tracks. The boss says to do nothing about Karen because everything is already in the public eye. The boss asks about Matt and Foggy, but Wesley says they are clean. But, the boss says to start a file on them.
Back at the Nelson and Murdoch firm, Karen makes a meal for Foggy and Matt. Karen recognizes the lawyers as the ones who helped her when no one else listened. The three joke around a bit, as Foggy and Matt hire Karen as the secretary for Nelson and Murdock.
Later, Matt trains in Fogwell’s Gym, ferociously striking a punching bag. Owlsley transfers funds from incriminating accounts. The boss sends a hitman to kill any connections, including Rance and Clyde. Then, a group of blinded people stuff packs of cocaine in a sweatshop. Nobu Yoshika studies the blueprint of a building. Anatoly Ranskahov and his thugs kidnap the son of a man. As Daredevil overlooks Hell’s Kitchen, he hears the cries of the boy for his dad. He pulls down his mask and prepares for another night of battle.

REVIEW

Daredevil is my dad’s favorite superhero. His preference definitely affected my own, although Spider-Man and Superman still rank higher in my mind. So, I made sure to claim my spot to review Netflix’s Daredevil.
The first episode does what it is supposed to do. It makes me want to see more. In the same way my dad influenced me, you can see the seeds of Matt Murdock’s father Jack influencing him. Into the Ring does not play out as a typical origin story. We view the freak accident that gives Matt his powers. But, the true birth of Daredevil, what happens to his father, remains for future episodes. Thus, I can assume this theme of the son carrying the sins, and even the strength, of the father will be stretched across the entire season. Hints of this can be seen in his fight with Rance and in the confessional booth with the priest.
Daredevil pulls off some really humorous lines to ease the tension. The scene where Karen figures out the firm of Nelson and Murdock has never handled a case before genuinely amused me. It also amused me that the fact Matt is able to detect beautiful women puzzles Foggy. Similarly, the teasing banter between Foggy and Matt presents the deep friendship between the two.
There are several superhero clichés. Karen is the classic love interest of the superhero. Karen as the love interest sees the protagonist as both a superhero and civilian. But, it doesn’t register with her they are the same person. Daredevil overlooks the city at night in a brooding manner. But, for the most part, these clichés are acceptable. But, one thing I didn’t understand was the thug eating in the first fight. Why was that man just sitting in a chair? That just looked weird.
THE CITIZENS OF HELL’S KITCHEN
The actors capture the characters perfectly. Charlie Cox treats the material with more gravity than Ben Affleck. Cox managed to depict both the ferocity and intelligence of Matt Murdock. For example, when Cox deduces Karen carries some evidence. The same line delivered by someone else simply would not have worked. However, when he fights the various thugs, he does not hold back, a callback to the Frank Miller interpretation of the vigilante.
I really like Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, who seems to hold a wide range. Her desperation in this first episode makes you feel sympathy for her. But, like Matt Murdock, she can be ferocious, as when she fought the corrupt officer. She does start as a damsel in distress, but she carries the potential to be much more. Knowing her unfortunate fate in the comics, I hope they keep this version of the character in the series for a while.
Elden Hansen contrasts with Charlie Cox nicely. He is more than comic relief or a sidekick; he is Matt’s best friend. I didn’t care for the first scene featuring Foggy; his delivery felt too fake. This first impression is a shame, because Foggy sounds and acts more genuine later on in this episode.
Toby Leonard Moore portrays a suave and intimidating Wesley. So far, he is right up there with Alistair Smythe from Spider-Man: The Animated Series as the right-hand man of Kingpin (yes, I went there). On that note, I appreciate the manipulation and power of the Kingpin, although he is unseen and unnamed. An interesting sidenote: when Bob Gunton first appeared on screen, I instantly knew he was the MCU incarnation of the Owl. Such casting in Daredevil as a whole testifies to the quality of the series.

Spiritual Application

The loss of parents is a common element of the superhero origin. Even in loss, the teaching of the parent (or parental figure) remains with the superhero. The most prominent example is Uncle Ben and his classic quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This maxim pushes Peter Parker to continue as Spider-Man. Matt Murdock is no different. Matt remembers the words of his father to “get to work”. This pushes him to continue fighting with Rance.
The role of the Christian parent is to teach the child the ways of God. It may not seem as dramatic as moral lessons that guide a life of vigilantism. But, the role of the parent is no less heroic. Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) says to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. The teachings of a true Christian parent are invaluable. This includes teaching both with words and action. This is not meant to say the parent is perfect; but, there at least must be consistency.
Into the Ring displays another significant trait of Matt Murdock: His helping of the poor and needy. Needless to say, this is a consistent theme throughout Scripture. Proverbs 21:13 says, whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard. Karen Page had no money. Despite this, Matt heard “the cry of the poor” in Karen. One may argue Nelson and Murdock needed clients regardless. But, they could have waited for a client with money, as Foggy initially wanted. Instead, Matt and Foggy fulfilled the proverbial call to help the poor.

The Bottom Line

The first episode of Daredevil for Netflix does what it supposed to do. It makes me want to follow the series further. I want to see more about Karen, Foggy, Wesley, and even the Owl. Even though I know the boss is the Kingpin, I want to see his reveal. And, I want to explore the backstory of Matt’s relationship with his father.

 

8.9

Armand Azamar

Armand J. Azamar is a freelance writer and artist from the Chicagoland area. Armed with the Word of God (and a love for superheroes, comic books and speculative fiction), he teaches at New Life Assembly Church and Kankakee Trinity Academy.

Leave a Reply