'Daredevil' recap: 'Stick'
While the past few episodes have been able to balance Matt’s shenanigans as Daredevil with Foggy and Karen’s decidedly less-super antics, the two are beginning to diverge—at least in terms of interest level. In this seventh episode, we have a thrilling storyline for Matt as he reunites with his crazy-ass mentor… while Karen, Foggy, and Ben stand around trying to figure out what we and Matt already know. There’s no mystery to make these scenes compelling, so much so that it’s kind of hard to avoid thinking, “When are these guys going to catch up to the good stuff?”
But I wasn’t bored at all by the cold open in Japan, with Stick making a hell of an entrance. At first, we see a man running through the stairwell of an office building, so that he can beat the elevator to his floor and grab a gun from his office. The problem is that when the elevator finally does arrive, the guy fires off an entire clip before checking to see if anyone was even standing in the doorway. Turns out no one was… but there was a blind swordsman standing three feet to the side of the highly concentrated bullet spray. That kind of rookie mistake is going to cost a guy a hand and his head, but not before revealing where something called “Black Sky” is going. Whatever it is is going to New York, and that’s where the swordsman is heading.
Oh, and he’s played by muthaf–kin’ Scott Glenn!
Back in Hell’s Kitchen, everyone is still reeling from the explosions, which are now widely considered to have been a terrorist attack on the part of the masked man. Everyone is reacting differently: Foggy, for instance, wants to punch his own partner in the face. Matt maintains that the guy deserves a fair trial, and suggests that the face under the mask is probably a handsome one. (“You can just tell by the bone structure,” he [never actually] says.) Karen, remembering the time that Daredevil saved her ass, doesn’t buy the “terrorist” story and leaves to continue her quest against Union Allied. But before she does that, she has to turn Foggy down when he asks her out to play softball. The refusal spurs a bro-to-bro moment after she leaves, and Matt admits to Foggy, himself, and all of us that he thinks things are over with Claire. I wonder if anyone else has the hots for Matt?
Oh, if only Matt’s problems were limited to dating! But he has some Daredevilin’ to do. Leland Owlsley has arranged to meet with Nobu at one of Hell’s Kitchen’s seemingly infinite sketchy gathering places to discuss the cargo the Japanese crime boss has coming into the docks. Owlsley knows it’s something important and wants in, but Nobu’s just like, “Nah, dude. Bye.” That’s Matt’s cue to sneak up and say “Hey. How’s it going? Oh, and are you, like, working for Wilson Fisk?” Owlsley doesn’t bend under pressure and is even cool enough to stick Matt with a stun gun and drive away after some noise distracts the hero. The commotion came from Stick, Matt’s former instructor, who happens to have some terrible timing.
Time for another flashback. It’s been a few episodes, and this is the one we’ve been waiting for. Young Matt is blind and orphaned after the death of his father, and the nuns taking care of him don’t know how to managed his hyper-sensitivity. With Matt’s father gone and his mother being “another story” (what’s that about, by the way?), the sisters have turned to Stick to see if he can teach the boy. Outside, the mentor begins with some harsh words over an ice cream cone: nobody feels sorry for you. Damn, dude. Hopefully this is some kind of extreme teaching method. And that’s what it appears to be, as Matt begins to identify things around him like the dog he knows is hungry. Stick explains that the only way he’ll be able to thrive in the world is to take it by its throat, and that he needs to prepare for a vaguely defined war that’s coming. Which is a pretty ominous thing for Matt to ignore.
NEXT: Matt makes some jewelry
For as bad as he is at connecting the dots of an organized crime syndicate, Ben Urich does make a pretty good point to Karen about Daredevil. When she insists that the masked man couldn’t be in cahoots with the criminal network, the journalists asks how she knows that Matt was in her apartment to protect her and not just to kick the crap out of Rancer. The line of questioning is intriguing, but all Karen cares about is making her city safe again.
Matt, the man charged with doing just that, has some hard questions of his own to ask Stick—like “Why did you abandon me 20 years ago?” and “Why did you reappear all of the sudden to criticize my apartment and the fact that I’m attracted to women?”
Questioning soon gives way to punching. Punching gives way to armbars and an armbar-related flashback. Under the tutelage of Stick, young Matt is getting good at karate, but he’s definitely less good at absolving himself of his father’s murder. I guess the series was always going to do a “it was my fault” moment; I’m just glad it was over quickly.
Flashing back to the present-day armbar, Matt is finally able to reverse his master’s move and free himself. Impressed with the progress that his pupil has made, Stick invites Matt to come break up the Yakuza with him at the docks and destroy whatever this Black Sky thing might be. According to Stick, it’s a weapon that Matt doesn’t want coming ashore in New York. Matt’s in as long as Stick doesn’t kill anybody, a policy that strikes the sensei as naive. How can Daredevil possibly provoke real change, Stick argues, without spilling some blood? But that would make Matt too much like Fisk, something that he can’t have happen. Stick agrees to not take anybody out, and the two head for the docks.
The rest of Foggy and Karen’s storyline this episode is almost entirely negligible ,aside from the really awesome reversal when the old lady with the busted apartment asks about the handsome lawyer. “Oh, Matt?” Nope! And all at once Karen’s feelings on the Foggy vs. Matt situation are laid bare. It certainly isn’t bad timing for Foggy to come to the rescue outside when two of the landlord’s thugs attack, and I do like that Karen gets in the last shot with her pepper spray. The subplot ends with Karen fessing up to her private investigations and her partnership with Ben, so now all three of them can stare at playing cards together.
Remember that whole “Don’t kill anyone, Stick” thing from about five minutes ago? Well, Stick doesn’t, because after Matt does his job and knocks about twelve of Nobu’s men at the docks, the blind master pulls out his really cool, secret bow. The very dangerous Black Sky turns out to be nothing more than a little kid, one that Stick is dead set on killing. Matt has no choice but to do a sick flip and deflect Stick’s arrow. The thing knicks the kid, but he’s able to make an escape, triggering another flashback for Matt and revealing the cuteness that brought an end to his lessons. Apparently, all you have to do to get Stick off your back for 20 years is give him a bracelet made out of the ice cream wrapper from your first meeting. No matter how much Stick trained him, Matt is still too emotionally pure, a trait that has no place in the oncoming war.
In the present, master and student meet up back at Matt’s apartment to have a punchy chat about what went down at the docks. And Stick has a surprise. Guess what? He caught up with Black Sky while Matt was busy with the dudes on the docks, and killed him. The news is enough to start another fight between the two, but Matt has the upper hand this time. He tells Stick to get out of his city, to which his master replies, “It was nice catching up. You can keep the sticks. You’re going to need them.”
The episode’s coda was more than a little unexpected. Stick stands before a mystery man—and we know it’s a mystery man because his voice is deep and we only see his back. They discuss the fate of Black Sky and whether Matt will “be ready when the doors open,” but Stick has as much of an idea as we do.
What the hell are they talking about? Let’s keep going!
Matt Murdock, the blind superhero, gets his own television show via Netflix.