'Daredevil' recap: 'Speak of the Devil'
Ninja fight! Ninja fight! Ninja fight!
As I mentioned in the previous recap, there’s a growing interest gap between what Matt Murdoch is doing — both in his day-time persona and as the mysterious masked man of Hell’s Kitchen — and how his co-workers Karen and Foggy spend their days. While I always appreciate giving due time to non-super character emotions, with this ninth episode, I just. couldn’t. care. about Foggy blaming himself for the death of Mrs. Cardenas. That story is framed by Daredevil’s really badass fight with a freaking ninja. How could anyone possibly get wrapped up in Foggy’s plight? It’s appropriate that during this episode, the priest tells Matt there’s a wide gap between inaction and murder. How wide? About the difference between my interest in Matt and Foggy.
So speaking of the excellent fight between Matt and the masked red ninja, “Speak of the Devil” throws us head first into the bloody battle. This tango is rough, and we’re not talking about a fight with Stick here. The former father figure was never trying to maim Daredevil like we see the red ninja do in the opening moments. The ninja uses his bladed weapon (which is called a “kyoketsu-shoge”) to tear Matt apart, and we begin to wonder how many black long-sleeve tees the lawyer has back at his place.
But we’re going to have to wait for the rest of this fight, as the majority of the episode is a flashback working its way up to the showdown. Long before then, Matt makes another trip to church, a visit the priest there wasn’t sure would even happen. The prodigal son wants to finally take the priest up on his latte offer from the first episode because he has a question on his mind. Does the devil exist? The inquiry has some obvious significance to Matt’s current struggle, and the priest tells him how he sees it with a story about his work in Rwanda during the genocide. The answer leads to the real question weighing on Matt’s head: If you could kill the devil, would you?
That’s really the heart of Matt’s struggle. He wants to rid the city of evil like Fisk, but making that kind of lasting change would mean offing some dudes, something that the Kingpin is known for. How can he defeat his enemy without resorting to his enemy’s tactics? It’s an interesting question for a superhero to ask, and there’s a reason Daredevil is not the only one asking it. But I do think that Matt’s deep Catholic roots differentiate him enough from Batman to the point where these dilemmas feel new.
For the most part, Matt has to consider the option of straight-up killing Fisk because Karen, Foggy and Ben’s effort to bring him down through legitimate channels is turning up a series of dead ends. The reporter comes to the office in the aftermath of Fisk’s big coming out party to wallow in their failure. He thinks the story could be dead now that everyone loves Fisk, but there’s still a chance that the intel he received from the masked man could connect some of their dots. There’s a cute moment here as Ben meets Matt (knowingly) for the first time, and the lawyer appears to be acting extra blind. According to Matt, the documents he gave Ben as Daredevil won’t do them any good unless they find more legitimate sources. A potential thread appears as it’s revealed that most of Fisk’s income comes from Confederated Global, the conglomerate that originally tried to keep Matt and Foggy on retainer, and the parent company of Westmeier-Holt, the company that hired Tully’s thugs.
Meanwhile, Fisk and Wesley are busy attempting to tie up the loose ends that the good guys are desperately trying to find. This includes the missing Hoffman, the dirty cop who killed his partner for the Kingpin. All of this trouble has caused quite the headache for Nobu, who busts in asking for the block of Hell’s Kitchen he was promised, the one currently housing Mrs. Cardenas. To speed the process, Fisk asks for Nobu’s help in taking care of the masked man through ninja-centric means.
NEXT: One of the series’ best scenes… and it’s about art.
We find out exactly what Fisk’s plan for getting Mrs. Cardenas out of her building is when the old lady shows up at Matt and Foggy’s office. Apparently, Fisk has doubled his previous buy-out offer, which actually sounds like a pretty cool move to me. (Are we sure this guy’s the villain?) Matt thinks she should take the deal, until Foggy and Karen convince him otherwise. (That was a mistake.) The change of heart inspires him to go find one of the people that stood by Fisk’s side as he stepped into the spotlight.
Matt meets Vanessa at the art gallery, under the pretense of looking to buy a painting, and I really like their scene together. The repartee between Charlie Cox and Ayelet Zurer is so good that I wish there was a lot more of it, but that’s mostly because the two are so great on their own. Things only get better once D’Onofrio shows up, and the show’s three strongest characters are hanging out in one room. The awesomeness must be too much for Matt though, because not long after Fisk waltz’s in and recognizes the lawyer he tried to hire, Matt’s all like, “Gotta go. Bye.”
Having escaped his first official run-in with Fisk, Matt heads to the church to continue his theological conversation with the priest about the Kingpin. Now that he knows that Fisk has someone he loves and someone who loves him, how could he possibly kill the man? The priest wisely tells Matt that looking for that kind of scapegoat was the exact reason he went to find Vanessa in the first place, and for a brief moment, he’s off the idea of killing to take down the Kingpin. That is until Mrs. Cardenas dies.
According to the official report, a junkie probably stabbed Mrs. Cardenas in the hallway of her building, but Matt thinks otherwise. Her death removes the last obstacle Fisk had in his way. There’s no chance that it was anyone other than him, so Matt goes on a rage tour, tracking down Mrs. Cardenas’ murderer through a trail of drugs. He spares the man who did the deed, but the path leads Matt straight into a ninja fight.
Something noteworthy from the very start of the excellent fight scene: Nobu references the crazy old man, Stick, who taught Matt in “our ways.” (This will most definitely tie back to the mystery man that the blind mentor answered to two episodes ago.) From there, Matt and Nobu have a really nasty throwdown, in which the Japanese crime boss pretty much kicks Daredevil’s ass until the very last moment, when Nobu steps in the wrong pool of liquid, under the wrong lamp. As far as immolations go, that one was pretty dope.
Fisk arrives on the scene just after the fight, to find Daredevil very badly hurt. So what does he do? He hurts him some more. It’s the first time we’ve seen the two come to blows, but the beating only goes in one direction. Fisk’s strength is far too much for the bleeding superhero to handle, so Matt takes a dive out the window and into the river. But don’t worry, he’s able to make it back to his apartment, where Foggy finds him.
Ugh, Foggy’s not going to handle this well, is he?