Daredevil Episode 2 Review: Daredevil finds his "Cut Man"

It's not easy writing these reviews. As I noted in my first review of Marvel's Daredevil, this is a character that I've grown up with over the past 35 years. With Batman, a known commodity, history is on the side of anyone who writes about him. With Daredevil, for the non-fans out there, the first visage of the red-garbed vigilante is likely the Ben Affleck movie from 2003. I'll talk about that movie at some point, and while I'm not as down on it as most, it's not the essence of Daredevil.

This isn't Ben Affleck's movie.

The first episode was special. It was something that aspired to be MORE than a just superhero TV, and in the end, was a smashing success.

They set the bar high for episode two and beyond... are going to get read with care...
It's not how you hit the mat, it's how you get up...
It's hard to believe that Marvel's Daredevil could step up their game after the series premiere, "Into the Ring," but it did just that with episode two's "Cut Man." It's clear that this series was well-planned from the start, and the fact that it's climbing to something important at the end of this first arc is only muffled by the crescendos that are taking place rapidly within each early episode.

Today's T.V. is often inundated with stories that too often unwrap their secrets far too early. Daredevil is clearly not taking this path, as episode one left several questions both not answered, and in some cases, not asked.

The bonus of a 13-episode arc is that speed is not an issue, and it's clear that Episode One was more about setting a tone and a tempo, than it was answering questions. Yet, it worked extremely well as an origin story. We saw the launching points of both Matt Murdock the lawyer and Daredevil, Hell's Kitchen's vigilante. Through flashbacks, we met Daredevil's father, saw his close relationship with his son, and also found out how Murdock was blinded, and presumably acquired his hyper-senses.

Balancing out that brilliant storytelling were several questions yet answered, not to mention, characters that didn't make a physical appearance. Imagine that, leaving the viewer something to look forward to.

While Kingpin was clearly a presence all throughout the first episode, we have yet to meet Wilson Fisk, Daredevil's primary baddy. Yet, he was there, from the start. Again, this is the subtlety that adds the depth to the story. For the comic book vets, Fisk is clearly the tie that seemingly binds the Human Trafficers at the beginning of the story with the Russian Mobsters and the Japanese Drug Dealers we meet later (and seriously, how eerie were those Japanese drug packagers in the montage at the end of episode one, with burns similar to the nine-year old Murdock in a first ep flashback...a nice twist). Turk's there as well, for those familiar with the comic version.

For those that haven't read the books, that common tie is still there, but the anticipation of when we get to see the straw that stirs the drink is alive and well throughout episode two.

While the Kingpin's rather large shadow is the darkness in every corner of Hell's Kitchen, there are still many more questions that still needed fine-tuning, but it's that subtle-ness that completely counterbalances the in your face physicality of both the setting and the content.

Which brings us to Episode Two.

At the end of "Into the Ring," Murdock's Daredevil sets off to locate a kidnapped boy, stolen from his father and thrown into a white van. It's a story that clearly hits home to the lawyer/vigilante, as we saw brief glimpses of a son's pride in his father in those short flashback scenes throughout episode one. This relationship is further explored in episode two, and the answers to several questions slowly start to unwind.

While the first episode gives us a taste of Charlie Cox as both Murdock and Daredevil, Episode Two is all about Daredevil. Episode One also gave a precursor that this Daredevil, newly minted into vigilante-ism, was still rough around the edges. While clearly a highly skilled fighter with super-senses that aren't quite spelled out yet, he takes as many lumps as he gives.

Daredevil begins "Cut Man" laying, seemingly close to death, in a dumpster in a dark, Hell's Kitchen alley.  The Russians who were in charge of the human trafficking ring that we met in the first episode, had laid a trap for the masked crusader with the kidnapping. Thanks to the clandestine meeting on the skeleton of a building that's being rebuilt by United Allied Corporation, we now know that this Crime Syndicate is large, and they don't want anyone messing with their plans.

Daredevil is saved from the dumpster when Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) finds him and takes him upstairs to her apartment to tend to his wounds. This scene triggers three different story arcs, told brilliantly through flashbacks and cutaway scenes.

Foggy Nelson and Karen Page:

This story arc is the sidebar to the episode, and showcases Page and Nelson's growing relationship. Page is afraid of returning home, thanks to a bloodstained rug and the threat of someone perhaps still trying to kill her.

Foggy and Page spend the episode bouncing from the office, to a bar, to Murdock's apartment, and through the streets of Hell's Kitchen. It's clear that this relationship is going to be given some depth, and while this storyline doesn't appear to be important, the fact that it was buried into a fairly amazing Daredevil arc tells me that it's going to come into play through the next eleven episodes.

They've created Foggy as an incredibly likely character, and while he's constantly seeking ways to make money, is clearly on the right side of the law. I'm sure Page will play a part in the lawyers' friendships at some point.

Karen Page has always been a derisive character, and my guess is that it's not going to be any different here. They cast Deborah Ann Woll for Page, of True Blood fame, and I immediately thought, "This is going to be tasty."

She was much too country-good in this episode. I can't wait to see how this relationship develops, and how a potential unrequited triangle develops with her, Foggy and eventually Murdock.

Matt Murdock and his father, Battlin' Jack Murdock:

At the tail end of the first episode, Murdock enters an old boxing gym, and begins hitting the hell out of the heavy back. In the foreground, we are treated to a neat sign that shows Carl "Crusher" Creel vs. Battlin' Jack Murdock. It's the same Carl Creel that is the Absorbing Man, who appears in a recent Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode. It also foreshadows Episode Two of Daredevil.

The focus of this relationship is to show that Dad is constantly pushing Matt to work hard and get out of the Kitchen. It's clear that Matt is smart, and showcases this while he's learning Braille.

On the flip side of this, Dad is a boxer that is clearly throwing fights to take care of his son. You can tell that he's frustrated by this, but it fits the type of father he is. While it's a crooked line of work, Jack loves his son, and will do anything for him.

Ultimately, he pays the final price when he goes on the take to lose to Creel, then changes his mind, bets all his money on himself, and puts the money in his son's name. Jack wins the fight, and is shot and killed on the way out.

In a great scene, Matt "sees" his Dad win the fight at home, and Jack finally hears the Murdock name chanted in the crowd after the fight. Matt hears the gunshot, and runs to the scene of the crime, where he finds his dead father.

It's also in these scenes where we see Murdock battling with his heightened senses, including his hearing.

Matt Murdock and Claire Temple:

This relationship is going to be fun to watch. Temple (with the help of a friend Santino), helps Daredevil upstairs, and helps save his life a couple of times, complete with rubber gloves, and tools of the trade. It turns out she's a nurse at an Emergency Room, and she saw first-hand, the help that a black garbed man offered the citizens of Hell's Kitchen.

Great placement for those wondering why in the hell she didn't call the police.

It's also interesting to note that she unmasked Murdock, and therefore knows who he is.

He slowly starts to unwrap his powers, in an almost humorous way. She knows immediately that he is blind, because his eyes don't dilate. He smells someone coming, from several floors below, because of his bad cologne. When that "cop" comes to the door, he can tell he's lying via his heartbeat, and then plunks him in the head with a fire extinguisher in a stairwell, just by sensing where he was.

Ultimately, Daredevil takes the Russian up to the roof, and tortures him until he finds out where the boy is. He asks Claire where the nerve endings are in a man's eye, and then uses a knife to hit those endings. When the man still won't talk, he threatens him by holding him over the edge of the building.

Daredevil gets his location, and then throws the man over the edge anyways. He lands in the same trash bin he was in to start the show, and survives, but wow...such fantastic brutality.

The ending fight scene:

I can honestly say this is the best televised fight scene that I've ever witnessed that was MADE for television, and Daredevil really shows his mettle here.

A long hallway is shown prior to the fight, with several Russians both watching over the kidnapped boy, and waiting for Daredevil to show up. There are two side doors in that hallway, with several men in both, and a door at the end of the hallway, where the boy is.

A Russian man takes food down the length of the hallway, and we can hear the crying boy. We see both rooms, full of at least four men each.

With both doors closed, the camera then creeps back to the other side of the hallway...where a resolute Daredevil, with his hands wrapped up, like a fighters' hands prior to a fight, walks into frame. Nothing says "bad things are about to happen" more than this shot. I was nearly giddy with anticipation, since there was nearly six minutes left in the episode.

The camera walked with him slowly, and into the first room he goes, in which the door shuts, until a man comes crashing through, and then another comes from the other room and gets hit by, you guessed it, a microwave, before another guy comes flying out.

This is the fight you were always waiting for. You know that question you have after every filmed fight scene, "what happens if these guys get up a again?"

Well, these guys get up again, and a war weary Murdock pummels, and gets pummeled, in a fight that you almost think will never end. Murdock falls into the second room after taking out the last guy for at least a second time, then gets up, staggers to the back door, and rescues the boy and walks out with him in his arms to the closing credits.
"Let me get you home to your Dad..."
You'd be hard-pressed to see a better scene on T.V.

What an episode.

Will we get to meet "The Kingpin" in episode three?

Will the flashbacks kick to Stick?

Can it possibly get any better than this?
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