Daredevil Episode 5 Review: The "World on Fire"

I'm still reeling from one of the most gruesome scenes I've seen on T.V. in a long time. I mean, Fisk took his damn head clean off. I'm so enamored with the dichotomy of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. 

On one hand, he's the "Kingpin" of Hell's Kitchen, literally controlling everything behind the scenes. On the other hand, he's this off-balance, social misfit, who's in way over his head with anything that's refined, yet honest and almost dare-I-say, "innocent."

What in the hell has happened to this guy to make him such an outcast, yet intrinsically such a brutal and psychotic, sociopathic thug?

Either way, I'm all in.

Now Fisk declares absolute war on the Russians, by killing the "thoughtful" brother Anatoly, and even worse, just decimating him. It made Daredevil and Page/Urich's hunt for Fisk seem almost secondary to this story.

But it's not.

What can't be lost in this chaos of darkness is that Charlie Day is a scintillating Daredevil, but an even better Matt Murdock. My favorite scenes with him in this series were the ones with Rosario Dawson's Claire. He's allowed to blend the character into two, and it's breathless.

I'm curious to see where these two are going.

Let's find out. There are full spoilers below, so read at your own risk:

"I've done things that I'm not proud of. I've hurt people, and I'm going to hurt more. It's impossible to avoid for what I'm trying to do, but I take no pleasure in cruelty...the city crumbles and fades. It needs to crumble before it should be...reborn."

What I've loved most about Marvel's Daredevil has been the subtle storytelling that helps counterbalance the in-your-face brutality. The show is sometimes cringe-worthy, but because of the darkness, not lack of storytelling. These characters are interesting, and they are showing us a story, without having to spell it out.

How they've handled Murdock/Daredevil's powers has been utterly brilliant up to this point. They've shown us glimpses of what he can do, that literally parallels his actual abilities, through the first four episodes. It's not until the fifth episode, that Murdock finally details his abilities to some extent.

"You just opened one of the cuts on your back...I taste copper in the air." Claire is staying at Matt's apartment, and recovering from her torturous time spent with the Russians, and the blind lawyer notes this as he's making her breakfast.

For a Daredevil aficionado of sorts, even I thought this was cool. Murdock doesn't stop there.
"I guess you have to think of it as more than just five senses. I can't see, not like everyone else, but I can feel. Things like balance...direction...microchanges in air density, vibrations, blankets of temperature variations. Mix all that with what I hear, subtle smells...all of the fragments form a sort of...impressionistic painting...a world on fire..."
That's just solid writing, and as I suspected, the opening credit showcases a bit of that impressionistic painting. Matt and Claire share a kiss here, which feels right story-wise, but is interesting that this is completely outside the realm of the Daredevil comic book. I'm really not sure where this is going, and ultimately, what Karen Page plays in all of this, but I like it. They fit together.

We see more of these senses later in the episode when Murdock happens to be at the precinct when 
Blake and Hoffman are interrogating one of the Russians. He overhears the Russian sharing Wilson Fisk's name, the Blake and Hoffman discussing whose turn it was to kill him. Murdock could do nothing, and Cox played it so well. I hope his performance doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

In true Daredevil fashion, he ultimately hands Blake his ass later in this episode.

I haven't talked much about Toby Leonard Moore as Wesley, Fisk's right hand man, but how he sat in that car while Fisk flattened Anatoly's head was borderline hilarious, in particular as his face got splattered with blood and brain-matter. The fact that he tossed Fisk his handkerchief to wipe his face, while ignoring his own, made me audibly laugh.

This is a guy who is as in Fisk's corner as you can get. I don't know that their friends, but he is innately in-tune with Kingpin, and there's a compelling story behind it, I'm sure. I hope they get to this. Fisk calls him his friend later in this episode, and I'm not sure that it's a definition that Wesley would share. They are co-workers, and it's clear they respect each other, but it's the closest person to Fisk...but it doesn't make him a true friend.

Vanessa should be afraid.

I mention Wesley only because surprisingly, he shows up to the Russians when Anatoly's body shows up. I couldn't quite figure it out, since it appeared as though Fisk was set to goto war with the mobsters. Then they pulled the mask off of Anatoly. Solid.

There's more outstanding camera work in the next Daredevil siting, as a cab pulls up to a drug drop. The Camera, in the back, begins to spin while the Japanese smuggler is singing a rather catchy tune. as it spins to the front, Daredevil is standing in the front of the car. It spins past DD, and rolls to the singer. It then rolls back to the front of the car and spins to the back as the Russians come out.

Enter Daredevil, who kicks the hell out of the Russians, looking for Vladimir, only to find that he was framed for Anatoly's death.

The secondary story of this entire episode is built for Foggy and Karen Page, when Nelson and Murdock take on a slumlord case against the firm they interned for, and who offered them jobs. Two pretty outstanding pieces come out of this. 

First, Foggy hands his ex-girlfriend her ass, who is working at that former firm. "Foggy-Bear" killed it, and also showed us that he's more than just funny. He's more than a good lawyer, and chose not to work for a large firm. He wants to make money, but he's pure at heart. This was fun to watch.

The lady whose case they picked up later makes both Page and Foggy dinner, and they have their first "date." Foggy and Karen are about to spend a moment "Murdock-ing," feeling each other's faces, when the excitement really begins.

I'll get to that in a minute.

Beneath the violence that this episode is leading to, are three compelling relationships. Murdock and Claire share the kiss, but it seems over when DD goes after Vladimir, and she tells him she can't be with someone who is turning into what he hates. He agrees. Foggy and Karen are clearly about to have a moment, and Fisk and Vanessa have a second date in which he essentially spells out his plans to destroy Hell's Kitchen, in order to make it better.

Then, the bombs go off at all the main Russian locations. Daredevil and Vladimir are at one, and both are nearly killed. Another goes off next to wear Foggy and Page are, and both are hurt. In the meantime, Vanessa watches the explosions, and is nearly "moved" by all this.

The finesse of the relationship are fantastic.

The episode ends with Daredevil attacking Vladmir, who's trying to escape, before the police roll in.

Daredevil is trapped. Foggy and Karen are in trouble, and Fisk's plan is coming to fruition.

Where does this go from here? I can't wait to find out. this is a show that keeps getting better.
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