Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Review - 'Daredevil', S01E02 - 'Cut Man'

The first episode of Daredevil was, naturally, predominantly concerned with introducing the audience to this new, much darker, corner of Marvel's Cinematic Universe - something which did, admittedly, slow the pace of the episode as it was forced to go through the usual motions. Setting the scene in this way is, obviously, an important part of any new show - and, to its credit, Daredevil actually did handle it all rather well.

With all of that out of the way, though, this second episode is able to give us a much more focused story - and, one filled with moments of impressively tense action.

The previous episode ended with a young boy being kidnapped by Russian thugs - with the implication clearly being that rescuing the boy was going to be Matt Murdock's primary goal, here. This episode, though, opens with Matt slowly bleeding to death in a dumpster. Obviously, quite a bit happened in the time between these two events - but, the interesting choice is made not to actually show us the details. It does feel like a fairly bold move, this early on - to, essentially, skip over what would have certainly been a brutal action sequence, in that way. There's a certain level of confidence in the decision, really - as well as the suggestion that there is going to be a pay-off coming, eventually. Which, of course, turns out to be the case.

For now, though, we have a battered and bloody Matt Murdock forced to rely on the kindness of a stranger - Claire (Rosario Dawson), an off-duty nurse who had the good fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) of finding Matt before he succumbed to his wounds, and who took it upon herself to see that Matt's injuries were treated.

As some may have already expected, it turned out that the boy had been intended as little more than bait in a trap set for the masked vigilante who had been causing the criminal underworld of Hell's Kitchen so much trouble lately. In his haste to rescue the child, Matt had stumbled right into it - and, had only barely been able to escape. With the Russians still looking for him, Matt knows that a visit to a hospital is out of the question - just as he knows that Claire may have inadvertently placed herself in danger by deciding to help him. It's clearly a difficult position for Matt Murdock to find himself in. He is entirely dependent on Claire, and her medical expertise - but, does not want to put her in anymore danger than she is already in. And, to top it off, there is still the matter of the kidnapped child - who Matt is still very much determined to rescue.

Karen, meanwhile, is settling in to her role as the aspiring young firm's new receptionist. Foggy and Karen's side-plot, essentially an all-night bar crawl motivated by the fact that Karen (understandably) doesn't feel safe alone in her home after the events of the previous episode, adds warmth and humor while also given both characters more room to develop. It is also an episode that firmly establishes Foggy as a worthy partner for Matt Murdock. He may have come across as a little overly concerned with money in the previous episode - though, that was clearly only driven by the need to run a successful business in order to support themselves. Here, Foggy comes across as a man as earnest in his desire to do something good as Matt - just, maybe, one who is a little more concerned with more practical matters.

This is a fantastic episode - one that even manages to improve on the already impressive opening to the season. Matt and Claire's story is tense and dramatic, while Foggy and Karen's story adds humour and genuine warmth - and, most importantly, the two separate story-lines balance each other perfectly. And, of course, it all culminates in one of the best action sequences that I can ever recall seeing outside of a major film, as clever camera-work and impressive choreography combine to great effect. If there is any chance that the first episode left you still uncertain about whether Daredevil would be worth you time, this episode should be more than able to prove that it definitely is.

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