Friday, 20 November 2015

Review - 'Daredevil', S01E13 - 'Daredevil'

And, so, we reach the final episode of the first season of Daredevil. The one where Matt Murdock finally takes on his new superhero persona - and, the one where Wilson Fisk finally becomes the true 'Kingpin'.

The thing that has always been so fascinating about Wilson Fisk, throughout the season, is that he did genuinely seems to be believed that was he was doing was for the good of Hell's Kitchen - it was just that, for obviously reasons, most others would disagree. It was this, as much as anything, that made him into such a fascinatingly complex figure. As well as that, there was all the character's clear loneliness, and sense of isolation - and, the clear indication that the love that has grown between Wilson and Vanessa throughout the season is, actually, very genuine. It was this, more than anything, that made him such an oddly sympathetic character. Honestly, having Wilson Fisk frantically trying to propose to Vanessa while in the process of being arrested for his crimes managed to be both funny and sad - funny because it was such an absurd moment, but sad because it seemed to indicated that something that he had come to value was coming to an end. But, of course, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ben Urich's death at the end of the previous episode was brutal (and, also, very surprising, given the character's history in the comic-books) - but, it also felt like a bit of a waste. Urich had always been a charismatic presence on the show, who had never really been put to very good use. It's a genuine shame that his best moment come with his death. He did, admittedly, have some genuinely touching moments with his sick wife - and, he became the dispenser of good advice for Karen, to whom he had become something of a mentor. He was also the first person to do any real damage to Fisk's criminal empire, with the article that he had published back in the season's first episode. But, with all of that being said, his sudden death did have the feel of a cheap ploy meant to inject a little extra drama in the final episode - especially considering his role as an underused side character.

Regardless of how I might feel about his death, though, it was good to see it become the catalyst the finally unites Matt, Karen, and Foggy in their efforts to stop Fisk. And, they get their opportunity to strike against him, directly, soon enough, when Matt learns that Detective Hoffman (Daryl Edwards) a corrupt police officer who had vanished earlier in the season, was actually still in the city. He was alive and well, and under Owlsley's protection - intended as the main bargaining chip in Owlsley's attempts to blackmail Fisk. But, with Owlsley dead, it is only a matter of time until Fisk tracks him down. So, it becomes a race to see who can get to him, first - a race which Matt, ultimately, wins.

So, we are barely half-way into the episode, and already Fisk's criminal empire has been brought crashing down. Fearing for his own life, Hoffman sees testifying against Fisk as the only way that he can ensure his own safety - and, it turns out, he also happens to have a detailed list of everyone currently being paid off, in some capacity, by Fisk (it's also, as we see from the sequence of arrests, an impressively long, and varied, list). Fisk, himself, is also arrested - but, of course, the Kingpin has a back-up plan.

With Fisk promptly escaping from custody, Matt is left with little alternative but to finally claim the suit of body armour that had been made for him - finally taking on the identity of 'Daredevil' as he sets out for a tense, if somewhat conventional, confrontation between 'hero' and 'villain'.

And, so, the season comes to an end exactly how the audience probably imagined it would - in a fantastic action sequence in which Daredevil's speed is measured against the Kingpin's brute strength. It does, admittedly, lack a bit of the polish of some of the season's previous action sequences - but, it still feels like a fitting way to end things.

With much of the character drama already played out in previous episodes, though, the season's final episode is left with little to focus on but the spectacle of Daredevil's confrontation with the Kingpin - meaning that this final episode simply wasn't as dramatic or as emotional as some of what we have already seen. So, unfortunately, the final episode of the first season of Daredevil did feel like a bit of a let-down, to some extent. There were still high-lights, though.

One element that stood out as particularly interesting, to me, was the fact that it was Wilson Fisk seeing his efforts to do the 'right thing' (as he saw it, at least) fall apart around him that was the true catalyst of him becoming the Kingpin. It's an idea that I just happen to find very interesting. Wilson Fisk was never a good man. But, he believed that he was - and, now, that's gone. Even if later appearances cast the Kingpin in a much more traditionally villainous role, he will always have this early sympathetic treatment as the basis of Vincent D'Onofrio's portrayal. And, as this episode also makes very clear, he will always have Vanessa.

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