New series alert! Netflix, in all their mighty wisdom, has seen fit to produce the hour-long drama featuring your favorite blind lawyer turned vigilante, Daredevil. So I, your humble recap-tress, have signed up to handle weekly recaps of the show (hoping against hope that it’s better than the Ben Affleck
train wreck film, and that Affleck will be a better Wayne than he was a Murdock, but I digress)!
I know many of you have already seen every episode because I’m sure you love binging on Netflix original programming as much as I do. BUT! For those who will scrounge up the will power to wait and watch one episode each week, I’m here for you, and I’ll have a recap of one episode for you every Saturday. Now, on to episode one!
Young Mattie Murdock learns the price of altruism as the series opens. He’s been involved in a traffic accident of some sort and his father, Jack, is rushing to his side. It becomes clearer that several vehicles were involved in the accident and a shipment of barrels containing…some sort of chemical…were spilled into the street. And one of the spillages got in Mattie’s eyes. As he begs to know what happened and a man tells Jack that Mattie pushed him out of the way of the accident, Matt’s vision fades out entirely and he loses his sight forever.
As an adult, Matt goes to confession. He speaks about his father’s boxing fame: Jack Murdock, aka, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, was an expert at taking a beating. Jack was so good that he could often wait out his opponent’s stamina, taking hits along the way, until they fell. Matt recalls that he didn’t understand the his father’s feelings in those moments of retaliation when he was young and tells the priest that he’s not looking for rosaries to count or “Hail Marys” to chant, he wants forgiveness for what he’s about to do.
Which is poke his nose where it doesn’t belong, natch. Matt turns up on a dock late one night dressed in black with a mask covering his head and eyes. From the top of a shipping container, he sees three men preparing to kidnap a group of young women in an unfortunately familiar scene of sex slave trafficking. Just as the women are being literally prodded into a shipping container, Matt leaps down and delivers the goods. He knocks one of the men down and, with his heightened hearing, hears the second guy approach and takes him out, too. A third guy joins the fight and gets his leg broken for it, and the first gets his second wind and finds a gun. As Matt releases the women (why exactly haven’t they run away yet?), he pummels the first guy with heavy lefts and rights and we’re getting a lot of awesome showings of Matt Murdock’s trademark kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu-centered fighting style.
Foggy Nelson, Matt’s buddy and law partner, calls the next morning to remind Matt of a real estate appointment. After haranguing him about the nonexistent woman in his bed and assuring him that the real estate agent is most certainly not his type, Foggy tells Matt that he’s about to bribe a cop. Then he’s like, “Just kidding, NSA, if you’re listening! But no really, I’m going to bribe a cop.”
The cop is Brett Mahoney and he and Foggy grew up together. They’ve had a healthy rivalry all their lives and the bribe is cigars (bad!) for Mahoney’s mother, Bess. In exchange, Foggy wants a heads up when any interesting cases come through the precinct in an interesting twist on ambulance chasing.
After making a couple of rookie blunders (like forgetting that a blind man might not care about the view from his office), the real estate agent, Susan Harris, takes Matt and Foggy on a tour of some office space.
Susan: As I was telling your associate, this office was barely touched by “the incident,” which is why it’s on the market already. The neighbors weren’t so lucky.
Matt: “The incident”? Is that what we’re calling it?
Susan: Well, it sounds so much better than “death and destruction raining from the sky, nearly wiping Hell’s Kitchen off the map.”
Matt: Shorter, too.
So glad for a mention of the events of The Avengers! It all ties together! Susan insists that this space is priced fairly for its location and in 18 months Matt and Foggy couldn’t find a broom closet at that asking price. Matt wants to take the space, but Foggy is worried about bills (because somebody has to be!). He’s like, “We’re never going to be able to afford this place unless you broaden your definition of ‘innocent’ and we actually, like, start defending people and making money.” Matt is more hopeful but Foggy doesn’t want to sit around waiting for some innocent person to stumble into their office needing help.
Cue Karen Page. She’s just regained consciousness, apparently, and is hovering over a man who has been violently stabbed to death with a knife in her bloody hands. The police arrive suspiciously quickly and arrest her, which gives Brett his chance to pay back Foggy’s favor. He gives him the dirt on the case as Matt listens in with his acute hearing, then the two go visit Karen in the interrogation room where she’s being held. They insist Karen is released from handcuffs and get to defending, but she wants to know who they even are and has a slew of other reasonable questions. Matt tells her that they are a young law practice aggressively seeking new clientele and Foggy tosses in that he bribed the desk officer with cigars for his mom (no filter on this one!). Karen wants to know how long they’ve actually been practicing law, which, according to Matt and Foggy’s watches, totals roughly seven hours (if you go from when they got their desks). Karen’s nervous to have newbie lawyers, but she doesn’t have any money, so I guess it’s a fair trade.
She goes into detail about her relationship with the dead man in her apartment, Daniel Fisher. They worked together at Union Allied Construction where she was a secretary and she asked him for drinks one night, wanting to spend time with a nice guy in New York (they’re unicorns, trust me!). After having a few drinks, the next thing she remembers is waking up covered in his blood as she was being arrested. Listening as her heartbeat remains steady as she recalls her story, Matt believes her.
In a 50th St. park, a man in a suit quotes a number to a man having lunch, “28,957.” That’s how much money the sandwich eater owes a man called Rigoletto, but his books now belong to the suit’s boss. The man gruffly says he’ll pay up (eventually) and gets up to leave, but the suit has something to show the other man: a live feed of eyes on the sandwich eater’s daughter as she studies with a friend in some other park. The suit pressures him into calling his daughter, which he does, then points out the assassin, Mr. Rance, sitting uncomfortably close to her. So the sandwich eater’s like, “What do you want me to do?”
Discussing Karen’s defense, Matt doesn’t think they should take any deals from the prosecution because he believes Karen’s innocent. The fact that no charges have been filed and there has been no mention of the case in the press, which there most certainly should have been, is highly suspicious, but Foggy thinks Matt’s being burdened by beauty.
Foggy: You don’t necessarily show the best judgement when beautiful women are involved.
Matt: How would I even know if she’s beautiful?
Foggy: I don’t know, it’s kinda spooky, actually. But if there’s a stunning woman with questionable character in the room, Matt Murdock’s gonna find her, and Foggy Nelson is gonna suffer.
Matt concedes, but Foggy thinks that just because she isn’t guilty doesn’t mean she’s being entirely truthful. Then we find out what the suit wanted the sandwich eater to do: he’s a prison guard and he’s been tasked with trying to strangle Karen to death. She’s more than he bargained for, though, and screams the building down after scratching at his eyes.
Matt and Foggy demand Karen’s immediate release because of a few valid reasons, like lack of charges filed and the fact that the media would love to hear about how this nice young woman was nearly murdered in police custody. After pressure both ways and a threat from the cops, Karen is released and Matt and Foggy bring her to their offices. They tell her they need to have a frank discussion and I really think it’s over due.
Matt: Do you know who’s trying to kill you?
Matt: Do you know why they’re trying to kill you?
Awesome! Karen gives us some back story: she worked in the financial department at Union Allied who are overseeing both the government contracts for the West Side reconstruction. She was the secretary for the chief accountant, and a week ago, she was emailed a file called “Pension Master.” She opened it and was alarmed by the movement of the money. Large amounts of money constantly came in and out with coded routing numbers, so she told her boss, Mr. McClintock about the file, who blew it off as a “theoretical model.” Karen assumed that McClintock was simply covering for his own embezzling, then asked Daniel, who worked in the legal department, for drinks. When she began to tell him about what she found, she recalls feeling drugged and the next thing she knew she was back in her apartment over Daniel’s dead body. Overwhelmed with panic, she tries to leave, but Matt offers to let her stay at his place for the evening.
At Matt’s apartment, we learn more about him: he never uses his lights, because what for?, and he doesn’t really cook. And his living room is constantly illuminated by a moving billboard perched on the building next door, so Karen would really benefit from sleeping in the bedroom. Having decided to forego ordering Thai, Matt offers Karen a fresh t-shirt and some water as she asks some personal questions. “Have you always been blind?” “No.” “How do you comb your hair?” “You just hope for the best.” You know, typical things sighted people are curious about. So Matt opens up to her about his blindness and the accident that caused it, and it’s really clear what a great ploy this is. Get people to open up to you by opening up to them about something you constantly have to open up about. Nice one! Now Matt has questions. He’s wondering why the people after Karen didn’t try to kill her in the first place. Why would they have been trying to discredit her if she didn’t have something they wanted, like the Union Allied Pension file? Karen lies and says the IT guys wiped her computers and her quickened heartbeat gives her away to Matt, but he doesn’t call her out just yet.
Over at a Union Allied construction site, a shady cabal meets under the cloak of night. Leland Owlsley balks at the cold weather and the heights while Nobu, Vladimir, Anatoly, and Madame Gao ignore his complaints as they wait for a last party to arrive. It’s Wesley, the suit who blackmailed the prison guard, sans his employer. Vladimir reports that the man in black attacked his human cargo shipment and Madame Gao is curious to know whether the man took the shipment for himself. Vladimir’s like, “No, he beat my men up and down the street with an old school ass kicking and let the women go.” Wesley thinks his employer will be displeased with this news, and Vladimir and Anatoly want to know how things are going with someone named Prohaszka. Wesley doesn’t like to be challenged and is all, “Just mind your business and fix your own problems.” And suddenly everyone’s got something to fix to keep Union Allied neat and quiet.
Karen makes the ill-advised decision to sneak out and go back to her apartment to recover the pension file she stole. She reaches into a vent and grabs the drive and surprise of all surprises, it’s a trap. She is almost immediately accosted by Mr. Rance, who recovers the drive and prepares to kill Karen. Surprise number two: the man in black shows up and he wants a fight. Rance and Matt punch and kick the crap out of each other, using everything they can to help including knives, walls, and tables. Then they crash through and fall out of a window and land on the street at least two floors below, inducing a sort of fever dream for Matt?
He remembers sitting with his father after a fight that he lost, touching his face. He tells him to get to work, like usual, and back on the street, he hears Rance coming just in time to deflect an attack. They continue to play out an awesome bit of fight choreography wherein Matt uses his heightened hearing to anticipate Rance’s moves and break his leg. Rance comes back one more time and Matt wraps a chain around his neck to incapacitate Rance with a final kick to the face. Karen arrives for the end of the fight as Matt takes her stolen file back from Rance asking the requisite question, “Who are you?” Matt says he’ll turn the file (and an unconscious Rance) in to the right people, and they turn out to be reporters at the New York Bulletin, who run an expose on the Union Allied Corruption Scandal the next day.
Wesley is being chauffeured when he reads the paper and he has answers for everything. Rance is being framed for Daniel’s murder, Owlsley is covering the financials, and McClintock “overdosed on pills.” It’s a neat cover up, but his employer still wants to know about Nelson and Murdock, thinking they may be of use in the future.
Karen cooks a thank you meal for Matt and Foggy. Foggy’s all, “Oh, but we’re still going to bill you.” So they make an agreement to take on Karen as an assistant who will work for free. (Girl is seriously selling herself short! At least work until the cost of your defense is paid off, geez!)
Later, Matt goes to Fogwell’s Gym, presumably the same boxing gym his father used to train in, and I finally get an answer to a question that’s been nagging me since the first fight on the docks: Who in the hell does Matt train with that he is such a badass? Answer: His own damn self. As he hits the heavy bag, we see the consequences of saving Karen: Owlsley wipes out the Union Allied accounts, the prison guard’s daughter finds him dead, Rance “hanged himself” in prison, Madame Gao’s blind people only sweatshop is still operational, Nobu’s plans for construction in Hell’s Kitchen are going splendidly, and the Russians arm their men better – and kidnap a kid (while beating the living crap out of his father).
Since Matt can hear everything, he hears the little boy’s screams from far off, so he pulls his mask on and it’s about to go down.
The Questions: None yet! Honestly, I was so thrilled with the quality of this episode that I’m fully invested. They’ve set up the season perfectly and I’m pumped to watch the rest! Until next week…