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Marvel’s Daredevil Recap: Ep. 107, “Stick”

Alright, we’re in week seven of our Daredevil recaps. Are you still with me? Sure you haven’t skipped ahead and finished the season? Even if you have, relive it here! No shade.

This episode begins with a man running down the service stairwell in his office building to grab a pistol he stashed. He loads it then fires several times into an empty elevator. Then a man puts a katana to his neck and asks him in Japanese where the “Black Sky” is located. After the shadowy figure cuts his hand off, the first man reveals that the “Black Sky” was put on a ship bound for New York City. Shadow Man decides he no longer needs the one-handed man and kills him. As he enters the elevator to leave, we see that he is blind.

Foggy does not like the man in the mask and scoffs at the newspapers dubbing him “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.” Foggy thinks he’s a coward but Karen defends the “innocent until proven guilty” tenant that is usually a defense attorney’s life’s blood. Which is sort of what Matt says when he chimes in, but Foggy is blinded by the media’s portrayal of the vigilante. As Karen prepares to leave for the day, Foggy clumsily asks her on a date, but she wriggles out of it, saying she’s “got a thing to do.” When Karen goes, Foggy implies that Karen might be hiding something from them, then asks Matt how things with “Hottie McBurner Phone” (aka Claire) are going and finds out that even Matt can’t keep some ladies interested. Then Matt reads up on Leland Owlsley.

Leland meets with Nobu in a parking garage and reports that his funds have been reallocated and his shipment can arrive unimpeded. Then he pokes his nose where it doesn’t belong and asks pointed questions about said shipment. Nobu brushes this off and Leland presses that he thinks they should form something of an alliance so they don’t find themselves unceremoniously edged out like the Russians did. Nobu believes a “man must stand on his own, or fall with the unworthy,” and leaves Leland to put some ice on his burn. And then the man in the mask shows up! He wants to know about Fisk, but when he’s distracted by the sound of a walking stick, Leland tases him and drives away, leaving Matt lying on the ground. The owner of the stick – the blind man from the elevator – walks up to Matt and pokes him, like, “Dude, get off the ground. It’s gross down there.”

In a flashback, Matty is having trouble getting a hold on his senses and is troubled by all that he can hear. One of the nuns at his orphanage brings the blind man to Matty to try to help him, and the man’s like, “Just make sure the check clears and I’ll do what I can.” He goes in to speak with a currently freaked out Matty and judges from his quick reflexes that Matty isn’t getting worse (like those silly nuns thought) but growing stronger in his senses, and they “get started.”

The man takes Matty to the park and they have ice cream on a bench as he lays down some rough truths. Like how no one is going to feel sorry for him and no one ever will. He tells Matty that he won the lottery as far as ailments, so there’s that. Matty recounts the story of how he was blinded and tells the man that after he lost his sight, he began to hear things acutely and far away and began to sense even slight movement. The man tells Matty that these things are gifts, and says that smart is making the right decision at the right time. Then he sticks the real question to Matty: is he going to continue to freak out about his heightened senses or work to refine them? To drive his point home, the man shows Matty how he uses taste and smell to pinpoint the exact ingredients of the ice cream they’re enjoying. Matty practices using his senses with passersby and learns more about people than he ever could have before, then asks the man how he even found him. The man doesn’t really answer, but says he’s there to train Matty for “the war.” As he declines to elaborate on this as well, Matty asks him a question maybe the man’ll actually answer: “What do I call you?”

Back in the present in the parking garage, Matt calls the man Stick, and wonders what he’s even doing in town after disappearing for 20 years. Stick says he’s back to save the people of Hell’s Kitchen from a horrible death. Fairly ominous.

The “thing” Karen had to do was yet another clandestine meeting with Ben. Karen is frustrated that she’s had no luck following Union Allied’s paper trail and Ben’s like, “Them’s the breaks, rookie.” He says investigating is not supposed to be easy, so she’d better, you know, get used to this kind of hard work and waiting around for results. Then he adds that he found links to the yakuza, the Triads, and the Russians, but can’t prove much of anything. Karen asks about the person who shot the cops, and Ben recounts how he stood next to Blake as he was shot. He thinks that if Blake wakes from his coma, perhaps he’ll tell the truth about what went down that night.

There is clear, palpable tension between Stick and Matt as they arrive back at Matt’s apartment. Stick’s judging every aspect of Matt’s life, from the woman who was recently there to Matt’s choice of sheets. Matt thinks Stick’s just jealous that he got along fine without him in his life. Cue your abandonment issues. Stick doesn’t think Matt’s comfortable life is fit for such a warrior and urges him to cut all ties from his friends. This is laughable to Matt but Stick thinks Matt is worse than his father, since at least Jack got paid to go out and take hits. This sets Matt off and Stick reacts quickly, twisting Matt’s arm and ushering us into another flashback.

Stick has Matty’s arm twisted in the same way, hurting him. It’s a lesson in quitting, maneuvering, and resilience, and Matty’s up to the challenge. He gives it his best go, throwing lots of punches and kicks but hitting nothing. Stick tells him that he can’t let his anger fuel him because it makes him sloppy, and when Matty tries again to hit Stick he fails again and Stick knocks him off his feet. Matty begins to break down about his dad’s death, saying that his father only bet against the fateful dive he was supposed to take to make Matty proud (which is true). Stick tells him that people pay for their own choices and he needs to let that go and learn to fight. Matty’s resolve returns and, with lots of flourishing kicks and flips, he proves to Stick he’s worth the effort.

In the present, Matt uses the aforementioned flips to get out of the arm twist, remind Stick that he’s a dick, and share some beers. Matt asks again why Stick’s back and he finally spills about “the war.” Stick says it’s with the Japanese now, mostly, and it’s bigger than the yakuza. He tells Matt about how Nobu is importing the Black Sky tonight, and it’s a dangerous weapon that they need to destroy. He says Nobu is close to Fisk, which is news to Matt, and Matt thinks it’s rich that Stick would come to him now, needing his help. Stick tells Matt that not killing people to protect the city remains his weakness, but asks for his help in destroying Black Sky anyway. Matt agrees on the condition that no one is killed, and Stick promises.

Karen has seen Mrs. Cardenas home along with some fresh groceries. She tries to repay Karen, saying she doesn’t take charity, so Karen asks if she can be paid in information. Karen explains that she’s working on making connections between a “case” she’s working and the men Tully hired to tear up Mrs. Cardenas’ apartment. Mrs. Cardenas wonders why she doesn’t speak to Tully about the men, but Karen says he’s on vacation and that sets Mrs. Cardenas off. Karen asks if the “repair men” gave her any papers to sign which they didn’t, but Mrs. Cardenas describes them to her instead: one was bald and the other had a tattoo on his arm. She describes the tattoo as an ugly pattern that went up to his neck, then tells Karen that this whole thing worries her. Karen tries to reassure her, saying they’re going to wreck these dudes once she can prove their illegal connections.

And, when Karen leaves, she immediately notices a bald man walking toward her, then following her. She gets a hand on the pepper spray on her key chain while looking over her shoulder, and just as she reaches an alley, the man with the tattoo on his arm grabs her and throws her against a fence. They try to question her about the time she spends with Mrs. Cardenas – but Foggy shows up with a baseball and a bat and saves her. With a fierce pepper spray and a swing from the bat each, Foggy and Karen make their escape.

On the docks, Matt and Stick scope out the scene of Nobu’s shipment. They note that there are no police around for blocks, indicating a payoff, and Stick gives Matt a couple of sticks so he can begin taking out goons while Stick focuses on removing the threat of the Black Sky. (How much you wanna bet someone gets killed?)

Matt sneaks about, taking the henchmen down one by one, facing their automatic weapons with sticks. Simultaneously, Stick assembles his own weapon, a bow, as a shipping container is lowered onto the dock. Matt continues to take out the armed men and the doors of the shipping container open to reveal a young boy, dirty and bound in chains. Immediately, Matt tunes in to the new heartbeat and we see from Nobu’s approval that the boy is the Black Sky. A couple of Nobu’s men release the boy and walk him out of the container and, as Matt finally catches on to what’s happening, Stick takes aim and fires at the boy. Matt intercepts the arrow and the boy is rushed to a car and away while Matt finishes the fight he’s just wandered into. Then he checks Stick’s post and he’s disappeared.

Flashing back, Matty practices fighting with the sticks and has greatly improved. He’s disciplined and focused and gives Stick as much as he gets when they spar. Stick tells Matty that he needs to learn to meditate to truly control his feelings, adding that it’ll help his wounds heal faster, too. Matty has some clear admiration for Stick and is so excited to learn to fight with knives tomorrow that he gives Stick a present: a bracelet made from the wrapper of the ice cream they had on the first day they met. Stick bristles at the sentimentality, rudely crushing the bracelet and telling Matty that his training is over because he expected too much of him, and leaves Matty there deep in his feelings.

In the present, Matt arrives back at his apartment and finds Stick waiting for him. The first thing he asks is why he tried to kill the boy and Stick says the boy was not a boy at all, but the mission. Matt is pissed that Stick would have killed a child so casually and Stick says Matt will never have what it takes to fight his war because he’s too soft. Agreeing that they are disappointments to each other, Stick goes to leave and Matt tells him he won’t let him kill the boy. Then Stick drops a bomb: he already killed the boy when Matt was fighting the last group of Nobu’s men. Flames erupt in Matt’s eyes (in my imagination) and he attacks Stick in anger. The blows are heavy and powerful from each and Stick taunts Matt as he gains the upper hand with a knee to Matt’s face. Then he throws Matt through his coffee table, kicks him across the face a few times, all the while telling Matt to get up (not unlike some of those flashbacks). Matt finally does and gives Stick the business. After Stick gets him in a head lock, Matt body slams Stick down the stairs. With a few more punches and kicks to his face, Matt puts Stick down and tells him to get the hell outta Hell’s Kitchen. (These fight scenes are so good, I swear!) A defeated Stick leaves the sticks Matt used to train with for him before leaving.

Karen and Foggy turn up at Ben’s office and he’s not pleased at all that Karen has told someone else about what they’re doing. She’s insistent that they’d need a lawyer in on this, anyway, so Ben tells Karen to show Foggy The Board. They toss around their theories about the Union Allied scandal and discuss how the man in the mask relates to it all, wondering whether he trumps the King in the scheme of things.

Matt cleans up his apartment and finds the bracelet he made for Stick all those years ago. It’d appear the ornery cuss kept it after all, despite all his bluster. This touches Matt who tears up for a moment.

In a dark room, Stick reports to someone that Black Sky is no longer a threat. A voice says, “For now. How’s Murdock?” Stick says that he’s fine but stubborn, but the large man we now see is attached to the voice wants to know whether Matt will be ready when “the door opens.” Stick says, “I have no idea.”

The Questions: What was Nobu planning to do with Black Sky? What exactly was Black Sky? Who is the man at the end? And what “door” is he talking about?

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