Angels and devils permeate episode nine of Daredevil “Speak of the Devil” which may be the shows finest hour to date. Matt sits in the pews, talking to his priest, asks him if he is good if he’s trying to rid the world of evil. The priest counters with a quandary of intention-would he be killing said evil incarnate for the sake of the good of the world, or out of his own wish fulfillment? Is the man Matt wants to rid the world of redeemable because there are people who love him? Because someone finds him worthy of love?
These are the moral dilemmas that Matt is facing in what is the series best episode. Matt’s Catholicism is a key focus as he grapples with what he’s doing out in the streets, what it means and if he can come out of it all unscathed and considered a good and honest man. Matt see’s Fisk as the walking embodiment of the devil so surely it must be okay for him to seek vengeance-to want to rid the world of such evil incarnate? The episodes dive into Matt’s Catholic guilt that he carries with him, weighing down his every step, allows for Charlie Cox to deliver her strongest performance to date. His vulnerability is clear, his voice heavy with regret and resignation as he realizes just how strong his urge to kill Fisk is. His wants for justice don’t mix for his need to be redeemed in the eyes of God.
His questions of morality come to fruition in a simply plain manner-Elaina, the woman that Foggy and Karen have been helping with her gentrification issue in her neighborhood, is murdered by a drug addict, pushed into it by Fisk. Fisk knows that the Daredevil has a weakness for women, the elderly and children, and expects him to retaliate and to do so in a way that’s reckless, borne out of anger.
Fisk knows our hero well.
Matt begins the episode trying to follow the rules of the law, seeking out information the old fashioned, non-vigilante style by going to Vanessa to gain any insight to this man she loves. It allows Cox to play Matt with some signature charm but the real moment of tension comes when he runs into Fisk, sans the mask and the former being none the wiser. This only angers Matt further. All of this culminates in a fight to the death with Nobu in one of the most brutally visceral sequences I’ve ever seen.
We see glimpses of this fight scene throughout the episode’s entirety and each time I grew more and more anxious about the safety of our hero, going against my common sense. Of course he’s going to fine, he IS the show. But each time the circumstances grew more dire. Nobu brings out the knives and begins slashing away at Matt who’s growing increasingly exhausted but hanging on to pure adrenaline to bring out the necessary inertia. In a sickening moment Nobu manages to fish hook Matt in the abdomen and drag him across the floor. How can Matt survive this? Snapshots are all we’re granted until the end where we see Matt’s misstep, his inability to detect that Nobu is present and is in as great of fighting shape. Even after seeing pieces of the fight before it doesn’t make the end result any less tiresome. The two go at it with energy and speed and hand to hand violence unlike much else I’ve seen onscreen. Every hit is vital, every misstep possibly fatal.
We see just how fallible Matt is in this episode and it’s what makes him such an arresting character. He’s human-flaws and all. When he’s hurt he feels it, his shoulders drop, his moves grow sloppier and his reaction time is duller. He still inflicts as much pain as he’s receiving but it grows tougher by the moment. Characters who are relateable, who seem real are always going to be instantly more fascinating and I’ve grown so wholly attached to Matt because as a viewer I’m worried about his well-being.
The fight is painful.
In the end Matt does end up performing his first kill out of desperation and Nobu goes up in flames, slowing burning on the floor of the warehouse. It’s not a pleasant way to go and if Matt could have chosen, I don’t think Nobu would have met his end.
Because of this there’s a moment when we believe that Matt is in the clear. That he’s banged up, sliced up and bruised but he will heal. Then Fisk and his two guards walk in and Fisk allows Matt to attack, completely unraveled at this point and time, and doesn’t hold back. Fisk-at his most imposing- throws Matt around like a rag doll, hardly allowing him a moment to retaliate. The one instance where Matt gets a good swing in with a knife nothing happens because of Fisk’s material in his suit. It’s another moment that’s difficult to watch and another that leads to the “how the hell is he getting out of this one” process.
But he does. He jumps out a window into the river below and the blood pools around him. Right in this moment is when a significant color change takes place. Red and blues bleed onto the screen and all of a sudden the world they’ve been living in is shaken and unbalanced, foreshadowing the next step in the story.
Foggy finds out. Emotionally distraught over Elena’s death and believing it to be his fault he goes to Matt’s for consolation only to find his best friend bleeding out on the floor, in the Daredevil costume.
What a well-earned, well-timed and emotionally satisfying moment.
I didn’t know what to expect in terms of Foggy knowing the truth but I’m glad he does so soon. Keeping secrets can be the death of interesting shows and Foggy knowing will only bring more dilemma and emotional heft to their relationship. I’m ready for episode ten!
This was television at its finest. It was gripping from the very first moment to its last, leaving me breathless with anticipation. I was shocked, I was worried and I was emotional at the ending alone. The fight scene with Nobu continued to push the boundaries of what we know to exist in televised fight sequences and the peak of Matt’s current psyche was illuminating. “Speak of the Devil” was high quality in every avenue.