I didn’t guess at the start of the season that I would ever care about Foggy, even his relationship with Matt.
I was so wrong.
A quick aside for the part of the episode that isn’t Foggy and Matt based. I’ll be honest; my interest lies strictly with the later because it was just so rich in character building that the other bits are getting the brevity treatment. Vanessa is poisoned at a dinner outing with Fisk, making it look like Fisk was the intended target. Ben and Karen find out where Fisk’s mother is being kept and she reveals to them that Fisk killed his father. The later bit is what starts to shake the overarching storyline into place a bit more and it allows Karen and Ben some nice father-daughter like bonding, enriching Karen’s character a lot but it just doesn’t compare to the rest of the storyline.
It’s amazing just how different in tone episode nine and ten are and it’s what makes it such an integral part of the series as whole. The episode begins with such stark lighting as Matt awakes, stitched up and covered it swollen welts. Every movement he makes from the shrug of his shoulders to blinking his eyes looks taxing and he’s nearly out of breath when he realizes a fuming Foggy is still in the room with him. He gets the rundown that it was Claire who came and patched him up after he took a swing at Foggy at the idea of a hospital. Foggy hardly allows Matt to get his bearings before unloading on him.
Foggy is confused and angry about the lies Matt has told and his hypocrisy in telling Karen and Foggy to pursue the Fisk case throughout the court of law. Matt is tired and decidedly broken, with all of his defenses down. Foggy asks him if anything between them has been true. He asks if Matt can even see.
The most genuine moment of the show so far, the one that actually managed to make me emotional, was the college flashbacks between Foggy and Matt. We see them fresh faced and excitedly meeting each other. Their first interaction as roommates are charming and the two actors play off one another wonderfully, both giving insight to what these characters would have been like at this point in their lives. They’re enthusiastic and Matt is more innocent, more welcoming.
This intercuts with almost interrogation like sequences when Foggy learns more and more about the truth of his friend and his on goings. He learns that Matt can see with his heightened senses, that he’s been doing this for a long time and never even told his father about his abilities. He tells his friend that he started his late night activities when he heard a little girl being abused by her father and wanted to put a stop to it. It’s a change of pace for origin stories where usually the hero in question begins due to some personal trauma. In this case it was Matt hearing too much, knowing that there was so much evil in the world and being unable to take it any longer.
It’s crucial we see these scenes against the current day moments where the characters are becoming more and more emotional. The scene where a slightly drunk Matt and Foggy walk through their campus, high on laughter and feeding on their mutual affection is one of the best scenes the show has ever done because it’s effortless. The Elektra Easter egg is worthy of note but what really sells the scene is just how naturalistic the friendship feels. So much so that the idea of it being damaged it troubling.
Nothing can win my affection in a show quicker than a well-developed friendship. It’s not often that I see male friendships on television that are intimate and caring and it feels all the more real when the friendship feels lived in and when they go beyond fist bumps and one armed hugs. Foggy and Matt have been interconnected in each other’s lives for so long that they’re interplay and conversations are almost second nature. The biggest issue that Foggy has isn’t just that Matt is running around playing the part as the masked vigilante it’s that Matt hid it from him. It’s a devastating blow to what Foggy believed to be his most constant relationship in his life. That’s what brings the truth of the scene out. Matt relies on Foggy and loves him for never treating him with kid gloves. They’re best friends, they’re family and the dissolution of their trust is going to leave its marks. The juxtaposition of Matt and Foggy in college, jumping up and down with giddy joy just being in each other’s presence and picturing their shared future, with Matt crying on the couch as Foggy leaves lands it’s blow to remarkable effect. These two became the heart of the show in a single episode. Matt is a vigilante at night but what is he if he doesn’t have his best friend during the day?
It’s an episode that relies heavily on its performers to deliver and I didn’t think Elden Henson could pull off the bigger emotional moments and was happily proven wrong. Henson and Charlie Cos have a wonderful and warm rapport that makes their friendship feel real and he and Cox sell both the comedic and dramatic moments. I’ve said it before but Cox is doing some tremendous work on this series and his slow, painful realization that he may have truly damaged his friendship with Foggy is genuinely upsetting. His voice when he’s telling Foggy that the city needs him in that mask conveys all of the pain the character is going through.
Episode 9 was a highlight of the show because of its pure ambition and the scope that it created for the world, and the consequences that were felt by both Matt and the viewers. Episode 10 though may edge it out based solely on the emotion that it managed to evoke. We haven’t known these characters for very long but by the episodes end was I reacting strongly to Foggy’s departure and already desperately anticipating their reconciliation. The action and the psychological battles between good and evil amped me up in “Speak of the Devil” while “Nelson vs. Murdock” dug down to the heart of it all.