This has to be one of the best things that Marvel has ever done, right?
Episode six, “Condemned”, picks up immediately after the events of episode five with Matt surrounded by the police, most of whom are corrupt and are there to kill Vladimir and any other witness. It’s one of the moments (which are frequent in this show) where even though common logic tells us he’s going to be fine, there’s also a part of us worried about how our lead could possibly come out of this safe and unharmed.
The foundation of the episode, and the part that sucked me in most, was Matt’s escapades with Vladimir, both bound by resolutions not to die. Vladimir is an awful human but a very fun, effective foil next to Matt. Matt’s decision to bring the rapidly dying Russian along with on his escape is confusing at first, but makes more and more sense as the episode progresses. He wouldn’t mourn Vlad’s death, but he’s going to get the information he needs first.
This allows for one of the more sickly humorous scenes yet, as Matt is forced to save Vladimir’s life, the latter of whom is bleeding out on an abandoned warehouse floor they’ve found themselves in. Matt calls Claire (I love Claire) who tells him it’s not like the movies and he can’t just go digging around for a bullet lodged in someones body.
He tells her that he’s not a fan of movies.
I love Matt Murdock.
She tells him to cauterize the wound, which should stop the bleeding for enough time to get hisinformation that he needs. Daredevil doesn’t hold back in showcasing the agony that Vladimir experiences and it’s, yet, another touch as to just how dark the show is willing to go.
It’s a battle of will between Vladimir and Matt. Despite his hatred for Fisk, Vladimir doesn’t want to give in so easily to Matt’s persuasions, biting back whenever he feels cornered. Matt underestimates his perseverance and his survival instincts. Vladimir stands and begins to fight, Matt landing the best hit when he punches through a plant of wood to hit his target, but the fight is ill planned. Crashing through a number of floorboards before hitting ground, both of them are momentarily knocked unconscious. Matt being Matt, doesn’t take long before he’s essentially peeling himself off of the floor and pounding on Vladimir’s chest to make him breathe again, not allowing him an easy out. Matt Murdock’s resolute resilience has to be one of the strongest and most integral parts of his characterization. He deals with his morality and his demons day in and day out but good luck trying to beat him into submission.
It’s whats makes the next scene with Fisk so affecting. It’s the first time they’ve spoken, and it’s despite it being over a walkie talkie it is still taut with tension. Fisk shows his influence when the media and corrupt officers standing watch outside the building they’ve holed up in become casualties to Fisk’s end game, using them as nothing more than bargaining tools against our hero. Fisk tells Matt that the two of them are alike, both wanting the best for their city with only Fisk understanding what needs to be done. He tells Matt that the city will believe it is him bringing terror to the streets because he is the one behind a mask and the one leaving a trail of death in his path.
Vladimir and Matt escape into the sewers, where Vlad ends up sacrificing himself to take out gunmen on their tail. Matt isn’t so willing to give up on a life, but leaves him behind when that becomes the only option Matt will fight until his last breath and be willing to die to save his city, but it was his saving Vlad that proved he is nothing like the Kingpin.
I’m waiting for Karen to be characterized in a way that lives up to just how well Deborah Ann Woll is committing to the performance. I’m still left cold with her character, a shame considering she’s the one main female lead on the cast. However, the scene in the hospital with Foggy builds her up a little more than she had been previously, but that may just be me loving how the scene was shot. The lighting in particular is noteworthy, with the fluorescent coloring washing out Karen and Foggy and making their setting stark and unflattering. It submerges the viewer further into the couple’s out focus and unsettled mindset. I may not be sold on either of them completely yet but their storylines are growing on me, despite moving further and further away from Matt’s daily ongoings.
More than any episode so far, “Condemned” feels more cinematic and polished, with blacks and yellows bathing the screen. From Fisk in the car with the yellow lights illuminating his face, creating a sickly color. To the hitman on the roof with the city lights as mere spots in the background, the color is purposeful. It adds character to the city, making it it’s own living and breathing thing that’s bruised around it’s edges.
The darkness of it all also conveniently brings out the red which, considering how much Matt draws blood and bleeds himself, certainly helps render the damage that’s been done.
It was a great Matt episode. Charlie Cox continues to impress and grow in the role, offering up more of the doubts that lay behind the mask his character wears. His body movements are tired, his back solider straight and ready to take on the world, his emotions frayed as showcased in his talk with Claire where he sends an impromptu goodbye. Daredevil is a fantastic protagonist-it never seems like it’s easy for him.