Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Daredevil Recap: Cut Man (1x02)

It's been a while since our last Daredevil recap. Ashes will be passing the torch to both Sky (myself) and Jaime, and in order to transition, Ashes and Sky did a duo perspective recap.

Ashes' comments will look like this...

...and Sky's comments will look like this.

So our last episode left us with a bunch of open places to go, both in this episode and in the series: the gathering and workings of the baddies as they formulated some sort of diabolical plan...and the kidnapping of a young boy that Matt Murdock simply couldn't resist stepping in to save. And this episode opens up hauntingly, leaving a gap in time that makes you scramble wildly to piece together what you know with what you see.

A trail of blood, a drizzling of misty rain, and a lone figure standing in a rather shady looking back alley.  The unnamed young man clenches a plastic garbage bag, and by the look on his face, he is before something entirely frightening and disturbing.  Not your usual trip of running out the garbage, it seems. 

He spooks, drops the bag, and runs, allowing the camera to pan and reveal a body lying in the garbage heap.

But not just any stirs, and we quickly recognize that ninja-y garb...Matt.

He pulls at his mask, revealing his face, and gasps for air, looking very much hurt, bloodied, disoriented, and broken...and then it is opening credits time.

The opening credits are honestly my favorite part of the show. Red paint pours down landscapes, statues that represent justice, and finally, a figure that’s supposed to be Matt--complete with the horns to represent the devil inside him. It really is a work of art.

The young man returns, but this time with a woman. Speaking a flurry of foreign language (Spanish?), they get an unmasked Matt Murdock into her apartment, and she instructs the young man to leave and not say a word about what he has seen, not even to his mother.

Does she know of the mysterious Daredevil? Or is she just used to this sort of thing?

As soon as her door shuts, she flies into action: checking for a pulse, for wounds, and for her phone to call an ambulance, when Matt grabs her arm, shocking her.

He tells her she cannot call the hospital, he can't go there. "They will kill everyone," he garbles out, attempting to rise to his feet despite the fact that every inch of him seems sore and covered in blood. He has at least one stab wound.

He doesn't get far, however, before collapsing again.

It seems whenever Matt shuts down, his mind goes into flashback mode. As we see the scene of a young Matt sitting before a glowing TV screen, an announcer's voice speaks about a match between Jack Murdock and Price. Jack loses, even though it seems he had the upper hand.

Matt switches the TV off and goes into the kitchen to await his dad's return.

While he’s in there, it seems like he’s listening to everything around him--the neighbors yelling next door, the sirens. It’s a perfect representation of Matt learning to hear when he couldn’t see.

When Jack does appear, he is almost as blood-soaked as the Matt we saw lying in the alley.  His head is gashed open, and he’s limping.  

Matt doctors Dad up and discusses rent. Such a little guy, and his head is already full of such things? Baby, let me love you.

I love how Matt’s older beyond his years. Jack also wants to make sure Matt is learning and doing… you know, normal kid stuff, so he asks about homework briefly.

Jack hands him an envelope full of hundred dollar bills, and Matt gasps that you get that much even from losing.

Jack: “Sometimes, even when you get knocked down, you still win.”
Matt: “It ain’t how you hit the mat…”
Both: “It’s how you get back up.”

Jack's face makes me wonder: was it losing or being bribed to lose?

Hustling Matt off to finish homework, Jack tosses the envelope to the table almost as if he hates touching it, making my thoughts more grounded.

Back in the future and totally oblivious to Matt's danger, both Karen and Foggy are still busy at work in the office...though by Foggy's atrocious singing, he has no idea Karen is still there.

Oooh. Awkward.

She snickers and giggles before calling out, "You do know I'm still here?" But does Foggy shut up immediately?

Nope. I dare say he did not.

"Did you hear?" he asks. There’s a slight moment of hesitation before Karen says she did not.

It’s an obvious lie; Foggy and her joke around lightly.
Foggy: “Could you hear me just now?”
Karen: “Nope.”
Foggy: “The correct answer is yes, and you sound amazing!”

Is it too early to develop shipping feelings because… I’m feeling shipping feelings. They may be friendship shipping feelings or they may not be. It’s too early to tell as of yet.

Foggy asks why she is still there so late, and she only returns the question back to him. I think the answer is obvious: both of you have no lives and your friend is out there, having a very dramatic life and bleeding to death.

Foggy: "I'm awkward...and unfashionable...those things don't seem to apply to you."

Oh. Excuse me but was that “Foggy language” for you’re pretty and I'm too awkward to say it outright' Or am I just reading too far into this?

Karen admits she doesn't want to go home. So Foggy asks if she'd like to go out, hop a few bars, not think about it, just go have fun.

Karen: "Should we call Matt?"
Foggy: "Sure! Let’s see what he's up to."

Oh. I don't know. Bleeding to death, maybe?

He's lying on the Kind Woman's couch, apparently not remembering his earlier waking up period.  But on the bright side, he's no longer looking half-dead. Cleaned up, no longer caked with blood, he definitely looks more alive now.

He fires questions at her as if they were bullets.

"Where am I?"
"Who are you?"
"You see my face?"

He doesn't need her to respond before shooting back, "Great."

And she says it. She is the one to say it: "Your outfit kinda sucks, by the way."

Matt says “It’s a work in progress.” I hear Spider-man is really good with the whole outfit thing. You should ring him up sometime.

Matt tries to get up and realizes that hurts. Bad.

Kind Woman (come on, we need a name...I'm not sure how much longer I can call her this...) advises him to stay still, he's got a couple broken ribs, probably a concussion, and "Your eyes are unresponsive to light..."

Yeah, I think he knows about that last part.

She demands to know why and how a blind, masked man ended up stabbed and beaten in her dumpster. Matt pulls the oh-so-common-hero line, "The less you know about me the better.”

If you say that, it really makes your dark brooding hero status be complete. Trust me on this.

She, however, throws her hands up in the air. Literally. I have the screen shot to prove it.

That's the "sheesh, heroes" look that we've all had at least once.
He doesn't give her his name; so she takes to calling him Mike (he grins). But he does squirm her name out of her.

This is Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), but she refuses to give him any more information about herself because, "The less you know" and all that fun jazz.

She leaves him to rest, and he drifts off into another delirious, flashback dream. This time, it isn't sweet… It is young Matt lying in the hospital bed, with eyes bandaged, thrashing and crying that he cannot see.  As Jack tries to comfort him, his voice is nearly entirely drowned out by the overwhelming sounds flooding into Matt's head.  It isn't until he takes Matt's hands and puts them against his face that lil bby Matt calms down slightly, focusing on his father and his father alone.

But past-Matt's screams of, "I can't see! I can't see!" are echoed as present-Matt is quickly shocked away and begins to gasp, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" in a panic that tugs at my heart strings. It’s so close to the same panic of his childhood. It’s too much. Too many emotions.

Claire comes running and deduces that there is air in his chest.  I knew the solution before I even heard her say it and was cringing because eeeeeh that’s gonna hurt (hey...I watch medical shows sometimes too).  After stabbing his chest and drawing out the excess air, Claire sits back.

He may be pulling a silent hero act, but they need to talk.  She can't have him dying in her apartment, and she needs to know for sure that he won't kick the bucket during the night. Any way she would try to explain to the police that she has a dead guy in her living room doesn't sound good. And he needs to think of something.

So, Matt spills the beans and his activities right before getting...well...dumped in the dumpster.

As I thought, it ties back to the kid from the end of the first episode. Claire is horrified at his account of the kid being pulled out of a van after watching his dad get beaten and listens intently as he explains how he was tracking the Russian human traders. They weren't dumb; they led him to a warehouse...where they beat him up pretty well. 

Claire has a hard time grasping how Matt can be a vigilante without the ability to see. Matt responds, “There are other ways to see.”

Right after finishing his narrative, Matt stiffens.  There's a man going door from door. Matt can hear him and smell his cigar and cologne choice.

“He really likes that cologne.”

Claire is, understandably, very skeptical, and insists that the only thing he has proven about himself is that he can take a hit.

"I learned that from my dad."

This episode is just flashback central, isn't it?

We are again transported to the past, this time as Jack trains and Matt studies braille. Matt sticks out so obviously, but I guess that was the point. From what I've seen, Jack wouldn't have wanted Matt to mesh well with his father's world.

One thing I did notice, though, is how spot-on Matt’s characterization and acting is. Every line that he says, you can imagine the adult Matt saying it. The casting and writing choices were key here.

The two joke around a bit, a spot of Father/Son closeness, before Jack is called over by two men in suits. 

First, they play pleasant, mention what a pity Matt's loss of eyesight is, small chat...and then they get down to their intent. They have set up a match for Jack Murdock with some man named Creel. Jack seems very excited about the idea, but then they add to the arrangement.

Jack is to lose in the 5th round. I was right.

Jack declines at first, but they stick him in a hard place for a father to be. If he loses, his pay will be great.

And he has a blind son to take care of.

Meanwhile, Matt is listening in from across the room with his extra powered up hearing…

Back in the present, Matt rummages through Claire’s kitchen and comes up with a butter knife. He would like to fight the man in Claire’s apartment building, but Claire convinces him to let her try to get rid of him instead. Claire opens the door, and she opens it widely, which I found an interesting move. Most people would be compelled to crack the door, but in order to not appear suspicious, Claire opened the door normally. This girl knows what she’s doing.

The guy behind the door is a Russian, and he has a badge. He tells Claire that there was an armed robbery, and the perpetrator left a trail of blood in the direction of her apartment building. Claire tells him she doesn’t know anything, and he politely leaves. Coast clear, right?

Actually, no. The moment Claire shuts the door, Matt’s on high-alert. “He didn’t believe you,” he says.

Matt runs out into the hall and grabs a fire extinguisher, and Claire follows. Matt looks over down into the stairwell which the Russian guy is running down. And somehow… some way… Matt perfectly times it so that as he drops the fire extinguisher, it hits the Russian guy square on the head.

Claire isn’t too fond of this, but there’s no time for that because Matt realizes someone else is watching them--it’s Santino, the guy who found him in the dumpster at the very beginning. Santino’s seen his face, which means he’s pulled into the situation as well. Matt says he’ll need Santino’s help moving the Russian to the roof.

In another part of the city, Foggy has taken Karen to Josie’s, a bar that he and Matt visit frequently. (And despite what Foggy believes, Josie insists they do not drink for free.) Foggy and Karen banter a bit--Foggy insists Karen is in love with him. But it soon turns serious as Karen opens up to Foggy and tells him she doesn’t want to go home. She can’t get the blood out of the carpet, and her wall is dented from where her attacker bashed her head into it. Foggy says he has a cousin who can replace her drywall, but Karen says it’s not the apartment that’s the problem. It’s the trauma from the event that’s eating at her.

“I don’t see the city anymore. All I see are its dark corners.”

Foggy tells her about all the people in the bar--people who seem to be hardened criminals, but who are actually really nice guys. Karen relaxes a bit, and both of them decide to stay out all night... and try to find the eel at the bottom of the alcohol bottle.

Meanwhile, Matt has tied up the Russian man on a water tower on top of Claire’s building. Claire is worried--what if Matt’s wrong? What if this guy isn’t with the Russians? Matt is confident; he doesn’t think he’s wrong.

And that’s when Claire snaps. It’s understandable after the weird night she’s had. She doesn’t know if she was right to help Matt. Matt says that Claire knew what side she was on the moment she found him. After all, who helps a man in a dumpster?

Claire visibly softens and opens up to Matt. She’s an ER nurse, and she’s worked on men that had been beaten up by a man in a black mask. Then a waitress came into the ER and said a man in a black mask helped her. Claire’s put together the pieces, and she knows who Matt is. She wants to believe in what Matt is doing, but she’s not comfortable with Matt’s dark side.

Matt: “I know you’re afraid. But you can’t give in to the fear. If you do… men like this win.” 

The episode takes us once again to the past, where young Matt is reading a speech by Thurgood Marshall. Jack comes into the kitchen holding a package--his new boxing robe has arrived, and it’s red. Matt runs his fingers over the silk.

Matt: “Good thing about Red… they can’t tell how much you’re bleeding.”
Jack: “Hey, who says I’m even going to get hit?”
Matt: “We’re Murdocks. We get hit a lot.”
Jack: “Yeah... I guess we do.”
Matt: “But we get up, Dad, right? We always get up.”

Jack thinks about what his son said, and the scene cuts to him in the boxing ring. He puts money into a pay phone and makes a call. He changes his bet to say he’ll win against Creel by a knockout. He asks the guy to give the money to a bank account that belongs to Matthew Murdock.

Next, he calls someone--I assume Matt’s mom--and leaves a message. He asks Matt’s mom to look after him, because he has a feeling Matt will need him now more than ever.

Jack: “It’s better this way. Just once, I want to hear Matty to hear people cheer for his old man. Just once.”

Back in the present, Foggy and Karen have drank the eel and now they’re banging on Matt’s door, trying to get him to come out. (Except Matt’s a bit… busy at the moment.) After waking up Matt’s neighbor, they walk down the city streets. Karen wants to go home, but Foggy talks about the city. He says that people are around every corner, waiting to prey on good-hearted people like them. He’s joking, but it’s ironic and hits a little too close to home.

The camera slowly pans away from Foggy and Karen to show the water tower behind them. Matt isn’t very far away, and he’s back in his mask. So is Claire, and they mean business.

Matt starts questioning the Russian guy and punches him when he doesn’t get the answer he wants. He wants to know where they’ve got the boy. The Russian guy (who looks a lot like Derek Hale from Teen Wolf) won’t give up the information. He says that if Matt kills him, somebody else will take his place. It’s awfully Hydra-esque.

Claire has had enough of standing by and, as a nurse, suggests stabbing Russian Guy in his trigeminal nerve, which is above the eye. So… Matt does. It’s clearly painful.

Matt cuts the Russian guy down and marches him over to the edge of the roof, where he dangles him. In a dark twist of events, Matt says he’s doing this because he enjoys it. 

Fearing for his life, the Russian guy gives up where the boy is. Satisfied, Matt pushes the man off the roof. Claire is shocked, but when she looks over the edge, she sees that the Russian guy landed in the same dumpster she pulled Matt out of. Claire asks if he’s dead, and Matt pauses for a moment before saying, “he’ll live.” My personal fan theory is that Matt paused because he was listening for whether the guy was breathing.

Matt then tells Claire with a lot of urgency that she needs to leave town because the Russian guy will live… and he’ll come back. Because he didn’t believe Claire and he saw her face, she’s in danger. Claire says she’s cat-sitting and gives Matt her address. Matt thanks her for all she’s done for him, and as he’s leaving, Claire tells him she doesn’t think Matt enjoys this. 

In the past, Jack is preparing to go to the ring, wearing his red boxing robe. Matt is watching on TV, and the announcer says that Jack won against Creel. His dad won! And just once, he heard the people chanting his old man’s name.

We then see Jack rush to his locker… and then he looks up. He, too, hears the people chanting his name.

Back in the apartment, after some time has passed, a gunshot suddenly wakes Matt up. He rushes outside and finds a crime scene. He pushes past the police and finds his dad lying on the ground, bloody and still. While Jack won the boxing match, there was a price to pay. He’s dead. Matt cries for his dad, and it hurts. Oh, it hurts.

In the present day, we’re underground in a green-tinted hallway. A man exits one of the halls with a tray of food. He brings it to a boy off-screen, who is also crying for his dad.

The camera then pans to show us just how many men Matt is going to have to fight through to get to this boy. There are two rooms full of men.

And this is when we receive one of the most cinematically gorgeous fight scenes of all time.

Matt arrives, and he breaks into the first room and beats up all the men. Then he bursts out into hall. He beats up every man and we get to watch it all. There’s something artful and realistic about the way this was shot. There’s no skipping. We feel Matt’s exhaustion, we feel how hard it is as he fights all of the men, sometimes twice. His fighting style is so tightly choreographed and it’s wonderful to watch. Also, prepare your feels, because I noticed something: while Matt is fighting, he’s wearing boxing tape and gloves. Just like his old man.

  At the end of it, we feel his pain after fighting off ten to fifteen men… all with two or three broken ribs, a probable concussion, and some kind of puncture wound. (In Claire’s words. Thank you, Claire.)  

After all of the men are defeated, Matt walks to the room at the end of the hall, where we hear him talk to the boy. Matt tells the boy he knows he’s scared, but he needs to come with Matt to safety. 

Matt and the boy emerge, and they do just that: they walk to safety. The journey may be far from over, but at least one life was saved tonight in Hell’s Kitchen.

Have you seen this episode? What did you think of it?


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