Review by Logan
As I was originally preparing to write this series of reviews, I had a list of reasons why I believed (and still do believe) that Daredevil is the best comic book-based show on television. These included the spiritual depth of the main character, the tight and cohesive storyline, the avoidance of a soap opera-type love story, and the realistic way the show’s fight scenes are often shot. But more important than almost every item on that list is something that episode four digs a little deeper into: the villain.
The show’s first three episodes all but avoided Wilson Fisk, to the point that even his name was kept in the dark. Even without hearing the name Kingpin (at any point in the show at all), the writers nurtured in us as viewers an anticipation and fear at the persona of Wilson Fisk. And when we finally saw Vincent D’Onofrio’s character in person he was . . . well, staring at a painting.
Like many other things in this show, our expectations were struck down. The only real disappointment in how his character is developed is that more of this episode happens through the eyes of the Russians than through the eyes of Fisk himself. The purpose is ultimately to further our fear for Fisk, as the end of the episode will show in particular, but I would have found it more interesting if we had all but skipped the Russians’ perspective to begin with.
But what we do get reveals a little bit about what our favorite blind superhero is up against, even as he runs around to rescue his friends. The evil that he must face is not evil for the sake of being evil. Much to the contrary. Fisk tells his date Vanessa, “Time and distance, they afford a certain clarity. I realized that this city was a part of me, that it was in my blood. And I would do anything to make it a better place for people like you.”
Wilson Fisk, for all of the blood on his hands, believes he is doing what is right. In many ways that is the most dangerous kind of evil – the one that believes it is achieving a righteous end. This inevitably must trigger eventual questions in Matt Murdock’s own mind: if even the most villainous does not believe himself to be evil, could he not be fooling himself as well?
But those questions don’t get asked in this episode. It’s only an introductory matter to eventually lead to that conflict. So while we get that development of Fisk, the episode is also focused on Karen’s investigation into her old employer, as well as Matt’s relationship with Claire. Typically, I would say that this makes the episode feel too stretched and divided between the multiple plot points, but Claire’s story is interwoven with the Russians and Fisk, which keeps that from happening. We get more butt-kicking action from the hero in black, and while it’s not as heavy an episode philosophically, it’s still a great chapter in Daredevil’s journey.