Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer TV Rewind: Marvel's Daredevil 1.02: "Cut Man"

“I don’t see the city anymore. All that I see are its dark corners. I look around this room and all that I see are threats.”

Second episodes of new television series can take many forms, some better than others. It’s often the make-or-break where we see what the show is going to be like on a weekly basis. Pilots often have a lot of bells and whistles that the budget doesn’t allow to continue. Perhaps because Netflix is fundamentally changing how we watch television shows (binging instead of weekly), “Cut Man” was a second episode unlike any I’ve ever seen before. It wasn’t a case of the week type episode at all (although I get the impression we’ll get more of those as the season progresses). The main characters also weren’t at all in the same place at the same time. Matt was off recovering from some especially ill-advised vigilantism while Foggy and Karen drank their cares away while wondering where the heck he was. We also learned quite a bit more about Matt’s past and his relationship with his father through a series of flashbacks. Some of these flashbacks, but not all of them, kicked in while Matt was unconscious during his recovery. I would have liked to have seen a little more consistency there.

The episode begins with Matt being pulled out of the dumpster of a Hell’s Kitchen apartment building by a teenager we later learn is named Sanntino. He takes Matt to his neighbor Claire, who happens to be an ER nurse. Claire is played by the always wonderful Rosario Dawson. I’m kind of surprised she did a television show, to be honest, especially a Netflix Original. While the quality of Netflix Originals are very high, I can’t imagine it pays much. Anyway, Claire tries to treat Matt’s extensive wounds as best she can, but she would really rather take him to the hospital. Matt refuses, though, because he believes that the people who attacked him would follow him to the hospital and cause more mayhem. There’s an especially tense moment during Matt’s initial recovery when air in his chest is collapsing his lung. Claire has to puncture his chest to let it out. Once he’s feeling a bit better, Matt explains that he went after the kid we saw the Russians kidnap at the end of the last episode, but it was a trap. They attacked him, and they’re still after him. In fact, he can hear somebody searching the building he and Claire are in right now.

Like I mentioned, in the first half of the episode, every time Matt would pass out during his medical treatment, we’d get another flashback. First we see him having to stitch up a gash on his dad, Jack’s, face after Jack lost a fight. Jack’s got an envelope of money, and he’s a little upset that Matt found it, so it looks like he must have thrown the fight. Then we see Jack comforting Matt in the hospital not long after Matt’s accident that left him blind. We also see Matt reading Braille at his dad’s gym as Jack work’s out. Jack is stopped by two Irish men who appear to be part of organized crime who tell him to throw his next fight. Matt hears this (even though Jack doesn’t realize it) and looks worried.

Meanwhile, it’s late at night, but Karen and Foggy are both still at the office. Foggy is singing at the top of his lungs because he doesn’t realize Karen is still there. When Karen alerts him to her presence, he’s a bit embarrassed, but they get past it pretty quickly. Karen really doesn’t want to go home (she’s still freaked out over the events of the pilot), so they decide to go out for drinks. They finish out the night at Foggy’s favorite bar. He claims they give him free drinks because he helped them with a legal matter once, but the kind of surly woman behind the bar disagrees. Karen explains that it’s not just her apartment that feels unsafe to her. The whole city feels unsafe. Foggy tries to make her feel better by showing that he knows just about everyone in the bar, and he knows they’re all harmless. When they’re done at the bar, they stop by Matt’s apartment and make a scene banging on his door because they want him to join in the fun. They’re planning to stay up all night and go to the fish market next. Eventually they give up on Matt, and as they walk down the street, Karen seems a bit more at ease.

Anyway, back at Claire’s apartment, Claire convinces Matt to stay in the shadows while she tries to talk the “police officer” (read: Russian mob dude searching the building for Matt) to move along. It seems to work for about a second, but Matt knows that the guy didn’t actually believe what Claire was saying. They open the door and see him on the stairwell speaking to someone on the phone in very animated Russian. I guess it’s his mob higher ups? Before the Russian guy can say too much, Matt drops a fire hydrant on his head. Santino sees this and runs off. I have a feeling that will come back to bite Matt later. Eventually, Matt and Claire get the Russian up to the roof and Matt ties him up. Claire protests that she didn’t sign up for this, but Matt asks her if that’s the case, why has she been helping him? Claire explains that she is an ER nurse, and word of his vigilante exploits has gotten around. She’s encountered several people he has saved through her work. This is ultimately probably not a good thing for Matt. He needs to stay more under the radar.

We do get some more flashbacks in this episode. We see Jack ultimately decide not to throw the fight. I think Matt shamed him into it, really. First he calls a bookie and tells the bookie to put a large sum of money on him winning the fight. That money is to be transferred to Matt’s account if he does indeed win. He implies that the bookie will need to lay low for a while after making this transaction. He also calls someone else and asks them to take care of Matt if something should happen to him. In the final flashback of the episode, we see Matt watching the fight on television as his father does indeed win. After the fight, Jack hurries back into the locker room to try and make his escape, although he savors the crowd yelling his name for a second. Later, Matt has fallen asleep at the kitchen table, and he is woken by a gun shot. He rushes outside to see police surrounding his father’s lifeless body.

Back up on the roof, Matt tortures the Russian until he says where the kidnapped boy is being held. Surprisingly, Claire actually gives Matt some advice on how to make the Russian talk. Apparently a knife through the eye socket into a particular part of the brain is especially effective. Claire does eventually get overwhelmed by the gore, but she holds out longer than I expected her to. Once he gets the information he needs, Matt tosses the Russian into the dumpster and goes off to save the boy. He warns Claire he might need her to patch him up again after this. Matt, of course, busts into the Russian mob HQ and fights off at least six or seven goons before getting to the room with the boy. As apparently Murdocks always do, he keeps falling down but always gets back up. It appears that both Matt and the boy escape to safety. If, in the next episode, Foggy and Karen don’t ask Matt what the Hell happened, I’ll be disappointed. He’s not going to be able to easily hide those broken ribs and lacerations.

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