Daredevil‘s previous episodes have explored the world of Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Ben Urich, and the underbelly of Marvel’s grimy New York City, but this time around, we delve into the supernatural, stranger side of the Daredevil mythos. Stick in introduced by a scene of him lobbing off the hand off of, and subsequently killing, a Japanese businessman overseas. From there, the old man saunters into Matt’s life, in the middle of him hoping to bring the fight straight to Wilson Fisk’s door by attempting to intimidate Owlsley, Kingpin’s money man. “Stick” delves into the present with Stick himself employing Murdock’s help to destroy some sort of supernatural weapon called “Black Sky,” while also flashing back to scenes from Matt’s childhood with Stick attempting to train the boy. Honestly, I really enjoyed both segments, past and present, as they played well on one another while also incorporating, probably, my favorite character in the series.
Scott Glenn as Stick is right up there as someone who completely embodies their role. As I mentioned in a previous recap about that being true of Vondie Curtis-Hall’s Ben Urich, Glenn is an actor who is pitch-perfect for the part, as his Stick is ruthless but kind, wise but reckless, and vicious but soft spoken. Stick’s involvement in this episode ushers in the Marvel Universe, inasmuch as, we are taken from the “normalcy” of the underworld and street crime that’s been presented to us, and dropped into a world where a small boy is apparently the bringer of a potential armageddon. It can be a bit of a jostle to now find ourselves in this scenario of super powers and mystical ninjas, but not completely unexpected considering the world we are in. This is almost more of a precursor to Netflix’s Defenders series than anything else, but manages to give us a fantastic new character, as well as more insight into the character of Matt Murdock.
The question that is presented to Matt, aside from what the heck exactly is Black Sky, is if he as Daredevil wants to create real change, can he do so as simply a man? Can he do so while having relationships, loved ones, and a law practice, as he spends his nights careening from rooftop to rooftop? If you had to give this series a theme, it would be the idea of “what can one man truly accomplish?” Wilson Fisk is an interesting parallel in this way, and the antithesis of Matt in that he has achieved a level of power that seems unbelievable to most. Fisk controls the mob, the police, the media, and nearly all aspects of the city’s daily life, with the only threats to this being Daredevil, and his own humanity, in the form of dedicating more and more time to his budding relationship with Vanessa. Here in “Stick,” the message is brought to the forefront with Stick asking him head-on if Murdock will be able to help him put a stop to Black Sky. But Stick is a nomad, a man who does not form relationships easily (if ever) and attempts to convince Matt to do the same.
The relationship between Stick and Matt, both in the present and the past, is the shining force of the episode. Glenn dances through dialogue with Charlie Cox, as he breezes into his life, constantly making cracks about how crappy Murdock’s apartment is, or about the beer he’s served, or about anything that may come into his mind. Stick acts as a great foil for Matt as a child, explaining to the young Daredevil how to use his newfound senses through quite the morbid game of “reading” people around them in a park and explaining, in gruesome detail, what exactly is in the ice cream they’re eating. Glenn does his best here, slowly letting it crack that he’s beginning to have an emotional attachment to the boy, while attempting to drill the opposite into Matt’s head, especially when he immediately leaves him after Matt gives him a friendship bracelet. This is touched upon later, as it’s revealed Stick had kept the bracelet after all these years, showing that maybe Stick isn’t the cold-hearted road warrior he wanted everyone to believe he was.
Diving right into the Marvel side of things though, let’s talk about Black Sky. Black Sky, is of course revealed to be a small boy, locked in a shipping crate by Nobu and most likely, the ninja organization the Hand. Stick builds up to Black Sky, with the revelation of what it is — kind of — by saying foreboding things like, “it’s the bringer of shadows,” which was cool and creepy. Unfortunately, I didn’t much like the resolution. Matt dons his black suit and goes with Stick to handle Black Sky, creating another well-choreographed action set piece on the docks, only for Matt to discover Black Sky is a child and essentially retreat from the scene. Later, when Matt and Stick reunite, Stick has already killed Black Sky offscreen, and gets into a fight with Murdock over murdering what seemed to be a kid. While the brawl between the two is another great fight for the series, the resolution of Black Sky in this episode was disappointing. He was built up almost as some sort of dark god by Stick prior to the reveal, only to be flippantly killed without showing the audience; that didn’t meet my expectations for this episode. Ultimately, the character work between Stick and Matt was the most important part of that arc, but the conclusion of Black Sky could have been better.
Meanwhile, Karen is confronted by Ben about being completely out of her league in attempting to take down Fisk’s shell company. Urich is, as always, a nice change of pace to everything else happening in the show, being able to delegate his experience to those who are clearly drowning in their circumstances, like Karen. Ben Urich is a man who has been down this road many times before, and Curtis-Hall brings that idea to the screen perfectly with his world-weary performance. Foggy is also thrown in for good measure, saving Karen from a group of street toughs while also being brought into Ben and Karen’s inner circle. All the side characters here have good interactions, though it is something of a stark contrast to what’s going on in the A plot.
Ultimately, there are a few flaws with this episode, but despite these, it’s still one of my favorite episodes in just how off-the-wall it is compared to the rest of the series. While Stick is only scheduled to be in this episode, it’s somewhat assured that we’ll see Glenn return in either season 2 or perhaps one of the other Marvel Netflix shows.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– When Stick first is brought to the orphanage to pick up Matt for training, the nun states that Matt’s mother is alive but that’s “an entirely different story.” Murdock’s mother is in fact a nun herself, who found the church but abandoned Matt and his father in doing so. It’s an interesting story that I’m sure will be spotlighted in the show’s future.
– This Black Sky was NOT a character from the comics, for the record.
– At the end of the episode, Stick is talking to a mysterious man in the shadows, which is a scene directly lifted from the comic book mini series, Daredevil: Man Without Fear. The man is Stone, a partner to Stick in a team called “The Chaste,” who helps him fight the supernatural ninja organization The Hand.
– Matt: “I’ve learned a lot since you’ve been gone.”
Stick: “Like what?”
Matt: “You’re a dick.”
– Stick: “An old guy just lit you up.”