Daredevil’s “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” kicks off with a balding man named Healey attempting to do some late night bowling. The alley is closed, save for a lone bowler surrounded by some larger gentlemen. Healey asks for a game, is denied, and proceeds to beat the living hell out of the gents in front of him, going so far as to deliver a compound fracture to the man bowling (with bone popping out of his skin and everything!) This episode is shocking and gruesome, and I can’t tell you the number of times I was surprised by the outright violence that was portrayed here. Don’t get me wrong, I come not to bury Daredevil, but to praise the show with this dark tone. Some people in the past looked down on the dark and gloomy world of some of the super movies that were out there, but this harsher tone works for Daredevil where it failed so often before, because it’s something new that we haven’t seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It takes you by surprise and pulls you in even further with its tenacity. This isn’t to say you could lose the humor, as a flashback scene with an arms dealer named Turk exemplifies that the show still knows how to deliver a punchline, even in the middle of an all-out brawl.
In “Rabbit in a Snowstorm”, we’re also introduced to reporter Ben Urich, played by Vondie Curtis-Hall. There have only been a handful of perfect casting decisions when it came to translating comic book characters to real life. Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Christopher Reeves as Superman, and J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson are but a few examples of actors who embodied their roles completely. I’m happy to say that Curtis-Hall as Urich falls into this group. Vondie perfectly brings the hard-boiled, aging reporter to the spotlight, showing his relentlessness in trying to get a new story, while also dealing with the change in times/print media’s demise, as well as his ailing wife in the hospital. There’s a sadness to Ben, in so much as it seems like he’s fighting a losing battle on nearly every front of his life. Here we see a man who is down but not out, looking not for glory, but to simply get a story out to the world, as he has done so many times in the past. The argument Ben has with his editor about the importance of stories that actually matter, rather than “fluff pieces,” is a great sign of the times.
Healey, after being captured by the police and planting a gun underneath the bowling alley’s pinball machine, enlists the services of Nelson and Murdock to handle his case of “self-defense.” Prior to this however, Nelson and Murdock meet Wesley, Kingpin’s right hand man, who offers them a staggering amount of money to come work for him. Matt knows immediately that something is up and uses this as an opportunity to learn more about the seedy underbelly of the city by taking the case to represent Healey. If I had to pick an entry into the 13 episode series (all of which I’ve watched at this point) that best encapsulated Daredevil as a character, and as a concept, it would be this one, as we’re not only given an in-depth looks into all of the players, we’re also able to see all the different environments in their best light. From print media to the courthouse to the streets, we’re given a fantastic vantage of what makes this world tick. Every victory seems small, and the odds against our heroes loom large, but this episode perfectly encapsulates the idea of one step forward, two steps back.
In the courtroom, Matt displays his ability to hear the heartbeats of the jurors, and realizes that one of them may have been intimidated by Wesley and the Kingpin. Taking this knowledge, he hits the streets as Daredevil, and beats down the man hired by Fisk to keep the juror’s mouth shut, demanding for him to knock it off and reveal who he’s working for. The Fisk flunky states that he has no idea who he works for, and is given his assignments by a system wherein he sees whether or not a light in a building is switched on. It’s a nice little scene to demonstrate just how careful and ruthless Fisk is. Thinking he had saved the day, Matt returns the next day to the courtroom, only to realize that other members of the jury have similar heartbeats and they have also most likely been blackmailed. Remember what I said about one step forward, two steps back?
Angry and frustrated, Matt dons the black mask once again and decides to take the fight directly to Healey. While not exactly the hallway fight we got last episode, its still a well-choreographed battle between Daredevil and Healey, as the two exchange blows skillfully. Managing to beat Healey, Daredevil finally gets the name of the man running the show: Wilson Fisk. Healey, realizing what he’s done wrong, proceeds to walk up to a nearby fence spike, wrenches his head back, and slams his head through it, killing himself instantly with all of the gory detail being laid bare. I can tell you that this scene made me audibly gasp in just how violent it was. This was something straight out of a horror movie, and it just goes to show how vicious the streets are in the world of Daredevil. The fact that this scene acts as a precursor to giving us our first look at Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, staring into a white painting at an art gallery, makes for a fantastic contrast and look into the character of the Kingpin.
Ultimately, another excellent installment of Daredevil, showing us more of Marvel’s New York City without pulling any punches.
Episode Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– Karen’s background with Confederated Global is necessary, but tedious in a way as it doesn’t really feel as engaging as everything else we’re seeing put forth in this episode.
– If you look in Ben Urich’s office, you can see two articles that were written about the events in Avengers and Incredible Hulk respectively. Man, what news days those must have been!
– Speaking of Ben Urich, here he works for the Daily Bulletin, though the show creator recently went on record saying that had the Marvel/Sony deal come through 8 months earlier than it had, he would have been working at Spider-Man’s Daily Bugle, which is where he works primarily in the comics.
– Along with Kingpin, we’re also introduced to his soon to be love interest, Vanessa. The two, in the comics, had about what is the most dramatic, unhealthy relationship you can find in fiction, though this is to be expected when you’re dating the top mob boss I suppose.
– Owlsley: “He’s decorating??”
– Urich: “Will Hell’s Kitchen Get a Subway line?”