What a brutal episode. Just from top to bottom, an utterly painful, gruesome episode — and I of course mean this in the best possible way. “Speak of the Devil” is quite possibly Daredevil’s most hard hitting episode, and honestly, perhaps its best as it takes everything essential to the character of Matt Murdock and brings it to the forefront. An interesting twist on the flashback formula, the episode starts in the future while shifting to the present, with Matt fist-fighting a ninja in an abandoned warehouse. Murdock is worse for wear in this fight as he appears to be getting decimated, hacked away nearly piece by piece by the masked figure. Back in the present, Matt sits outside of his church on a bench and contemplates a question that has plagued many superheroes throughout their varied histories. Should Daredevil kill the Kingpin in order to permanently put a stop to him?
To be honest, we’ve seen this song and dance before. We’ve had entire movies based around the idea in fact, with Batman questioning whether or not he should kill the Joker, and Superman questioning whether or not he should kill General Zod. Kind of ironic that we haven’t seen this as much in Marvel movies or TV shows, but go figure. Here however, it’s considered with a fresh take in that the answer to this question is linked primarily to Matt Murdock’s religious background in Catholicism. This is an area (a superhero’s religion) that isn’t explored as much, and it’s seeing Murdock struggle with the idea of killing Fisk due to his religious belief structure, rather than a code of mortality he had set for himself from the offset, is something different. Also, rather than keeping the question inside and coming to a decision on his own, Matt’s priest (Father Lantom), to whom he regularly visits for confession, practically drags Matt into his place of worship to dissect the question. The two discuss the possibility of the existence of the devil with the priest telling a frightful story from his days in Rwanda.
Matt, at this point, is somewhat defeated both physically and mentally. The great thing about the conflict between Matt and Fisk is that there is, seemingly, no real way to beat the Kingpin, aside from the previously mentioned murder option. This is even more apparent when Matt and Fisk meet for the first time in Vanessa’s art gallery. It’s a very tense scene as Murdock tries to rein himself in from killing Wilson Fisk right there and then, and the acting chops of everyone in the scene are top notch. It also makes for a compelling dynamic between the two foes, as Fisk’s power is so indomitable that it’s pushing Murdock in between a rock and a hard place, where his options are slowly becoming nil. The other avenues that have been explored are no longer viable, and the previous episode’s reveal of Fisk going “public” essentially took Murdock out at the knees. Despondent after talking things out with Lantom, Matt wanders back into his law firm where Foggy, Karen, and Ben Urich are waiting. Matt meets Ben for the first time, as a civilian of course, and they pour over what the “Scooby gang” has discovered so far. Things are somewhat looking up for Nelson and Murdock; that is, until it is revealed that Mrs. Cardenas has been killed by a drug addict in her building.
If you recall, Cardenas was a holdout in Fisk’s building, advised to be so by Foggy himself, and she is unsurprisingly murdered (as I called in a previous recap). It acts as a way of throwing another hurdle into the paths of our heroes. To be honest, this works far better than I had originally thought it might, and the guilt and depression that exude from Foggy and Karen is palpable. It also allows for Matt to unveil even darker corners of the Marvel Universe as he tracks Mrs. Cardenas’ killer. Daredevil finds the killer, a junkie who is in the throes of his most recent high, and begins interrogating him quite fiercely. This scene is what makes Daredevil so unique in not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also in most superhero properties on television and movies. You don’t see the hero too often leaping into the den of a heroin addict, beating the hell out of him while the addict pleads through blackened teeth for his life. It’s true to the character of Daredevil in not being afraid to “slum it” in situations like this one, and it’s refreshing in this age of killer robots and battle suits to see a scenario like this play out. Matt discovers the location of the man who hired Cardenas’ killer and encounters Nobu, head of one of the factions of New York’s underworld, revealed to be the ninja fighting Murdock in the future scenes.
As I mentioned in the beginning , the fight here is almost hard to watch, as Murdock is picked apart by Nobu. The choreography and mood is fantastic, though. Murdock is practically made into Nobu’s pin cushion, receiving stab after stab from his weapon. Luckily though, Matt is able to win the day as Nobu accidentally lights himself ablaze in some nearby chemicals, only for Wilson Fisk to immediately enter the scene. It is here that we are once again reminded what a force Fisk is physically, as he begins trying to tear Daredevil apart with his bare hands, landing haymaker after haymaker and throwing him through a nearby table, which looks quite painful. Murdock escapes, however, out a nearby window, and it makes you question how on earth he can even be alive at this point, as Kingpin resumes the hunt. The episode ends with Foggy entering Matt’s apartment to check on him, only to find Murdock as Daredevil bleeding on the floor.
If you had to make a recommendation as to which episode best sums up Daredevil’s character and world, it would be this one. Everything is brought together swimmingly here and it made for one of the best outings this season.
Episode Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– Nobu fights Daredevil in full-on ninja attire, proving definitively that Nobu is a member of The Hand. While he doesn’t seem to exhibit any supernatural abilities himself, it’s entirely possible that he returns for Season 2, as the Hand are all about resurrection.
– One of the heroin packets that is made by Madame Gao has the symbol of the Steel Serpent, one of the main antagonists of Iron Fist. As you can see, the seeds are being planted quite early.
– Priest: “There is a wide gulf between inaction and murder, Matthew. Another man’s evil does not make you good. Men have used the atrocities of their enemies to justify their own throughout history. Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.”