Tony wants to change the world. Wait, what do you mean there’s new Daredevil?
For a show, and a mythology, based largely in the principle of duality, what could be more fitting for the finale of Season 1 and the completion of the ‘origin season,’ than the finding of a way to embrace that duality and show it working in harmony?
Winning Foggy back into his life, not in the way they were before but as they can be going forward, Matt Murdock is persuaded to stick to the principles he espoused in the daylight, and use the law to try to bring Wilson Fisk to justice. But while there is a joyful reuniting of Nelson, Murdock and Page and their skills are firing on all cylinders, they learn of the thread that remains out there – the single human being alive and reachable who could testify against Fisk, and be the loose thread that unravels the whole tapestry of his world.
The battle becomes starkly delineated in the search for this single witness. If Fisk gets to them first, he can kill them, and his life – and the version of reality he peddles – can continue undisturbed. If Matt and the gang can get to them first, there’s a chance that Wilson Fisk can be brought down.
It’s in this reality, and its subsequent replaying, that the truth of Matt Murdock and Daredevil as one is finally merged. The law is there, and it can work in the way all the wide-eyed believers in truth and justice think it can – but you have to get people into its system, and ensure they survive, against the wishes of people who don’t respect the law as being greater than their own will. Matt Murdock is there to be an advocate of the law as the expression of blind justice, but the Daredevil is how you ensure people can make use of that system. It’s a way of fusing the two halves of Murdock’s life that Foggy can appreciate and even respect – the vigilante working for the law, while outside its precincts.
That’s a way of thinking that becomes important because naturally, when you have a Capone, a Corleone or a Fisk on your hands, they’re not going to simply go quietly and let themselves be brought down by the laws and concepts of justice dreamed up in the minds of what they distinctly feel are lesser men than themselves. In the end, the Man in the Mask might be able to keep the witness to Fisk’s evil alive long enough to bring the king into the system of justice, but it’s the Daredevil – the fully-suited, resplendent symbol of the city and its people, the fairly literal Devil’s advocate for the powerless against the likes of Fisk – who’s needed to bring down the Bad Guys who simply believe they’re above the law, even when it catches up with them.
There are realisations of reality throughout this kickass season finale, Fisk almost getting his Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction on, reciting the tale of the Good Samaritan, and re-evaluating his place within it. As Madame Gao advised, he picks a side, and it’s refreshing, not to say life-altering, that he decides he’s not the Samaritan, but the bad intent that made him necessary. If nothing else, that clears the field for the Daredevil to be the kickass, red-suited Samaritan of Hell’s Kitchen, though in their final showdown of the season, Fisk still feels like he’s the one who’s been hard done-by, the one from whom the clown in the ‘silly costume’ has stolen the wonderful dream of a better tomorrow for the city. He sees the Daredevil as being ‘what the city deserves – men like you, and my father.’ And there, right there, is Fisk’s psychology laid out – his big dream of making Hell’s Kitchen safe and beautiful is a reaction to the ugliness and fear he knew as a child under his despotic, hair-trigger drunken dad.
In defeating Fisk, and finally seeing him consigned to a jail cell, the Daredevil gets his name, his outfit (not for nothing, but personally for this viewer’s money, he looked much better in the Man in the Mask black), and his genuine right to exist.
And as Matt, Foggy and Karen face a new day together, the truth is that there are weights and losses still to be borne from their journey through the dark, and that journey is far from over. Fisk is in jail, yes, staring at the wall and turning over his plans in his head, but Vanessa wears his ring now, and she escaped his arrest. It will take a year to get a court hearing for the Kitchen’s King of Crime. And people died along the way, affecting them all, changing them and the way they see the world - perhaps Karen most of all. The secretary with a gift for noticing things has become if not hardened, then certainly more able to cope with, and less surprised by, the nature of self-deluding evil in the world. She has her own price to carry from the part she’s played, but that’s a storyline for another day.
The rise of the Daredevil has not been a simple matter. It has not been the case that he’s been loved by legions of adoring fans – but then, no superhero is at first. More than many of his TV contemporaries though, Charlie Cox as Netflix’ Daredevil has reclaimed the harder edge of superhero stories as above all stories of humanity, morality, and doing the right thing because you can, on behalf of those who can’t. The first season has been a wild ride, underpinned with a gruesome realism that has made the stakes of going into battle against the forces of human darkness clear and plain. People die. People get hurt, and threatened, and intimidated. What’s more, Murdock’s battle with his conscience has shown that the moral consequences of justice in a world too cynical to let simple goodness flourish are a whole other can of worms to be forked through and ultimately swallowed down.
The point is, you can watch Season 1 of Daredevil as compulsive programming, as a surprising, ‘what-the-hell?’ House of Cards-compelling story of a grimy world of criminality, and the real, flawed people who stand up and fight to make that world a better place. Or you can watch it as a clarion call. Look around your world. What injustices make you burn and feel you need to act? We’re not suggesting you get all scarlet ninja on the world’s ass, but Murdock’s a man who had a disadvantage thrust upon him, and had to be taught to find his abilities, his skills, and the difference he wanted to make. We all have some disadvantage or other. We all know there are things in the world that need changing. So you can watch Daredevil on an inspirational level too – find the difference you want to make, harness your abilities, and make the world better.
Or…y’know…stay home and stream Season 2 like a boss.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk