Daredevil: Stick
April 28, 2015 5:58 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Acting on Vladimir's information, Matt tracks down Leland Owlsley, but before he can get him to give up any information, Matt is distracted by the arrival of an elderly man, and Owlsley escapes. The elderly man is revealed to be Matt's mentor, Stick, who taught him to master his abilities as a child. He enlists Matt's help to destroy Black Sky, a weapon that the Japanese, led by Fisk's associate Nobu, are bringing into New York. (via)
posted by He Is Only The Imposter (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed the episode, but I thought the introduction of Stick wasn't handled well. He just shows up randomly while Matt is confronting Owlsley. I get that the implication is that he tracked Matt down, but it felt forced. I wish they would have done a better job introducing him.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:53 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought he was just following the Black Sky and happened to cross paths with Matt.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:09 AM on April 28, 2015

This is one of the few true standalone episodes, intended to introduce the larger world that Daredevil is part of. It's also the most Frank Miller episode, as he's the author that made Daredevil a ninja and put him in an environment that shared Miller's fascination with manga, so it's not surprising we have a blind martial arts instructor and a psychic child, or whatever the hell he was.

It does sort of undermine the idea that Daredevil is a necessary product of Hell's Kitchen (while Fisk, in his own way, is too); he's as much a product of, say, Akira and Lone Wolf and Cub as the dockyards of New York. But since he's part of a forthcoming series that includes Luke Cage and, more significantly, Iron Fist, we need to see that he fits into that world as well.
posted by maxsparber at 8:13 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I spent this whole episode baffled by how awful Stick was. Not necessarily because it was badly done, it's kind of a nice change to have a transparently non-benevolent mentor figure, but because I was left wondering what the fuck Stick expected from Matt. Like, dude, you're training a recently orphaned blind child, of course that kid's going to have emotions. Also, you can't just roll back into town, insult just about every single one of that now grown up kid's life choices, make a ton of cryptic comments you entirely fail to explain, and then expect him to fall in line like a good little soldier. What the fuck? Because for one thing, you have entirely failed to explain what war you're even fighting, Stick. Also I couldn't help but think of Steve Rogers saying, "Soldiers trust each other. That's what makes it an army. Not a bunch of guys running around shooting guns," in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He's right! You can't expect your fellow soldier to fight with you and have your back when you fail to tell him literally anything other than cryptic, ominous warnings!

Stick seems like a frankly awful mentor figure, chastising Matt for his choices when he's offered no reasonable alternatives or reasoning other than "because I said so," and some mystical woo. I know that this is probably going to play into a larger arc across all the Netflix shows, but as it is, I'm just like, "fuck this Stick dude, he's just a cryptic, pointlessly withholding asshole." From Stick's perspective, there's some super important war going on and Matt's fucking around trying to stop some crime boss whose domain is a few city blocks. But in my opinion, Stick loses any moral high ground he has what with entirely failing to explain literally anything about this super important war. It's like an interlude from some entirely different show, and it really (heh) sticks out.

So I'm just left confused about what we're supposed to take away here. Literally no reasonable person would have listened to Stick and gone "Seems legit!" He's setting up some presumably important plot lines, but I'm left wondering why I should care, given the use of so many stupid "not telling my student anything absolutely won't come back to bite me on the ass," tropes.
posted by yasaman at 10:57 AM on April 28, 2015 [13 favorites]

Yeah, that's a good point. I was irked by that too. I hate when characters are cryptic for the sake of being cryptic. If there's a legitimate in-universe reason for not revealing something, fine. But maintaining a mystery just to keep the audience in the dark is stupid.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:01 AM on April 28, 2015

I wondered how Matt managed to continue or maintain his training after Stick abandoned him.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:15 PM on April 28, 2015

I hate when characters are cryptic for the sake of being cryptic. If there's a legitimate in-universe reason for not revealing something, fine. But maintaining a mystery just to keep the audience in the dark is stupid.

Totally reminiscent of the Fourth and Fifth Doctors on "Doctor Who," who were especially bad about this. "... I'll tell you later!"
posted by jbickers at 3:22 PM on April 28, 2015

I hate when characters are cryptic for the sake of being cryptic.

To be fair, I think Matt kind of had the same opinion.
posted by happyroach at 5:18 PM on April 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wondered how Matt managed to continue or maintain his training after Stick abandoned him.

Is there anything in the comics about this? Does he get a new sensei or something?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:03 PM on April 28, 2015

I don't recall seeing other teachers but there were plenty of bits of Matt training on his own with a heavy bag. There's a reference in an episode down the line that might point to another source of practice/training though I'm not sure it works with when Matt has become active as the mask here.
posted by phearlez at 9:10 PM on April 28, 2015

Watched this episode last night, and it was not great. It's beginning to feel like the actors are acting stupid (or uncharacteristic) in order to serve the plot, and the plot is not exactly dynamic. The dialogue was frustratingly protracted and directionless. For some reason every conversation in this episode seemed to take a billion years (particularly Karen's chat with Mrs. Delgado. Not sure why it felt so flat).

Daredevil himself just doesn't come across as that smart lately, that savvy, which seems strange for a lawyer. I remember him as smarter from the few comics I've read. He's not thinking, he's just hearing a name, running after that name, punching that name. It makes the whole progression feel quite plodding. Why wouldn't he push Stick for more information, when Stick is asking for his help? Why wouldn't he try to pierce some of Stick's infuriating vagueness? Of course they don't want to reveal too much too soon, but it feels unnatural and makes Murdock seem like a headless chicken. You can keep the characters scrabbling in the dark, but there's got to be better ways than having them ignore the light switches.
posted by distorte at 1:25 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I watched this again, this time with someone else, over the weekend. I didn't like the episode the first time, and I wondered if it would improve on a second viewing. It didn't. It wasn't bad, and a few things were pretty good. And I like Scott Glenn. But, for me, the episode just didn't quite work.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:27 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this one came off like a weird one-off crossover episode with a ninja universe. Maybe whoever's in charge of the overarching MCU mandated that they have some of this stuff in there, but it seems out of place with the rest of the tone of the series.

I'm guessing Matt could get in some sparring with his (briefly mentioned later) college girlfriend, anyway.
posted by tautological at 11:31 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt that this episode wasn't as strong as the others. I'm hoping it's a one-off, and that the main narrative picks up again.

I don't like back-stories in general. We have a man with almost magical abilities. I already have to suspend belief to watch the show, so my take is: just jump into the action and don't offer a detailed explanation as to why this guy is magic. Or try and make it sound plausible. Don't try to give me a reason to explain the unreasonable. It won't work. It has never worked.
posted by kanewai at 12:33 PM on April 29, 2015

But as we have seen from people - including someone who is peaceing the fuck out of DD threads over pushback about the position - a lot of people don't feel that way and want explanations. At episode six Ik said "This is when the show actually starts giving the background on Matt and that he has special abilities. If this hadn't been available all at once for me to binge-watch, I wouldn't have stuck around." Back at ep 1 s/he said "But non-comic book people need more. Superman, Spiderman, The Hulk, they all have origins that set the foundation for the superpowers and that information is laid out early and clearly."

Personally I concur with you. It reminds me somewhat of Sam Van Halgren of Filmspotting talking about a very liberating experience of coming into a movie about 40 minutes after the actual start time. He said nothing was unclear that context didn't explain then or ongoing, and he thought how much of the previous part of the film was obviously unnecessary.

I think you can't get around the need for a consistent metaphysics, but you don't necessarily need them explained - they just need to be discernable and not vary in a jarring way. Maybe ongoing episodic fiction would demand it eventually be addressed, but this was a very complete information dump.
posted by phearlez at 12:57 PM on April 29, 2015

Yeah, I figured an episode on the back-story was inevitable, and I know that a lot of people were waiting for it. I just hope they took care of it all in this episode!
posted by kanewai at 4:28 PM on April 29, 2015

"But as we have seen from people - including someone who is peaceing the fuck out of DD threads over pushback about the position - a lot of people don't feel that way and want explanations."

I'm among those who wanted some kind of explanation (because just being blind and having heightened senses, as well as the mystery of his martial arts skills made it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief), but I didn't much like this episode. It's not the idea of the episode that I didn't like, though, so much as its execution.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:11 PM on April 29, 2015

Oh, also, I strongly disagree with Ik about the opacity indicating a strong fan-orientation. It's more an indication of the serialization of Netflix and the generally higher standards and expectations in non-broadcast television with regards to viewer engagement and attention. I say "non-broadcast", but some BBC dramas are like this, too. It's only for that lowest-denominator broadcast television audience for which writers spoonfeed everything -- lots of exposition, everything chronological, all action and motivations clarified. I have very limited patience for that kind of storytelling, even in the few broadcast shows I like (such as Person of Interest), and I am grateful when a show treats me like an adult, attentive viewer. A good example of this is Better Call Saul, which had almost no exposition and expected the audience to understand what was going on by context and using their own brains.

So with regard to my wanting more information on Matt's abilities -- especially about their nature and origin -- it's not so much that I need explanations per se, but that in this particular case the impression I'd formed (knowing nothing about the comic) was that Matt was simply blind and had developed his other senses to a high degree. That just didn't quite work for me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:36 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess I don't see what's so mysterious about a guy having martial arts skills after it's been established that as a youngster he lost his vision and got superhuman other senses. Could you not just figure that maybe at some point in the 15-20 years since the accident he took up martial arts?
posted by Hoopo at 11:55 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Huh I liked the episode! Mostly because I thought Scott Glenn was great playing Stick. I love that actor, and the weird Bob Durst / Spider Jerusalem blend he was doing here was hilarious and fun. Also of course our blind badass fighter dude was trained by a blind badass fighter dude. It's all so ridiculously improbable.. Reminds me of what I loved about Arrow, the same silly backstories and implausible scenarios. It's good fun comic book TV.

I also really enjoyed the B story with Karen and the elderly Hispanic lady. It seemed really sweet and empathetic, and I like Karen taking on her own investigative role while clearly not being quite equipped to handle the challenge. I fear she's basically destined to be the Damsel in Distress on this show, but at least she has some spine and some humanity to her in being that.
posted by Nelson at 9:21 PM on May 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Stick was a huge asshole with his own agenda. Matt was found by the Blind Magneto, not the Blind Professor X, who promptly dumped him when the kid turned out to be too human to make a good footsoldier. This is kind of awesome. Horrible, but awesome - the trope turned on its head. Fantastic acting cemented what they were trying to do. And Matt lost a father for the second time, because he believed in them too much. It's heart-rending.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:53 PM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Loving Scott Glenn in this.
posted by octothorpe at 7:13 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess that I'm the minority who really liked this episode. I liked seeing a little more backstory and more explanation of his "super" powers and how he's able to take so much punishment.
posted by octothorpe at 7:32 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is the child Black Sky also in the comic books? Is there more context for him somewhere?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:00 AM on May 30, 2015

In another episode post someone seemed to imply all this Hand story with the block they wanted was in the storyline called Shadowland.
posted by phearlez at 11:11 AM on May 31, 2015

Re this Black Sky thing: I read Daredevil briefly in the early 90 but didn't run across anything that sounded like this. That said, when I watched this scene I was immediately reminded of an old F. Paul Wilson novel called Black Wind, which similarly involved certain Japanese children becoming powerful and mysterious weapons. If the Black Sky concept they're suggesting here is anything like the Black Wind storyline, I can imagine why Stick wanted that child dead as soon as possible. (There might also be a sort of interesting parallel between the way DD's loss of sight awoke other powers in him and the impact of lost senses on the children in Wilson's novel.)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:47 AM on July 13, 2015

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