Daredevil: Shadows in the Glass
April 30, 2015 5:05 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

As tensions continue to rise among the alliance of crime bosses, Wilson Fisk reflects on his youth as a child of Hell's Kitchen in the 1970's.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's as if they'd run out of ways to make the Kingpin's disturbing violence any more violent, and were forced to fall back on making it more disturbing. If somebody had asked me ahead of time, "Are you willing to stick with a show where a nine year is forced by his father to kick a bully over and over and over again, and then later on the kid takes a ballpeen hammer to the back of his dad's head?" I almost certainly would have said, "Nope."

But I kept going past this episode, so apparently I'm not a reliable judge.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:45 AM on April 30, 2015

Kingpin started out as a Spider Man villain, and his been retrofitted to be DareDevil's nemesis. They occassionally explicitly state that DareDevil is supposed to be an inevitable product of Hell's Kitchen, but it isn't very well supported in this series, except for the father storyline. A lot of what makes him DareDevil comes from outside the Kitchen: The chemicals that took his sight but increased his senses, the ninja training, Law School (not explicit in the show, but Columbia and Harvard in the comics, as I recall.)

But Fisk's retrofitting feels like it actually does make him a product of the Kitchen, with a father who wanted to go into local politics and was in league with the local crime boss (a fabricated history of the Kitchen; the locals were an Irish gang called The Westies, although they did have connections to the Gambino crime family). He's molded by the bulying he experiences in the Kitchen, from the kids in his neighborhood to his own father, and it turns him into someone who is willing to murder to make things better.

Interestingly, at the start of the series, both DareDevil and Kingpin are at work on their respective goals for the neighborhood, but DareDevil has almost no plan at all -- he's sort of accidentally a preservationist, in that all he wants to do is keep the neighborhood healthy and take out crime. But Kingpin has a far more elaborate plan, and it involves razing the neighborhood and turning it into condos. This makes sense, given that his childhood there was miserable. And, in fact, that is pretty much what happened to the neighborhood.
posted by maxsparber at 8:22 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Never mind Wilson or his dad. But Mom cutting up dad's body and then having both of them take it out piece by piece over a week?

Yeah, no wonder the Kingpin has issues!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:40 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

According to Wikipedia, Hell's Kitchen actually got its name because it was a crime ridden slum. I'd always assumed it was just a weird name that meant something innocuous in dutch (like Fresh Kills).
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:46 AM on April 30, 2015

I found it difficult to imagine the kid-Fisk growing into the adult Fisk that we see.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:23 AM on April 30, 2015

More explicit (dark)mirror-image between Kingpin and Daredevil. Fisk is close to his mother where Matt has none (that we are told about, and she's absent). Both fathers are absent; Fisk's after a downward spiral that ends with him beating his wife (again, presumably) and dying at Wilson's hand. Matt's goes out on a high note, of sorts. Or at least one where he takes charge of his own destiny and prevails based on his own skills.

Battling Jack is killed by the mobster he refuses to do work for. Fisk's father is facing death from a mobster he over-extended himself to. Did we ever get a consensus on whether Jack Murdock started throwing fights of his own accord or if he was pressed into it?

I found it difficult to imagine the kid-Fisk growing into the adult Fisk that we see.

I can see that, though I think we're supposed to see this as a pivotal point for Fisk. It's no coincidence that we also see Fisk's dad showing him how to be ruthless and violent... shortly before he uses that same skill/practice to kill his dad. By itself that might not be much, but mom shows herself to have iron and cunning in her as well. I find the idea that this, combined with the absence of his domineering father, that Fisk might find ways to excel.
posted by phearlez at 12:01 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did we ever get a consensus on whether Jack Murdock started throwing fights of his own accord or if he was pressed into it?

My impression was that he did it because he needed the money for raising his kid. So kindof both?
posted by Hoopo at 2:13 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Where I think this series shines, besides great casting and fight choreography, is in the plotting of the season's arc. It's just brilliant in how it pulls it off. You don't quite notice it until episodes 5 and 6, which is essentially a two-parter, but then we change it up in episode 7 with Stick and young Matt. So of course we focus on Kingpin's backstory in this one. I don't want to spoil the next two, but the narrative follows a great progression. There's no single episode that follows a formula, each is a comic book issue coming together for this great arc.

You can tell the difference between this and lesser shows like Gotham or Flash (or Arrow, but I don't watch Arrow) in how they handle their casefile of the week formula. There's no need to return the heroes to a default state at the end of the episode here. Matt's going to change, and so is everyone else, and those changes are telling a definitive story.

If there's one thing I'm hoping the rest of the Marvel adaptations coming to Netflix do, it's this. I worry that they'll lose sight of this aspect of things and really go off the rails from the source material, going for that modern (and dare I say, tired,) format that has to have everything wrapped up with a bow at the end for the next episode's writer to pick up.
posted by Catblack at 2:43 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

People do tend to refer to modern TV series as very long movies, but I've thought for a while (definitely reinforced by Better Call Saul, and definitely this), that the novel is a more appropriate model. Not necessarily a Great Literary Novel, but both BCS and this are really good pulp novels made flesh - Elmore Leonard in the former case, in the latter... I don't know, Mickey Spillane or something. I think the form accommodates sudden lurches off in unexpected directions as long as they support the story with a bit of backstory - in BCS it was the Mike episode, and in Daredevil it's this episode.

The traditional TV form - as many identikit episodes as the network think they can get away with - is something I have next to no interest in these days.
posted by Grangousier at 3:41 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I liked? enjoyed? enthused? this episode. I mean, it was pretty brutal in a throwback to episodes 1-2 way. Herc from the Wire was a pretty Bad Dad, but Mamma Fisk... there's the seat of Wilson's practical brutality right there. She took how many hits to maintain her lower middle class life? She did what to retain it after Stop, Hammertime?

No wonder he's into Vanessa, who is made a better character by this episode. She is admittedly a bit of a power-junkie, but she wants the powerful people she's with to actually use said power for more than getting her in bed. I don't think she cares about Fisk's vision, just that he has one. Fisk's Dad had no vision - he just wanted the trappings - thus dead.

Still, you get a sense that Wilson did not fall far from the tree. He's clearly made deals with folks he doesn't like (the Russians), folks he is scared of (Madame Gao), folks who have more access that him (Owsley), and folks who do shit for reasons he does not understand (the Yakuza), just as his dad made deals with the mob to run for office. Unlike dad, though, Fisk realizes that these relationships need to be managed from a position of equal strength (hence using Wesley as an intermediary - Fisk's strength is only in local access) and that these relationships need to be managed.

Also, I think this episode sheds more light on Vanessa and why the hell would she stick around a dangerous monster like Fisk. She's admitted to being attracted to power previously, but I think she's really attracted to power being used with a purpose beyond trying to get inter her pants. She likes Fisk for his vision - I'm not sure she cares a lot about what that vision is.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:36 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

I looked this episode because it really illustrates what motivates Fisk: vengence. fundamentally, against Hell's Kitchen . If Fisk's plan doesn't make sense, it's because the goal isn't to make profit, but to destroy the place that hurt him and his mother.

Here's a thought, given that Fisk has travelled extensively and is already wealthy. What literary character travels the world, learns to be dangerously competent, and then returns under another identity to wreck vengeance?
posted by happyroach at 12:02 AM on May 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Late-season Madame Gao talk... COMMENCE!
posted by porpoise at 12:14 AM on May 1, 2015

More flashbacks. Yeah. I'm not impressed. They went too much for the cheap emotion.

More awkward talk between Foggy and Matt and Karen. Yawn.

Something about how rare magic teenage mutants are in Japan I guess this is foreshadowing for a future series.

Finally, an unforgivable cliché: the bad guy is OCD about his wardrobe.

Thirty minutes in and I thought: Marvel's third-act issues came early for Daredevil. I had hoped that this show would do better.

And then Madame Gao showed up and saved the day. She passed the ball to Vanessa, who scored again. Even Mama Fisk scored (Seriously. "Get the saw" redeemed the whole flashback). And that final scene conveyed more latent evil than any of the fight scenes.

I'm glad to see the show is still on track! I was a bit worried for awhile.
posted by kanewai at 1:51 AM on May 1, 2015

No wonder he's into Vanessa, who is made a better character by this episode. She is admittedly a bit of a power-junkie, but she wants the powerful people she's with to actually use said power for more than getting her in bed. I don't think she cares about Fisk's vision, just that he has one.

What what makes that accessible for us as the audience is that this is an oft-repeated thing we say about people - often about romantic partners when we are looking for them. We want drive, ambition, interest in thing. People who are interested in things are interesting.

It's sort of amazing how often fiction fails this and forces us to ask "why are they with this person?" Here we see early that Fisk is a violent monster. He has a veneer but he's capable of real rage and depravity and we as the audience is shown that and Vanessa is shown to not have her head in the sand about it. But we can still see how Vanessa would be interested without it being unbelievable or her needing to necessarily be just as depraved.
posted by phearlez at 7:51 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not just "get the saw." Her quick response also floored me. *shudder*
posted by Pronoiac at 11:41 PM on May 2, 2015

Vincent D'Onofrio does an amazingly clever thing with his voice I didn't notice until this episode. Take... AWAY, the stilTED and... preCISE OVERelo...cution, AND... there's a working class New York accent at the base of it. It makes Fisk even more pathetic... and even more dangerous as a man who understands his limitations.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:38 PM on May 5, 2015

Also, we genuinely like the villains in this series - they have character, heart, and sympathetic stories. They have motivations that are complex, or attitudes that are charming and fierce, or both.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:46 PM on May 5, 2015

Great (and disturbing ) episode but I groaned out loud during the cooking eggs while listening to classical music in a mid-century modern apartment. It sort of hit all of the supervillain cliches in one shot.
posted by octothorpe at 7:13 PM on May 9, 2015

I had the same feeling, and then I couldn't actually remember any scenes from other movies or shows that were similar. It channels something deep and heartfelt, but it's a mosaic of impressions being assembled here, and triggering something archetypal.

There's another scene in a further episode that's almost identical, save for an intensely emotional addition, and is, at first, similarly eye-rolling - until you try to come up with other scenes of its kind anywhere near as memorable, and fail.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:51 PM on May 9, 2015

Yeah, but do you detect any sort of cheap irony, there? Most of the examples in "villains love classical" are simply ham-handed ironic juxtaposition.

This is something different. It takes bits and pieces of tropes, and weaves them into something larger.

The music? It's the cello piece Lexus uses in its adverts! It's another trapping of wealth and power, along with his silk kimono and granite table and closet full of near-identical suits. He's going through the motions, and the motions are meaningless. There's something profound that's missing, and when it's added... wow.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:07 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The funny thing about Bad Guys and classical music is that, more often and not, it's very, very specific - after Silence of the Lambs, it seems to be, most often, the Aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations, performed by Glenn Gould in 1955. The suits and accessories come from the end of Oldboy. It's an ongoing theme in (particularly) American popular culture that men who like nice things are not to be trusted, as they probably just pretending to like them (because no one normal really enjoys classical music or jazz, after all, do they?), or otherwise it's a sign that they're evil. I don't think it's just equating evil with effeminacy - Lecter, for example, is never seen as effeminate, but his "sophistication" is definitely a part of the way he is coded as alien.

(And I really, really like Silence of the Lambs, so there's no misunderstanding.)

I read Fisk as being in the former camp, sort of. His apparent sophistication seems actually to be something he does out of respect for Wesley - not quite an affectation, but rather something he's detached from. He has a drawerful of cufflinks, but always chooses his father's.

But it does fit squarely into the narrative in modern U.S. culture that, whatever they claim, men who profess to enjoy something other than beer, baseball and rock and roll are either pretending or not really proper men.

(And it's not just men - I wonder whether it might not also be the subtext of this cartoon linked in a thread on the blue - but it usually is.)
posted by Grangousier at 6:10 AM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Late to the game, but I loved this episode. They've done a terrific job painting Fisk as a strong character. Arrow is terrible at this, the villains are stupid and pointless. Gotham is much better but then really the villains are the star of that show. Daredevil balances it out, and the deliberate (if heavy handed) pairing of Matt's story with Wilson's with their morning routine was nice. (What magic power does that omelette have though, the ability to turn night into day?)

Also loved the scenes with James Wesley, showing us his relationship with Fisk is more nuanced than we knew before. Early on he's giving his boss advice. Then he's humiliated when it turns out his translation skills aren't necessary and he didn't know. (A bit silly, it was pretty obvious from episode one that Fisk could understand spoken Chinese and Japanese.) And then him coming to intervene after Fisk's freakout, and then the girlfriend replacing him. All subtle and delicious acting. Both Wesley and Leland are so proper, prim, they aren't going to be in this world for long are they?

And I agree the classical music villain trope is a little lazy. But I loved the bit where he's staring at the wall, or the wall-like abstract art in his bedroom. (Is it art? Or just plaster?)
posted by Nelson at 9:55 PM on May 16, 2015

« Older Firefly: Our Mrs. Reynolds...   |  Movie: Avengers: Age of Ultron... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments