by: Anthony Zangrillo
The first three episodes of Daredevil create a triptych of sorts. Each of the episodes has explored a facet of Matt Murdoch: the man, the Devil, and the lawyer. “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” is the lawyer episode, and it is something great. As usual, spoilers abound.
The cold open of this episode is the most stylistic of them yet. It features a slick in media res beginning before flashing back and flashing forward again. It really felt like an opening straight out of an Guy Ritchie film pre-Sherlock Holmes. The unusually light-hearted introduction serves as the audience’s intro to John Healy, the character at the center of this episode’s proceedings. The cold open shows the audience Healy’s brutal, and I mean brutal, murder of a Mr. Prohaszka, a character referenced in the first episode. This fight is the most visceral I’ve seen the show at, with visible bone, various cracks and snaps of other bones, and a finisher which really makes use of the bowling alley setting. Needless to say, this guy is guilty. Now, if this were a Law and Order episode, I could see Foggy and Matt teaming up to beat Healy’s defense, scouring the city for witnesses all to prove that this guy did it. But, this isn’t Law and Order. Instead, Wesley, the Kingpin’s right hand man, strolls into the office of Nelson & Murdock and pays a king’s fortune just to have the two represent Healy. Then, they go to trial, get Healy exonerated, and Matt & Foggy go off to build their practice with some shady money. But, an ending like that would defeat the whole message Daredevil has been pushing to its audience. So, Matt goes and finds Healy. Healy and Matt duke it out in another slick fight scene, until Matt gains the upper hand and forces Healy to tell him the name of his employer. And, just like Pandora’s box, Healy opens up and shouts out “Wilson Fisk.” And just like that a wave of chaos, terror, and fear is about to hit Matt’s world.
A little backstory, I feel, is necessary when you talk about a guy like Kingpin in the context of the street level heroes. In the comics, Wilson Fisk is to the street-level heroes what Thanos is to the Avengers. He’s the Biggest Bad. He’s the guy that employs all the supervillains and archnemeses of all these heroes like Daredevil, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, etc. Now, Fisk is primarily a Daredevil villain, but he recurs throughout Spider-Man’s comics and Punisher’s comics. Fisk is Daredevil’s nemesis. In the comics, this guy ruins Matt’s life, and when I say “ruin”, I absolutely mean “ruin.” He outs Matt Murdock as Daredevil, freezes his bank accounts, evicts him from his apartment, manages to disbar him, and kills his girlfriend. This guy means business. Now, we’ve known for a while Vincent D’Onofrio is going to play Wilson Fisk, but what kind of man is he going to play? Let’s look at the last 5 minutes. The first time the Kingpin is seen, he is wearing an all-black suit against an all-white painting. In fact, the title of this episode is the punchline to a joke that Fisk’s future wife Vanessa Marianna (Ayelet Zurer, who played Superman’s mom in Man of Steel). Any literature student will tell you that white stands for purity and justice, symbolically showing the audience his future enmity with Matt Murdock. But, it is what he says afterwards that shows the kind of man that Fisk is. He remarks “It makes me feel alone” and the episode ends. This shows that Fisk is going to be a less physical Kingpin, and a more cerebral one. He’s inside his head, and if he destroys Daredevil, it isn’t going to be physically. Might we be seeing a redux of Iron Man’s climax or Matt having the worst day ever? Who knows, because this is all just baseless speculation from a guy who loves to overanalyze stuff.
The other important character introduced here is Ben Urich, played by Vondie Curtis-Hall. In the comics, Ben Urich is a key member of the Daily Bugle and possibly one of the only guys to [POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT] deduce the identity of Daredevil and Spider-Man. He’s a trusted source of Murdock, and they’ve worked together quite a bit. In this show, Urich is still the hard-nosed investigative journalist his comics counterpart was, but he works at a dying newspaper forced to write puff pieces as a way to boost sales. His B-story eventually intertwines with Karen’s C-story as she tries to find someone willing to take down her former employer, Union Allied Construction. The pieces are clearly in motion, but for what? At this point, I still have no idea what the broad story-arc of this season is. But, I suppose it’s to be expected of Netflix dramas to do that. Bloodline did this, House of Cards Season 3 did this, and now Daredevil is doing it. Here’s hoping things kick into gear soon. I didn’t spot many allusions or Marvel references in this episode either. Regardless, onto Episode 4!