Saturday, April 11, 2015

Return To The Legal Thriller When Daredevil Becomes A "Rabbit In A Snow Storm"

The Good: Decent performances, Progresses the characters and story
The Bad: Surprisingly boring
The Basics: "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" illustrates the law-practicing side of the Daredevil mythos . . . but it does so without any real spark or flair.

It always surprises me when something that is very popular in one medium takes time translating to another, successful, medium. Despite having virtually all of the essential elements that made the comic book Daredevil one of the most popular and enduring Marvel Comics for decades, the film Daredevil (reviewed here!) failed to launch a franchise. The irony is that the cinematic Iron Man (reviewed here!), which properly launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe did not have the fan momentum going into it, the way Daredevil did. And yet, Iron Man had multiple sequels and it has taken more than a decade to relaunch Daredevil within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like many people, I am spending this weekend binge watching the new Netflix series Daredevil and I'm up to "Rabbit In A Snow Storm."

Unlike the prior episode of Daredevil, "Cut Man" (reviewed here!), which had momentum going into it from a final-act incident, "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" is burdened by not having an initial hook. "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" refocuses Daredevil on the legal arena that rules the civilian life of Matt Murdock. "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" focuses on Matt Murdock instead of his vigilante alter-ego, Daredevil. It also marks the entrance to the series of the final two, essential, Daredevil characters who were planned to appear in the television series: reporter Ben Urich and the Kingpin. All that is missing from the series is Bullseye!

Opening in a bowling alley, where Mr. Prohashka is bowling privately until John Healy comes in and roughs him up, Healy's story in Hell's Kitchen is related through a flashback. Healy bought a gun thirty-six hours prior from Turk Barrett, who told him the gun would not jam. The pistol does jam, though, and Healy has to brain Prohashka with a bowling ball to kill him. Surrendering to the police, Healy requests a lawyer and that draws in Nelson and Murdock. Nelson And Murdock's office is visited by Wesley, who claims to work for a business called Confederated Global Investments. While Nelson is initially eager to take the case for the money Wesley puts down on retainer, he is skeptical after interrogating the remorseless murderer.

After following Wesley, though, Matt Murdock is eager to represent Healy - if only to learn more about Confederated Global Investments and to keep the lights on at the budding firm. Karen, however, flees to cut a deal with her former employer, recognizing that Wesley's knowledge of her situation could mean her life is still in danger. As the trial of Healy begins, Matt Murdock recognizes that Wesley is extorting one of the jurors and that night, Daredevil beats up the thug trailing the juror to find out why.

Peppered throughout "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" is the story of Ben Urich. Ben Urich is a Hell's Kitchen reporter who reports on organized crime in Hell's Kitchen, despite his editor arguing that he needs stories that will sell more papers. Urich is chasing a story hinted to him by a local mobster while struggling to deal with a hospital situation with his wife. As Urich finagles with insurance companies and hospital administrators, he works to break a story that will expose the story that was hinted to him.

While "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" does the necessary work of establishing the power and reach of Wilson Fisk (to whom Wesley reports), it does not do it in an interesting way. Karen Page vacillates between fear and determination in reacting to the attack on her in "Into The Ring" (reviewed here!). She ties into the budding Urich plotline when she finally resolves to do something about Union Allied's parent company (who is Confederated Global Investments). But Karen's journey in "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" is dramatically understated. She seems offended by Union Allied's lawyers attempting to bribe her into silence, but - despite the subsequent scene with her deceased co-worker's wife - her sudden resolve to stand up and do the right thing is not presented in a compelling way. Instead of a character journey, her end in the episode is just something that happens.

"Rabbit In A Snow Storm" is an unfortunate "necessary evil" television episode. Fisk is named and finally shown on-screen and the formula for much of Daredevil is established. One of the consistent plots in the book Daredevil is that a client who is guilty of a crime manages to use the law to escape consequences, so Daredevil punishes them in the street. "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" is a mildly interesting twist on that in that Murdock works the Healy case in such a way that he is able to use his client for information on the Kingpin, but the formula is essentially the same.

The performances in "Rabbit In A Snow Storm" are fine, but none are superlative. Instead, this is a legal drama episode that fails to make the viewer invested in the case or the characters involved in it.

For other works with Geoffrey Cantor, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Bert And Arnie's Guide To Friendship
Men In Black 3
Man On A Ledge
When In Rome
Public Enemies

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Daredevil - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season of the Man Without Fear here!


For other television episode and movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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