Tuesday, April 14, 2015

They Meet! "Speak Of The Devil" Finally Puts Wilson Fisk And Matt Murdock In The Same Place!

The Good: Adequate performances, Good character development
The Bad: Unremarkable plot and performances
The Basics: Until the final act, "Speak Of The Devil" fails to rise to being anything extraordinary . . . when its potential finally explodes!

Daredevil has become an intriguing addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and presenting the vigilante hero through a television series has allowed Marvel, ABC Studios, and Disney to raise the bar in how the super hero story is created. Using serialized television, Daredevil has been able to take the time to develop the characters and make a long arc for the plot that a Summer Blockbuster just cannot do. With "Speak Of The Devil," Daredevil pushes forward in a brooding, emotional way that does not utilize anything particularly cinematic for the bulk of the episode.

Peppered throughout the quiet, slow scenes that make it feel like Daredevil is mired somewhere entirely cerebral, "Speak Of The Devil" has moments of a desperately violent fight between the Masked Vigilante (Daredevil) and a hired ninja. "Speak Of The Devil" is a great example of an episode that works much better in the context of the season-long arc of Daredevil than a standalone hour of television.

Opening with Matt Murdock fighting a proper ninja, Daredevil is getting his ass handed to him. The episode jumps to Murdock waiting to confess to Father Lantom, who has figured out his identity and has a cup of coffee with Murdock. Murdock arrives back at the offices of Nelson And Murdock where Nelson, Page, and Ben Urich are reacting to Wilson Fisk publicly promising to better New York City. At Fisk's headquarters, Fisk and Wesley strategize the political campaign the new Wilson Fisk must wage. They are interrupted by Nobu, who wants Fisk to provide him with the promised block . . . and he insists on getting a very specific one.

When Cardenas arrives at the offices to let Nelson And Murdock know Fisk has doubled the buyout offer on the tenement, the lawyers decide to pursue any other possible leads. That puts Murdock at Vanessa's art gallery where he tries to pump her for information on Wilson . . . when Fisk walks in! When Cardenas is killed and Fisk is publicly sympathetic, Matt Murdock walks into Fisk's baited trap and ends up skewered by one of Nobu's ninjas!

For those not savvy in Daredevil, the Nobu plotline seems to be building to put Daredevil in the Shadowland (reviewed here!) storyline in the future. Nobu is insistent on acquiring a very specific block in Hell's Kitchen and given how there is Japanese writing on his blueprints over that block and Nobu is the face of Yokuza in Daredevil it stands to reason that "Speak Of The Devil" is being used to very quietly insinuate Shadowland into the Marvel Cinematic Universe at a future point.

When it is not mired in Matt Murdock debating the morals of crossing the line as he considers killing Wilson Fisk, "Speak Of The Devil" has a level of violence and graphic drug use that is unpleasant to watch. Instead of being a powerful superhero fight, Murdock's fight against the ninja is like watching Jesus get flayed in The Passion Of The Christ (reviewed here!). After debate and introspection, "Speak Of The Devil" degenerates into a pound fest that moves Matt Murdock into the position that leads to him almost being killed.

"Speak Of The Devil" is well-acted, though none of the performances outside Peter McRobbie's (Father Lanthom's) monologue require much in the way of emotional range. The fight scenes are well-choreographed, brutal to watch and played out adequately. Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, and Vincent D'Onofrio play well within their established emotional ranges.

That makes "Speak Of The Devil" a very average, somewhat unremarkable episode that does not stand out on its own, though it is essential to moving the characters and advancing the plot and characters!

[Note: This review includes a "factual error" purposely because one of the key characters is not revealed until the episode's climactic scene and I don't believe in spoiling that moment for readers!]

For other works with Peter McRobbie, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Inherent Vice
World Trade Center
16 Blocks
Brokeback Mountain
Spider-Man 2
Small Time Crooks

[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 reviews of movies and episodes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, please visit my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page!

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