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Marvel's DAREDEVIL E5.S1: "World on Fire"

Dardevil (Charlie Cox); Source: Marvel/Netflix
Daredevil has finally been released on Netflix. All thirteen episodes are available for viewing right now, but I decided to review each individual episode in the season, as if it were airing on TV. Today, I'll be reviewing the fifth episode, "World on Fire." If you haven't seen it or haven't seen the show at all yet...
When the Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) frames Daredevil (Charlie Cox) for the murder of one of the Russian brothers, it triggers a war. The Russian gang launches into an all-out attack to track down and kill him. At the same time, the case-of-the-week pits Foggy Nelson (Eldon Henson) up against a corrupt landlord and his old law firm.

Once again, I'm floored by how much each episode just gets better. I was expecting a drop in quality because it started strong, but the show is building on previous episodes and getting better.

Wesley is one cool customer, isn't he? How he feigned surprise at the discovery of Anatoly's headless body. The rage Vladimir feels is palpable in just his eyes as he declares his intention to kill Daredevil.

The opening has Murdock showing his powers by diagnosing Claire (Rosario Dawson) just by touch, sound, and taste. Taste! That's one power Daredevil rarely uses, but his description of tasting copper was awesome. And they finally kissed. I was wondering when they would get together. Oooo...
But the title has heavy meaning as we finally see his radar sense! Sort of. It seems like the show is interpreting his ability as more of a combination of his other senses to form a mental image of his surroundings. I miss the Shadow World of the movie, but his "fire" image is certainly more visually complex.

The show is also doing a great job of keeping it an ensemble piece. They could have left Foggy and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) to just wander around in Murdock's footsteps, but they actually give them something to do. When a helpless old woman comes in and describes her plight being forced to live without electricity or water by an evil landlord, who wouldn't want to help her? Foggy heads over to the law firm of the landlord to try to negotiate terms, and it's gleaming white and glass is a stark contrast to the beaten and grimy world of Hell's Kitchen.

The old girlfriend was a nice way of showing more depth to Foggy, and his verbal take-down once again shows how good a lawyer he is. It really makes him more heroic showing everything he gave up for his principles. Eldon is still hamming it up a little, but I like his character. When they later starts helping the woman repair her apartment, it made me want to cheer.

And in the later scene where he has an impromptu date with Karen, we can see how they have chemistry together. Foggy is truly falling for her. That's why it becomes more heartbreaking when she starts talking about Murdock and asking him what she thinks he would feel if he touched her face. Foggy loves you, girl! Go for him, not Murdock! The classic love triangle is in effect.

But back to the action. I love how the show is not content to just have Daredevil fighting in a regular shot, but they experiment with direction. The slow rotating pan inside the taxi as Daredevil advances on and finally fights the Russian gang members was awesome and menacing. It's also clever how Daredevil will pick up and use guns in combat, even without firing them.

The scene where the Russian informant was killed by two corrupt cops, I did not see coming. The two cops were so casual in their debate over whose turn it was before they staged the murder. It's an indication of just how much power Wilson Fisk has in the city. It also shows his organization is much deeper than a couple of street thugs. Daredevil has his work cut out for him.

The date with Vanessa and his meeting with the other members of his conspiracy showcased D'Onofrio's performance. His calm demeanor as he said he "removed" Anatoly's head with his car door spoke volumes. Now that we've seen the Kingpin go crazy, his menace is underlying everything he does. I love how Vincent D'Onofrio portrays himself as powerful and controlled, but we now see the monster that lies underneath the surface. The second date with Vanessa is slightly scary, but we can also see how his power and vulnerability can be attractive to her. The final scene where the two of them look out at the burning buildings showed how their relationship could ultimately develop. She is scared of him, but also drawn to him. A twisted relationship to be sure.

I also want to single out Leland Owlsley (Bob Gunton) as an awesome character. He's not the same as the supervillain he is in the comics (where he flies, has claws and fangs, and eats live mice), but he serves as the voice of reason in the criminal meetings. His sarcasm always makes me laugh.

The final scene is a shocking cliffhanger. After the Kingpin blows up the Russian's headquarters, the police have Daredevil cornered. If it were Batman, he would just drop a smoke pellet and take off or let his body armor take a bullet. Instead, Daredevil is forced to just raise his hands. Will he escape or end up in police custody? I genuinely don't know. With this show, anything's possible.

Other random thoughts:
  • I really want to know how and why Madame Gao blinds the people working for her. But it's a nice parallel to Murdock's blindness. I felt so bad for the guy in the taxi.
  • Vanessa's mentioning of the older man with the white suit and the ascot made me snicker. I can see her encouraging Fisk into donning his classic costume from the comics.
  • Turk is working for the Kingpin, and that's going to end badly for him.
Favorite Quote:
FISK: "You embarrassed me! You embarrassed me in front of her!"

My rating: Recommended

What did you think of this episode?

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