Daredevil: Season 1 Episode 1, “Into the Ring”

I will get back to Orange Is the New Black, but I’m starting the pitch for a new pilot and someone described Daredevil to me and it sounded sort of similar, so I have to check it out. This show, as the opening graphic tells us, is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which includes Agents of SHIELD and the movies featuring The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc. In theory, the events of each of these could affect the others. In fact, this show kicks off in the aftermath of the first Avengers movie. But then it jumps ahead 20 years or so, so I think that will be the last of the crossovers. For the record, I am a big ol’ geek, but I am not a comic book geek, so I don’t already know where this show is going. Except Daredevil is the blind one. I’ve spent enough time with comic book geeks to know that.

We open on a man walking down devastated streets. Is this Daredevil? Looks like maybe he’s looking for something but doesn’t know what, more than not seeing anything. Oh, he’s looking for his kid, who is lying in a puddle of high fructose corn syrup, having pushed an old man out of the way of a car accident. The kid, Matty, is rubbing his eyes. Uh, don’t do that, kid. I know it’s instinct, but fight it. Matty starts screaming that it burns. Told ya. Dad tells him to close his eyes, but does not demand anyone in the big crowd behind him get him a water bottle. Matty does not close his eyes, but it very quickly doesn’t matter as the HFCS burns away his corneas. (Not what happens in real life, by the way, but don’t stick stuff in your eyes that’s not designed to go there anyway.)

Now Matty’s all grown up, although there’s no indication that it’s the future. Maybe the alien invasion also caused a time warp? He’s in confession, which is where he practices his monologues about how awesome his dad was. He wasn’t a very good boxer, but he was never knocked out. Every fight he lost, he lost on his feet. I was never really a boxing fan, but if you lose more matches than you win based solely on points, maybe study up on the rules a little more? Or is that actually incredibly common and it’s just the ones where people get knocked out make for more dramatic TV and movie plots? Anyway, Matt wants forgiveness for what he’s about to do.

Which is save some young women from being sold into sex slavery. The bad guy says he’s getting $1000 for each girl. Doesn’t that seem… low? I mean, kidnapping is a felony. The risk/reward ratio here seems a little off. Anyway, Daredevil (who does not yet have a cool costume, only a practical one) beats the bad guy by rolling away from his bullets (he only ever moves after the bad guy has fired, so he is outmaneuvering the bullets, not the shooter) and then has to chase the kidnapped girls off because they’re too busy cowering to try to run away, even when they’re left on their own during the fight. That was some quick Stockholming!

Credits! Pretty credits.

Matt is woken up by his phone announcing that Foggy is calling, and I swear I thought his alarm clock was set to wake him up with a weather forecast in the morning. Which sounds awesome. But no, Foggy is a person who is just a tad jealous of Matt’s game and is calling to say he’s going to bribe a cop.

Specifically, he is bribing the cop’s mother with cigars. As you do. The cop establishes that Foggy and Matt are defense attorneys. Foggy corrects that they are bad defense attorneys. Foggy is bribing the cop to give him a heads-up on interesting cases.

Foggy and Matt meet with a real estate agent about renting an office and make the agent very uncomfortable. They discuss how rents are down since “the incident” but there’s a lot of construction going on and they’ll be sky-high again in 18 months. It’s… been 20 years? At this point, isn’t “under construction” just the default? I think they may be setting up that Hell’s Kitchen is the last to get fixed because it’s not worthwhile, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s like The Glades on Arrow. Then they establish that Matt only wants to defend innocent people. Oh. Foggy wasn’t kidding when he told that cop they were bad defense attorneys. This is one of those things networks do sometimes because they want their main characters to be strictly good guys but it misunderstands the fundamentals of the justice system so badly that the show can’t help but fail. Let’s see how that goes. Foggy says, “I believe the innocent includes everyone not yet convicted of a crime, as the law states.” Yes. This is accurate. Why isn’t Foggy in charge?

And we cut immediately to one of Matt’s innocent accused, whose hands are literally dripping with blood while the police storm in and see her kneeling next to a dead body screaming, “I didn’t do this!” So the cop gives Foggy a call.

Foggy and Matt meet with their client, Karen Page, at the police station. She is understandably confused by where they came from, how they heard of her, and who is planning on paying them because it sure isn’t her. Matt pulls an All I Care About Is Love, but since she is a more fully-fleshed out character than the would-be sex slaves, she’s more skeptical about her saviors. Matt says, “You don’t have any money and we don’t have any clients. Maybe we can help each other.” Is he planning on giving her money? Foggy is demonstrating the patient of a SAINT through this. Idealism is nice and all, but I’m pretty sure it’s also the first thing that law school stamps out of you, and also that they do it multiple times just in case any faith in humanity remains. Miss Page is a secretary, because we can’t let our female characters get too many dimensions now. Seriously, the 80’s and 90’s were way better at giving women interesting professions. This is the first time we see Matt use his spidey-sense (TM another franchise, so they’re not actually allowed to call it that) to know that Karen’s heartbeat doesn’t go up while she’s talking, so he knows she’s telling the truth. It’s like Emma’s “superpower” in Once Upon a Time except that it actually works. Although since it’s the first time, we may not catch on that’s what’s happening since what we’re listening for is everything staying the same. Also, she is very clearing describing being drugged, so maybe somebody RUN A TOX SCREEN?

A mildly schlubby-looking guy is eating lunch in the park when a man with his tie knotted all the way up (you know the type) sits next to him and shows him his daughter on a video screen to prove she’s in danger. Schlubby guy apparently owes someone a lot of money, but now Necktie’s boss owns the debt. They don’t want money, they want him to do a favor of some sort. We cut away before we find out what.

Foggy and Matt discuss the case and how Karen hasn’t been charged even though the police have 24 hours. What are they waiting for? Perhaps for the DRUGS TO PASS THROUGH HER SYSTEM RUN A TOX SCREEN! This does not occur to them. Foggy thinks Matt just says Karen’s innocent because he wants to bang her. Foggy says, “She may not be guilty, but that doesn’t mean Miss Page is telling the truth,” although that’s exactly what it means according to Matt’s spidey-sense.

The schlubby guy is a guard who tries to strangle Karen in her cell while she’s sleeping, but she claws out his eye and screams. I REALLY like her.

Matt and Foggy go to the police to be smug lawyers, which is fun and they definitely need to do it on a regular basis (on account of being lawyers, not because their client is innocent) and demand their client be released from the jail that tried to kill her (plus she’s still not been charged and it’s been more than 24 hours). Once the cops leave, Matt points out they had enough evidence to charge her, so they must also have had evidence that someone else did it and they didn’t want to admit that. This will never be addressed again. Foggy says they need to get Karen some clothes.

Later they will make a reference to how her shirt is some sports team that Foggy is a fan of. If this shirt is supposed to come from him, he hasn’t worn it since Matt lost his sight. Karen tells them she knows someone is trying to kill her because she found a file called “Pension Master” that clearly showed that the pension fund was being used to launder money by her company, Union Allied. The guy who was killed was a coworker she told about the file. She mentions again that she was drugged and still NO ONE IS DOING A BLOOD TEST. Matt offers to put Karen up for the night so nobody else kills her.

Karen offers to take the couch, but since there’s a huge electronic billboard outside his living room windows and Matt doesn’t have curtains, that would be uncomfortable. He brings her a new shirt and she changes right in front of him while he clearly thinks, “yeah, radar powers. Awesome!” Blech. She asks about how he lost his sight and he just says “car accident.” Wait, are the car accident and the alien invasion supposed to be two separate things? Oh, the show needed to explain if that were the case. Anyway, Matt misses seeing and Karen insists she has no copies of the Pension Master file. Matt thinks that retrieving that file is the only reason the bad guys would have kept Karen alive (not sure I’m following this logic) but also his spidey-sense tells him she’s lying.

There’s a meeting of bad guys! And it’s an international syndicate! Ooh, Americans willing to work with foreigners are always the most evil. Two Russian guys were in a charge of the sex-slave kidnapping ring, and say they’re short because of the girls that Daredevil helped get away. So… were they grabbing random women off the street, or did they have specific women targeted in advance that they were supposed to be taking? Because if not, just take other women. They were interchangeable to Central Casting; they are interchangeable to you. But everyone is really concerned about the Union Allied “situation,” which is that Karen is not dead and people are aware they are trying to kill her.

Karen sneaks out of Matt’s apartment to go back to her own and retrieve the file, like we all knew she would. And the bad guy ambushes her there and beats her up, like we all knew he would. And Matt ambushes the bad guy and retrieves the file (USB drive) and falls out of a window several stories — okay, that’s actually pretty cool. He has a flashback to his dad telling him to study so he doesn’t end up some beat-up boxer, and has young Matt feel his face so he knows how bad it is. Which, under normal circumstances, I would hope that you wouldn’t have to worry about your blind son growing up and having to make his living getting beat up. Then Matt and the bad guy have their big fight which really is a lot like boxers, practically leaning on each other and hitting, and then Matt takes out the bad guy in front of Karen but he is wearing his Daredevil mask so she doesn’t recognize him even though they’re talking and he’s not disguising his voice at all. She points out that taking the Pension Master file to the police might be useless since it’s not like they’re actually investigating anything to do with her, so instead he takes it to the press.

The bad guys go over how all of their associates are dead by “suicide” and they’ll leave Karen alone. She feeds Matt and Foggy some secret family recipe and then takes a job as their secretary, working for free. She’s got about as much business sense as Matt. Then Matt goes to the gym, because that last fight was a little close and we see all the bad guys who “committed suicide.” Oh, and a bunch of people who have been blinded packing drugs. Because if one person on your show has a disability, you need a lot of people to have that same disability. And no others. And then a little boy gets kidnapped by the sex slave dudes. Uh-oh. But Daredevil is listening to the city below, and hears his cries for help! Hurray! End of episode.

This show is considerably less gleaming than we’re used to our superhero shows being. There’s a lot of colored lightbulbs and generally dimly-lit spaces, but very little bright color or sunshine. Daredevil doesn’t have a superhero costume yet, just long, black clothing and a mask that covers his eyes. He doesn’t even have a superhero name, even though the show has a title. (Arrow had a lot of fun early on with the character complaining about not having a superhero name and then smash-cutting to the show title card, which was awesome.) There’s no furniture to speak of in their new office, and the city in general doesn’t have a very “full” feeling. Maybe everyone’s supposed to have fled, but they don’t say that. I’m liking Karen and Foggy more than I like Matt, but that’s largely because Matt is supposed to be so freakin’ perfect. “He cares more about defending the innocent than getting paid” is a lovely sentiment but not how business or the real world works. Which, because this is a superhero show, may or may not correct itself. We’ll see. Forging ahead with only slight reservations.


About Generation Coax

I am an aspiring TV writer, amateur photographer, and craft hobbyist.
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One Response to Daredevil: Season 1 Episode 1, “Into the Ring”

  1. I like your subtle snark with hint of optimism for the show getting better and finding its voice.

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