Marvel’s “Daredevil” is the top-rated show on Netflix Instant!
At 4.6 out of 5 stars, it is a tenth of a point higher than “House of Cards,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Sherlock” (tied only with “Alive Inside,” a documentary about Alzheimer’s).
If it’s not getting more buzz, that’s because it’s a superhero show, and some people think those are for kids. What’s more, it’s not blowing up box offices like “The Avengers”; it’s only on Netflix, and anyway the California company doesn’t release ratings.
In fact “Daredevil” is a masterpiece, and it’s got a wide appeal.
Created by Drew Goddard, the 13-episode series tells the story of a blind lawyer who fights crime as a vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen. Don’t let the pulp plot intimidate you: Goddard, who has worked with “Avengers” mastermind Joss Whedon on projects dating back to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” knows how to keep it real.
Every episode I’ve watched so far is a work of art: beautiful production, tight plotting, sharp dialogue, good acting.
The latest — Ep. 5 “World On Fire” — was my favourite yet. Keep reading to see screenshotted highlights from the episode, which you should be able to appreciate even if you haven’t seen the show. There are some spoilers but nothing major.
The opening scene is snappy, as Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) gets to know the vigilante, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox).
“Do you have a job or something to get to or are you one of those billionaire playboys I’m always hearing about?” she asks.
“No, I have a job.”
“Damn, I thought I’d lucked out.”
In a poetic exchange, the blind man describes his enhanced other senses.
“You just opened one of the cuts on your back,” he says.
“How do you know?”
“The taste. Copper in the air.”
After he touches her:
“The swelling’s down. Rib fracture’s only a hairline. I couldn’t tell before.”
“You have X-ray fingers now?”
“I can hear your bones shift when you breathe. No grinding means nothing’s broken.”
“What does a hairline fracture sound like?”
“An old ship.”
“What do you actually see?” she asks.
“A world on fire,” he says.
“If all I saw was fire,” she says, “I’d probably want to hit people, too.”
The villains are as interesting as the heroes. In another scene, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) tells his fellow crime bosses that the Russians are out of the syndicate.
“Since when?” one of the bosses asks suspiciously.
“Since I removed Anatoly’s head … with my car door,” says Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio).
The other crime bosses are outraged. As the scene continues, Fisk respectfully but forcefully reasserts his control.
Time for some action? Suspense builds in the next scene as a blind Chinese drug runner waits in a car and sings, while the camera pans around the dark ally.
Suddenly, the vigilante is next to the car. When the camera pans away and then back, he has disappeared.
Two Russian drug runners walk out of a building. Where is Murdock?
The vigilante reappears and attacks the Russians, in a long take through the car window.
Later Murdock shows off his flawless Spanish and agrees to help an old woman avoid eviction. His partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and assistant Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) often serve as comic relief.
The next scene is chilling, as a Russian thug bargains with cops and learns the hard way that there’s no safe place for snitching.
“Feels like a place in a movie where you’d buy a clone,” Page says as she and Nelson walk into a corporate law office. “Or maybe a robot baby. Or a clone of a robot baby.”
Nelson faces off against Marci Stahl (Amy Rutberg), a corporate lawyer he used to date, who meets them in the lobby.
Stahl explains why Nelson’s case is hopeless and shows a total lack of concern for his client.
“And did Ms. Carnitas tell you —” she says.
“— Cardenas,” Page corrects.
“If I were you,” Stahl says, picking a piece of lint off Nelson’s shoulder, “I would go to Ms. Whatever today and strongly urge her to accept our offer.”
But Nelson turns the tables with a rousing speech.
And he tops it off with a zinger: “So you’re gonna see us in court where I will absolutely dismantle you, from the top of your salon blowout to the bottom of your overpriced pumps.
In the next two scenes, a powerful parallel emerges: “Matt … just … wait … what are you going to do?” Temple asks.
“Whatever it takes,” he says. “I need to be the man this city needs.”
Meanwhile Fisk gets personal on a date. When Vanessa Marianna (Ayelet Zurer) asks what kind of business he is in, he replies, “”Rebuilding this city. I want to carve something beautiful out of its ugliness, set free its potential.”
Only when she calls him out does he allude to the true nature of his work: “Money and influence are not enough to usher change on such a scale. Sometimes it requires force.”
The Fisk-Murdock parallels couldn’t be more clear, especially as this episode sees both characters defend themselves by saying they don’t take pleasure in violence. That kind of relationship between protagonist and antagonist is a hallmark of a good story.
Also, both characters grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and lost their fathers at a young age.
The rest of the episode? Let’s just say all the threads come together, as Fisk’s agents crush a Russian counterattack and Nelson and Page get a brutal wakeup call, and by the end Fisk’s date is looking out the window at burning buildings
Also it looks like Murdock is going to get arrested. This is not a happy ending, but then “Daredevil” is not a show for kids. I can’t wait to watch the rest.