Daredevil / Screen

Daredevil: “Rabbit in a Snowstorm”

Daredevil reminds me how squeamish I am. The violence is of a more determined sort, the kind that appeared in Steven S. Deknight’s Spartacus. The opening scene of “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” features a gruesome fight scene as John Healy heads into a bowling alley and quickly takes on the man bowling there, in a private game. There’s headbutting and visible bone breaking not to mention the bowling ball to the face that concludes the fight and leaves Healy blood spattered, arrested and asking for a lawyer. And later Healy will stab himself in the eye with an extra sharp piece of fence, all to avoid the wrath of Wilson Fisk.

“Rabbit in a Snowstorm” is all about Wilson Fisk, even though the man himself doesn’t show up until the final moments. It’s him who’s behind the hit that begins the episode, arranging for the victim’s shares to be distributed to others in the criminal enterprise, and he’s always instructing his loyal employee on how to handle things. His proxy explains all his plans with ease, even when Fisk is more occupied with Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer), who works at the art gallery from which Fisk purchases the painting that gives the episode its title. Fisk has been built up as a monstrous figure in Hell’s Kitchen, but the first time we see him he isn’t bestowing any beatdowns or threatening anyone but mooning over a beautiful woman and awkwardly attempting flirtation. Vincent D’Onofrio is a hulking mass when we see him, examining the painting and he’s stiff and struggling when approached by Vanessa. It’s a different choice, to have Fisk’s character first defined by his romantic hopes rather than his criminal activities.

Obviously that’s not the case when it comes to Matt’s view of Wilson Fisk, whose name is revealed to him by his and Foggy’s second client, Healy. With Fisk’s loyal employee hitting them up for representation, Matt immediately knows something’s wrong but insists on seeing it through even once Foggy comes around to his side, knowing that Healy has something to do with Hell’s Kitchen’s greater difficulties. He and Foggy succeed in having him freed, though only so he can be ambushed by Matt as Daredevil later. The case itself is made more difficult by threats posed to jurors to ensure Healy goes down for the murder, effectively tying up a loose end for Fisk.

“Rabbit” marks the first episode we get to see Matt in the courtroom, and the episode highlights the differences between him and Foggy. Foggy’s moving further from the comic relief he’s been acting as for the first two episodes. He was more somber with Karen in “Cut Man“, and that trend continues here as he and Matt come into some mild conflict over representing Healy. That conflict doesn’t last long, Foggy even giving Matt a genial “It’s okay” when Matt apologizes. But the case also draws a line between Foggy and Matt’s abilities as lawyers. It’s too early to say that Matt’s the better attorney (though he is the better vigilante), but Matt’s charm works to his advantage in a way that Foggy’s earnestness doesn’t.

Daredevil doesn’t look more like the cable television dramas it seeks to emulate than in a meeting between Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) and one of his sources, an organized criminal himself, who’s now moving to Florida to escape the modern criminal element now settling down in Hell’s Kitchen. A reporter who’s made a career out of questioning the actions of people in power, he sees another story forming as the criminal element in Hell’s Kitchen is changing up. But he’s now stuck writing puff pieces for his newspaper due to the disinterest of his editor and struggling to pay for care for his ailing wife. He’s only dragged into the fold when Karen comes to him looking for help after being told to sign a nondisclosure that prohibits her from speaking publicly about Union Allied.

I do appreciate Karen actually having something of a storyline of her own, grappling with her trauma and her righteous mission to see Union Allied pay for what they’ve done. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on Daredevil, but I’ve done some cursory research here and there, enough to know that Karen Page goes through some things, which is an understatement. There’s no telling how loyal the show plans on being to her comic book persona, or the horrors the character will eventually face, but for the moment it’s nice to see her with agency and determined to see it through.

Stray Observations

  • There’s a little moment of levity in that fight sequence. Healy buys a gun from Turk Barrett (last seen trafficking young women in “Into the Ring”) that’s guaranteed not to jam but promptly does, in fact, jam. But I’m surprised Healy required a  gun at all considering he was obviously a very proficient hit man with his bare hands. And bowling balls.
  • Matt’s chilling outside the church when the priest approaches him. He’s not game for a confession right now, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we see him back in there.
  • Ironic that Nelson & Murdock were selected because they’re “clean”. I love irony in these things.

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