There are few characters as important the Daredevil mythos as Stick so naturally the show wouldn’t waste time in using said character this first season, even while holding back on a few other vital characters. “Stick” is exactly what it sounds like, the debut of Matt’s former mentor, played by Scott Glenn, in flashback and present day. Our first glimpse of Stick is in his pursuit of a terrified man, whose gun doesn’t hold up well against Stick. Neither does his hand, which I’m pretending is a nod toward the actual Hand, the villainous organization Stick and the Chaste are devoted to fighting (See, I do know some stuff). As fun as it is to see Stick in the flesh, this episode isn’t up to par with what it promises, momentarily taking us out of the seasonal arc of Daredevil v. Kingpin.
Stick literally interrupts Matt’s investigation into Fisk, turning up just as Matt is cornering Leland for information on Fisk’s finances. A distracting Stick and Leland’s trusty stun gun (now out of storage), allow Leland to escape without relinquishing any information. And Matt’s attention is turned to Black Sky, a weapon being delivered to the yakuza, that could spell out disaster for the city. Stick and Matt reunite for this, but only because Matt has an interest in keeping the city safe, not because he has any interest in Stick. His and Stick’s relationship has been hindered by their contrary philosophies on how to live, Stick preferring an emotionally detached existence that doesn’t appeal to Matt.
Stick has the idea of Matt isolating himself from everyone and everything he holds dear. Which means Foggy, Karen, his lawfirm, any kind of romantic anything. This works well for Stick, who called off his training of a young Matt because he felt he was becoming too attached, but doesn’t go over well with Matt. Not to mention Stick’s willingness to kill, and his determination that Matt should also get over his no-kill rule. Such rules are those that can make up an entire show, Arrow‘s made whole seasons about Oliver Queen’s decision to veer away from dealing with his enemies lethally. When Matt sees that Black Sky isn’t the weapon he was expecting but a young boy, he keeps Stick from killing him. That doesn’t do much in the long run, since Stick kills him offscreen, that revelation leading to a struggle between the two that all but destroys Matt’s apartment.
Stick’s appearance doesn’t do much for the seasonal arc, but it does more with Matt’s character. There are so few people that know the truth about Matt that those who do are clearly important to how he views himself and his crusade. Claire’s appearance in the show gave a normal look at Matt’s antics that proved how admirable but how horrifying Matt’s cause can be, while Stick accepts it fully and only wants Matt to take it even further.
Stick’s final moment in the episode, talking to a mysterious someone about Black Sky not being a problem and Matt’s readiness for “when the doors open” is intriguing but ultimately pointless in the realm of the series, unless we’re going to see what Stick and his friend are talking about. But that would mean more distance from Matt’s conflict with Fisk, and it doesn’t seem like something the show would do. There is the potential of integrating it into the larger arc, particularly with Nobu and Stick’s connection to one another, however slight it may be, but Stick’s visit to Hell’s Kitchen seems to be just a one-off.
Charlie Cox and Scott Glenn play well off of one another. Glenn especially gives a nice performance as Stick, both caustic and humorous. Though he doesn’t seem to be much of a friend to Matt, “Stick” goes out of its way to make Matt’s former teacher someone we can like. Their relationship is a nicely complicated one, and the episode does a fine job of proving Matt’s affection for Stick as well as his anger at Stick’s sudden departure. And when Matt finds the bracelet he gave to Stick, made from an ice cream wrapper, in the remains of their fight, Cox elevates what is a cliched moment into a touching display of Matt’s lingering affections for his only remaining father figure.
Though Matt’s not busy with Fisk and co, Karen certainly is. The show benefits by having her exploring the Fisk/Union Allied coverup with Urich, without linking it directly to Daredevil. It provides a solid parallel to Matt’s own exploits, more physical and more death defying than what Karen’s capable of but no less noble. It is equally dangerous, as Karen’s reminded of when she’s attacked, rescued by Foggy, who’s been following her around after realizing she’s been hiding something from them. But it’s still limited by putting Karen into a victim role until Foggy shows up, when it would be more satisfying to see Karen’s hunt for the truth actually being her hunt for the truth, dangers and all. It’s understandable that Karen would end up in over her head at some point, but she’s not helpless. She had her mace, so it wouldn’t have been too difficult to actually have her use it.
- Karen: “He seems pretty…fisticuffy.”
- Matt: “The job’s not that fancy.” That’s exactly what I said.
- Matt; “I’ve learned a lot since you’ve been gone.”
Stick: “Like what?”
Matt: “You’re a dick.”
- Foggy has no secrets.
- Blake is still alive, just in a coma.
- Mrs. Cardenas has to tell Karen that Foggy’s into her, which seems like something she can pick up on her own even if she has a crush on Matt.