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Daredevil – The Ones We Leave Behind (Review)

To celebrate the launch of Marvel’s Daredevil and the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we are reviewing all thirteen episodes of the first season of Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil. Check back daily for the latest review.

The Ones We Leave Behind builds off The Path of the Righteous, continuing to declutter the board a Daredevil moves closer and closer to the finalé.

The Ones We Leave Behind features the final appearances from a number of supporting players, clearing the way for Daredevil to focus on the final conflict between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk. In particular, The Ones We Leave Behind sees Madame Gao excusing herself from the narrative, leaving Leland Owlsley as the last standing member of Fisk’s little cabal following the deaths of Vladimir and Nobu. Gao talks to Owlsley about the necessity of removing distractions from the life of Wilson Fisk; it seems like The Ones We Leave Behind is removing its own distractions.

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Of course, Madame Gao is not the only major departure to feature in The Ones We Leave Behind. The closing scene of The Ones We Leave Behind features Wilson Fisk murdering Ben Urich with his own hands. It is a rather shocking twist, particularly given how steady a fixture Ben Urich has been in the comic books since his first appearance in June 1978. Urich has played major roles in the iconic runs of writers like Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. He is a pretty core part of Daredevil‘s ensemble cast.

It is a very effective and very shocking death sequence, and one that really helps to raise the stakes for the season finalé.

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Daredevil – Rabbit in a Snowstorm (Review)

To celebrate the launch of Marvel’s Daredevil and the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we are reviewing all thirteen episodes of the first season of Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the more interesting aspects of Daredevil is the way that it wears its influences so confidently on its sleeve. As if aware that the stock comparison for the show will be Batman Begins, the series goes out of its way to hit a number of key points from that particular film – introducing its masked vigilante during an atmospheric attack at a dockland smuggling operation, stopping the import of superweapon into the city by a secret society of ninjas. The show returns to the work of Frank Miller time and time again, knowing that he is the defining Daredevil writer.

In terms of televisual influences, it feels like producer Steven DeKnight was heavily influenced by a lot of prestigious contemporary drama. In particular, Rabbit in a Snowstorm features sequences that feel like they might have been lifted from Breaking Bad and The Wire. This makes a certain amount of sense; those are two very well-respected shows that lend themselves to “binge” watching of (relatively) short seasons. Netflix has even found great success as a distributor of Breaking Bad in Europe. There are worse influences for Daredevil.

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To be fair to Daredevil, the show never loses sight of itself. This is a superhero story about a masked vigilante who cleans up Hell’s Kitchen and comes face-to-face with honest-to-goodness ninjas and other possibly supernatural events. Nuance and subtlety have their place, but Daredevil arguably works best when it revels in its theatricality – grand sweeping statements, bold imagery, heightened drama. For all that Rabbit in a Snowstorm tries to expand and ground the world of Daredevil, it is marked by two acts of over-the-top violence at the open and close of the hour.

At the same time, this underscores the biggest problem with Rabbit in a Snowstorm. Daredevil is not a show that lends itself to the same sort of aesthetic as The Wire, and some of the attempts to ground the show feel clumsy and awkward; the show works best when it is big and bold and operatic, stumbling a bit when it tries to present a grounded real-world setting.

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