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Daredevil – World on Fire (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.

Having paused to catch its breath – and properly introduce the character of Wilson Fisk – World on Fire and Condemned restore the season’s sense of forward moment. The clutter of the Russian mob is tidied away, allowing the series to throw Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk into proper conflict with one another. It is no coincidence that Matt and Fisk first talk to one another in Condemned, the episode that brushes aside the last remnants of the Russian mob. World on Fire is largely about setting up all that, serving as a bridge from In the Blood into Condemned.

It is a testament to all involved that it works as well as it does. Charlie Cox is fantastic as a conflicted Matthew Murdock, Rosario Dawson does great work as Claire Temple. Once again, Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson are trapped in a somewhat generic subplot that exists to explain why Hell’s Kitchen might be worth saving in its current state. Vincent D’Onofrio and Ayelet Zurer continue to have an endearing chemistry, portraying a fairly convincing love story about power and justification – the show never seems confused about what Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Marianna see in one another.

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All the formal elements continue to work very well. The writing staff do an excellent job mirroring Matt and Claire with Vanessa and Fisk; one couple separated by the anger and drive of the protagonist, another intoxicated by those same qualities in the antagonist. Although it is easy to take the show’s camera and stunt work for granted after the climax of Cut Man, there is an impressive long shot in the middle of the episode that is executed beautifully as Matt intercepts a drug delivery to the Russians.

At the same time, there is something a little bit forced about the plotting and structure of World on Fire, which is largely a result of its transitional state. The first season often felt like it was spinning its wheels as it set Matt against the Russians – neither Anatoly nor Vladimir felt like fully-formed or fleshed out characters, in spite of the teaser to In the Blood. As a result, a lot of World on Fire feels like necessary housekeeping before the show can really get down to business.

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