Photo: David Giesbrecht (Netflix)

Though he’s a risk-taking thrill-seeking vigilante, it turns Matt Murdock isn’t a big fan of change. So when his circumstances shift, he tends to reach out for a rigid ideology to define himself by. As a newly blinded, recently orphaned kid, Matt latched on to his Catholic faith as a guiding force in his life. After Father Lantom tells young Matt (a returning Skylar Gaertner) that God speaks in whispers, Matt set out in search of whispers to hear. And he found them in the quiet prayers of his church’s congregation. Looking for purpose, Matt assumed his heightened senses were God’s way of telling him to help people. Now that those abilities are failing him, Matt is once again struggling to adjust and eager to find another black and white worldview to define his life. This time around, he’s gone in the opposite direction—petulantly rejecting the idea of a merciful God entirely. So far Daredevil’s third season hasn’t exactly been subtle with its exploration of Catholic themes and imagery. Then again, considering Catholicism isn’t exactly a subtle religion, I can get on board with that.

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“Please” is an episode about people adjusting to new realities, struggling to find purpose, and debating the ideas of free will and destiny. Sister Maggie tells Matt that she had her own personal crisis at one point in her life, during which she had to decide which of two paths God wanted her to walk. She exercised her free will to make the choice she thought God wanted her to make. Karen, meanwhile, is trying to find her purpose by investigating the Midland Circle incident in order to prove that Matt is still alive, but she only discovers evidence of Matt’s survival after her editor forces her to take on a seemingly unrelated story. That seems a whole lot like divine intervention. Elsewhere, Foggy is contemplating getting out of the high-pressured world of law and joining his brother Theo in running their family’s deli. It’s too early to tell if Foggy is going to make an active choice or let something divine guide him, but in addition to offering a delightful look at the environment that shaped Foggy, the Nelson family reunion scenes drive home just how lost he feels without Matt at his side.

Unfortunately, the best and worst storylines in “Please” are linked to one another. These Marvel Netflix shows all feel compelled to add a law enforcement element to their storytelling, even when there’s no real reason to. So far at least, Agent Nadeem feels like a really superfluous addition to the Daredevil mythos. Nadeem is trying to find his purpose (and some much-needed increased income) by taking charge of the Wilson Fisk case, but it’s hard to care about him when his story feels so perfunctory and unoriginal. Thankfully, the Fisk stuff is strong enough that it almost makes up for it.

After years of equating free will with being alone, Fisk finally found a true sense of purpose in his relationship with Vanessa. But she’s also become his vulnerability. He’s willing to put his life in danger by working with the FBI just to ensure she can live a normal life. In a lengthy monologue that mostly amounts to a spoken-word version of “Love Is The Tender Trap,” Vincent D’Onofrio shows off the emotional depth that makes his take on Fisk so incredibly compelling. As I wrote about in my previous review, D’Onofrio takes character components that could feel cliché and transforms them into something that feels brand new. It’s great to have him back on the series.

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Fisk also serves as our entry point for the episode’s best action sequence, a tense shootout that keeps us locked inside an upside-down car with him as he tries to figure out what’s going on. While Matt’s earlier attack on the dry cleaners felt like a fairly standard Daredevil fight sequence shot in the dark to mask limitations of the choreography, the Fisk ambush turns a budgetary limitation into a compelling storytelling choice. We experience Fisk’s confusion firsthand as the Albanians try to ambush his convoy and a mysterious FBI sharpshooter shows up to save the day. It’s another way in which showrunner Erik Oleson is returning to the feel of Daredevil’s first season. To capitalize on the love of Daredevil’s much-hyped hallway fight from the first season, season two offered a bigger, more brutal hallway fight. Here Oleson and episode writer Jim Dunn offer an entirely different kind of action sequence that better captures the spirit of that original Daredevil calling card. His characters may be struggling to find their purpose, but so far Oleson seems to know exactly what he’s doing.


Stray observations

  • Like Jessica Jones, Matt is great at adopting different personas to help him with an investigation. I love the kind of doofus personality he puts on during his dry cleaner investigation.
  • They could’ve at least tried to make it look like it was hard for Fisk to kick open that car door at the end. Did the Albanians even try the handle?
  • After two seasons of keeping her backstory a weird secret, we finally learn a little more about Karen’s past! Her brother died in an accident and small town gossip put the blame on her, even though it wasn’t actually her fault. Maybe the show will also finally remember that she shot someone back in season one too!
  • I know it was part of a darker storyline, but this episode could’ve had a lot more fun with its Real Housewives Of New York stand-in character, the star of “The Heiresses Of Manhattan.”
  • I love the dynamic between Father Lantom and petulant, hyper-intelligent young Matt.
  • “I’m Daredevil, not even God can stop that now.”

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