Photo: David Lee (Netflix)

“One Last Shot” is the sort of episode that’s hopeful until it’s not. Given its position as the second to last episode of the season, it’s not too surprising that it seems to promise a big win for the good guys only to turn out to have a grim ending instead. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch the tragedy of Ray Nadeem unfold before our eyes. Before all that however, “One Last Shot” recaptures a lot of what made season one of Daredevil so great.

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That’s right, Nelson & Murdock are back, baby! Foggy and Matt team up not just as friends and allies but as official law partners who take on Nadeem as their client. As Foggy keeps remarking throughout the episode, it’s really great to have the team back together again. It’s also nice to see Daredevil remember it’s a show about lawyers, and that there’s probably a lot more it can be doing with that concept other than just having them visit prisons and comb through depositions. I’ve always found it curious that Daredevil never thought to take more of a procedural approach to its storytelling considering how popular law procedurals are. While this episode isn’t exactly a procedural, it makes good use of its law connections as Foggy and Matt arrange for Nadeem to testify about Fisk in front of a grand jury. Meanwhile, Matt gets to show off his other set of skills as he escorts Nadeem to the courthouse and takes down Fisk’s goons while trying to pretend he’s just an everyday blind man.

Elsewhere, “One Last Shot” is the most interesting Fisk episode we’ve had in a while because it focuses on his vulnerabilities as well as his strengths. Ayelet Zurer’s Vanessa makes her long awaited return to the series and having her back immediately makes Fisk work so much better as a character. The shot of Fisk anxiously watching Vanessa taste her eggs is more compelling than anything the character has done in the past five episodes combined. This is the first time in a long time it’s felt like Fisk’s story has actual stakes, even if those stakes are just “will his beloved fiancée break up with him?” Vanessa isn’t thrilled with the idea of becoming a piece of décor Fisk keeps separate from the realities of his life as a crime boss. She pushes to be let into the full spectrum of his world and he lets her in, even if his inscrutable look at the end of the episode could imply he’s not entirely sure about whether that was a good idea.

And that brings us back to Ray Nadeem, since Vanessa is the one who decides he should die rather than just be publicly discredited. “One Last Shot” serves as Ray’s swan song, and he goes out with an enormous amount of dignity—both in his actual death scene and in his actions throughout the episode. Ray has grown into a far more interesting character than I ever thought he could be back in the first chunk of the season. I do think the character has suffered because his relationship to his wife and son have felt so broad and generic. But watching Ray grapple with everything he’s done while trying to become a better, braver man is compelling stuff. Emotions like guilt and regret are generally considered negative ones, but they can be hugely motivating too. Part of Ray’s desire to take down Fisk is because he wants to set an example for his son about the importance of standing up against evil. But he’s equally motivated by guilt over the bad things he let happen before he was brave enough to do something about them.

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Unfortunately, Ray’s bravery turns out to be for nought because Fisk managed to preemptively coerce the jury into not indicting him. Faced with the reality of just how unstoppable Fisk truly is, Ray decides to do the one brave thing he can can still do—sacrifice himself so that his family will no longer be a target. Ray gets a moving death scene, which doubles as Jay Ali’s best performance of the season. Dex is the one who shows up to pull the trigger, which gives Daredevil one last chance to explore the Ray/Dex pairing. Ray makes a last ditch attempt to reach out to his former FBI partner, but even then it’s clear he’s already accepted his death as inevitable.

With Ray gone and Fisk seemingly untouchable through the legal system, Matt is more determined than ever to kill him and be done with it. Like Ray, Matt’s motivated by both a desire to do the right thing and a whole lot of guilt for not doing it sooner. Matt’s story is just one of a whole bunch of different plates Daredevil still has spinning as it heads into its final episode. More so than with most Marvel Netflix shows, I think how I feel about this overall season is really going to be determined by how well the finale sticks the landing. So let’s wrap up this binge-review and see what happens!


Stray observations

  • So where does “helping Ray shoot and kill Fisk’s goons” fall on Matt Murdock’s no-killing morality scale?
  • Continuing this season’s theme of “Detective Brett Mahoney is the best,” Brett and his mom take in Seema and Sami while Ray goes to testify.
  • I don’t think Seema has been a particularly well-written or well-acted character this season, but her monologue about hiding in the bathtub with Sami and hoping he’d get shot first so he didn’t have to watch her die was absolutely brutal.
  • The more normal Dex acts, the creepier Wilson Bethel’s performance feels. He’s dialed up to 11 in this episode, and he even gets to deliver his signature “that sounds really hard” line before murdering Ray. Elsewhere, Dex desperately tries to secure his tenuous position in the Fisk-Marianna household by acquiring “Rabbit In A Snowstorm.” (That he murdered the painting’s owner goes noticed but unspoken). I’m sure the fact that Dex has now built his entire concept of self-worth around Fisk won’t come back to bite anyone in the finale!
  • Karen’s hoodie outfit looked like she was dressed for a community theater production of Rent.

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