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Visions haunt Matt Murdock as Daredevil plays around with perspective

Illustration for article titled Visions haunt Matt Murdock as Daredevil plays around with perspective
Photo: Nicole Rivelli (Netflix)
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After two smaller scale episodes that largely focused on Matt Murdock, “No Good Deed” switches Daredevil’s third season into a new gear by expanding the show’s world and setting up the major Daredevil vs. Wilson Fisk conflict of the season. Unfortunately, it isn’t the smoothest transition in the world. The dialogue in this episode is notably clunkier than in the previous two (and those weren’t perfect to begin with). And the show goes out of its way to overexplain things it doesn’t really need to. Still, an innovative action setpiece and an intriguing new character help pepper over some weaknesses in the execution. I’m excited to see where the show goes from here, even if I kind of wish the whole season were just Matt and Sister Maggie arguing in a church basement.


Let’s get one thing out of the way first, however: This episode introduces a character named Benjamin Poindexter and doesn’t even lampshade what a ridiculous name that is. (Apologies to any and all real-life Poindexters out there.) Beyond his goofy name, Wilson Bethel’s FBI Special Agent sniper is an interesting wrinkle to add to this season because it’s not immediately clear where he falls on the show’s good vs. evil spectrum. The final image of him stalking his supposed “support system” Julie is genuinely terrifying, but he’s also functioning as an ostensible “good guy” in working to guard Wilson Fisk. There are a lot of different ways Poindexter’s story could go, and I’m curious to see where the show decides to take him. (There are comic book details and/or trailers that might offer some indication, but, again, I’m sticking with just what the show itself has presented so far.)

A lot of this episode is about perspective and point of view. Poindexter prickles at the idea that his actions as an FBI officer are being treated as issues to be investigated, while vigilantes are hailed as unquestioned heroes. Elsewhere, the public protests the idea that Fisk gets to spend his incarceration in a fancy hotel rather than a prison, even as we’re given the perspective to see that Fisk isn’t exactly living a lavish life of luxury even if he is staying in a hotel penthouse. As he explained in the previous episode, Fisk feels trapped no matter where he goes because he’s constantly worried about Vanessa. But the rest of Hell’s Kitchen’s residents don’t know that; Karen and Matt are certain this is all part of Fisk’s grand plan to break free, while Foggy is more focused on making sure Fisk continues to serve actual time for his crimes. From what we’ve seen so far, it seems like Fisk’s desire to change locations was out of a genuine concern for his life. Of course, it’s also possible that the show is playing a long con on its audience too.

The idea of perspective also comes into play in the mental visions of Fisk that Matt conjures up as he’s trying to hatch a plan to take the kingpin down. The confident Fantasy Fisk in Matt’s mind doesn’t match the quieter, more remorseful real version we see in the penthouse. The false perspective is emphasized by the fact that Fantasy Fisk is always out of focus whenever he appears onscreen. It’s an interesting, if unsubtle, visual choice, although I’m not sure the Fantasy Fisk conceit is something this episode particularly needed. It mostly feels like an excuse to allow Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio to share some screentime early in the season. On the plus side, the showy conceit at least gives D’Onofrio a chance to stretch his acting muscles. He’s terrifying as the more aggressive Fantasy Fisk, but quietly moving in the scene where the real Fisk offers Poindexter his condolences about the officers who died protecting him.

This episode’s other showy bit of direction comes during an extended parking lot fight in which Matt takes down several FBI agents. Taken on its own terms, it’s a cool sequence that emphasizes Matt’s stealth abilities better than Daredevil ever has before. On the other hand, it does seem slightly strange that despite his intense injuries, Matt is suddenly able to take on so many highly trained agents at once. I’m a little worried that Daredevil is rushing too fast to get Matt back into full-on fighting form. I’m also a little worried about the decision to so quickly circle back to the “Will Matt kill Fisk?!?” question that drove so much of season one. It’s a question I almost always find artificial and uninteresting in a superhero context, so hopefully Daredevil has something unexpected up its sleeve now that Matt has decided to reject the Matt Murdock side of his personality and finally let the devil out.

Stray observations

  • I found Foggy and Matt’s reunion to be oddly low-key for such a big moment. That being said, my heart did melt at Matt’s quiet, “Hey Foggy.”
  • Considering he seems to be actively trying to maintain the idea that he’s dead, it’s super strange that Matt is just openly walking around Hell’s Kitchen in the middle of the day. Surely there are other people beyond Karen and Foggy who might recognize him, right?
  • When I first watched it, the moment in the third season premiere where Matt handed those dry cleaner attackers a pipe didn’t read as a full-on attempt to kill himself. After Fantasy Fisk spent so much time talking about it, however, I rewatched the scene and it felt much more dramatic. I think the premiere probably could’ve driven that moment home harder given how important it is here.
  • I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the “Karen Page is a dogged reporter!” storyline this episode, but it at least felt in keeping with her overall arc. The “Karen accidentally winds up on a blind date!” storyline was just bizarre.
  • This episode offers crowds chanting “Lock Fisk Up!” as well as Agent Nadeem dismissing Karen’s story as “fake news.” So… there’s that.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Caroline Siede is a pop culture critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. Her interests include superhero movies, feminist theory, and Jane Austen novels.