“Shadows in the Glass”
Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by Stephen Surjik
Karen and Foggy (somewhat not on purpose) bring Matt into the Union Allied dirt-digging circle, and they tell him about Ben. When he learns that the dirty cop Fisk had shot (and then framed Matt for it) is awake from his coma, he goes to visit him. Fisk already paid his partner a ton of money to kill him, but Matt gets there before the poison the partner injected can kill him, and he tells Matt everything he knows. Matt finds Ben while masked and passes the information on. Fisk is getting increasingly aggravated. He likes things to go exactly a certain way, just like his morning routine, but things are throwing that off now. His allies are all displeased with him. We see his backstory. His dad was an angry, abusive git (who got much worse after losing a city council election he went in debt to the Italian Mafia to campaign for), and one night, when he started beating Fisk’s mom with a belt, little Fisk killed him with repeated hammer blows to the head. His mom helped him clean it up. In the present, Fisk tells Vanessa the story, and she accepts him anyway. She re-stabilizes his world, and he holds a press conference that completely undercuts the exposé Ben was about to print. Matt and Ben are now back to square one.
How do I even express how awesome this episode is? The repeated scenes of Fisk’s routine are amazing. I love that even though Fisk’s backstory is horrific and incredibly sympathetic, it doesn’t change that we’re supposed to see him as the villain. Brutally murdering his dad and then his mom helping him cover it up does not excuse his present actions, even if he can’t seem to stop reliving that horrible day. I love all the very specific connections to Matt’s backstory. Both fathers gave their sons their first drink at about the same age, but Jack wasn’t a jerk about it when Matt could barely swallow, and he had a practical reason for giving Matt a sip. Jack offered it to him just to mock him when he choked on it, and he was super disrespectful to his wife the whole time. Both Bill and Jack are under a lot of financial strain to provide for their boys, but Jack takes beatings for Matt’s sake, while Jack beats the people he’s supposed to be providing for. Jack taught Matt (by example) how to take a punch and get back up. Bill taught Wilson how to kick people when they’re down. Jack is supportive, encouraging, and loving. Bill is condescending, angry at the world, and resentful. Similar circumstances, completely opposite lessons for the boys.
Things I Liked
Matt wanted to keep Karen and Foggy save by keeping them out of his vendetta against Fisk, but now he’s learned that they were digging their way towards Fisk without him, and putting their lives very much at risk. Ironically, I think they didn’t want to tell him for the same reason, since they don’t know he’s not just a vulnerable blind man. Matt lost his temper at the end, for the same reason he attacked Stick last time. He thought he had Fisk, but Fisk outmaneuvered him. Just like Stick did with the Black Sky kid. Matt is trying to approach this like a boxer, but Fisk is playing chess.
Karen and Foggy are impressively good at digging up dirt and finding connections. It’s almost surreal watching research play out like this, with the whole team working together on it and contributing equally instead of a Giles or a Wesley (Wyndam-Pryce) doing infodumps.
Fisk is coming apart at the seams. More and more of his allies are testing his temper. He’s inches from snapping at Leland, Gao is disappointed in him and he can’t snap at her because she’s more powerful than him and he knows it, and things are at the breaking point with Nobu. Where did all his instability come from? Is it really because of his surprisingly healthy relationship with Vanessa? Maybe this is another application of Stick’s advice. You have to be cut off from people and emotionless, and Fisk was doing fine until Vanessa brought the emotion and connection. Or is he growing more unstable because Matt is actually damaging his criminal infrastructure? Matt destabilized the Russians, which made them more of a burden to Fisk and ultimately led to their explosive demise. Now Matt’s moving in on Leland, and Fisk is getting increasingly impatient with Leland. I think Matt is challenging Fisk’s complete control. Vanessa is helping him stay one step ahead of Matt’s interference.
I think Vanessa is doing the thing where she does think Fisk’s horrible backstory excuses his current horrible actions. He’s her precious bird with a broken wing, and she’s going to help him stop thinking about those unpleasant memories and move into the light, but it’s okay if he never stops being a crime boss, because that was still born out of trauma, so it’s understandable. They are creepily perfect together.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.