REVIEW: Daredevil: Episode 6-Condemned
Even though Daredevil was released through Netflix, Condemned has all the appeal of the mid-season finale we would’ve received if the show had been released through more conventional means. The episode is almost a film like at times, with a plot that genuinely surprises throughout, it’s rare an episode of television keeps its audience guessing so often and so well, without becoming confusing. Daredevil not only manages a complex and fun episode, but offers up great action, acting and atmosphere throughout.
The episode primarily revolves around Matt. Managing to escape from last episode’s cliff-hanger involving the corrupt police of the city, Matt finds himself dragging the wounded Russian crime boss, Vladimir to an abandoned warehouse. The episode follows Matt and Vladimir going from polar opposite men who will be enemies to the death, to an eventual sacrifice by Vladimir to help Matt escape. The dialogue is brilliant, and there are so many scenes throughout the episode that add drama to an episode that takes place almost completely in the warehouse. The episode has it’s gory moment in which Matt smells out some flares in the warehouse and uses them to seal one of Vladimir’s wounds. The idea of Matt wanting to let this murderer die but needing the information he has adds a powerful dynamic to the entire episode.
The progression of Vladimir is more proof, if any was needed, of Daredevil’s treatment of its ultra-real villains. The episode finds its high point in a walkie talkie conversation between our blind lawyer vigilante and the all-powerful mob boss, Fisk. It’s a testament to the writers of Fisk and also D’onofrio himself that he’s able to create such presence through simply a one on one conversation The dialogue is perfect, we don’t even see D’Onofrio’s masterpiece and yet we feel the power he has over the entire episode and Hell’s Kitchen itself. It also allows us our first look at the way these two characters will shape up against each other, with Fisk’s characters stating that he “admires” Matt, yet he desires change on a scale that actually matters. It’s not the simple good guy, bad guy dynamic that we’re so used to; parts of what Fisk say actually sound agreeable, while Matt sometimes sounds more like a dreamer than a realist.
The episode progresses to the point that Matt is trapped inside with Vladimir, while police surround the building. Matt is offered a “lifeline” by Fisk, who offers in return for killing Vladimir before he shares what he knows with Matt, he will allow him to walk away. When Matt declines the offer, we see the entire second half of the series set up in one horrifying and genuinely surprising moment. Fisk has snipers take out the police surrounding the building, framing Matt for the deaths of dozens of innocent police officers. It would seem that things are only going to get more dangerous in the second half of the series for our masked vigilante.
One of the surprise character developments of the episode was Ben Urich, who I found myself, for the first time actually finding not just watchable, but likeable. His character hasn’t to this point come up against any actual adversaries, but his confrontation with the corrupt detectives outside of the warehouse makes for some entertaining watching. It’s nice to see not every one in the city can simply be bought, and Ben Urich represents the pure heart of the tiny shred of incorruptible media in Hell’s Kitchen. Perhaps setting up for more real world links to corruption in the media? We shall see.
Other than the plot though, the entire episode is shot and framed beautifully, from the gripping ultra-tight framing of the opening scene, which is topped off with a little slow motion. A scene in which Matt must fight an SWAT team breaching the building genuinely makes us feel as if Matt is in danger as we see him up against armoured police specialists. The entire episode is a perfect combination of the aspects of the series so far that have made the show great.
The show has gone from strength to strength and although having some minor drawbacks in its first half, it’s a very near perfect first half of a series, with this episode being the cherry on top of Marvel’s adult super hero cake.