Daredevil’s “Shadows in the Glass” begins with Wilson Fisk waking up to his usual morning routine: stare at the painting on his wall, make an omelet, pick out a suit for the day, put on favorite cufflinks, and see himself as a child covered in blood. Pretty creepy scene to start, that’s for sure! In this brief scene, we almost have to ask the question of how Fisk does get so big? In the comics, he’s actually covered in muscle, which I suppose could be the case here, though it’s alluded to later in the episode that Wilson comforts himself with food to deal with his pain, an unfortunate trait given to him by his mother. I think this could have been pushed forward a little more by perhaps having a scene where Fisk eats some really bad food when he’s unable to deal with problems in his life, such as maybe eating a greasy burger or something after being confronted by Madame Gao later on in the episode. This could somewhat show the strained balance between the Fisk at the start of his day (composed and structured) vs. the Fisk in turmoil (rage-filled and chaotic).
As a parallel to Fisk’s day, we’re shown the start of Matt Murdock’s day; his apartment is in shambles, and he has scars and blood all over his body. Matt then wearily walks out his apartment, letting out a sigh as he remembers Stick’s bracelet from the previous episode. He eventually makes it to the office, being told about Karen and Foggy’s efforts to bring down Fisk and their assault the night prior, as well as their relationship to Ben Urich. Matt, rightfully, scolds them as being out of their league, and it was at this moment that I realized I wanted something a bit more from the law office crew in this episode. With the episode focusing on Fisk, I thought this may have been a good opportunity for the gang to branch out and focus on something more courthouse-bound. I believe we saw them in court once during episode 3, but not that much beyond that. It leads you to wonder how they’re making any money to stay afloat, and while I recognize that 13 episodes isn’t a lot of time to spend with such a large cast, it would have been nice to have a few more plots that looked at our characters from that angle.
Swinging back around to Fisk though, we are given a great look into his past. Fisk’s father, played masterfully by Domenick Lombardozzi (Herc of The Wire fame) is a man of ambition for all the wrong reasons. Picketing for a spot on the city council — by taking out loans with a local enforcer, mind you — Bill Fisk verbally abuses Wilson every chance he gets, and beats his wife to boot. He’s a sad, small man looking to carve out his own version of the American Dream, and wants his son to be a man that stands tall. So, when a local bully decides to start ripping down Fisk’s campaign posters, Bill takes Wilson and confront the rebellious youth. Bill starts hitting the teenager and forces Wilson to kick him repeatedly while he’s down. Eventually though, William loses the election for city council, and makes Wilson stare at the wall as he proceeds to viciously attack his wife. Cue Wilson grabbing the nearest hammer, as he beats his father to death with it. The mother and son then proceed to use a hacksaw to get rid of William’s remains. It’s a fittingly gory and tragic beginning for the man who would one day rise the ranks to become New York’s “Kingpin of Crime.”
This also presents quite the interesting question as to why Wilson Fisk is so adamant about gaining the power he has. Is it to be a better man than his father? Is it really to make the city a better place, so that others don’t have to deal with a past as his tragic as his own? Perhaps Wilson is attempting to mimic his father’s path, albeit successfully? Honestly, it’s probably a twisted combination of all three, as Wilson’s past proves that the Kingpin isn’t exactly an emotionally stable man. This also makes the relationship between Wilson and Vanessa that much more compelling, as she learns of his horrible past after he has an encounter with Madama Gao over his apparent “continuous weakness.”
Vincent D’Onofrio delivers another excellent performance here as Fisk, constantly twitching and seemingly nervous when everything isn’t exactly going his way. The pain that manifests from possible dangers to his empire present themselves physically, either through subtle gestures or explosions, such as Fisk knocking over his table in a rage. My absolute favorite moment of the episode was Fisk confronting Detective Blake’s partner. Blake had been shot last episode so his fall could be blamed on Daredevil, but there is now the potential that Blake turns on Fisk. Realizing this potential threat, Fisk goes to Blake’s partner, a man who’s known Blake for near 30 years, and coldly asks how much those years are worth in dollars? It’s a cold and terrifying scene that plays out perfectly to show how much exactly someone can be bought for, whether it be through money or fear.
In trying to stop Blake’s assassination, Daredevil is blamed once again for the death of Blake himself, as Matt is too late to save him. This rolls us into Daredevil and Urich having a chat in the pouring rain, with Matt filling Urich in on the identity of Fisk’s money man, Owlsley. Typing up a damning article, Urich nearly finishes until Fisk goes on air, under the advisement of Vanessa, and declares that he will put a stop the masked menace terrorizing Hell’s Kitchen, staying one step ahead of our heroes once again.
This episode was another fantastic installment of Daredevil. The spotlight on Fisk was needed, and done quite well, as the cinematography was top notch across the board.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– Kingpin’s origin story is a tad different from here than how it’s portrayed in the comics, but the spirit is the same. In the Marvel comic Punisher Max, Fisk actually took a bag filled with hungry rats and taped it over his father’s head to do him in. Yikes.
– Urich’s last narration is so good, I thought I’d just quote the whole thing!
‘You get what you deserve’. It’s an old saying. One that survived the years, because it’s true. For the most part. But not for everyone. Some get more than they deserve. Because they believe they aren’t like everyone else. That the rules, the ones people like me and you, the people that work and struggle to live our lives, just live, don’t apply to them. That they can do anything and live happily ever after, while the rest of us suffer. They do this from the shadows. Shadows that we cast. With our indifference. With a pervasive lack of interest in anything that doesn’t directly affect us, we, in the here and now. Or maybe it’s just the shadow of weariness. Of how tired we are, struggling to claw our way back to a middle class that no longer exist, because of those who take more than they deserve. And they keep taking, until all that’s left for the rest of us is a memory of how it used to be before the corporations and the bottom line decided we didn’t matter anymore. But we do. You and I, the people of this city we still matter. There’s someone in Hell’s Kitchen that doesn’t share this belief. He’s been among us for quite some time. You’ve never heard his name. You’ve never seen his face. He’s stayed in the shadows. Because men like him, men that want to control our city, our lives, fear the light and what it reveals. This man must no longer be allowed to operate in the darkness. If he has nothing to hide, let him step forward.
– Foggy: “If we’re going to be Nancy Drew-ing together, a certain level of honesty is required.”
– Foggy: “Your rules suck. I want that on record.”
– Blaker’s Partner: “Out of turn? You shot him!”
Wesley: “Technically, we paid someone else to shoot him.”
– Kingpin: “How much are each of those years worth?”
– Owlsely: “Kid’s half an idiot.”
Kingpin: “It’s the other half that counts.”
– Fisk’s Mother: “Get the saw.”