Daredevil: The Path of the Righteous

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daredevil path of the righteous balloon
It’s got a monkey on it.

The episode’s title, Path of the Righteous, sets up Matt’s journey in the final few episodes. After a disastrous attempt to kill Fisk, and another chat with his priest (which is handled less deftly than their last conversation) Matt realizes he can’t go on like he has. The fallout with his eruptive fight with Foggy leaves him confused and broken—beyond just the physical stitches that Claire Temple continues to patch up in this episode. The two have a brief conversation, with Claire coming around a little more to Matt’s way of thinking. Matt may not be just a man the city needs, but a man the city created. His internal struggles—the straddling of righteousness and passion against anger and violence—are very much a product of the situation in which he grew up and was surrounded by. The dialogue in this episode is not the series best, with Claire warning Matt that the only thing she really “remembers from Sunday school” were the stories of the saints, the martyrs and saviors. All of whom ended up bloody and alone.

The isolation Matt has created for himself is highlighted in the image of Matt sitting alone in his dark room holding the balloon Karen gave him. “It’s got a monkey on it,” she says meekly, when it’s clear that Matt is not going to share anything about his life or what’s going on with him. Isolation seems to be the name of the game this time around, as Karen is boxed out from both Foggy and Matt, while Foggy and Matt have cut themselves off. As Claire temple leaves the city, Matt finds himself with no support left—just the situation Stick said was inevitable. Foggy found himself drunkenly back in the arms of his ex “soulless” corporate lawyer. Fisk similarly finds himself isolated as Vanessa fights for her life. He is not sure he can trust his criminal partners, and at the same time Wesley leaves to handle Karen—who he just learned has gone to see Fisk’s mother.

Matt is forced to ask himself, when you are abandoned how do your continue on? What keeps you going? When there’s no one left around you, all a person has left is their conviction. For Foggy, it is the friendship he feels is so important, as well as the quest for justice that drives his career. For Karen, it is the passion to make things right, by any means necessary. For Fisk, it is rage and vengeance. As Vanessa lays dying, he tells her he cannot pray for her. He is not a religious man. He can only promise he will act definitively to seek retribution. Matt has his conviction that the city can be changed for the better, and that he can help make that happen.

Father Lantom and Matt chat more about the devil in the church. Matt wonders why God put the devil inside of him, why he has so much rage and violence as a part of who he is. Fr. Lantom opines that perhaps the devil was created, and allowed to fall from grace to become a symbol, a warning to “tread the path of the righteous.”

Matt’s faith, his desire to find a meaning for his accident and unique gifts, to make a difference, is set in stark contrast to Fisk’s actions. Matt struggles with his more violent urges, whereas Fisk has made it a part of who he is. When Matt fails to kill Fisk, he begins to realize that perhaps that is not his path.  To deal with what he has lost, he seeks to take a more righteous path.  This change in attitude is apparent in his dealings with Melvin Potter, who he seeks out to create a new costume, a “symbol,” for him, using the same lightweight armor technology he discovered on Fisk. He speaks to Melvin with compassion, a far cry from the growling night prowler persona he has used exclusively while in costume. This is the closing act on the origin story of Daredevil, and I imagine that the man we saw in the first two thirds of this series is not the man that will be returning in season 2. There’s darkness in Matt Murdock, no doubt, but more deeply there is a passionate man who cares deeply about serving others. It’s the man who wants to defend the little guy in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s the man who comforts Melvin Potter and assures him that he will help.

And while Matt begins to discover the righteous man inside of him, we learn that there is a much darker side to Karen Page than we have known. As she sits opposite of Wesley and points a gun at him, she asks, “What makes you think this is the first time I’ve fired a gun?” Ben Urich hinted at a secret in her past. What brought her to New York?

Ben continues being a quiet but stalwart supporting player in the series. I haven’t talked about him nearly as much as I want, but Vondie Curtis-Hall’s performance is so well executed and brings such tired authority, especially to the paternal relationship with Karen, that it is hard to talk about. He is the perfect every man window into this world.

Stray thoughts

  • This episode is good overall, but contains one of the poorer scripts. Dialogue is at times painful.
  • We still don’t know who tried to kill Vanessa. I know this story is pretty much taken from the comics, but the fact that every otherwise strong woman in this show is victimized at least once in this series is frustrating. Hope they knock that off in season 2.
  • Leland Owsley is such a fun character. He is just completely unintimidated by all these scary people.
  • RIP Wesley, you were a good friend, but also kind of creepy.
  • Matt asks Melvin to create a “symbol” for him. Perhaps Father Lantom’s description of the devil as a sign  or warning for others to tread the path of the righteous stuck out in Matt’s mind. He’s also stated on a number of occasions that he has a bit of the devil inside him. The Daredevil costume then becomes an outward sign of his internal struggle turned toward a symbol of justice and hope for others that justice can be served.

Marvel Facts

  • Melvin Potter’s workshop and fight with Matt is full of fun easter eggs. From the legs of notorious villain Stilt Man, to blueprints for the Gladiator costume and Melvin throwing a buzzsaw at Matt.

 

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