“Condemned”, or as I like to call it, “The Matt & Vlad Power Hour”, is a world changing episode for our titular hero. Not only does he find himself one massive step forward in his quest to take down the criminal enterprises of Wilson Fisk but Matt (or at least his masked alter ego) also finds himself framed by Fisk for his crimes against the Russians. But the real highlight of the episode is the first ‘meeting’ between hero and villain, as the pair converse via the radio of a slain police officer who was just trying to do his job.
This conversation very much establishes the paralleled journeys between Matt and Fisk in the series, making it clear that they are both after the same thing for the city they love. The obvious difference of course is that Fisk is not afraid to use criminal methods to repair his beloved Hell’s Kitchen, whereas Matt is still sticking to his tried and true ‘no killing’ mantra at this point in the series (though as we have seen he has no qualms with beating a dude to within an inch of his life). The whole “we’re not so different you and I” trope has been used countless times before, and yes it is a bit cliché, but for me at least the time Marvel’s Daredevil has allowed us to spend with the characters separately to this point has shown this fact to be pretty much true. Were this a film I would probably say such a discussion was entirely cheesy, but in the confines of a slow burning television serial it works.
This was only a small part of the episode however, as Matt spent the majority of “Condemned” trapped in an abandoned warehouse with the dying Vladimir, keeping him from biting the dust with help from handy life saving tips via Claire. Matt’s focus has been to go after the Russians since the beginning of the show, so I expected that would be some level of interaction between him and Vlad. But man I didn’t expect it to be this good. The final scenes between the two were brilliantly executed, and I found myself disappointed that we had to say farewell to the Russian crime boss already.
I know that he was a horribly evil human trafficker and all, but in his last moments he more than redeemed himself by giving Matt the name of Leland Owlsley and sacrificing his life to let Matt make his escape. It made sense for his death to occur off screen as Matt ran through the tunnels, but I would have loved a shot of Vladimir spouting some sort of cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger style line as he bid his life adieu.
Elsewhere, Wilson Fisk took full advantage of Matt running around as a masked vigilante, putting into place his plans to set him up as a patsy for his crimes. To further add salt to the wound, he hires an assassin to gun down a number of police officers parked outside the warehouse, with the corrupt officer Blake being taken down in the process. For a second it looked as though Ben Urich was to become a victim as well, as he was caught in the crossfire whilst trying to get more information about the Russian ties to Union Allied.
Foggy and Karen are kept holed up in the hospital in this episode, after their ‘date’ in “World On Fire” was abruptly ended by one of the explosions. I must admit that at this stage of the series the one character I’m really struggling with is Foggy Nelson. Elden Henson gives a great performance, but the character seems to be the only one that hasn’t been fully fleshed out at this point, besides crushing hard on Karen and growing a firm hatred for Matt’s alter ego. I have high hopes that this will change soon; otherwise his character will be the one major letdown in an otherwise fantastic show.
- Nikolai Nikolaeff gives one heck of a performance in this episode. It’s a shame that Vladimir and his brother Anatoly had to be the first sacrifices in Fisk’s grand schemes, because they were fantastic villainous foils in their own right
- The villains continue to be the highlights of Marvel’s Daredevil, and the rest of the MCU should really take notice. Besides Loki and the slow burn reveal of the Mad Titan Thanos, none of the film villains have appeared in more than one movie which is a major shame
- In saying that, Officer Blake was just an awful person. I found myself cheering when he found himself in Fisk’s bulls eye
REVIEW SCORE: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Read Simon’s review of Season 1 Episode 4 “World On Fire” here.
Marvel’s Daredevil is available to stream all 13 episodes of Season One on Netflix Australia.