(Warning!! Season One Spoilers!!!)
After being blinded in an accident as a boy, Matthew Murdock(Charlie Cox) gains heightened senses. By a defense attorney for the underdogs by day and “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen”, fighting the growing criminal underground of Hell’s Kitchen by night. After “the incident” criminals(the Russians, the Chinese, the Yakuza, and James Wesley’s(Toby Leonard Moore) mysterious “Employer”) take advantage of the circumstances of the city. While the city’s dark underground awakes Matthew Murdock and his friend Frederick Nelson aka Foggy(Elden Henson) open the law firm, Nelson and Murdock. This first season of Daredevil leaves the audience wanting more after Netflix released all thirteen episodes back in 2015. The series is an excellent example of storytelling yet fails to create a truly rounded character in regards to season one’s major antagonist.
Nelson and Murdock’s first Client Karen Page(Deborah Ann Woll) is framed for the murder of her co-worker, Daniel Fisher after uncovering a pension embezzlement scheme at the construction company Union Allied while working there as a secretary. Murdock prevents her from being prosecuted while his alter ego saves her from a second assassination attempt before exposing the scandal through The New York Bulletin. Grateful for their work Karen begins working with for Nelson and Murdock, as Wesley begins covering up his “Employer’s” involvement. However, Nelson and Murdock’s involvement with Karen and the Union Allied scandal attracts the attention of Wesley, who hires their law firm to defend John Healy, an assassin. Matt accepts the case despite the criminal nature of their client to discover the name of Wesley and Healy’s mysterious employer which also includes a substantial sum to ensure their “cooperation”. Meanwhile, Page receives an offer from Union Allied who do not want her to continue to talk about the scandal and to ensure her silence threaten to sue her for leaking company secrets if she doesn’t agree. Despite accepting the offer Karen goes to Ben Urich who wrote the Union Allied piece for the Bulletin and offers to tell him more about the scandal. Murdock after successfully defending Healy confronts him as“the man in the mask” and forces him to reveal the name of his and Wesley’s mysterious employer, Wilson Fisk(Vincent D’Onofrio). Out of pure fear of the consequences Healy horrifically commits suicide.
Fisk is enamored, or obsessed with art gallery curator Vanessa Marianna and attempts to charm her. This love story begs more questions than anything. While Marianna’s comic book counterpart is the wife of the crime lord, I fail to see what about her on-screen adaptation fascinates Wilson Fisk.
Throughout the series, this relationship is a major motivator for Fisk and ultimately a key player in his downfall.When Anatoly confronts Fisk during a dinner with Marianna the audience is forced to believe that embarrassment felt by Fisk on a first date with someone who at this point is no more than a stranger is enough to motivate him to brutally behead Anatoly with his car door. Maybe it is we are to simply accept the fact that he is unhinged enough for this to be plausible.
Fisk later pays Turk Barrett to tell Vladimir that Fisk hired “the man in the mask” to kill his brother Anatoly, and as the Russians prepare their forces for a war against Fist they are attacked by Goa’s suicide bombers. With the Wilson and Vanessa on a high building out looking the windows at a city on wonderfully ablaze Fisk reveals to her that he is the man responsible for this, and the sensible Vanessa believes his motives are just when he reveals that these are areas run by the Russian Mafia. She wasn’t at all shocked or at least horrified by the sight in the least bit, and even more unbelievable is that Fisk exposed himself to this woman he barely knows!
Meanwhile, Fisk is threatened by Goa to be sidestepped by his Allies due to him being too distracted by his feelings for Vanessa. Later when he confides in Vanessa she convinces him to go public with his plan to save the city.He is so in love with this woman that she alone was able to motivate him, a man who has worked so hard and done horrific things to stay hidden in the darkest corners of Hell’s Kitchen to reveal himself in the light of day? And the paranoid actions of this character doesn’t convince any that he would trust her enough to reveal to her that he murdered his own father with a hammer in hand. Fisk is so paranoid that he had the mentally unstable engineering savant Melvin Potter to outfit him with a line of armored suits! I would’ve needed Fisk to witness Vanessa’s disgustingly horrific darker side for me to believe that he had some reasonable trust in him.
Later Fist throws a charity gala to raise money for the victims of the bombings and as a result, many of the attendees, including Vanessa are poisoned. This is the one event in their relationship that is a believable and honest motivating force for Fisk. So when he murders Leland Owlsley after discovering that he and Goa conspired to poison Vanessa, Fisk’s biggest distraction, the audience can reasonably understand him and almost empathize with Fisk.
This impulsive “noble” murder to defend Vanessa was, however, the key to his downfall. Leland happened to be keeping Hoffman, a detective formerly in the pockets of Fisk who knew about the rampant corrupt and crooked nature of the cops on Fisk’s payroll, as leverage against Fisk and was the only one who knew of his where about. Fisk should’ve kept him alive and tortured him for the location, or maybe made a deal with Leland to let him free and then give up the location of Hoffman once he is away or something just to ensure that the loose end was tied up. Luckily the man in the mask saves Hoffman from Fisk’s men and forces him to go to the police and testify, and with his testimony, Nelson and Murdock, and federal agents are able to arrest Fisk and his co-conspirators.
However, Fisk escapes police custody with the help of his mob-fiance Vanessa, who is waiting for him on a rooftop by a helicopter. No one can possibly believe that this woman really loves this man enough to stick with him through all of this. The audience is only told that the two love each other but not truly show evidence of it, or the way trust was earned in a manner that anyone can accept as honest and believable. It’s almost as if this entire relationship was a mere plot device and it fails to give the audience to fall in love with the villains of the story because they failed to make the people real.Ultimately after a firefight with police and a brutal battle with the man in the mask, now outfitted in new armor curiously of the genius Melvin Potter tasks down Fisk. And with Fist in custody, his so-called lover flees the city, and the media nickname the masked vigilante,”Daredevil”. So long and farewell and good riddance of a love story worse than Romeo and Juliet.