How Does It Make You Feel?
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
What do you see in a painting? The colors, the shapes, the strokes? Perhaps how various varieties of those above mix together? Some can look at the painting at the end of the hour and see nothing but a haze of winter. Others will yet see a majestic mix of vibrancy. Still others will counter that as all art is purely subjective, what you see is largely irrelevant but what matters more is how it makes you feel, the emotions that a piece of art can elicit out of you. Rabbit in a Snowstorm is largely a place-setter of an episode, but an extremely effective one at that, giving the world of Daredevil our first glimpse into a procedural setting and it’s such a tantalizing one that I can’t help but feel little morose that we didn’t get enough of it for it to have the impact necessary. I’m sure we’ll get more of the court scenes throughout the season, but the most exciting scene by far is the aforementioned painting sequence that introduces Ayelet Zurer’s mysterious art curator Vanessa Marianna and terrifying Wilson Fisk. There’s no obvious villainy to Fisk that would render the character and sequence hyperbolic. His name alone has evoked such a terror that his physical introduction doesn’t need anything extra. But the most evocative aspect of Fisk is how he responds to Vanessa’s queries about the importance of art – the painting made the powerful man feel lonely.
The terror Fisk evokes this week is handled most deftly with the storyline relating to John Healy, a Fisk hitman who makes his appearance in a bowling alley just about to close. He comes off across as a sort of pathetic buffoon over anything else on the onset, as if a loner who is finding some solace in a darkened bowling alley. There’s still something off, however, which is made evident when he starts fighting in the bowling alley. It’s brutal, visceral, and bloody in a way that would make Game of Thrones proud. There’s a shot of cartilage popping through the skin but if that wasn’t enough, Healy bashes in his opponent’s head repeatedly with a giant bowling ball. His prompt arrest brings Wesley into contact with Nelson & Murdoch. While on one level it’s befuddling that he would do so, from his vantage point Fisk & Associates have simply been leaving way too many bodies behind and associating Healy’s case with a firm that is already dirty would be too obvious. Nelson & Murdoch, as start-ups, have a clean record and that would help keep their cover. Unknowingly, his presence signals to Matt that the man he’s searching for is associated with Wesley and the latter simply has bridged the gap between the two.
Rabbit in a Snowstorm’s third major introduction is Ben Urich, a battered reporter who is hamstrung by working at a fairly depressing news establishment (depressing is undoubtedly an understatement in this case). Their budget (as most print media can sadly relate to) is almost barebones and since the public reportedly doesn’t want to buy serious news in his editor Ellison’s view, Ben’s repeatedly put on assignment for sexy puff pieces. But Ben, being a journalist who actually takes his profession seriously, wants to tackle all of the trails that Union Allied has been leaving behind and is duly frustrated by being blocked constantly. Ellison expectedly doesn’t budge and it seemed that Ben would go rogue or something akin to get his information. In a surprise to him, Karen shows up at his door with the information he so pertinently wishes to acquire. It’s standard narrative fare for the trope of the “singular journalist with integrity fighting back against an oppressive, indifferent establishment” and so far the story doesn’t rise above that in a significant fashion. Vondie Curtis-Hall’s performance is the most promising aspect of this storyline, but the two characters are going to have to rise above their stereotypes for this to truly work.
The court scenes were delicious to chew on, watching Matt charm the jury from beginning to end. Him using his powers to spot out a jury member who was afraid and forced to sit there was a fantastic little moment that hopefully is foreshadowing for some significant scene down the road. His speech about being preoccupied with questions of morality was intriguing to say the least, especially considering the gray area within which Daredevil inherently operates. How he tweaks that gray has been plenty fascinating already and I can’t wait for the moment when it inevitably breaks. I keep on harkening back to the sequence in the previous episode where he snarled to the Russian mobster about him enjoying the torture and bloodsport. As Claire noted on that rooftop, she doesn’t think that he enjoys it at all. But is there some small part of him that does enjoy that domination, that power or is it all puff talk to scare the living daylights out of people? If he does, that doesn’t make him evil or even bad. It just further complicates who he really is, deepening the conflict between his feeling of what he should and ultimately wants to be. Perhaps in that courtroom as he’s trying to convince the jury of what is right, he’s trying to convince himself of that same principle in equal measure.
The rest of Rabbit in a Snowstorm was filled with little threads, character work, and snappy one-liners that crackle with a foreboding intensity. Karen’s attempts to do the right thing in some semblance eventually leading her to Ben’s doorstep was a great move, albeit one that could have used a bit of foreshadowing so it didn’t appear that Karen just downs about Ben’s investigation from basically nowhere (unless I missed something, in which case feel free to correct me in the comments below). Foggy and Matt’s relationship is explored further and that aspect of the episode added a welcome depth to the both of them without trying too hard. Maybe the topper (my second-favorite scene) was Healy freaking out in front of Daredevil when he figures out that Fisk would come after him. He is so terrified at the fate that awaits him at Fisk’s hand that he commits suicide by pushing his face through a bare dagger, the blade impaling him right through the eye and out the back of his skull. It’s a different sort of painting and the only feeling it evokes is of immense, haunting fear.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Sanctity of sacrament”
+Matt’s priest can make good lattes. Watch out, baristas.
+“Which sounds better?”
+“It’s not sexy.”
+“Just like church.”
+“His check’s gonna clear.”
+Gun in the pinball machine
+Communal ward at capacity
+“For the record: this is the first time you ever said I was right. I hate it.”
+“I’ve got a measles outbreak to deal with because idiot parents don’t want to vaccinate.”
+“We need everything.”
+“Leave my city.”
+“Two layers… above reproach.”
+“Ever try putting a puzzle together with a piece missing? It’s damn aggravating.”
Title: Rabbit in a Snowstorm
Written By: Marco Ramirez
Directed By: Adam Kane
Image Courtesy: El Bugle Diario @ Tumblr