A Better Place
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
“Will we see Moscow?”
“It’s a city buried in the past.”
In the Blood is an installment that is almost ubiquitous with a quiet build of anxiety, dread before a ghastly beheading by car door (yes, you read that right) closes out the hour. A slow-burner of an episode for the most part, the thematic crux of In the Blood lies with the cover of where its characters come from and ultimately, whom they want to be. Anatoly and Vladimir, whose backstory opens the episode, are two brothers languishing in Utkin Prison in Siberia, desperate to find something that will give their lives some semblance of meaning, escape. Karen is told that she is resoundingly lucky to have escaped the Union Allied mess alive and to a certain extent (once the fates of others involved unspool), that is true. But knowing the corruption in Hell’s Kitchen, she is refusing to become simply another victim whose silence buys the villains another victory. Wilson Fisk wants to be someone who cleans up Hell’s Kitchen and his methodologies have made him increasingly alone, a reality of existence that is pierced through by Vanessa’s powers of observation. For the titular Daredevil, his goal echoes that of Fisk, but he has to come increasingly to terms with what the consequences of his actions can be. Up until now, someone had never really been targeted as viciously for their association with the masked man until Claire is kidnapped by the Russian mob. All of a sudden, the slight glimmers of glitz begin to fade away.
Karen’s initial meeting goes about as well as a realist and or cynic would have expected. Ben refuses to take the case of Union Allied up, which is fairly surprising on the onset, considering his gung-ho nature not too long ago that rankled his stereotypical editor so much. It is equally surprising but perhaps less shocking when he shows up to follow Karen at the Union Allied liquidation, noting that he had said that she should move on, not him. His advice to Karen is a pertinent one, something that can certainly be extended to essentially everyone in this series. The various enemies of Union Allied or whatever they end up calling themselves after each fiasco all die, disappear, or are ruined in some other fashion not because they’re dumb or ineffective. It’s because “They underestimated what people in power will do to stay there.” He suggests that Karen sign the NDA with Union Allied and when she protests that that essentially ruins the whole point of her mission, he cleverly notes that he won’t be signing it. “Get out of the comfort zone,” he notes wryly, signaling with certainty that their fight is only about to get tougher from there on out. It’s a wonderful sequence that sharpens Ben’s character beyond the lone brave journalist while simultaneously giving Karen the agency to fight back against a corrupt system that just assumes that she’ll stay quiet if enough money is thrown in her face.
Anatoly and Vladimir find themselves about to lose their grip on whatever could possibly come next for their criminal enterprise, thanks to the masked man who dared to intervene in their process of selling human beings (he’s a real monster, that one). Then they go to find the man Daredevil had so unceremoniously dropped a fire extinguisher on before throwing him off the rooftop of a building and into a dumpster, calling to mind the question of how much mercy ought to be shown to others. Here, the questioning of Sermon leads directly to the kidnapping of Claire. Suddenly all of the warnings about the danger of the Russian mob coming after her no longer seemed like silly, overprotective warnings from Matt. There was no mercy of any sort showed to Claire from the mobsters, beating her up brutally just for some nugget of information as to who he is. Just in time, Matt arrives in the cover of darkness, espousing a neat trick to turn the lights off before beginning his attack. The headlights of the cars turn on in turn, creating eerie echoes of light before Claire bonks one of the mobsters in the head with a baseball bat.
As it turns out, a botched kidnapping and interrogation was the least of the Russian mobsters’ problems. We find Fisk asking Vanessa out on a date, his almost sweet proposal cemented by this gem of a line: “A woman that can be bought isn’t worth having.” Once again, I have to note how impressed I am with these two characters, each exhibiting a sharpness that suggests something far more complex than what the surface could say. For Fisk, his interactions with Vanessa move him far past the typical villainy that has defined so many of the comic book antagonists that have been put to screen. For Vanessa, it avoids the sexist cliché of the lovestruck woman who doesn’t care about the bad boy’s flaws because she can “fix” them. On that note, the sequence where Anatoly bursts into the restaurant and everyone stands up sends a clear signal to Vanessa as to what type of man she may be dealing with is fantastic. Immediately the camera cuts between various expressions, focusing on Fisk’s quiet fury and Vanessa’s realization. When Fisk later asks her if that means she is ready to give up on him, she doesn’t give a clear answer of moving either way. “I don’t know how I feel,” she says quietly and in that moment the audience gets an indication that she’s scouting out her potential options. Fisk, who is under the logical impression that he might truly have lost her for good, is simply furious. Anatoly’s death sentence couldn’t have been more telegraphed but the manner in which it occurred was nothing short of horrifying. To see a man who was on a slightly adorkable first date not five minutes ago be in a fistfight is one thing. To see him slamming the car door on his opponent’s neck repeatedly until his head is splattered off, leaving the car door bleeding, is another entirely.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The rats in the prison were a nice touch
+“Well, apply enough pressure, someone will break.”
+“You sneeze, we all catch a cold.”
+“…iron suit or magic hammer…”
+“Because it would betray that he’s just a man.”
+“He got old. And a hell of a lot less stupid.”
+“In the hospital, wanting to survive even at the cost of pride.”
+“Well, confrontations can be expensive.”
+“Be a shame to see the character scrubbed away.”
+“It hurts, doesn’t it? Being in pain, being afraid.”
+“Who are you, Wilson?”
+“I’m just trying to make my city a better place, that’s all.”
Title: In the Blood
Written By: Joe Pokaski
Directed By: Ken Girotti
Image Courtesy: GeekBinge