Ra’s al Stick
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Stick is an episode about the rigidity of ideology and how that inflexibility affects the lives of those who live within it. It is also an episode that functions in many ways as the origin story to Daredevil’s origin season, digging into how he became the man who was able to use his heightened senses to garner a greater grasp of the realities around him that others with proper sight were not able to see themselves. Stick in more ways than one is reminiscent of Ra’s al Ghul, even if he doesn’t quite possess the same level of instantaneous terror (in spite of his rather great, bloody introduction sequence). He does, however, possess a similar trait of espousing a single ideological bent that never seems to bend, regardless of the circumstances at hand. When he sees his former apprentice after two decades of what Matt understandably considers abandonment, he scoffs at the “lavish” life he has built for himself (Stick clearly has a different idea of what the word “lavish” entails). From his point of view, Matt has only one singular mission: to fight in the mask. Anything, anything that could even possibly conflict with that paradigm is a cancerous root that needs to be chopped off immediately and cast aside. It’ll hurt like hell at first, but it’ll be the right decision going forward.
Matt, rightfully in my opinion, finds this entire concept to be utterly laughable and ludicrous. Stick beats him in the initial fight but he wins their final confrontation in what is a clear indication of where the series as a whole stands. Matt isn’t going to simply live a life of isolation, crowded by darkened walls, devoid of any relationships of romance or otherwise because he has a job protecting the city. To be clear, Matt doesn’t have any obligation whatsoever to help Hell’s Kitchen, despite his enhanced abilities. He chooses to do so and the idea that he has to sacrifice the emotional component of who he is to do that properly is moronic. As the intro proves, Stick has absolutely no problem beheading people in what was admittedly a great shot. “You’re still afraid to cross that line,” he notes in regards to his former apprentice with something that sounds resoundingly like disappointment. It’s that espousal of emotion that made Stick leave Matt twenty years ago (at about the age of ten, mind you), but how long can Matt truly avoid having to cross that ultimate line, especially with Fisk looming larger and larger on the horizon.
Karen’s arc continues to be impressive, her rigidity about exposing Union Allied and once and for all exposing them for who they are remaining one of the most imminently invigorating aspects of the series. She still refuses to believe that the masked man is a terrorist as Foggy sees him, instead continuing to remind herself of the man who had saved her life in the cover of darkness. Her behavior with her mind focused clearly on Mrs. Cardenas and the exposition she’s working on with Ben arouses Foggy’s suspicion, who follows her just in time to help her out when she’s attacked by Fisk’s hit men. Karen remains defiant in the face of nearly getting killed in the course of action, pepper spraying the shit out of one of the hitmen before rounding on Foggy. In a sharp contrast to what House of Cards tends todo constantly, it’s admirable that Karen is so continuously hellbent on not allowing the fear and intimidation so regularly used by Union Allied and their allies to dissuade her from her course of action.
Nobu’s rigidity arises from a code of honor, which Game of Thrones teaches us tends to be utter bull****. His job, which involves the yakuza somewhere, doesn’t allow him to tolerate the existence of the masked man anymore. Leland asks for protection, to which Nobu offers the following counsel that also spells out his life philosophy as a whole: “Each man must stand for himself or fall with the unworthy.” If that strikes you as being fairly ridiculous, it is. But men and women governed by a singular ideology that can seemingly never fluctuate often find themselves in positions where that stubbornness has created seemingly impenetrable quagmires. Stuck in those circumstances, they may find themselves falling through a stairwell, their rigidity broken just like the steps they just crushed underneath their own bodies.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“They’re better off without you.”
+“Devil, my shapely Irish ass.”
+“Admittedly, I’m a work in progress.”
+“Everyone has secrets, Foggy.”
+“Smart is making the right decision at the right time.”
+“It doesn’t matter what I think. It only matters what I prove.”
+“What if he was there to hurt somebody else?”
+“There are no heroes, no villains, just people with different agendas.”
+“I like the long shots.”
+“Think I’ll bury my sorrow between the legs of a supermodel.” That sounds perfectly fine to me, to be honest. +Young Matt feeling guilty over his father’s death
+The editing is especially great this episode.
+“Never is a man more handsome when a man is in love.”
+“I can take care of myself.”
+“Fighting is just the start.”
+“And he just plain kicks ass.”
Written By: Douglas Petrie
Directed By: Brad Turner
Image Courtesy: Flickering Myth