A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Shadows in the Glass opens beautifully, with a quiet montage to a classical Beethoven score that is exceedingly reminiscent of the stylish Hannibal in all the best ways. A man is shaking and then he wakes up as if from a nightmare. He wakes up, chopping his vegetables and breaking the eggs to make an omelet before he selects a suit for the day. Everyone looks into a mirror before they leave, making they sure they at least look presentable if not impeccable. No one sees their younger self standing in the mirror, blood splattered all over their body. Shadows tries to operate on the level of Joe and Matt’s fatherly bond by constructing one between Wilson and Bill, but it simply doesn’t work on that depth. Steven S. DeKnight has proven so far to be an able show runner, but perhaps like George Lucas in the Star Wars prequels, he shouldn’t be involved in every aspect of his work. It’s easily the weakest script of the series so far, which is a shame considering the potential that was within the story to begin with. By no means is Shadows a bad episode, quite the opposite. But what the episode does right only makes everything else within it look that much weaker in comparison.
The main reason why Wilson’s fatherly back story falls flat is partially because of how rushed it is. We truly got a sense of the depth of the connection between Matt and Joe because of how much time they were allotted by the series to develop said connection. Bill is nothing but a stereotype of the abusive father, whose every action seems forced to shove the pathetic nature of his life down the viewer’s throat. There’s not an ounce of nuance to be found anywhere throughout this aspect of the episode, which is truly unfortunate considering the amount of screen time it espouses. When Wilson loses it and kills his father in a fit of rage, it feels less like the story earning that dramatic, bloody, life-altering moment and more like the inevitable bloodshed that had been heavily foreshadowed from the beginning. To also have the singular bully lead Wilson into the bloody path feels like a cheap copout instead of building tension through various blocks of anger and resentment. Sure, that would require more time, but that’s certainly a better alternative to stuffing everything inside a single hour.
The adult Fisk has plenty to deal with, beginning with the character that has easily become the series’ most intriguing. Madame Gao’s mystery unravels one bit at a time, like her speaking English for example. In what is a much more successful mirroring between Matt and Fisk, she calmly tells him that he is becoming sloppy and emotional, the king in his castle who is allowing his heart to overshadow the judgments of his brain. “Restore your house to order,” she says in a tone that thinly suggests dire consequences otherwise. Exactly what type of power she holds over him is as of yet unknown, but Fisk shattering his table after her departure should be a clear indication of its strength. If Madame Gao was dressed in dark, an angelic Vanessa arrives in stunning white, assuring him that he’s not a monster.
In a move that is stunningly reminiscent of the beginnings of Homeland, Wilson Fisk goes public, revealing his name and identity for the first time in front of public cameras. It’s a masterstroke of public relations, putting himself in full view (or seemingly so anyhow), before the entirety of the curtains descend upon him and in a color that he wouldn’t logically be too fond of. To simultaneously have Ben’s voiceover of the article he’s writing to expose Fisk without exposing Fisk works initially in a subtle slant of irony that a good majority of the script utterly lacks. And then the script’s utter disregard for intellectual honesty comes right into play when surprise – coincidence! The speech becomes almost word for word mirroring between itself and what Ben is typing out on his screen. I could have cared less for this episode, but the final images of Fisk’s public ascension at least promises more interesting things to come.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I’m going to fight, damn it.”
+“Yes, threats are clear in any language.”
+“Never trust the quiet ones.”
+“How much are each of those years worth to you?”
+“This things itches like a son of a bitch.”
+The introduction of Mr. Potter.
+“Well, let’s have a parade.”
+“Not sure about the table. Looks like you aren’t, either.”
+“You’ve been at an awful lot of wrong places at the wrong time.”
+“You get what you deserve… [but] not for everyone. Corporations decide the bottom line, but people of this city still matter.”
-The painting looking like Fisk’s childhood wall is a great example of how obscenity on-the-nose DeKnight’s script is
Title: Shadows in the Glass
Written By: Steven S. DeKnight
Directed By: Stephen Surjik
Image Courtesy: Tomand Lorenzo