There’s a thin line between good pacing and marking time, and, unfortunately, “Daredevil” fell on the wrong side of it in “The Path of the Righteous.”
While the action-bereft/conversation-heavy model worked great for “Nelson v. Murdock,” the episode that immediately followed Matt’s biblical beating at the hands of Fisk and Nobu, this one never really got out of first gear. The first 35 minutes felt like an extended “Previously on Daredevil …” Matt’s still conflicted about his morals. Foggy is still mad at Matt. Karen is still a wide-eyed bunny and the show’s self-appointed morality lieutenant.
Now that final clash between Karen and Wesley? The first of what will likely be many fights between Matt and the man who will eventually become the Gladiator? Sign me up. But the fact that I nearly fell asleep twice getting to those scenes is a concern.
I understand the need to ease Matt back into action. The physical state he’s in would make it impossible to dive back into the action sequences from earlier episodes. But if we’re going to talk all day, then let’s talk about something new. While I love the way the show has embraced Matt’s Catholicism as an integral part of his character, sending him to church in search of a strong character moment isn’t the best use of that. They don’t really address Matt’s desire to kill Fisk; they just cover ground they’ve already tread.
The same goes for Foggy and Karen’s momentary gripe over drinks at Josie’s bar. Truth told, I didn’t need to see Mr. Nelson outside of his “what did I just do?” wake-up call in his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. He’s sad he fought with Matt. We know this. We don’t need to recount the reasons, especially when Foggy has to lie about those reasons to Karen.
And Karen. Oh, Karen Page. One of my favorite parts of the Daredevil mythos, she’s been reduced (until this episode’s final scene) to a nag with an overly simplistic world view. Her constant haranguing of Urich and Foggy about the immediate need to take down Fisk isn’t annoying in and of itself, but her complete inability to understand what level she’s playing on is fairly irritating. The Karen Page of the comics is a much smarter woman with a past that would let her know the ramblings of Fisk’s mother mean nothing, and while we get a glimpse of the woman she might be in that closing clash with Wesley, her naiveté is no longer endearing and it’s making most of her scenes a chore.
For the sake of saying something positive, I will allow for the fact that Karen’s whole doe-eyed persona is a mask, and if it is, she used it expertly to lull Wesley into dropping the gun in the episode’s final sequence. Do I really think that’s what’s happening here? Not at all, but I can’t rule it out either.
Random Thoughts Without Fear:
I generally make reference to the comics as a guidepost and judge the show on its own merits, but the only enjoyable moments in this episode came from my familiarity with the printed page. Matt’s return to the costumed life featured run-ins with two “Daredevil” icons. Turk seems to have cemented his position as a low-level stooge for Matt to beat on, but more important, we got our first glimpse at Melvin Potter’s path to becoming the Gladiator. The writing team did a nice job nodding to his supervillain future (throwing the saw blade, the logo, against the wall) without putting him in a ridiculous suit of armor that would throw off the tone of this series. I look forward to Potter in Season 2, and it looks like he’ll be responsible for Matt’s full-blown Daredevil costume.
And ... you know what? That's it. I'd just like to move on from this episode.
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