'Daredevil' Episode 5 review: 'World on Fire' -- enemy of my enemy

'Daredevil' Episode 5 review: 'World on Fire' -- enemy of my enemy
Daredevil and the Russian Mob go to all-out war in "World on Fire," while Wilson Fisk sits back and smiles. (Netflix)

He's only shown up in two of the first five episodes, and yet Wilson Fisk is operating on a level far beyond the rest of the cast of "Daredevil."

We've already seen "Wilson Fisk: Romantic" and "Wilson Fisk: Master of Car Door-Related Homicide" but now, in "World On Fire," we bring you Wilson Fisk - master manipulator.


With a few false moves (some of which he makes during a successful dinner date), Fisk manages to send the entire Russian mob on the hunt for our hero, and then twists another knife to get them all in one place, nearly eliminating all his enemies from the chessboard with a single suicide bombing.

That is a scary kind of power. In just two episodes' time, Vincent D'Onofrio has made Fisk's every move flinch-worthy. Dramatic music aside, I was half-scared he was going to shoot Marcel the maitre'd because ... well, clearly, you don't question Wilson Fisk.

D'Onofrio has brought his A-game to Netflix, speaking in a coiled voice that echoes the brilliance of Det. Goren of "Law & Order" fame but also belies a simmering range underneath. The exhaustion and shyness he brings to Wilson makes Fisk's entire monologue about saving the city, about being the hero of his own story, believable in a way I didn't expect it would. This version of Wilson Fisk doesn't come across as a crime lord. He comes across as a guy beat up from one continuous long day at the office.

Wilson thinks he's trying to make his city a better place, even if he just killed Lord knows how many people in those explosions, and he's got at least one believer in Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer). Their dinner scenes were probably the best snippets of "World On Fire," as we got a deeper look inside Fisk and were allowed to see Vanessa is far from arm-candy. She may not know exactly what Wilson is, but she sees the demon in his eyes, and she isn't afraid of seeing what that demon can do.

The actual hero of this story isn't so lucky. While Wilson's able to spin mass murder into a positive on his date, Matt's new houseguest and lover isn't so keen on his nocturnal activities. I'm going to skip past telling you how great Charlie Cox was in all his normal Murdock/Daredevil scenes, because you already know he was great. I'm actually (I know, this is shocking) going to hone in on something I didn't like in this episode.

The erosion of the Matt-Carla relationship is starting a little too quickly. Actually a lot too quickly. I mean, they just got together in the beginning of this episode! She can't go from telling Matt he has to be Daredevil in Episode 4 to wondering how close he is to becoming Fisk in Episode 5. That's just not how pacing works. I know it was meant to be a parallel to the blooming Fisk-Vanessa relationship, but this was about as forced as forced can get. We're already talking about love (you kissed once) and the dangerous moral line Matt walks (he punched out a dirty cop, he didn't dropkick a puppy. And in this world? That puppy might work for Fisk anyway). Hopefully they get back on the mend in the next chapter, because this seemed entirely rushed.

I also want to talk about the end of this episode, because the streaming model actually does away with unnecessary cliffhangers. You know there is a zero percent chance Matt is getting taken in by those cops, whether or not they work for Fisk, so at least I don't have to sit around for a week now pretending to wonder about something that isn't all that mysterious.

Random thoughts without fear:

  • Foggy apology 2.0: With each passing episode, Elden Henson is buying more real estate in my heart. Foggy (or Señor Foggy, or Foggy Bear) has been great ever since "Rabbit in a Snow Storm," and he's excellent here between the verbal obliteration of the scummy blond lawyer or his doe-eyed and likely doomed attempts to woo Karen.

  • "I'm getting my stun gun out of storage." OK Leland, that will help with all the gang warfare and decapitation. Also, who keeps a stun gun in storage? Also, Leland is also great.
  • I thought I picked up on this in an earlier episode, but now we can be sure -- Madame Gao is running drugs and committing suicide bombings by using blind couriers? That is going to make poor Matthew livid and I am excited for that episode, if we get it this season.
  • Comic book reference you might have missed: The turncoat in Vladimir's organization, Turk, is a perpetual Daredevil punching bag, generally the bottom rung of Hell's Kitchen's criminal ladder. He's acquitted himself better here (The Turk of comics lore would never get a sit-down with Wilson Fisk's #2) and I'm hoping his perpetually broken nose becomes a running gag.

  • I have not stopped humming/singing whatever ditty Madame Gao's runner was crowing before he got shot in the head. No, I don't speak any Chinese. No, I don't know what the words were. No, I don't care (Unless someone out there on the Internet wants to teach me. That'd be sweet!)

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