Daredevil (2015) episode 9 “Speak of the Devil”
Directed by Nelson McCormick
Written by Christos Cage and Ruth Fletcher Gage
Action bursts of a red and a black figure. A ninja clad in The Hand red proves to be Daredevil’s most skilled opponent. A close up glances at familiar facial features left uncovered by the ninja’s headwear. The opening theme then begins, calmly building tension with its sound of strings and melodic tones.
Episode 9, Speak of the Devil, shows one of the series’ best and most gruesome action scenes and it doesn’t let up. Events of the episode occur prior to the opening fight and explain how it came about. Scenes of the fight occasionally return and concludes with the episode. The fight itself, central to the episode, manages to represent the adversity in Hell’s Kitchen.
Matt returns to speak with Father Lantom and continues their prior conversation which strongly carries the series’ theme of theology and questions of morality. The welcome sight of Matt in a church brings Daredevil back to its roots as he continues to be conflicted. Matt is also the most overt he’s been with his Catholicism, making the sign of the cross before doing his night job.
Nelson & Murdock has become an investigation office against Fisk as a brief talk between characters allows the audience to recap the plot explaining how certain companies are affiliated. The party assesses how Fisk coming out to the public changes their game plan.
Playful scenes such as Matt in an art gallery is a good contrast to the maintained tension of the story. He and Foggy still have a moment to be chums despite events pushing them further towards the low road. Other scenes bring surprises and can come sooner than anticipated.
Characters are well portrayed as is the series’ strong suit. Charlie Cox does a terrific portrayal of Matt Murdock. The character’s duality brings depth. Matt is good-humoured and likeable but can be intense in the next scene. Making interactions more natural are Cox’ apt reactions to stimuli such as a hard gulp after hearing bad news.
Elden Henson as Foggy has his shining moments. He drunkly plays with an empty bottle of alcohol and his face communicates fear in a dark room. In one particular scene, his tears evoke actual emotion. Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk retains a controlled, daunting, yet humanly figure. His mastered cadence for the character continues to haunt.
Creative effects are used such as throwing darts in slow motion to capture a moment’s rush. Matt’s sense of the environment blurs the scene with closeups to intricate details such as a gun under a suit. A transition sequence of Daredevil fighting a series of thugs to obtain information helps the story move along.
The episode balances wide shots, mid shots, and close-ups, and pans to avoid stagnation. Conversations often utilise over-the-shoulder shots (OSS). Cut-ins are in play, particularly Matt’s clenching of fists, while point-of-view (POV) is used to navigate a room.
The series has always had excellent lighting. Darkness envelops conversations among Fisk and company. Alleys are divided between light and dark. A dialogue between a well-lit Foggy and a dimly lit Karen spotlight contrasting intentions.
The writing of Cage and Gage shine with insightful and well-delivered lines such as “The devil was inconsequential – minor figure in the grand scheme,” and “Another man’s evil does not make you good.” A line such as “few things are absolute” reverberate the message of the recent episodes.”
Music in the episode, like much in the series are well-placed. Melodic strings can accompany a tense talk. The result is natural and unobtrusive.
Speak of the Devil is fast paced and entertaining with a few, strong surprises. As its title suggests, it incorporates issues of religious beliefs and morality. The episode retains the dark mood of the series showing real life societal issues and how people can be bought. Pain and suffering are a stark reminder of mortality as blades rip through flesh. The episode is a fight and that’s what it aptly depicts with an ending more explosive than its opening scene.
Reviewed by Stephen Suminguit