DAREDEVIL 1.10 ‘Nelson v. Murdock’ Review
DAREDEVIL Season 1 Episode 10
Episode Title: “Nelson v. Murdock”
Writer: Luke Kalteux
Director: Farren Blackburn
Previously on Daredevil:
Welcome to the emotional gut punch episode, as provided by the Man Without Fear.
The previous episode of Daredevil left Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) badly injured and exposed as the masked vigilante in front of his friend, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). “Nelson v. Murdock” is almost entirely about the fallout of that moment, aside from some flashbacks to their shared past and a new chapter for Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio).
Amazingly, there’s only one real action sequence in this episode when we see Matt deal out his brand of nocturnal justice for the first time. But the majority of the screen time is spent with two men in a room as their friendship disintegrates under the weight of several lies.
Full spoilers ahead for Daredevil episode 10! You’ve been warned!
This was easily Elden Henson’s best episode as Foggy. In prior episodes, Foggy’s had charming moments of comic relief and even a few heroic turns. But Henson has never been better than when Foggy is crushed and angry about the secrets that Matt kept from him. Every word out of Foggy’s mouth was justified, including his first real question about whether Matt was even blind.
From Foggy’s point of view, Matt has been lying to him from the moment they met. And he’s right. Foggy is absolutely right to feel betrayed, that’s what made his exchanges with Matt so gripping. Henson and Cox hit all of the right emotional beats and they were riveting to watch.
“Nelson v. Murdock” even jumped into a few specifically chosen flashbacks of pivotal moments in Matt and Foggy’s friendship, including their first meeting in college. Who cares if neither Cox nor Henson were convincingly able to look that young. It had to be them in those scenes. Casting other actors to portray their younger selves wouldn’t have had the same impact.
The creative team of Daredevil even played the long game by heavily alluding to Elektra, whom I would expect to see in a second season of Daredevil. I’m pretty sure that is going to happen. Daredevil is far too good to simply run for a single season.
At the emotional climax, Foggy actually breaks up his friendship and partnership with Matt. I felt that was a moment that the script earned. Both characters were sympathetic and raw, but I still feel that Foggy had every right to call Matt out for everything that he did.
Meanwhile, everything was coming up Kingpin for Wilson Fisk. The problem is that Fisk’s underworld partners don’t like the more domesticated version of himself. Fisk’s partners are also acutely aware that he has essentially screwed over the Russians and the Japanese mafia. Even at his best, Fisk can’t really be trusted.
I’ve grown to enjoy Madam Gao (Wai Ching Ho) on this show, and she is the one who confronts Kingpin with the truth. He can’t be the savior of Hell’s Kitchen while he’s also the oppressor. He doesn’t seem to understand that, but perhaps Fisk will turn the corner after his beloved Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer) and several other supporters are poisoned in a very public display. Leland Owlsley (Bob Gunton) certainly came off suspiciously in that scene, which will probably not escape Fisk’s notice.
The biggest drawback in this episode is that Claire was apparently the one who patched up Matt, but she doesn’t appear at all. Was Rosario Dawson not available for this episode? Her absence was frustrating. I understand why she wasn’t there for the verbal showdown between Matt and Foggy. But simply skipping over Claire tending to Matt felt like a cheap way to cover her absence.
I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the detour featuring Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall). Woll and Curtis-Hall do have some good chemistry together, but their scenes stretched on too long for my liking. I’m not sure that the payoff was worth the buildup. They’ve found Fisk’s elderly mother, Marlene Vistain (Phyllis Somerville)… and for what? Her story about Fisk killing his father is true (we’ve seen it), but Marlene’s reappearance didn’t carry much dramatic weight.
However, the rest of the episode was really powerful. I’m very pleased with the storytelling of this series. I just regret that I have only three episodes left to watch before the season is over.