Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Daredevil’s latest one-take fight sequence is riotously cool

Illustration for article titled Daredevil’s latest one-take fight sequence is riotously cool
Screenshot: Daredevil (Netflix)

Over the course of the past two episodes, a lot of characters have criticized the fact that Fisk has been let out of prison. I can’t quite figure out how much we’re supposed to buy into their point of view. I can definitely get onboard with Foggy’s argument that a murderous criminal kingpin should be serving his time in an actual prison, not a fancy hotel. But are we supposed to believe that being relocated to the penthouse has actually given Fisk some tangible advantages, as Matt and Karen seem to think it has? As season two demonstrated, Fisk could pull a lot of strings from within prison (including, apparently, arranging his own shanking), and at this point, I’m not sure how being in this new location gives him more advantages than he had before. If anything, it seems like he’s being watched even more closely now that he’s in what amounts to highly monitored solitary confinement. But then this episode also features a scene where Fisk not only tracks Matt’s location, but also chats with him over the phone before arranging an elaborate attack prison. How the hell did he do all that?


Clearly the mystery of what’s going on with Fisk is meant to be central to the season, and Karen’s investigation hints that there’s a bigger story at play. But rather than feel intrigued, I mostly feel confused. It’s an odd choice to make Fisk a major point of view character for the season and yet also withhold so much information about what’s actually going on with him. How and when did Fisk get access to the feed from those prison security cameras and a phone to call Matt? Are we supposed to take it at face value that he actually did arrange his own shanking? If so, why did his fake anger towards his attacker include such a subtle, emotional turn in which he decided not to kill him? Was he just vying for a prison Oscar? There’s a fine line between offering a satisfying twist and presenting an emotional cheat, and I’m hoping this season winds up falling on the right side of that line.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of other stuff that happens in this episode to distract from my issues with Fisk. “Blindsided” delivers the extended one-take fight sequence that Daredevil is now famous for. This one unfolds within and around a prison, which Matt visits in order to try to figure out why Fisk chose to turn on the Albanians. It’s a stunning 11-minute sequence that includes an extended dialogue scene sandwiched between two expansive action ones and, eventually, a full-on prison riot. Matt’s mid-fight conversation with the Albanian leader is key to what makes the sequence so impressive; the one-take action is actively woven into the episode’s narrative rather than feeling like a moment where Daredevil pauses its storytelling for an action scene. If I have one critique, it’s that the sequence does lack just a little bit of emotional heft. While the original season one hallway fight was about Matt saving a kidnapped kid, this one is just about Matt surviving—which we obviously know he will. There aren’t really any deeper emotional stakes to latch on to beyond how cool it all looks. Thankfully, it looks very, very cool.

In addition to how geographically expansive it is, the fight also features the added difficulty level of the fact that Matt isn’t wearing his Daredevil costume, which makes it even more challenging for the show to use stunt doubles. I’ve watched the fight several times now, just for the sheer pleasure of figuring out the hidden cuts and filmmaking tricks that make it possible (The moment Matt falls behind the doctor’s exam table is clearly when Charlie Cox switches back in for his stunt double, but it took me a few watches to figure out the more seamless moment the stunt double first steps in.) As in the hallway fight from the first season, there’s a visceral, stumble-y quality to the action that gives it a really distinct look and feel. And the moments where Cox is clearly doing his own stunts—like when he jump kicks over and onto the exam tableare hugely impressive. Along with Cox, director Alex Garcia Lopez and his stunt team deserve massive kudos for the whole thing. I’m already excited to watch it again.

The rest of the episode is kind of a mixed bag, with so-so storylines for Karen and Foggy and way too much screentime devoted to why-are-you-on-this-show Agent Nadeem and his family drama. The extraneousness of Nadeem is driven home by just how compelling Benjamin Poindexter (a.k.a. “Dex”) has become in only two episodes. If Daredevil feels compelled to have a law enforcement angle, I’m not sure why it didn’t just start with Dex in the first place.


“Blindsided” picks up on an idea introduced in the previous episode: Dex feels pissed off at a world that elevates superheroes and vigilantes while criticizing law enforcement agents. It’s a fascinating idea, one I’m surprised more live action superhero series haven’t explored before. It feels relevant to real-world issues without feeling like a blatant analogy for any one thing. Like Fisk and Matt, Dex is a character built from familiar genre building blocks assembled in unexpected ways. He’s the kind of guy who takes a bite out of Fisk’s burger to piss him off, but then fairly calmly acknowledges when his prank doesn’t pan out the way he thought it would. Wilson Bethel doesn’t overplay Dex one way or the other, which makes him a fascinating wildcard. Dex hates Fisk, but he’s also in a prime place to be emotionally manipulated by him now that he knows Fisk covered for the brutal way he killed the Albanians at the ambush. If Matt actually does drown in that anachronistically old-timey cab, at least we have Fisk and Dex to carry the rest of the series.

Stray observations

  • One of the most intriguing details in this episode is the idea that Matt can pretend to be a seeing person when he wants to. I don’t know if the show will do anything more with that going forward, but I found it a fascinating choice here.
  • I’m so glad Foggy immediately told Karen that Matt’s alive. I was afraid we were in for another season of “Karen is in the dark about a major plot point.”
  • In addition to threatening some catcallers with her trusty purse gun, Karen is still doggedly pursuing her story about Fisk’s shell companies. While Matt is on the lookout for Jaspar Evans (the now freed prisoner Fisk hired to shank him), Karen has been sent to find Felix Manning, a contact at Red Lion bank where Fisk is laundering money. I’m guessing those two stories are going to intersect at some point.
  • Elsewhere, Foggy decides to run as a write-in candidate for District Attorney on the single issue of getting Fisk placed back in prison. With some reluctant help from Detective Brett Mahoney—one of my favorite recurring Daredevil characters—Foggy even manages to get the police union on his side.
  • The pride Matt expresses at hearing that his former client earned a top-of-his-class psychology degree while in prison is the perfect example of why Charlie Cox is so great in the role.
  • “Who eats a burger with a spork?”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Caroline Siede is a pop culture critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. She loves sci-fi, Jane Austen, and co-hosting the movie podcast, Role Calling.