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Some major revelations get Daredevil’s third season back on track

Illustration for article titled Some major revelations get Daredevil’s third season back on track
Screenshot: Netflix

This episode opens with Matt righteously yelling at a priest, so obviously I loved it. After two episodes that favored circular plot mechanics over theme and character, “Revelations” returns to what Daredevil does best. This is the first episode since the premiere that showrunner Erik Oleson has a writing credit on (he co-wrote it with Sam Ernst), and it feels like an episode where Daredevil regroups and remembers what overall story it’s trying to tell. Like the premiere, “Revelations” is an episode that puts Matt front and center by exploring his complicated relationship to both Catholicism and parental figures. But the episode also continues the expansive, ensemble-based storytelling that’s been a highlight of the rest of the season too.


There are no big action scenes in “Revelations,” which makes room for even more character-based storytelling. In terms of those revelations of the title, there are a whole bunch of them. The first and most obvious is the fallout of the revelation that Maggie is Matt’s mom. Rather than confront Maggie herself, Matt confronts Father Lantom for lying to him for so many years and letting him grow up believing he was alone in the world. Though Charlie Cox doesn’t overplay it, the moment Matt tells Lantom “shame on you” feels like an irreparable shift, both for the relationship between the two men and for Matt’s relationship with Catholicism. Matt moves out of the church and into his father’s old boxing gym, where he’s soon talking to visions of his dad Jack and working through the “sins of the father” issues that have long defined Matt’s character.

Yet “Revelations” also introduces the intriguing idea that Matt’s darker nature might actually be a result of the “sins of the mother.” We get a brief flashback to Jack and Maggie’s first meeting and their early days of parenthood, but the more far more revealing scene is Maggie’s later conversation with Karen. Though Maggie can now understand that she was suffering from postpartum depression, at the time she only had the prism of faith through which to understand her mental state. She assumed her depression stemmed from the “sin” of starting a family rather than taking her vows to become a nun. So she decided to return to the Church—committing a second sin of abandoning her son in the process. Though Matt has long seen his father as the source of his violent nature, Maggie believes it was her actions that created the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s rare to see mother issues meaningfully explored in a live action superhero property, let alone one in which the mother is this flawed and yet presented this sympathetically. It’s a welcome addition to Daredevil’s already expansive roster of complex, imperfect men.

The other massive revelation in this episode is that Nadeem’s boss Tammy Hattley is working for Fisk, which Nadeem discovers in maybe the most traumatic way possible when she murders someone in cold blood in her own kitchen. It turns out Fisk has a whole team of agents working for him within the FBI, and Nadeem is the latest member to be blackmailed into joining it. (Tammy warns him that Fisk isn’t above murdering children to maintain coerced loyalty, which she learned firsthand.) I’m hugely impressed with how Daredevil has transformed Nadeem from a character who feels totally perfunctory to a character who serves as a vital part of this series. Watching him grapple with how quickly his world has crumbled is hugely compelling, and a smart entry point for the horror’s of Fisk’s criminal enterprise. This episode also mines a lot of tension from Nadeem’s relationship with Dex, who is the only member of Team Fisk who’s actually happy to be helping the “Kingpin.” The scene where Dex ingratiates himself with Nadeem’s family while Nadeem is still bleeding from the bullet wound Dex gave him the night before is great stuff. With Dex more confident than he’s ever been, Wilson Bethel is at his creepy best in this episode.

As for Fisk himself, well, I have mixed feelings. As far as I can tell from this episode, every single emotional beat we saw Fisk play in the first six episodes of this season were all just an act to cover up the elaborate plan he already had in motion. In fact, we learn he’d been targeting Nadeem for a full year before reaching out to him in their prison meeting during the season three premiere. It’s a fun super villain reveal, but it does mean that Fisk has effectively stopped feeling like a human being. The idea that he could somehow anticipate that canceling Nadeem’s sister-in-law’s healthcare coverage would somehow lead to this exact scenario is patently absurd and would require him to account for dozens if not hundreds of variables. There’s stuff to be gained from making Fisk an abstract, all powerful threat, but it’s definitely a tradeoff as well. I hope Daredevil realizes that.

Stray observations

  • Fisk also has leverage over Foggy’s whole family because Fisk has thought of literally everything.
  • I feel like Daredevil lightly codes Matt’s childhood as taking place in the 1940s even though Charlie Cox was born in 1982.
  • Was Maggie’s line about the Church having a long history of hiding people supposed to be a celebration of the Catholic Church or a critique of it?
  • There are two sweet moments where we see Maggie mothering the orphaned children under her care, and it’s a really lovely, complicated thing to include in this episode.
  • I loved hearing Matt explicitly call out Jack for placing his ego over his family in refusing to throw a boxing match and getting himself killed for it. I find that to be as selfish, if not even more so, than Maggie abandoning the family.
  • This might be the most specific compliment I’ve ever given an episode of TV, but there was some really great production design on Nadeem’s shower. Everything about it totally screamed suburban bathroom.
  • This is all I could think about every time Jack said the word “mother”:

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Caroline Siede is a pop culture critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. Her interests include superhero movies, feminist theory, and Jane Austen novels.