Three episodes into Daredevil‘s first season and so far we’ve seen one hour focusing on Matt Murdock as a lawyer, and one hour focusing on him as the man without fear himself. Now, in “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” we get to see the beautiful melding of these two worlds. Do the Daredevil powers help Murdock in his day-to-day life as the blind attorney partner in Nelson & Murdock? Does Murdock feel guilty being the crime-fighting Daredevil at night, yet representing scummy clients during the day? Can a bowling ball be used as an effective bludgeoning weapon? The answer to all three questions is a resounding yes.
The episode opens on a scene that sets the rest of the events into motion. A balding gentleman, John Healy, purposefully antagonizes another man in a bowling alley, goes to shoot him, and ends up having to bash his head in with a bowling ball – but not after performing a few gruesome arm-breaking maneuvers. It felt a tad out of a place in a show with such a serious tone as Daredevil, but I do really enjoy the quick Tarantino-esque flashback scene showing Healy purchasing the gun before the whole thing went down. We see him buy the gun, say he wants a revolver because it wouldn’t jam, then is assured without a doubt that this gun he is receiving won’t jam.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, back to present day and it jams. It’s a bit of a long setup for the joke, but it works. Not to mention it also gives credence to the fact that the gun jams instead of it just being a freak occurrence. From there, with Healy’s initial plan of shooting the guy now out the window, the two fight in another well-choreographed and brutal scene until the cops are called and he quickly surrenders and demands a lawyer.
While this episode does blend the two worlds quite nicely, it is definitely on the lawyer side of storytelling. A large majority of it is based around Murdock and Foggy Nelson dealing with this mysterious, obviously guilty, client as well as Kingpin’s right hand man Wesley imploring the two to represent Healy in court. We know it’s James Wesley, that is, but of course Nelson and Murdock have no clue – he’s just some guy who gave them a huge check to represent his client.
This all serves as mostly interchangeable setup to get to the meat of the episode which is setting up the fear that Hell’s Kitchen and its inhabitants hold in regards to Kingpin. Writers, lawyers, murderers, guns-for-hire, you name it. Hell, even a woman whose husband was murdered took a lump sum of money to never talk about it again out of fear. Everyone in Hell’s Kitchen knows not to mess with him, and “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” goes to great lengths to establish this fact. While doing so, it also opens for Murdock to really use his Daredevil powers as both a way to subdue criminals, and almost cheat his way to victory in the courtroom.
One thing in particular that is shown effectively is just how Murdock uses those powers in his day-to-day job. While he obviously can’t just sense where the judge is and start kicking her in the throat – as he does when he normally uses his powers – he can tell when someone is lying or nervous, which obviously comes in handy in a courtroom situation. In the case of this episode he can tell when a particular juror is anxious when Wesley enters the courtroom. How does he know she is nervous? He can hear her heartbeat begin to race. How does he know Wesley entered the room? He can hear the watch ticking that he remembers from when the two met earlier. It’s an effective way to show the kind of connections that Murdock can make sans sight, without having blatant dialogue coming right out and saying that he knows something is up. Daredevil assumes you can get this information on your own from the context clues they can give you, and the story is richer for that fact.
On the other end of the spectrum, Murdock continues to be a stick in the ass of everyone acting as the Daredevil. When he discovers that particularly nervous juror has a sex tape she doesn’t want leaked, he intimidates a lowly thug into leaving town and ditching the idea of blackmailing her in an instant – again because he’s scared of getting in the way of Kingpin, or anyone related to Kingpin. This is one of the very few Daredevil-focused scenes in the episode, but it works well, and the fighting is as quick and crisp as ever. In particular, I like how Murdock escapes by just punching the thug in the face then running. No magic puffy smoke or other weird way to disappear, he’s an extremely life-like hero, even when escaping a situation.
While a lot of the episode does focus on Murdock for obvious reasons, I’m really liking the characterization of Foggy. In particular, I really like that he’s a total goofball weirdo outside of the courtoom, but when he’s working, he’s someone you could take seriously as a lawyer. This is a crucial step a lot of similar characters in similar shows miss on when it comes to creating a fun character with a serious job, but Daredevil nails it.
This all leads up to the big dramatic entrance of Kingpin into the world of Daredevil. As is the rest of his build up, his reveal is mysterious and full of tension. Nothing violent actually happens, but with all the lead up to how ruthless and murderous he is, I was expecting the white painting he was viewing to be covered red soon enough. Now that the (presumably) main villain of the show is on board, and we’ve seen just about every aspect of Matthew Murdock we can, I’m excited to see where the show goes from here. Enough set up, time to get into the nitty gritty of defending Hell’s Kitchen.
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