“Daredevil” Season 1 Episode 6 Recap, “Condemned”


Daredevil Week(s) continues with the arrival of Netflix’s Marvel’s too many apostrophes’ Daredevil. David has shepherded us through Frank Miller’s classic run, two of DD’s most famous origin stories and the not-classic Daredevil movie. Now the billy club has been passed on to me.


An episode of Daredevil wouldn’t be complete without an interrogation; this episode has countless, following the massive bombing of Hell’s Kitchen, with not-yet-Daredevil caught in the middle.

He and Vladimir (Nikolai Nikolaeff) are pretty much screwed, with the cops surrounding them. But they’re cops, Hell’s Kitchen red-shirts, and after another awesome fight (Daredevil has better action than ANY show on TV), the two manage to escape.

Vlad, of course, doesn’t want to escape with the Man in Black. He thinks he killed his brother, and wants payback. While the rest of the episode around them doesn’t operate this way, in many ways, Vlad and Matt find themselves in a classic bottle episode, and the results are incredible. Matt tries to clear things up, that Fisk killed Anatoly. He wants to put Fisk on trial. Vlad’s counter proposal? “Suck my dick.” Their back and forth is tremendous throughout (“I don’t speak asshole,” Matt retorts), with Nikolai Nikolaeff taking a character that seemed as stereotypical and ridiculous as his real name and making him a multi-faceted and even sympathetic villain. The more time you spend in this twisted, dark Hell’s Kitchen, the more you realize there isn’t a wasted moment or character on this show.

Foggy and Karen have survived the explosion, and manage to bring an injured Ms. Cardenas to the hospital. In a brief melding of the two worlds, Claire whisks Ms. Cardenas away. We also learn Foggy is bleeding and hurting big-time himself, once his heroic deeds have been completed and he can think of himself again. Foggy’s the best.

Vlad, however, is fucked up. He’s been shot, stabbed, exploded on, yet he clings to life somehow. To save him, Matt calls Claire for help stabilizing the wound. “It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies,” she spits, but hey, this is TV. Rather, this is Netflix, and the solution becomes cauterizing the bullet wound with flames (the bullet’s still inside him, mind you). It’s another ingeniously brutal moment in the show, but Vlad’s screams alert a nearby cop. The poor cop, a new recruit and someone not on Fisk’s payroll, joins the interrogation brigade, and gets tied up. But before being gagged, he manages to call in the situation, putting Daredevil well up shit creek.

The cops arrive for what has been termed a hostage situation, and before they can just blow the building up and solve their problem, Ben Urich arrives on the scene. The man knows police procedure, and would know if anything iffy takes place. Fisk’s solution? Invite all the media, make it a circus, with Daredevil at the middle of it. Fisk is brilliant; this episode especially showcases his artful skill as a tactician, a Puppet Master behind the scenes.

Vladimir points out Daredevil’s hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of every superhero who doesn’t kill. He won’t kill Vladimir, but he also won’t let him die even though that’s what he desires. He’s only keeping him alive for information. Matt thinks he’s different, but “you’ll get there.” You’re a “man like us,” Vlad threatens. I mentioned earlier that I hoped this show wouldn’t tackle Daredevil’s unwillingness to kill, but I was wrong. It’s never been tackled this powerfully, or as darkly, that Daredevil’s own demons might overwhelm him. It feels more Shakespearean than comic book/CW.

While Nikolai manages to somehow own it, Vlad’s ability to not die borders on superhuman. He almost dies, flatlines, and incurs all kinds of punishment a completely healthy person wouldn’t be able to bounce back from, let alone someone already on the brink of the afterlife. This episode is essentially an extended and dramatic interpretation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail‘s “I’m Not Dead Yet” scene.

He manages to fake DD out by pretending to die (which fools all of us, since he should be dead), before engaging in an impressive (that he can move at all) fighting scene that knocks them down an entire floor. Matt gets knocked out, but when he comes to, Vlad’s still there, unable to move, but still alive, waiting to stab Matt with biting sarcasm. Except again, he’s about to go, for real this time…until Matt resuscitates him, hammering at his chest, Jack from LOST style. Vlad’s body needs to be sent to all of the research facilities.

In the midst of the two sides of the same coin (maybe?) Matt/Vlad one-act play, there’s a wonderful scene with Foggy in a hospital bed, determined to go out and find Matt. He’s worried about him (and should be). But Karen stops him: you’ve played hero enough for one day. She pecks him on the cheek. “Helluva first date,” Foggy grins. “I’ve had worse,” Karen says, as she exits. I love these moments on their own, but my favorite part? When the camera zooms out to reveal that they’re sharing the room with another family, that this private moment wasn’t so private after all.

Vlad and Matt’s stand off is interrupted by Wilson Fisk himself, bringing us the first interaction between DD and the Kingpin. Even if it’s over a comm device, it’s chilling. Again, Fisk suggests they’re not too different.

And Fisk clearly has the upper hand. When DD rebuffs his offers to capitulate, Fisk promises he’ll pin the bombings on the masked man, kill Vlad and “call the day a push.” That’s pretty much exactly what happens, and feels more than a push for Fisk. It feels like a victory. He hires a sniper to shoot Officer Blake, adding more fuel to the fire, as the Masked Man becomes branded a terrorist in the media, Condemned.

Throughout the episode, Matt has been talking with Claire, and she calls him with the news of his outing as a villain. Matt apologizes to her, that she was right, that he can’t love her, and that she should stay way. It’s heartbreaking, since Claire is wonderful, even if we’ve seen so many variations of this scene in comic book adaptations.

Our boy can’t catch a break: the cops are going to go in, and the only possible escape is through the sewers. Except he can’t lift the grate on his own. Luckily, Vlad has super powers and helps. There’s still little hope, with a cop army nearby (a ruthless one who kills the innocent cop) but Vlad decides to play hero, to defend the sewer while DD can escape. Just as importantly, he gives our masked man a new name to use in the war against the Kingpin: Leland Owlsley.

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