Sunday, 19 April 2015

Devil in the detail: Daredevil episode 5 - World on Fire

Devil in the detail continues to examine the Netflix Daredevil series episode by episode, picking out moments that might have slipped by in the midst of binge watching. 


No easy task being a hero
It's become clear that not only is Daredevil a show that people indulged in with binge viewing, but it was absolutely designed that way. Episodes are picking up right from where the last one left off, no week in between for the characters to be doing something else. We start here with Claire Temple still recovering from the wounds she suffered in the last episode and... wait... lo and behold, moving in with Matt Murdoch and starting a little romance. She also cautions that he might not be in the best of places himself - warning him that he might be a little too close in style to those he's hunting. Is it any surprise then that the Russians he's tracking are only too willing to believe he's working for Wilson Fisk?

World on Fire
Not just the episode title, but its theme. Matt tells Claire this is how he sees the world, and we get a glimpse of it, a swirling pattern of waves that resolve themselves into Claire's face. Not a gentle view of the world. And by the end of the episode, we see more of Matt's world on fire, with an explosion and blaze ripping through the building occupied by the Russians, knocking Matt over, putting the nearby Foggy and Karen in peril and leaving him surrounded by the police who are ready to arrest him. A world coming tumbling down in flames indeed. 

Episode in-jokes
Be it Claire asking if Matt happens to be a billionaire playboy (like certain other superheroes, Mr Stark), or the Kingpin being told by Vanessa that she was wooed by a man in a white suit and wearing an ascot (who stole his comics look without his approval?), there's plenty of nudges here towards the wider comics world. Though I did get thrown by Fisk talking about a rising tide that raises all boats - thinking of the Agents of Shield hacktivist group. I don't think there was anything to that, but when you're looking for all the nods, it's easy to wonder. And the lawyers' office used to Van Lunt Real Estate? Dig deep for that one and you find Cornelius Van Lunt, a real estate businessman who became Taurus in the supervillain line-up of Zodiac. But that's digging real deep! Also the mention of clones, robot babies and clones of robot babies is totally about Cable. 

Using the camera
It's not treated as a major point - but the cinematography in the early fight scene is quite delicious. As a blind man sings in the back of a taxi, the camera pans 360 degrees around, with Daredevil appearing in the lights of the vehicle. It continues to pan to the point when the criminals emerge from the building and rush out to fight him. The fighting is swift and to the point, including a pistol cartridge ejected from the gun and flung at a villian to take him down. It might not have the startling impact of the corridor fight scene or the car door brutality of previous episodes, but it's beautifully choreographed and looks like it's all in a single take. Impressive stuff. 

Language is important
Karen knows Spanish. Matt knows Spanish but likes to hear Karen speaking in it. Foggy knows Punjabi. The Russians have their dialogue subtitled. The Chinese mobster doesn't have hers subtitled. These elements aren't random, but choices. And Karen's lying when she says she only remembers a bit of Spanish from school. Of that, I'm sure. 

Also... Netflix has now added audio description to the episodes for the blind. Which, y'know, means this series just got the company to do things a different way. Good going, Daredevil. 

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