So finally, after weeks of waiting, here comes Daredevil, man without fear!
There’s a certain sense of accomplishment when an established character enters the MCU after years of being handled by someone else (ew, phrasing), however, Matt Murdock’s triumphant entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (not counting his Spider-Man: No Way Home appearance, of course) isn’t exactly the guaranteed home run you’d think it was. After all, after a shaky start with the 2003 feature film, Daredevil found much more stable ground with the gritty, violent and much beloved Netflix series that seems like something that’s going to be a tough act to follow for a bouncy, perky, comedy show about a slightly neurotic, super strong lawyer. Can this second coming of Marvel’s grimmest vigilante possibly live up to the hype and shut all the naysayers of the show up for good? Well, no. This is the age of the internet so nothing can truly shut a naysayer up – but luckily the episode is really, really good, so it doesn’t matter.
After finding some much needed inner calm from the ghosting of her sort of boyfriend, Josh, frequently Hulky lawyer Jennifer Walters finds yet another event rearing up and making her life difficult when spoilt rich kid Eugene Patilio gives himself third degree burns when his superhero costume malfunctions while he’s out awkwardly fighting crime as his alter-ego, Leap-Frog.
This should be a fairly simple case of manufacturer fault but it turns out the costume was made by Luke Jacobson, the man who not only supplies a bunch of superheroes their costumes, but is also making a gown for Jen to accept her upcoming Female Laywer Of The Year Award.
To make matters worse, Jen loses the case thanks to Jacobson’s laywer, a blind guy by the name of Matt Murdock, but afterwards the two share a drink and actually start to bond.
However, after another run in with creepy superhero fetishist Todd who tries to boast about obtaining a Wakandan spear, Jen gets a panicked call from Eugene who is trying to escape a mystery attacker and so Walters finally pulls on her superhero suit and dashes out to help.
What she finds is Matt Murdock’s superhuman alter-ego, Daredevil and after a typical superhero scrap caused by a easily ironed out explanation (classic), She-Hulk realises that its Leap-Frog who is the bad guy as he’s kidnapped Jacobson to make him a newer, updated Leap-Frog suit. As She-Hulk embark on a good, old fashioned, superhero team-up, they find that their enthusiasm carries over to the bedroom, but storm clouds lay on the horizon as a well placed sex tape from the internet hate group the Intelligencia causes Jennifer to finally tap into the rage aspect of her Hulk powers with disastrous results.
So simply put, Episode 8 is nothing sort of magnificent and even tops the previous episode in virtually each and every way and while its tempting to heap all the praise at Matt Murdock’s door, that’s simply doing the episode a massive disservice. Firstly, the show manages to trump any tone issues by switching Daredevil from his grumpy Frank Miller phase to a more, sunnier Mark Waid persona – he still broods and dishes out harsh advice just as much as he dishes out concussions, but he’s a far more breezier Daredevil than we’ve ever seen before (until he starts tangling with the Kingpin again, of course) and it’s a nice change.
The arrival of the man without quite so many emotional troubles is incredibly good for Tatiana Maslany too, who finally gets to flirt and bounce off another character on her level who isn’t A) a reformed supercriminal, B) her cousin and C) just plain fucking weird and Jen’s relationship with Matt, no matter how brief, sparkles with one liners, banter and even a resplendent, shoeless walk of shame for the devil of Hell’s Kitchen after a night of crime thwarting passion that both probably deserve. Christ, we even get a variation of a classic, Daredevil corridor fight and even a few bars of his Netflix theme tune as way of a cheeky welcome for this long awaited acquisition. But none of this, especially his deep cutting yellow and red uniform, would work a damn if the episode wasn’t so incredibly well balanced and at no point does it feel that the show has been hijacked by ol’ hornhead as much as “lent out”.
Elsewhere, we finally get an actual fight scene as Daredevil and She-Hulk playfully spar/fight and in a telling moment, you can see that Jen is truly enjoying finally getting to do this hero stuff while debating the differences between a goon and a henchman.
Whether this vein of fun will continue over to first Echo and then the upcoming Daredevil: Born Again series is probably unlikely, so its legitimately nice to watch Charlie Cox smirking away beneath the cowl as if he can barely believe he’s back before the MCU collapses in on him with the kind of angst and heartache only a costumed vigilante can withstand.
Elsewhere, in a tacked on final scene used to set up the season finale (Jennifer’s words, not mine), the Intelligencia’s hate campaign finally reaches it’s zenith as the masked gang of incel types leak footage of Jen and Josh’s dalliance at her award ceremony causing our heroine to understandably lose her shit. It’s a brutal finale to a great episode, especially considering Damage Control turn up at the end to train their guns on her and it another case of wondering how the writers are going to resolve everything with only a half hour left to play with.
Personally, despite all the rumours that are whizzing about the place, my money is on boring old Todd (surely a Wakandan spear tip would be perfect for helping extract Jen’s blood), as a massive super villain reveal this late in the game would be kind of odd – although Hawkeye technically did the same with Kingpin – so who knows?
Reliably loaded with neat callbacks and in-jokes as always (Jen jokingly references Red Hulk and getting “Fridged”) and finally backing up its humour and heart with some long overdue fists, where She-Hulk can go in its closing episode is anyone’s guess, but after tangling with an entitled frog dude and raging out at a very public function, at least Jen’s night with Matt left a bit of the devil in her…