Do you know the Muffin Man?
“Semper Fedelis” is one of those episodes that makes you realize how difficult being a superhero can be, not because of the crimefighting nightlife, but mostly for the lack of relief normal life refuses to offer.
The first few minutes we recover from the bomb dropped by Frank Castle in his hospital room with D.A. Reyes in his crosshairs. Director Ken Girotti articulates the weight behind the legal preparations of the impending trial, The People vs. Frank Castle, and the forming of more enemies than Nelson & Murdock deserve–you can almost hear the chips falling in the subtext. The legal dream team starts off at an uphill pace trying to keep up with Reyes and the D.A.’s office, and receives minimal, reluctant help from their own defendant. And this is only the beginning, soon the more gritty side of the already difficult superhero life presents itself like crumbs in your bedsheets.
Let me clarify what I’m referring to. When the audience sees a great fight sequence, it looks pretty cool and, according to the universal laws of science fiction, it would therefore be cool to actually do in real life. Yes, superheroes can be super agile and athletic, but no one ever sees the searing pain in between sit-ups 294 & 295, we only see a six-pack we could totally have–if we didn’t hate early mornings so much. Fans see a badass crane shot of Daredevil gargoyling on rooftops listening for crime, but they don’t see what happens after that three-second sweeping shot: the long hours of sheer boredom, mental fatigue, severe sleep deprivation, an alarming lack of inconspicuous bathroom opportunities, the self-imposed isolation, all fueled from a 24/7 cycle of a guilty conscience. That is a shockingly self-destructive lifestyle choice, albeit noble, that still manages to shrapnel-tag those closest to it.
After another late-night playing ‘devils and demons’ with Elektra, Murdock inflicts some collateral damage to his law colleagues at the worst possible moment and lets Foggy take the brunt of the hit. First strike, two-seconds into game one and I’m tossing a flag on this play (or some sports idiom). If a superhero returns home and is coherent enough to A) actually remember where he lives, and B) tell his half-naked, ninja ex-girlfriend to “get some rest,” then don’t expect me to believe he is absent-minded enough to forget to set the alarm, let alone forget to set it the night before the biggest legal battle he’s ever faced. I’m just saying its an overused gag, however, the dark and scary place Foggy and Karen are left stranded in provide the best conditions to see Foggy at his finest. Nailing the impromptu call-to-action, Foggy keeps the defense afloat, but the the bruises from Matthew’s neglect start to show. It reminds me of a pallbearer trying frantically to carry the weight of a casket’s two opposing corners without anyone noticing.
The fightin’ Murdock spirit comes in hot trying to regain the lost footing, but is shuddered with a wet blanket when a truth is learned about Karen during their preparations for the following court-date; a truth conflicting with Matt’s inner compass. So, Murdock cuts short a critically important brainstorming session/quality girlfriend time and kicks said girlfriend out of his place because he has qualms over her moral conflict? I understand your hesitancy there, Matty, but there is a time and a place to send your counterpart away so you can mope, and this was not that time.
Wouldn’t you know it, it really does get worse before it gets better. Just as a much-needed advantage comes into view, it is snatched away, leaving Nelson & Murdock in shambles. It wouldn’t be a DAREDEVIL episode if Elektra didn’t flail for Matt’s attention, and true to form, she sticks her sais so deeply into Daredevil’s business, she tickles Matt Murdock’s feet. Her misguided assist backfires and sends the defense team into a tailspin, culminating in a devastating blow to both Foggy and Karen’s relationship with Matt. But hey, when you make problems worse by not talking about them, the best thing to do is slap a raincheck on it.
It also doesn’t help when Daredevil’s problems get literally deeper. Way, waaaaaaaay deeper.