Daredevil 3.03: “No Good Deed”
The third episode of Daredevil starts off with Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) in the shower, voiceovers of last night’s events still haunting him. Back in the present, his lawyers have arrived with an update on his beloved Vanessa, who is currently missing. Seeing as she needs to stay safe for the FBI deal – and thus the deaths of the five agents – to matter, they better find her soon.
Meanwhile, Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) is having her first home-cooked meal in months, even if it ends up being a surprise blind date awkwardly set up by her editor Mitchell (Geoffrey Cantor). It almost goes well despite the interference, but once news of Fisk’s release reaches them it’s back to business for Karen – even if Mitchell won’t let her anywhere near the story. Surprisingly, this was the angle of “No Good Deed” that managed to be the most compelling, as Karen’s personal connection to Fisk and her passion for the truth fueled both her character and the plot without losing steam. She even gets the chance to face off against Agent Nadeem (Jay Ali), which doesn’t get her very far in her investigation but does speak to her spunk and grit.
Foggy (Elden Henson) is faring much worse than Karen, awaking from another Matt-induced nightmare without a project to keep his mind off his best friend. Marci (Amy Rutberg) tries to comfort him, but once again it’s the news about Fisk that gives him a sense of purpose. He’s less successful in his endeavors with Karen, but it’s easy to assume that he won’t back down after his initial pitch to District Attorney Blake Tower (Stephen Rider) is rejected. The respect tinged with enmity between the two men is one of the many ways in which “No Good Deed” expands the supporting characters’ worlds beyond Matt, which is important in a season that has thus far restricted their knowledge of and interactions with him.
Speaking of Matt (Charlie Cox), he skulks around the Fitz protest while keeping a low profile. The producers of Daredevil make the rather interesting choice of having a shadow Fisk follow him around, embodying God’s supposed anger and taunting Matt for all his wrongs thus far. Given that he’s literally right outside the location of the physical Fisk, it seems odd to prevent their meeting face-to-face and instead opt for this conversation by proxy. However, the imaginary Fisk serves a dual purpose: it gives the audience more face time with Vincent D’Onofrio while also allowing Matt’s insecurities to be fleshed out and made even uglier when voiced by one of his worst enemies.
If there is any weakest link within the side plots in “No Good Deed,” it just might be the deaths of the FBI agents who were protecting Fisk. It makes perfect sense for the survivors and loved ones to be shaken and in mourning, and Ali does a great job demonstrating his character’s guilt and frustration, but the number of scenes spent grieving for characters who were previously faceless entities got a little repetitive. On the flip side, Fisk’s concern for Vanessa is very touching. It’s a shame that we don’t actually get to see Ayelet Zurer onscreen anymore, since she left such an impression in the first season that her memory still reverberates for Fisk and viewers alike.
There’s Something Seriously Wrong With You
Fisk apologizes about the loss of lives to Agent Poindexter (Wilson Bethel) while also complimenting the man’s skills in a scene that’s only the start of an unsettling storyline for which “No Good Deed” lays the right amount of groundwork. When Pointdexter is later shown regaling a therapist with tales of his loving girlfriend before getting cleared for duty, there’s a sense of foreboding that crystalized by his final moments in the episode. The woman he claimed to eat pizza with every Tuesday is really someone he watches eat pizza through a window every Tuesday, delusionally manufacturing a relationship without her knowledge. How this will play into the story is as yet unclear, but the fact that Fisk has picked up on something being off about him suggests that Matt isn’t so wrong about him after all.
Not that Matt does much right in this episode, considering he attacks Lawyer Donovan (Danny Johnson) in his car just to find out what Fisk got out of turning on the Albanians – and then discard the notion that Fisk could be doing it all for love. The ensuing sequence of Matt avoiding cops through flips and wall slams is as humorous as it is tense, and it’s easy to forget what he’s really doing this for. Which may be the point, especially when the Fisk in his head intones a heavy-handed “Let the Devil out” as if it’s the season’s latest catchphrase. Matt’s cryptic conversation with Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley) about changing one’s fundamental nature furthers this theme. She’s already fed-up with his blasphemy, and it’s hilarious to watch their back and forth knowing that needs someone to put him in his place. Besides: if losing Elektra can turn Matt against God, why can’t it bring Fisk a little closer to Him?
Thankfully Matt finally reaches out to Foggy by the end of “No Good Deed,” and it’s certainly the most bittersweet moment of the episode. Except he’s decided not to be Matt Murdock anymore, which sounds like more of the same dark and edgy nonsense that made him so unlikeable in the second season. He wants to ensure Foggy and Karen’s safety, but he has no more control over their actions than they have over his. Foggy tells him as much in what is arguably Henson’s strongest moment of the hour.
While in his penthouse cell, Fisk learns the Devil is back, setting the stage for a showdown that is sure to stretch out over the course of the third season. While the action in “No Good Deed” is relatively lukewarm, it’s a strong episode from a character standpoint. The mopey, loner iteration of Matt Murdock may not be my favorite, but Cox is doing his best to ground his scenes in a profound sense of loss and hopelessness that really elevates the material.
Read on for our review of episode 3.04.