Daredevil Recap And Review – S01E07 – Stick


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Daredevil fans hankering for a backstory on where Matt received his initial training had their wishes granted in the fifth episode, Stick.  Keenly played by veteran actor Scott Glenn, Matt’s original mentor is brought to life in full abrasive glory.  There is never a dull moment between their student/teacher relationship which is, of course, rife in subtext of Matt’s desire to have a father.

Stick is this show’s origin story within an origin story.  Yeah, kind of meta, but you know what I mean.  In the way Batman Begins (2005) sort of started the film in the middle of Bruce Wayne’s journey, Daredevil also started the series in the middle of Matt’s.  Most of Stick deals with large chunks of flashbacks which, surprisingly, doesn’t slow the momentum of the episode.  It’s another testament to the deep and interesting characters the writers have created.

A Daring Recap

A Japanese businessman desperately runs down flights of stairs trying to escape an unseen assailant.  After retrieving his gun and firing it into an empty elevator, the man is found by his opponent.  With a katana blade to the man’s throat, a voice speaking Japanese asks him where something called “Black Sky” is at.  The man tries to shoot his enemy, but has his hand chopped off instead.  He finally swears that he only knows that it’s now on a ship headed to New York City.  His enemy executes him with one quick slash.  We finally see that the katana wielder is an elderly Caucasian blind man.

Matt, Foggy, and Karen debate about whether or not Daredevil is a terrorist or someone out to help the city.  Foggy tries to lighten the mood by trying to get the group to play some softball.  But Karen has other plans which makes Foggy concerned about her nighttime activities.

At a secluded area, Leland meets with Nobu about a mysterious shipment scheduled to arrive in New York City.  When Nobu leaves, Leland is confronted by Daredevil.  In the process of extracting information, Daredevil is distracted by the incessant tapping of a walking stick.  Leland sees his chance to escape and electroshocks Daredevil, knocking him out.  When the blind man finally reaches Daredevil, a familiar voice speaks to him.

Flashback: Matt, now in an orphanage after the death of his father, is suffering from his senses operating at a heightened level.  The nuns have called in a specialist, the blind old man, who will be paid using Matt’s inheritance (the money his father won by betting on himself).  The blind old man meets Matt for the first time and tells him that he’s getting stronger and tests him by tossing his keys at Matt — which Matt quickly catches.

The blind old man takes Matt out for ice cream and gives him a harsh lecture on self-pity.  He trains Matt to focus his senses by analyzing the environment around him.  The blind old man warns Matt that there is a war coming and that he’ll let him know more about it when the time is right.

Back to the Present: Daredevil, still on the ground, identifies the blind old man as Stick.  Daredevil is angry that Stick has returned after twenty years of no contact.  Stick explains that he returned to save the city and everyone in it from a horrible event.

Karen has been secretly meeting with Ben, where he explains the true nature of investigative journalism — boring research that, most of the time, never pans out.  Ben hypothesizes that the Yakuza, Triad, and Russian bombings are all connected to Union Allied.  Ben warns Karen about Daredevil not being someone with genuine motives.  We also learn that Blake, though shot, is currently in a coma.

Matt brings Stick back to his apartment.  Stick immediately analyzes his surroundings and makes the assessment that Matt has gone soft.  He tells Matt that his relationships and material items will get him killed.  Men like him and Matt were meant to be alone — they’re warriors.  Stick goes on to insult Matt’s dead father.  Angered, Matt lunges at Stick, but Stick is able to use a defensive hold.

Flashback: Stick implements the same defensive hold on a young Matt.  He goads Matt to fight back.  Matt’s strikes are futile against the experienced Stick.  Defeated again, Matt starts to cry and blame himself for his father’s death.  Stick reminds Matt that his father is dead, but he now has him as a guide.  Mustering more motivation, Matt relaunches an attack.  Again, Stick is able to use the same defensive hold.

Back to the Present: Matt somersaults his way out of Stick’s hold.  The two quell their differences for now and Stick goes into the reasons for his return.  He wants Matt to assist him in destroying a weapon called Black Sky arriving for the Yakuza.  Matt agrees to help him under one condition: there will be no killing.

At Elena’s apartment, Karen asks Elena about the repairmen her landlord sent over.  Elena gives her a description of the two thugs: one bald and the other with tattoos.  When Karen leaves the complex, she’s immediately attacked by same two men.  Foggy, who’s been following Karen, saves her by beating them with his softball bat.

At the docks, the shipment arrives.  Stick hands Daredevil a pair of wooden batons, telling him he’ll be needing those.  As Daredevil stealthily takes out a number of Yakuza, Stick assembles his bow.  When Daredevil detects that Black Sky is actually a boy, he quickly saves the child from Stick’s arrow.  The Yakuza and Black Sky ultimately escape because of his actions.

Flashback: Matt spars with Stick using wooden batons.  The progress of Matt’s training can be seen as he’s able to land hits and dodge Stick’s attempts at striking him.  As the fight ends, Matt gives Stick a gift — a friendship bracelet made from the wrapper of the ice cream cone Stick bought him the first day they met.  Stick holds it for a second and crushes it in front of Matt.  He then proclaims that Matt’s training is over and abandons him.

Back to the Present: Back at the apartment, Matt confronts Stick’s breaking of his vow to not kill anyone.  Stick tells him that Black Sky is not human, it’s a weapon.  When Stick starts to leave, Matt refuses to allow him to carry out the killing.  Stick reveals to Matt that he caught up with the Yakuza when they left the docks and has already killed Black Sky.  In a fit of anger over his mentor’s betrayal, Matt attack Stick.  The two engage in hand-to-hand combat, destroying most of the apartment in the process.  In the end, the younger and more agile Matt defeats Stick.  When Stick recovers, Matt tells him to leave.  Due to Matt’s besting of him, Stick thinks there’s still hope for Matt.

To Ben’s dismay, Karen has revealed their investigation to Foggy.  She tells Ben that Foggy is someone they can trust.  Ben relents and has Karen show Foggy their progress.

Cleaning his apartment, Matt makes a surprising discovery — the paper friendship bracelet he made for Stick years ago.

At an unknown location, Stick visits a man with a scarred back.  Stick reports his success in destroying Black Sky.  When the man inquires if Matt will be ready for an unknown event, Stick answers that he has no idea.

Moments That Blind You with Awesomeness

  • Foggy saving Karen from the two thugs.  This guy is here for more than just comic relief.
  • Daredevil’s stealth ambush at the docks.  It reminded a lot of Batman’s first night out in Batman Begins (2005).
  • The Matt vs. Stick fight.  There’s nothing better than showing how a student has come into his own.
  • Matt discovering that Stick kept his paper friendship bracelet gift all these years.  Nothing needed to be said.  That silent scene was pretty powerful.

Final Thoughts

Do I even need to keep praising Daredevil‘s writing?  Yes, I should.  This student/mentor episode will rank among the best of this type of subject matter: Mickey and Rocky Balboa in Rocky (1976); Yoda and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980); Mr Myiagi and Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid (1984); Agent K and Agent J in Men in Black (1997); Walt Kowalski and Thao in Gran Torino (2008); etc.  Yes, I know this was not a movie, but it might as well be.  This show’s drama is just as big if not bigger than anything I’ve seen on the silver screen.

Stick‘s balance of emotion and action was also right on the money.  The writers knew that this story wasn’t about some mission that needed to be completed.  It was about Matt coming to terms of his need for a father figure.  After all these years, no matter how hurt, Matt still looks up to Stick.  The parallels they made of Matt’s young life to his current one was excellent.  Inserting the flashbacks at just the right time, every emotional beat came through loud and clear.  It was like as if the audience got Dardevil’s ability to hear feelings.

This was, so far, one of the most poignant episodes in the series.  I’m really loving the differences in structure for each episode.  Never a dull moment, Daredevil is a roller coaster ride of action and drama.

Next: Check out our previous recap of Episode 6 - Condemned

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