Original Airdate: 04/10/2015
Written by: Marco Ramirez
Directed by: Adam Kane
Created by Drew Goddard
Based on the Marvel comics by Stan Lee and Bill Everett
Cast of Characters
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Man in Black
Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page
Elden Henson as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson
Toby Leonard Moore as James Wesley
Vondie Curtis-Hall as Ben Urich
Bob Gunton as Leland Owlsley
Ayelet Zurer as Vanessa Marianna
Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk
Peter McRobbie as Father Lantom
Rob Morgan as Turk Barrett
Adriane Lenox as Doris Urich
Geoffrey Cantor as Mitchell Ellison
Wendy Moniz as Jennifer Fisher
Alex Morf as John Healy
Devin Harjes as Oscar
Peter Claymore as Prohaszka
Jack O’Connell as Silvio
Suzanne H. Smart as Shirley
Gameela Wright as Norma
Kit Flanagan as Judge
George Sheffey as Prosecutor
Barbara Haas as Elderly Juror
Kate Grimes as Female Juror
Liesel Allen Yeager as Young Woman
Cody Albrecht as Frat Boy
First Appearance: Wilson Fisk (in person), Vanessa Marianna, Ben Urich, Doris Urich, Mitchell Ellison, Shirley
A man walks into a bowling alley and asks for shoes and a lane. Woman behind the counter tells him that they are about to close. He notes a guy, Prohaszka, is currently bowling, and she says he has an arrangement with the owner. The man goes to ask Prohaszka if he could bowl with him, but Prohaszka snubs him then orders his goons to get rid of the guy. The man takes them down and pulls a gun on the seeming boss.
36 hours earlier… The man, John Healy, looks at the illegal handguns Turk Barrett is offering. He’s unsure about the gun, preferring a revolver, but Turk assures him the gun won’t jam … which it does in the bowling alley when he tries to shoot Prohaszka. The boss gets in a few hits as he chuckles about the way a certain “he” negotiates. Healy, though, brutalizes Prohaszka, breaking his arm and wrist, then bludgeoning him to death with a bowling ball. As the cops near, Healy hides the gun in the underside of a pinball machine. He kneels down, hands on his head, as the cops enter, demanding a lawyer.
Matt sits on a bench outside his church on a lovely spring day. Father Lathom recognizes him as Jack Murdock’s son and assures him that anything he might have told him in the confessional prior is between them. Matt says he has to get to work, but the father offers to make him a latte to talk further about Matt’s burdens. Matt declines.
Along the river, reporter Ben Urich meets with an old mob connection, who seems concerned after a boss named Rigolleto was recently killed. He’s leaving town, and Urich wants to know why. The man insists on their prior arrangement: Urich presents something to him and he confirms or denies it. Urich says someone has been hitting the Russians hard, especially near the docks. The connection confirms but won’t say who. He tells Urich he’d be better off letting this one go.
At Nelson & Murdock, Karen opens a letter from a firm named Kirschner & Braun LLP and is concerned. Foggy shows up, recovering from their drunken reverie the night before and she puts the letter away. Matt arrives and the other two notice the significant bruise near his eye. He says he was clumsy and not paying attention, and Foggy insists he needs a dog. There’s a knock at the door, to the surprise of all. James Wesley with Confederated Global Investments says he is seeking law firms to put on retainer for his employer. Matt is skeptical, especially when Wesley won’t give his name or reveal much about his employer. Wesley explains that with all the work they do in Hell’s Kitchen, they’d prefer to deal with some locals rather than a larger firm. He knows a lot about Matt’s and Foggy’s backgrounds, as well as Karen’s recent legal trouble, which was not public knowledge. Matt barely hides his disdain, but Foggy is open to the offer, especially when he sees how much they will be paid. Matt contends they are picky about their clientele, and Wesley offers for them to review one of their cases to help make a decision: a man being held at Precinct 15 that they need to meet within 38 minutes.
Matt follows Wesley out of the building and down the street. Wesley gets into a car with his boss, and tells the man that it is done. As they drive off, Matt tries to get a sense of the boss but can’t. He feels his side and one of his puncture wounds is bleeding through his shirt.
Foggy meets with the man whose case Wesley presented to them, Healy. He calmly explains that he was just trying to bowl when Prohaszka and his men threatened him physically and verbally. He states he regrets any injury his actions caused, and Foggy notes that the way he is talking sounds like he’s been put through the legal system before. Healy admits to having problems in the past, but assures Foggy he’s all better now. Foggy is just about to pass on the case when Matt arrives late and resolutely takes the case. He asks Healy to retell what happened.
At his office at the New York Bulletin, Urich exasperatingly talks with medical insurance but gets some runaround. His editor, Ellison, enters the office to check on what Urich is working on. Urich lays out the story of this new, unknown player on the scene who has everyone scared and scrambling, but Ellison reminds him that he’s working the city beat. Urich is adamant this is important to the city, but Ellison doesn’t see how it will sell. He gives Urich a story about a potential subway line in Hell’s Kitchen and says he’ll put in a call to see if he can help with the insurance.
Matt tries to get Healy to shed some light on why an investment firm wants to pay for his defense, asks if what he’d done was under the employ of the head of this firm. Healy plays calm and coy. Matt asks if he’s worried they might lose the case and Healy says not at all. Foggy tries to get Matt to drop the case, but he won’t. He tries to present a strategy to Healy that would help his case under any straightforward circumstance, but Healy insists on procedure that will get him straight to trial. Healy also tells Matt not to worry about who hired them to represent him. Meanwhile, Wesley shows up at the bowling alley to recover the gun from the pinball machine.
At the office, Foggy tries to understand just what Matt was doing. He asserts that they have to work together as a team, to be on the same page with decisions. Matt apologizes and they strategize their defense. Despite the nature of the crime, there’s a fair amount in their favor that they can make a case for self-defense. Agreed on the plan, Matt says Karen should cash the check and find out all they can about Confederated Global. Foggy is baffled because Karen is not in the office. She’s across town at the high-rise office of Kirschner & Braun LLP fielding an offer from her former employer, Union Allied Construction, to not discuss anything else related to her employer and Danny Fisher’s case in exchange for no legal action to ever be brought against her and a lump sum of 6 months salary.
Urich is at Metro General Hospital talking with an administrator, Shirley, to get her to sign off on a form for the medical insurance company to get an extension on coverage for dedicated rather than communal care for his wife. Shirley explains how insurance is just going to postpone until they don’t have to make any decisions, but Urich convinces her to sign off on a 5-day extension. He visits his wife, asleep in her hospital room.
Matt and Foggy go through case law to see what will work for their trial. Karen’s back and Matt tells her she can’t take any more long lunches until they get through this case. Next day, in court, Foggy addresses the jury in opening statement. Matt overhears the stressed heartbeat of one of the jurors and the ticking of Wesley’s watch as he arrives in the courtroom. Later that night on a seedy street, the juror meets up with a thug who reminds her that they’ve got blackmail on her and she just needs to render the right verdict to get through this. Matt shows up as the Man in Black and knocks the thug around. He asks what they have on the juror; a sex tape she made when she was 19 that she doesn’t want her kids to find out about. Matt asks who hired him, but the thug reveals they have a system where a certain light on a certain building is on, he has to do a job. He’s convinced that somewhere else someone else is getting the light code to put the pressure on him to make sure he does what he’s supposed to do. Matt tells him he’s going to tell the juror to get herself excused, but the thug is convinced that he’ll be killed if he does that. Matt insists the thug leave town then.
The juror is later dismissed and Matt presents their closing argument. He stands for a while, listening to the hearts of the jurors to gauge where their case is. After so long, the judge finally intervenes, and Matt offers their defense. Intention doesn’t matter here, only facts, he states. Facts are that Healy claims self-defense, Prohaszka’s men won’t make a statement, and the bowling alley employee thought Healy was pleasant and didn’t see the incident until after it had started. Matt presses that the facts of this case show that the prosecution has failed to make theirs.
In an SUV driving through the city, Wesley meets with Leland Owlsley, an accountant. Owlsley wants to know where their employer is; Wesley says he is indisposed, checking out art to decorate his penthouse. Owlsley is beside himself. He’s sure without the juror that they’re going to have a tough time with the Healy case. He suggests they just get rid of Healy by making it look like he hanged himself in prison. Wesley is concerned about the trail of bodies they are leaving lately, and says that they have to handle this through the law. Owlsley wonders why they didn’t get more experienced lawyers to make sure it was taken care of, and Wesley points out that just starting out, Nelson & Murdock are completely clean. Owlsley complains that he can’t move on Prohaszka’s holdings while the spotlight is on this with the trial. Wesley assures him that it is handled.
Karen goes to meet Danny Fisher’s widow, who is packing up their place. She knows who Karen is and is not thrilled to see her. Karen is clear that nothing romantic was happening between the two of them, and Mrs. Fisher believes that. She’s just not sure why her husband ended up dead. Karen mentions Union Allied Construction. Tells her about their offer to shut her up and asks if they made a similar offer to Mrs. Fisher. She doesn’t respond but acknowledges it. Karen wants justice, but Mrs. Fisher tells her to let it go. She can’t because something doesn’t feel right about it. Danny said something similar a few days before he was killed and his wife told him he had a responsibility to look into and come forward with whatever he found. Her guilt over what she’ll tell her kids about that led her to sign the hush agreement. She reiterates that it is better for Karen to let it go.
At work, Urich is on the phone with Shirley to thank her for getting the extension pushed through. His joy is tempered when he sees the subway article he wrote in the latest edition of the Bulletin. Karen enters his office. She mentions his article about Union Allied and tells him she has more to the story, if he wants it. Back in court, the jury has reached its verdict. Matt overhears Wesley back in the courtroom, then listens to the irregular heartbeats of the jury. To his surprise, it’s a hung jury, and the judge reads a note to that effect. The foreperson confirms this. The jury will be sent back to try to come to a verdict. Foggy points out if they’re still split, te trial will end and the DA will retry the case with another jury. Matt says they won’t and asks Healy to corroborate that, which he does.
Healy goes free, but not from the Man in Black. They have a fairly gruesome fight, pretty evenly matched. Matt finally overpowers Healy with a sharp piece of broken mirror and pushes Healy to tell him who hired “the lawyers.” The glass close to stabbing his throat, Healy gives up the name: Fisk. Matt spares him and tells him to get out of town. Healy tells him it doesn’t matter. He revealed Fisk’s name and now he’ll be dead and anyone he cares about will be as well. There is nowhere to run and hide. He calls the Man in Black a coward for not just killing him. Then, he throws his head into an exposed spike, killing himself instantly. Matt is stunned.
At an art show at a gallery, the curator, Vanessa, walks through the crowd and notices a hulk of a man staring at a white painting. She makes a joke about showing a piece of white paper to children and telling them it is a picture of a rabbit in a snowstorm. She asks if he’s looking or interested in buying; he says the latter. With art, she says, it doesn’t matter who the artist is, the technique, what the subject is, or the cost. The true test is how it makes you feel. The man, Wilson Fisk, tells her it makes him feel alone, which strikes her.
- In the comics, Ben Urich is a reporter with The Daily Bugle, the same paper run by J. Jonah Jameson that employs Peter Parker. Because Sony has rights to the Bugle as part of their Spider-Man package, the paper Urich writes for here is the New York Bulletin. In the 2004 Fox film, starring Ben Affleck, Joe Pantoliano’s Ben Urich worked for a fictional version of the real-life New York Post.
- Wilson Fisk’s trademark look in the comics is a stark white suit coat. For the series, they dress him in all black. The white painting, and a particular white space it represents, holds significant meaning for Fisk, and serves as an homage to his comic counterpart.
Ellison: “I want you on the subway line piece.”
Urich: (reading the file) “‘Rumors bubbling, will Hell’s Kitchen finally get a subway line?’ C’mon, we tell that every year.”
Ellison: “And every year it kills.”
Urich: “For a fluff piece.”
Ellison: “Y’know, you like to be on the ground, right? You like to talk to people. Take a poll. What color do they like? Y’know, we got a blue line, we got a yellow line. We’re running out of colors.”
Urich: “Like M&M’s?”
Ellison: “Yeah, see, you could write the hell out of it.”
Urich: “There used to be a time when the people in this building wrote the hell out of the news.”
Ellison: “Everybody we know is making twice what we are writing for blogs. Working from home in their underwear. We’re hanging on by our fingertips, Ben. Do you really want to be greasing that ledge?”
Wesley: “I got next.”
Matt: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, forgive me if I seem distracted. I’ve been preoccupied of late with questions of morality, of right and wrong, good and evil. Sometimes the delineation between the two is a sharp line. Sometimes it’s a blur. And often, it’s like pornography; you just know when you see it. (laughs in the gallery) A man is dead. I don’t mean to make light of that, but these questions, these questions are vital ones. Because they tether us to each other, to humanity. Not everyone feels this way. Not everyone sees the sharp line, only the blur. A man is dead. A man is dead, and my client, John Healy, took his life. This is not in dispute. It is a matter of record, a fact. And facts have no moral judgement; they merely state what is not what we think of them, not what we feel. They just are. What was in my client’s heart when he took Mr. Prohaszka’s life, whether he is a good man or something else entirely, is irrelevant. These questions of good and evil, as important as they are, have no place in a court of law. Only the facts matter. My client claims he acted in self-defense. Mr. Prohaszka’s associates have refused to make a statement regarding the incident. The only other witness, a frightened young woman, has stated that my client was pleasant and friendly, and that she only saw the struggle with Mr. Prohaszka after it had started. Those are the facts. Based on these, and these alone, the prosecution has failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that my client was not acting solely in self-defense. And those, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, are the facts. My client, based purely on the sanctity of the law, which we’ve all sworn an oath to uphold, must be acquitted of these charges. Now, beyond that, beyond these walls, he may well face a judgement of his own making. But here, in this courtroom, the judgement is yours, and yours alone.”
Vanessa: “People always ask me how we can charge so much for what amounts to gradations of white. I tell them it’s not about the artist’s name or the skill required. Not even about the art itself. All that matters is how does it make you feel.”
Wilson Fisk: “It makes me feel alone.”