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“No Good Deed” Is ‘Daredevil’s’ Hour of Reckoning

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After Fisk’s explosive release from prison, all the cats are out of all of the bags in “No Good Deed”, a Daredevil episode with an impressive agenda. From the reveal of Dex’s emotional “support”, to Foggy’s disappointment with his new fancy lawyer lifestyle, “No Good Deed” is a series of introspective moments of judgments for new and old characters alike. That cohesion gives what could very easily feel like a very perfunctory hour (especially for characters like Matt and Ray) much-needed propulsion, a story of Daredevil‘s players pushing themselves to internal breaking points.

“No Good Deed” is a series of introspective moments of judgments, for new and old characters alike.

Set in the aftermath of the Albanian attack on Fisk’s transport, “No Good Deed” primarily focuses on Matt’s poorly thought-out assault on Fisk’s FBI-owned penthouse (which so happens to be in a hotel indirectly owned by Fisk, a nice little detail Karen uncovers), complete with laughably overwrought mirages of Fisk teasing Matt for his failed attempts to defeat Fisk. As Matt sneaks up through the many floors of the hotel, the part of himself that is Daredevil teases him, dressed up in Fisk’s white suit, bombastically chiding him for failing to kill Fisk the first time around, which allowed his reign of violence, intimidation, and prosperity to continue behind bars.

Daredevil

On the one hand, you can’t blame Matt for not focusing on Fisk for a while: with fifteen thousand fucking ninjas running around New York, cutting off the remaining limbs of Fisk’s empire was never a priority, allowing the man to rise to power once again as he cut a deal with the FBI, all with the clear intent of manipulating the federal government Whitey Bulger style, to further enrich himself while exploiting the protection of federal agents. But Matt’s inability to fully commit to the devil inside was something we saw in season two of Daredevil, and in The Defenders: ultimately, Matt’s commitment to his Catholic morality defined him, whether it was with Elektra, The Hand, Frank Castle – or even Foggy & Nelson, Attorneys at Law.

Matt has always wanted one foot in both worlds: that compromise is rampant across the world, infecting even the supposed staunch, unyielding power of the law. The existential dilemma Matt faces in “No Good Deed”, catalyzed by the news of Fisk breathing the air of a free man once again, is a powerful launching pad for the season to follow; abandoned by his god, Matt sees no path to redemption but through the darkness, an ideology wonderfully represented in his costuming: the black covering Matt’s eyes features only a small ring of white at the bottom, the last bit of humanity being consumed by the devil within, clawing for power.

Daredevil

Charlie Cox’s performance as Matt is really the anchor of this episode, led by the scene of Matt making his way through the lobby of the hotel. With Matt posing as a man who can see, “No Good Deed” places the central theme of the episode in his hands, and lets him run free with it. As Matt tries to pretend to be someone with normal vision, Cox embodies the anxiety that comes from a deeper betrayal of identity: the one each character of Daredevil faces in this hour, perhaps the darkest interpretation of The Emperor’s New Clothes we’ve seen in modern media.

Foggy’s story neatly folds itself into these ideas, as well, as New York’s hottest young lawyer realizes his new position in the world, doesn’t exactly change his inability to fix the world around him. He tries to convince district attorney Blake Tower to let him push to get Fisk back in prison, only to be politically stonewalled due to his request coming during election season. Fisk’s ability to put other criminals behind bars is so valuable to the city, they’re willing to take the deaths of five agents with a Coke and a smile: this is a hard enough thing for Ray Nadeem to square away, forget the single most righteous, good-hearted character on the show.

Like Matt, Foggy has to deal with the limits of his own power; the difference between the two neatly drawn by their choice of profession. What makes the scene between the two at the end of the episode so powerful is just how stark the differences between the two have become; Foggy’s fancy clothes and warm reception of seeing Matt alive is nothing like the dour overcoat and isolation tactics Matt employs on his best friend.  Foggy may be in shock to see Matt alive, but the difference in their reactions is much deeper, and more thematically palpable than that: Matt is ready to fucking commit to taking down Fisk, and Foggy’s not really committed to much of anything in his life.

Daredevil

Though Matt’s willing to sacrifice his friendships, and most likely his life, to take down Fisk, we don’t see Foggy – or Karen, wasting away in the most boring, if inherently necessary subplot of the episode – giving up on their humanity to take down the monsters of their world. Matt’s insane plan to make everyone forget about him is the antithesis of what makes Daredevil’s mission so powerful: even the most righteous vigilante needs support. At the heart of this episode is the idea that the ones we love are ultimately the ones to define us: whether we fail or not is defined on their terms.

Be it a god one worships, an editor one reveres, or a best friend lost in the darkness, salvation is never defined on our terms: it’s why Matt loses the argument to Fisk/Daredevil as he walks through the hotel, and why he thinks that people can’t fundamentally change who we are. The devil’s greatest trick is convincing the world he doesn’t exist, and the one inside Matt is no exception – because of that voice, that relentless hunger to get vengeance for those he couldn’t save, Matt convinces himself that neither suicide or embracing humanity is going to save himself – he may be right, but without love, there is no faith, and there can be no redemption: until he realizes that, Matt will never be able to reconcile with himself, no matter how many crime bosses he personally kills.

Daredevil

Unfortunately, Karen’s always-annoying journalism subplot chugs along in the background, giving Karen laughably little to do as her editor admonishes her for chasing a great story, pulls her by line, and also tries to set her up with his son, a borderline pathetic excuse for a plot device that sticks out like a sore thumb in the world of sharply defined secondary characters. Mitchell’s presence in early seasons gave Daredevil a fun, grizzled side presence to deliver monologues filling in the background plots – but this season, his character just feels like an impediment to making Karen interesting (for once). Why does he need to be so goddamn protective, continuously beating the audience over the head with the same tired, “I need to protect you” logic, just to give an excuse to keep Karen from crossing paths with Matt? What was once a pleasant side character has turned into a narrative crutch for a character sorely lacking in interesting material, once again relegating Karen to the most frustrating of roles, filling in the background details for the bigger, more male characters of the world.

Karen’s disappointing blind date and subsequent investigation aside, most of “No Good Deed” harkens back to Daredevil‘s earlier, slower and moodier days, a sentiment I find myself repeating in these early reviews – but it’s so goddamn exciting to see Daredevil get back to the overwrought theological bloodbath it once was, when the devil of Hell’s Kitchen didn’t have a costume, an assassin girlfriend, or a bunch of near-immortal crime lords chasing him at every turn. The slower pace allows Daredevil to really hone in on what makes it great: and while it’s certainly not a pace I would expect (or hope) the show to maintain for the entire season, the meticulous nature of its craft in these early hours are intriguing, more than enough to counteract the few flawed moments (Dex is a creepy stalker? Whyyyyyy) and disappointing developments that bubble to the surface during “No Good Deed”.

Other thoughts/observations:

-Woe is thee, Foggy Nelson. Is anyone else getting slightly tired by this early storyline? It does feel like his meeting with Matt is giving him some purpose, however, so fingers crossed this trend doesn’t continue.

-Just want to reiterate that Karen’s editor sucks all the air out of Karen’s plot in this episode. What a disappointment.

-To add insult to injury, Matt steals Foggy’s wallet after severing his friendship with him. C’mon man.

-Vanessa is outside Barcelona, which means she’s gotta be making an appearance soon, after being mentioned maybe twice in the entire second season of Daredevil. Welcome back!

– LET THE DEVIL OUTTTT.

-Fake Fisk trying to blame Matt for Stick’s death is lame. Blaming Matt for anything that happened during The Defenders is lame.

A TV critic since the pre-Peak TV days of 2011, Randy is a critic and editor formerly of Sound on Sight, Processed Media, TVOvermind, Pop Optiq, and many, many others.

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Before the Internet

Watchmen Podcast: Breaking Down “A God Walks into Abar”

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Watchmen Podcast A God Walks into Abar

“A God Walks into Abar” is the deeply heartfelt episode we’ve been waiting for!

The wonderfully pun-titled penultimate episode—directed by Nicole Kassell, written by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen— is a powerful love story that spans many years, and told in a disjointed fashion to explain just how the most powerful man in the world wound up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, married to Angel Abar and with his memory wiped out. It’s an amazing hour of television—able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful— and we have plenty to say about it.

Our Watchmen podcast will see Simon Howell and an assortment of guests tackle the entire series (or at least the first season). In this eight episode,  Simon Howell , Randy Dankievitch and guest Sean Collettin take a deep dive into “A God Walks Into Abar” and note some of the more astonishing facts of the episode you might have missed.

And for those of you wondering, in order to keep things simple, we’ve decided to upload each episode to the same feed as our other podcast, Before the Internet.

Listen here on iTunes or listen here on Stitcher. 

You can also catch our show on Pocketcast and on Spotify, or simply listen via the player embedded below.

Before the Internet Watchmen Podcast Special
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Watchmen Season One Episode 8 Review: “A God Walks into Abar”

Dr. Manhattan steps into frame in a breathtaking episode.

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Watchmen A God Walks Into Abar

The elevator pitch for Watchmen‘s eighth episode is relatively simple: what if Dr. Manhattan is to Watchmen, what Desmond was to LOST? A person unstuck in time, whose ability to move back and forth across the key moments of their lives, opening their minds to a wealth of experiences, perspectives – and of course, deep regrets for the moments and things that cannot be changed. LOST‘s 77th episode, “The Constant,” uses time as a thematic anchor for a love story, the absolute apex of science-fiction romance – a man who is only able to hold onto his identity by remembering the woman he loves.

“A God Walks into Abar,” and the love story that plays out within it, is among the most heartfelt entries of Lindelof’s career, able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful.

“A God Walks into Abar,” co-written by Damon Lindelof (who wrote “The Constant” with Carlton Cuse) and Jeff Jansen (a writer who once wrote LOST recaps for Entertainment Weekly), is pretty much a direct successor to “The Constant”; but though it is explicitly familiar in its structure, characters, and thematic explorations, is still a wildly successful, abundantly rewarding entry all to itself. Where “The Constant” served as an important fulcrum for the emotional journey of a mysterious character, “A God Walks into Abar” uses Dr. Manhattan’s gravity to pull in every loose thread of the series, while also telling a touching, tragic love story: it is a rather impressive feat, firmly establishing Watchmen‘s first (and only?) season in the pantheon of modern adaptations (and a gentle reminder of why Watchmen is so much fucking better than The Boys, I might add).

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

Perhaps the most impressive thing “A God Walks into Abar” accomplishes is understanding Dr. Manhattan as a character, and how to effectively convey the paradox of his continued existence, in ways even the comic struggled to contend with. He is a man constantly living and reliving his past, present, and future, all at the same time, consistently able to needle the thread of his existence, in a way that allowed it to make sense. Or so he thought: the comic ends with him agreeing to the greatest conspiracy in human history, disconnecting from humanity and looking to the stars to satisfy the existential bounds of his mind (the meme of his disinterest in humanity is now iconic, after all).

Watchmen re-frames that idea ever so slightly, in a fascinating way: Dr. Manhattan did forget about his humanity… that is, until he fell in love with Angela, moments before he was sucked into a Kavalry-manned teleporter, which occurs exactly 10 years after he meets her. ” A God Walks Into Abar” opens with Dr. Manhattan putting on a mask (during the holiday celebrating his rampage to end the Vietnam War) and meeting Angela at a bar (Angela Abar… A-bar… Lindelof strikes again). It then proceeds to bounce around time, to capture life as Dr. Manhattan experiences it; an ever-evolving set of vignettes, an expanding world of knowledge, one he is not able to create and shape himself.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

The moment ” A God Walks into Abar” builds to is referenced in the first few minutes; after his strange introduction piques Angela’s curiosity, Dr. Manhattan notes that he is in love with her. We see that moment occur 50+ minutes later, as Angela turns into a one-woman assault squad, hell-bent on taking out every last Kavalry member outside their home. Infuriating as it may be to understand, he can see the beginning and the end of their short, beautiful life together at the same time, because he’s living it all at the same: Watchmen captures that idea poignantly in its unorthodox approach, smartly tethering each strange sequence together with a singular image, or color, to bring us from one moment to the next.

As we move through time, “A God Walks into Abar” casually begins to fill in the big holes of narrative created in last week’s slightly frustrating entry; we finally learn how Ozymandias ended up on Europa, and the history of the people and places we’ve seen on that world for eight episodes. We also learn how Will became involved in the process, which is, ironically, the moment it all falls apart for them: the moment Angela asks Dr. Manhattan to inquire about Judd’s identity (while Dr. Manhattan talks to him in 2009), she inevitably kicks the first domino down the path of Judd’s death, and the Kavalry’s impending attempt to turn themselves into racist deities.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

How “A God Walks into Abar” frames this is its true genius: Dr. Manhattan’s existence is the conundrum of the chicken and the egg. There was a moment in time where Jon existed, and Dr. Manhattan didn’t; but there also isn’t, since Dr. Manhattan’s creation allowed him to experience all of time in a cumulative fashion, rather than linear. Finally, the many, many images of eggs and yolks finally come together: as nature’s great paradox, a man literally capable of creating entire worlds and paths of evolution, finding his way back to the only immeasurable quantity in the universe, love.

“A God Walks into Abar” makes an important distinction between love and worship: love is able to be critical, to understand and accept flaws, to show empathy. Worship, or what Dr. Manhattan experiences when creating his own world (and people) on Europa, is disillusioning: there’s no older religious trope than the unsatisfied god who turned to humanity to find purpose, and that’s “A God Walks into Abar” to an absolute T. And it works: the love story that plays out is among the most heartfelt entries of Lindelof’s career, able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

If there’s any noticeable flaw to “A God Walks into Abar,” it is strangely the episode’s construction as a romantic entry; it kind of sidesteps integrating Dr. Manhattan’s chosen identity to live as a black man in modern America. There are hints of it at various parts – the scenes of his childhood, in particular – but “A God Walks into Abar” strangely doesn’t contend, at least in this episode, with Angela’s decision to show Dr. Manhattan the original Cal’s body. Why did she just show him three white bodies first? What drew Dr. Manhattan to OG Cal’s appearance? For a series so deftly integrating explorations of race and identity into the Watchmen mythos, the lack of reflection in this episode feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

But that is a small complaint in what will be remembered as a signature episode of the series; and for good reason, because it is a phenomenal, breathtaking hour of television. “A God Walks into Abar” is also another bold reinterpretation of Watchmen itself, replacing the cold sensibilities of the comic’s anarchistic roots with a warm beating heart; as cheesy as that sounds, it is everything to making the high wire act of Watchmen the series work on a fundamental level. After all, love is the one universal element ensuring humanity’s continued existence; as Dr. Manhattan finally understands, even if the pursuit is an impossible one for us as a species, it at least makes the inevitable collapse of our world something worth fighting against.

Other thoughts/observations:

“By definition, doesn’t every relationship end in tragedy?” Fuck. Me. Up. Watchmen.

The Philips/Crookshanks origin story ends up being a rather touching detail: they are modeled after two lovers young Jon saw during his brief stay in England (the mansion the event happened in ends up being Ozymandias’ home).

Very interesting note that Ozymandias’ Plan A to defeat Dr. Manhattan was not to kill him, but to condemn him to being a mortal with amnesia.

Dr. Manhattan mentions his theory for being able to transfer his powers; would not be surprised to see that come up in next week’s episode.

Related to the previous note: Dr. Manhattan tells Angela he wanted her to see him outside by the pool. Does that mean we’ll see Will walk on water next week?

Lots of props given to Regina King throughout the series for her stunning performance – if Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is not nominated for a shitload of awards for his work in this episode, however, we riot.

A post-credits sequence finally reveals the use of Phillip’s infamous horseshoe – though it remains to be seen where this story is all heading, as Europa’s small world of clones desperately tries to keep another god from leaving them.

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‘Bojack Horseman’s Xmas Special Is the Height of Schmaltzy Satire

If you were lucky enough to grow up watching bad sitcoms with awful specials, then Bojack Horseman’s Christmas special is just for you.

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Bojack Horseman

Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today we look back at Bojack Horseman‘s “Sabrina’s Christmas Wish”.


When it comes to sitcoms, the grand tradition of the holiday special is a long time staple of the genre. The schmaltzy corniness of the 80s and 90s made these specials all the more egregious, and it is this tradition that Bojack Horseman echoes back to with its brilliant Christmas special.

Ostensibly just a full episode of Horsin’ Around (the show that made Bojack famous), Bojack Horseman‘s Christmas special only uses the present day as a framing device before diving into the stupid fun of a very special episode of Horsin’ Around.

The central plot of the episode focuses on Bojack’s youngest adopted child, Sabrina, wishing for her parents to come back to life after Bojack assures her that Santa can give her anything she wants for Christmas. Of course, in typical sitcom fashion, rather than simply explaining to Sabrina that Santa can’t bring people back from the dead, Bojack instead opts to try and trick her into being naughty so Santa will have an excuse not to grant her wish.

Bojack Horseman

The absolute apex of this silliness comes when Bojack tries to get Sabrina to give in and eat some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. “I’ve heard of lookie-lookie don’t eat the cookie but this is ridiculous!” The use of lines like these in sitcoms is a classic cut to simpler and stupider times, where shows could really get away with lines as ham-fistedly ridiculous as these and actually call them jokes.

Ultimately this is the greatest strength of the Bojack Horseman Christmas special: calling back to the tropes of 80s and 90s sitcoms before satirizing and roasting them into oblivion.

All of the classics are here. From the annoying neighbor character, who is legitimately named Goober, to the absurd onslaught of character catchphrases that permeate the episode. The best of the latter comes from Ethan, the nerdy middle child, who espouses the line “Yowza-yowza-bo-bowsa!” to a few sparse claps and a cough from the unamused studio audience. That every character needed a catchphrase in these types of sitcoms is a given but to have one so bad that even the studio audience can’t be bothered to care is a beautiful bit of satire.

Bojack Horseman

Speaking of the studio audience, Bojack Horseman doesn’t stop using them for fodder there. Thanks to one very stupid audience member, some of the best moments of the episode come from reactions to classic sitcom tropes. For instance, when Bojack flirts with his secretary, while most of the audience opts for the classic whoops and cheers of yore, the idiot just yells “Kiss her!”. He also points out catchphrases (“She said the line!”) and lets out a confused “What!?!?” at the message of the episode.

If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to grow up watching bad sitcoms with even worse Christmas specials every single year, then Bojack Horseman‘s Christmas special is just for you. Hearkening back to the nostalgia of the time before ripping it to shreds with endless glee, Bojack Horseman’s Christmas special isn’t just one of the funniest episodes of the show, it’s also one of its best.

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