Daredevil Season 1 Recap: What You Need to Know

In real life, Hell's Kitchen is a poster child for gentrification, where the scariest thing you'll face is the price tag on an organic fair-trade soy latte and a gluten-free muffin. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), however, it's a seedy, dangerous place where crime lords reign and costumed vigilantes stand up for the little guy. Daredevil Season 2 premieres on Netflix on March 18, and things are about to get very strange for the Man Without Fear.

Credit: Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Freed from the constraints of prime-time TV prudishness and feature-film running times, Daredevil was arguably the best thing to come out of the MCU to date. The show is clever, thrilling, sexy — and potentially quite hard to follow, if you haven't been watching since episode one.

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Briefly, Daredevil focuses on the exploits of Matt Murdock: lawyer by day, costumed superhero by night. An accident in Matt's childhood robbed him of his eyesight but supercharged his other senses and gave him a substitute form of vision based on heat and sound.

While the best way to watch Daredevil is probably just to go from start to finish, if you absolutely must start Season 2 with no prior knowledge of the show (or simply need a refresher), here's what happened.

Who's Who

Matt Murdock (aka The Daredevil) is a blind, mild-mannered lawyer by day and butt-kicking vigilante by night. He uses his superior sense of sound and smell to fight the evil-doers of New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

Franklin P. "Foggy" Nelson is Murdock's best friend and partner in the Nelson and Murdock Law Office. After the two met in college, Foggy became Matt's most loyal friend and was among the first to learn about his partner's alter ego.

Karen Page joins the duo's law firm as their secretary after Matt and Foggy help clear her of murder charges. 

Claire Temple is a nurse at local hospital who is often tasked with bandaging up Daredevil after he takes on one too many baddies.

Ben Urich is an investigative journalist at the New York Bulletin. He is one of the few allies Matt and Foggy have in their fight to root out corruption in Hell's Kitchen.

Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) is a gang boss and the main antagonist from Season 1. In his own deluded and warped mind, he is also on a quest to turn Hell's Kitchen into a better place. He will stop at nothing to get his way, even if it means killing, torturing and disenfranchising everyone from local residents to high-level politicians.

James Wesley is Fisk's right-hand man and a loyal lieutenant for the Kingpin's gang of thugs.

Vanessa Marianna is Fisk's love interest and confidant. She knows about Fisk's dark dealings and supports him anyway, which is a departure from the comic-book canon.

Episode 1: "Into the Ring"

Sometime after the events of The Avengers (2012), Hell's Kitchen is still reeling from the short-lived Chitauri invasion. Organized crime and real estate schemes run rampant, and only the blind, brooding Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and happy-go-lucky Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), two upstart lawyers, seem willing to stand up for the little guy. When former secretary Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) comes to them with information that could blow a shady case wide open, Matt must protect her from an assailant and start to investigate her leads. Karen herself stays on to act as the law firm's secretary.

Episode 2: "Cut Man"

Matt dons a mask and attempts to rescue a young boy from the criminals who engineered the embezzlement scheme. However, he winds up outmatched and hurt. Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a compassionate nurse, takes him in and treats his wounds. But Matt refuses to drop the case. Somewhat healed and back on the trail, Matt busts up an entire criminal hideout and rescues the boy.

Credit: Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Episode 3: "Rabbit in a Snowstorm"

Matt and Foggy finally get their first big case, but it involves defending a criminal involved in the very scandal that they're attempting to investigate. When the money proves irresistible, Matt and Foggy take the case, while Matt's burgeoning alter ego, the "man in black," takes to the streets. While Matt and Foggy earn their money by successfully defending the criminal, the man in black wrings information from him during a brutal confrontation. The man pulling the strings in Hell's Kitchen's criminal underworld is called Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio).

Episode 4: "In the Blood"

Fisk, an art connoisseur, asks a curator named Vanessa Marianna (Ayelet Zurer) to a fancy dinner with him. Meanwhile, Fisk's underlings attempt to learn more about the man in black and find their way back to Temple in the process. Matt, as the man in black, protects Temple from their assault. A Russian crime lord under Fisk's thrall attempts to explain the situation to his boss but, in doing so, ruins the dinner with Vanessa. Fisk responds by brutally murdering the man.

Credit: Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Episode 5: "World on Fire"

As Fisk's criminal allies start to turn on each other, the legal part of his real estate operation starts to target the poor and minority residents of Hell's Kitchen. While Foggy and Karen attempt to help an elderly resident keep her apartment, Matt learns that a sizable portion of the NYPD may be on Fisk's payroll. After one group allied with Fisk attacks another, Matt winds up in the middle of a police blockade, with a crime lord named Vladimir in his unwilling care.

Episode 6: "Condemned"

Matt smuggles Vladimir away from the scene of the crime, and treats his wounds in exchange for information. However, the police soon catch up with the two, leaving Matt trapped inside a warehouse with only a mobster for company. Fisk gets ahold of a police radio frequency and talks to Matt for the first time, making the requisite threats about standing in the way of progress. Matt escapes, but not before learning more about Fisk's command structure — and being framed for firing on a group of police officers.

Credit: Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Episode 7: "Stick"

In what is probably the best episode of the first season, Matt's investigation grinds to a halt when a figure from his past intrudes. Stick (Scott Glenn) trained Matt as a fighter when Matt was still a child, but then abandoned him. The reunion is not a sentimental one: Stick has been tracking a weapon that coincidentally happens to be in the hands of Fisk's Japanese allies. While Matt and Stick spar (literally) over the ethics of vigilantism, Karen works with journalist Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) to unearth Fisk's plans.

Episode 8: "Shadows in the Glass"

The infighting among the Russian, Japanese, Chinese and American factions of Fisk's allies intensifies as Matt's man in black continues to harass them and waylay their plans. Meanwhile, Fisk opens up to Vanessa about his own troubled childhood, which set him down his current misguided (but understandable) path. Matt gathers more information, which amounts to little: Fisk steps out of the shadows and publicly declares his intentions for Hell's Kitchen.

Episode 9: "Speak of the Devil"

Matt, Foggy, Karen and Ben attempt to find information to discredit Fisk, because, as a public figure, simply revealing his involvement with Hell's Kitchen's redevelopment will not be enough to cast suspicion on him. Nobu, the leader of Fisk's Japanese allies, agrees to tackle the "devil of Hell's Kitchen" by himself, which leads him to face off with Matt in the season's best hand-to-hand fight scene. Although Matt defeats Nobu, the vigilante is no match for Fisk himself. Matt retreats back home, only to find he has accidentally unmasked himself in front of Foggy.

Episode 10: "Nelson v. Murdock"

Matt and Foggy alternate between reminiscing about their past as law students and shouting each other down in the present. While Foggy can't believe that Matt hid his vigilante activities, Matt insists that he did so to protect Foggy and Karen. At the same time, Ben vacillates on his investigation, but Karen pushes forward, finding Fisk's somewhat-senile mother in a nursing home upstate. Foggy eventually walks out on Matt, leaving his friend injured and alone.

Episode 11: "The Path of the Righteous"

Temple tells Matt that she will be unable to continue tending his wounds, and expresses concern for his increasingly dangerous investigation. To protect himself, Matt finds the man who makes lightweight body armor for Fisk, and convinces him to make another protective suit. Karen gets closer to exposing Fisk's secrets but is thwarted by Fisk's second-in-command, Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore), who takes her captive. During a break in the action, Karen manages to shoot and kill Wesley, which puts her directly in Fisk's crosshairs.

Credit: Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Episode 12: "The Ones We Leave Behind"

As Matt continues to assault Fisk's criminal empire, it begins to crumble, and his allies scatter. Foggy gathers information on his own, and seeks the help of an old friend in a large, powerful law firm to bring Fisk down legally. At last, Karen convinces Ben to publish what they know about Fisk, but this proves to be a fatal mistake. Once Fisk gets wind of Ben's activities, the crime lord breaks into the journalist's apartment and murders him in cold blood.

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Episode 13: "Daredevil"

Fisk is out of allies and out of time. Federal agents, wise to his scheme, come to arrest him. Matt, Foggy and Karen put aside their differences in the wake of Ben's death. However, Fisk won't go down that easily, and plays one last trump card to escape his bonds. To defuse an armed standoff between Fisk's forces and the federal government, Matt dons his new armor and fully embraces the Daredevil persona. After a brutal fight, Matt bests Fisk and finally sends the crime lord to prison.

What Happens Next?

With Fisk behind bars, Season 2 will have plenty of ground to cover. Now that Foggy knows about Matt's superhero identity, how will the two continue to run the law firm? Two new Marvel characters will also show up — the ruthless vigilante Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and the ambitious ninja Elektra (Élodie Yung). The interplay among the three characters will likely define much of the season's story.

Karen still has to deal with the aftermath of Wesley's death, while Temple juggles her duties as a nurse and her burgeoning career as a stitcher-up of superheroes. Plus, now that Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Luke Cage (Mike Colter) from Marvel's other Netflix shows are on the scene, Hell's Kitchen could become a very interesting place.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.