“A New Napkin” provided a near-perfect conclusion to an incredible season of Daredevil, and was a mini-masterpiece of small-screen storytelling.
This review of Daredevil Season 3, Episode 13, “A New Napkin”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free review of the first six episodes by clicking these words, and find our review of the previous episode by clicking these ones.
In “A New Napkin”, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) gets married to Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer). In attendance are the assembled underbosses of New York’s criminal underworld, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Ben Pointdexter (Wilson Bethel), and, oddly, the frozen corpse of Julie Barnes (Holly Cinnamon). It’s a long story.
It begins with Matt kidnapping Fisk’s right-hand man, Felix Manning (Joe Jones), and with Fisk confessing his anxieties to Vanessa. Does he really love her, or does he love the reflection of himself that he sees in her eyes? “I’m broken,” he tells her, to which she replies, “we’re all broken.” That’s what I’ve been saying all along!
As Fisk dons his most comics-accurate outfit, Felix reveals to Matt, while hung upside-down from his ankle, that Fisk had Julie killed, which is leverage enough for Matt to call Dex and torment him for being a kitten-killing nutcase who is now, thanks to the boss he idolises, totally alone in the world. Why not, he suggests, go and check out a particular address, where, in the freezer, he might find some confirmation that Fisk, his only remaining tether to usefulness and, by extension, sanity, isn’t exactly the trustworthy type.
Meanwhile in “A New Napkin”, Foggy (Elden Henson), still determined to uphold law and order, pays a visit to Brett Mahoney (Royce Johnson) to inform him that “someone” intends to kill Fisk. Brett is keen to allow this to happen, but with the FBI flagrantly covering up Ray Nadeem’s (Jay Ali) death and the institutions built to serve and protect so obviously failing to do so, he sees Foggy’s logic. And I’m pleased to finally see it too, especially after he explains to Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) how if Matt ever crosses that moral line, that’s when they’ll finally lose him as a friend. “It’s a Catholic thing.”
Speaking of Foggy, he’s summoned to the offices of the FBI, where Seema (Sunita Deshpande) is pretending to cooperate fully. But the woman’s not stupid; she knows the room is bugged, and so scrawls a message to Foggy that she is doing as instructed by her late husband in the farewell video he recorded in the previous episode – a video that she slips to Foggy.
That video is, and I quote, “the silver bullet” that will take down Fisk. It’s a full confession detailing Agent Nadeem’s role in Fisk’s conspiracy, and, because it’s a “dying declaration”, it is, therefore, admissible in court. Which means that Matt doesn’t have to bother killing Fisk, which is awkward, as he has already set off to do so. So, too, has Dex, who has creepily packed Julie’s frozen corpse in the front seat of the car and dressed up in the fake Daredevil suit for the occasion. You can’t go to weddings in casual wear, after all.
And so we find ourselves back where we started: At Fisk’s wedding. There are vows. There’s the first dance. There is Agent Nadeem’s confession beamed to each and every phone in attendance. And there is a balls-tighteningly fantastic three-way scrap between Matt, Fisk and Dex, that ends up with Fisk’s blood all over his favourite painting, Dex with a broken spine, and Matt letting out one of those fabled primal screams.
It is, and I do not use this term lightly, perfect.
That’s the best way of describing “A New Napkin”: Perfect. Or, at least, as close to perfect as a season finale of these shows has ever reached. Narratively and thematically, it was the ideal ending; Fisk was taken down without Matt having betrayed his principles, all of the key players survived, Matt reconciled both with Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley) and his faith, and Murdock, Nelson and Page opened for business. What more could you want?
The question, I suppose, is what more will we get? With both Iron Fist and Luke Cage now cancelled, both after their strongest outings, the question remains if we’ll see another season of Daredevil. I certainly hope we do. But if we don’t, I’m glad this is how it ended: With the best possible ending to the best season of Marvel’s small-screen programming yet.