by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
What rock did these morally pure creatures crawl out from under and, more important, how do you go from innocent millipede to White House staffer without becoming soiled or disillusioned by the dirty realities of politics along the way?
Heather Havrilesky, “Will The West Wing go south?”
There are a lot of things to nitpick about The West Wing, between its heavy-handed Sorkin-isms and its penchant for too-saccharine resolutions, but the one criticism that I can’t stand is that it isn’t realistic enough. Of course it isn’t — it’s fiction. No, these aren’t how actual White House staffers would talk about issues, because how they actually talk would be totally impenetrable to the audience the show is actually made for. Tone-deaf critics would dismiss this as dumbing-down, but the alternative is a highly accurate but totally unwatchable bore. Policy wonks may lament that there’s no television truly tailored to their niche interests, but the rest of us want something, you know, entertaining. Moreover, we understand that in order to generate drama, characters in fiction may need to speak and act in ways that real people wouldn’t (hint: real people don’t only sit on one half of a dining room table or speak in iambic pentameter). Which means the hero sometimes has to be naive in their hopes and dreams — if they know they’re going to crash on the rocks, they might just call the whole adventure off, which doesn’t leave us with much of a story. Such is the case with Matt’s attempt to keep a watchful eye on Fisk.
In hindsight, that Fisk would be a few steps ahead of Matt was inevitable — this was his idea, after all. Foggy even identifies this as Fisk’s M.O.:
So why didn’t Matt see this coming? Why was he so naive as to be surprised when Fisk saddles him with a mountain of busywork? This drama is for our benefit. Matt talking through this whole decision process would have been a tiring read, so Charles Soule and Stefano Landini dramatize it for us, allowing it to play out in reality rather than as some hypothetical in Matt’s head. There certainly seem to be political moves Matt could make to pressure Fisk (threatening to leave with the public grievance that Fisk didn’t value Matt’s input in the way he just made a big show of saying he did), but each blow needs to be struck to capitalize on its dramatic effect.
Of course, the workplace drama quickly becomes the least of Matt’s concerns when Frank McGee shows up to inform Daredevil that Muse has escaped from the Inhuman prison on New Attilan. Matt is immediately concerned for Sam Chung’s safety, but Muse seems to have set his sights on stirring a decidedly different pot:
This really could go in any direction, from Daredevil needing to track down Muse without getting caught by the NYPD to Fisk asking Daredevil to capture Muse after his escape proves politically disastrous, but it all needs the setup that Matt is currently working at City Hall and that Fisk thinks he’s in control of the situation. It may not always feel 100% realistic, but who the heck would want to read that, anyway?
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?