"Rabbit in a Snowstorm" is the third episode of Marvel's Daredevil.
John Healy walks into a bowling alley late at night, approaches the on-duty attendant, and asks for some shoes. She tells him that the alley is closed; only Prohashka, a gangster who worked out a special arrangement with the owner, is allowed to stay after hours. Healy approaches Prohashka about joining his game, but it turns out this is all pretense as he's actually a hitman here to kill Prohashka. He promptly disables Prohashka's two bodyguards, then draws a gun, which a quick flashback shows he just purchased from Turk Barrett 36 hours earlier. He pulls the trigger...and the gun promptly jams (in spite of Turk's promise that it wouldn't). After a bout of fisticuffs, Healy breaks Prohashka's arms, then finishes him off by crushing his head with a bowling ball. As Healy catches his breath, he looks up and sees the lone employee has called 911 to summon the police. Healy hides the useless gun in a pinball machine, then surrenders to the police when they arrive and demands a lawyer.
The next morning, Matt is seen sitting on a bench outside his church. He is recognized by Father Lantom, who knows him as Jack Murdock's son. Father Lantom invites Matt to take confession, or even a latte, but Matt declines the chance to talk.
Meanwhile, at the docks, New York Bulletin reporter Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) meets with Silvio, an Italian mobster and long-time source. Silvio is planning on retiring to Florida to avoid being killed like so many other New York gangsters. Ben has heard talk of someone hitting the Russians, and that there's a new player on the criminal scene, but Silvio warns Ben that pursuing the story is dangerous.
At Nelson & Murdock, Karen is already in and looking at a summons she's received in the mail. She quickly stashes the summons in her purse as Foggy arrives, followed shortly after by Matt. The three banter about Karen's salary and a visible bruise Matt has around his right eye from last night's fight with the Russians, which he claims is from tripping. They're interrupted by a knock at the door from a client.
The client turns out to be James Wesley. Wesley refuses to give his name or talk about Confederated Global, the multinational corporation he claims he works for, but he seems to know a lot about Matt, Foggy, and Karen's histories. Wesley says he wants to put the firm on a generous retainer in exchange for their services and discretion, but first they must take on a case: defending Healy. Foggy is eager to accept Wesley's money, but Matt is suspicious after Wesley recognizes Karen from his previous attempts to have her killed. Matt follows Wesley out of the office, tailing him for a few blocks until he gets into the middle vehicle in a convoy of three Cadillac Escalades. He sits down across from another figure in the car and assures him that "It's been taken care of." Matt stands for a moment as the Cadillacs drive away, then turns to walk back from the office, while feeling one of his wounds reopening up from stress, leaving a small bloodstain on his shirt.
Foggy goes to the precinct and meets Healy, who claims self-defense and is clearly willing to lie through his teeth about the circumstances of the attack. Just as Foggy is ready to drop the case, Matt arrives and agrees to represent Healy, believing it's the best way to learn more about Wesley. However, Healy deflects all questions about Wesley or why Confederated Global is paying his legal bills, and insists on going to trial rather than taking a plea.
At the Bulletin offices, Ben Urich finishes up a call with the hospital trying to deal with the insurance for his wife Doris, who is afflicted with Alzheimer's. He tries to convince his editor Mitchell Ellison (Geoffrey Cantor) to let him pursue the Union Allied story, but is told that he needs to write fluff pieces to try and boost the ailing paper's circulation. Ben reluctantly concedes once Ellison offers to pull some favors with Ben's insurance provider.
Wesley goes to the bowling alley and retrieves Healy's gun from its hiding place. Meanwhile, Matt and Foggy settles their disagreement over the case and come up with a strategy for the defense. Matt suggests that Karen investigate Confederated Global, but Karen has left the office to answer a summons from Union Allied's lawyers. Union Allied which is in the process of being dissolved argues that Karen breached her non-disclosure agreements by releasing the pension file to the media and could be sued. Instead, they agree to pay her six months' salary in exchange for her silence, as long as she signs a contract to that effect.
Ben visits Metro-General to visit his wife. Although his insurance doesn't cover Doris's continued treatment, he manages to petition the hospital's administrator Shirley Benson into buying him another week of care so he can have extra time to file appeals. Later, he visits Doris's private room, though she's not awake. At Nelson & Murdock, Foggy gripes about their poor office equipment as the team puts together Healy's defense. Karen digs up information on Confederated Global, but is only able to find a string of shell companies. When Matt reminds her to not take any long lunch breaks, she doesn't mention the Union Allied payoff. Some time later, Healy's case goes to trial, but while Foggy is giving the opening statement, Matt observes that one of the jurors becomes agitated when Wesley enters the courtroom.
Suspicious, Matt follows the juror that night in his vigilante outfit and learns that she's being blackmailed by one of Wesley's henchmen. Matt beats up the thug to learn more and demands a name, but the thug tells him that he has never been given one: All he knows is to watch out for a window in a certain building, and if the light is on he has a job. Matt then the settles for telling the thug to leave the juror alone and skip town. By the trial's end, the juror is excused from duty before Matt gives his final summation.
Owlsley is somewhat desperate to meet with Wesley's employer, believing the Healy situation is spinning out of control and he should simply be killed, but Wesley says they can't afford to leave any more bodies in light of everyone they killed to silence the Union Allied matter, so using a couple of lawyers who've just opened a practice is the most effective way of clearing things up. Karen meets with Jennifer Fisher, the widow of Daniel Fisher, who is moving out of New York with her children. Jennifer feels guilty for pushing her husband to do the right thing, and though Karen begs for help in exposing the conspiracy around Union Allied, Jennifer has already signed the payoff contract. Not knowing where else to go for help, Karen visits Ben at his office, claiming to have more on the Union Allied story.
In court, the jury returns from deliberation, but Matt realizes from reading the jurors' heartbeats that the jury is hung, and though multiple hung juries would normally result in a retrial, Matt is confident that Wesley and his people will make sure the case goes away. Sure enough, Healy goes free a few nights later, but Matt confronts him in his vigilante outfit, beats him into submission and tortures him until Healy gives up the name of Wesley's employer: Wilson Fisk. But then the professional killer starts shaking in fear, as he tells Matt that Fisk kills individuals who give up his name, as well as everyone they care about. Despairingly, Healy calls Matt a coward, and tells him he should just have killed him instead of making him talk, and then, without hesitating, he commits suicide by impaling his head on a spike, much to Matt's shock.
The art dealer at an expensive gallery, a woman named Vanessa Marianna, is drawn to a large bald man who is transfixed by a painting that seems to be nothing but gradations of white.
When Vanessa asks how the painting makes him feel, Wilson Fisk answers that it makes him feel alone.
- Artistic License Gun Safety: When Turk is selling the gun to Healy, the guns are shown being transported magazines in. This is not a smart move as that makes it impossible to verify if the weapon is unloaded. It's also implied the gun was probably a low quality knock-off that was not stored and maintained properly after it left the factory, so there's also a failure on Healy's part in not test-firing the gun before the hit. Later seasons establish that Turk specializes in selling extremely cheap and unreliable guns that are at their deadliest when used to bludgeon someone to death.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: When Healy reveals the name of his employer, he's so afraid of the prospect of what Wilson Fisk will do in retaliation that he immediately rams his face into a fence spike.
- Bribe Backfire: Fisk's people attempt to bribe Karen with the equivalent of six months' salary in exchange for her silence. It's pretty obvious that Karen sees it for the bribe it truly is.
- Owlsley mentions the method of Rance's murder as a possible way to off Healy.
- While dealing with Ben's insurance, Shirley mentions that her best nurse is out sick with the who-the-hell-knows what, which clearly is referring to Claire.
- Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: John Healy is never called "Oddball," in keeping with his being reimagined as a hitman.
- Continuity Nod: The framed newspapers in Ben Urich's office reference the Harlem Terror and The Battle of NY.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Silvio Manfredi, the old-time mobster Ben Urich is talking to in the opening.Silvio: When I went up for my ten, every paper in town dragged my name through the shit. But you, you did it without mentioning my kids. Always been grateful for that.
- Eye Scream: Healy impales his own face on a fence spike so that Fisk won't kill those he cares about.
- Food as Bribe: Urich uses this on the hospital nurse. In a twist, he does it after the nurse has helped him out.Shirley Benson: You should've led with that.Ben Urich: That'd be cheating.
- Friend on the Force: Wesley claims that he knows of Karen's legal situation because of his police contacts (read: corrupt cops on Fisk's payroll), and not because he was involved in setting her up or trying to have her killed in jail.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When describing the blur in morality lines during his closing speech in the Healy trial, Matt says "And often it's like pornography: you just know when you see it." It's a reference to Jacobellis v. Ohio, and the phrase best defined by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's definition of hardcore pornography.
- Gilligan Cut: Healy disables Prohaska's bodyguards, then pulls a pistol and prepares to shoot Prohaska in the head. As his finger closes on the trigger, the scenes suddenly cuts back to 36 hours earlier, when Healy is buying the gun from Turk Barrett.Turk Barrett: Man, look at this! [racks the slide] This is top of the line. I guarantee, this baby will not jam, or my name ain't Turk Barrett.[Cuts to Healy pulling the trigger, and it jams. He was right, should've gone with the revolver]
- Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Defied in that Matt has to (successfully) defend the obviously guilty Healy.
- Heroes Love Dogs: When Matt arrives at work a bit banged up from the fight he had with the Russians in the previous episode, he claims to have tripped, prompting Foggy and Karen to suggest that he get a seeing-eye dog.Foggy Nelson: You need a dog.Matt Murdock: [smiles] I'm not getting a dog.Foggy Nelson: [incredulously] What, you don't like dogs? Who doesn't like dogs?Karen Page: I—I love dogs.Foggy Nelson: Everybody loves dogs.
- Hidden Badass: Healy, who on the surface is a short, average-looking guy with a receding hairline, is actually a skilled assassin and fighter that even puts up a good fight against Matt.
- Honest John's Dealership: The handgun that Turk Barrett sells to Healy jams up, despite Turk assuring him this wouldn't be an issue.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Healy rams his own head through a fence splinter after he rats out Fisk's name to Matt.
- Jury and Witness Tampering: Matt finds out that one of the jurors on Healy's trial is being coerced by one of Fisk's guys, who is threatening to release a sex tape that she did when she was 19. Matt pummels the man into telling the woman to excuse herself from the trial. Although it matters not, as the trial ends with a hung jury with it implied that Fisk just managed to persuade other jurors.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Fisk makes his first physical appearance only moments after Matt finally learns his name.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Owlsley advocates for Healy to be killed rather than go through the process of a trial. Wesley says that they can't do that. With everyone they killed to cover up Karen's Union Allied leak, they can't afford to leave more bodies for the police to link back to them.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Matt's reaction to Healy committing suicide. He is clearly dismayed and disturbed by both the act itself and what it means.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: When Foggy and Karen notice the bruises on Matt's face from his fight, Matt truthfully says "Yeah, I'm fine. I just..wasn't paying attention last night. It was my fault," talking about how he got overconfident and ended up in Claire's dumpster, while Foggy and Karen think Matt just walked into a door or tripped.
- Percussive Maintenance: The Nelson & Murdock wi-fi is acting up. Karen fixes it by whacking the router a few times.
- Product Placement: The camera does a nice closeup of Wesley's Cartier Automatic wristwatch to show that Matt is using the ticking of said watch to follow Wesley back to Fisk's convoy.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Healy's attitude towards handguns, because handguns jam. Sure enough, the semiautomatic pistol Turk gave him fails to fire, forcing him to improvise with the bowling ball.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Wesley's soliciting Matt and Foggy.Matt Murdock: What is that line of work exactly?
Foggy Nelson: What my partner is trying to say is we're still building a practice, so we're very particular about our clientele.
James Wesley: I assure you, all my employer wants is for you to continue to be ethical, decent men... good lawyers. And for that, for nothing more than your exceptional skills and your discretion... you'll be fairly compensated. [Wesley passes a check to Foggy. Foggy looks at the amount]
Foggy Nelson: Uh-huh. It's... It's fair. That's... That's fair.
James Wesley: Your partner doesn't seem convinced.
Matt Murdock: Like Foggy said, we're particular about our clientele. [Wesley smirks, glances at Karen, then back at Matt and Foggy]
James Wesley: I'm curious about your... clientele. Do they all end up working for you after you get them off for murder or just the pretty ones? [Karen gives Wesley a piercing death stare]
Matt Murdock: [to Karen] You, uh, give us a minute, please?
- Take That!: A direct jab made by the hospital manager quotes this as a reason why she is so busy after giving Ben Urich insurance approval.Shirley Benson: Now get the hell out of my office. I've got a measles outbreak to deal with because idiot parents don't want to vaccinate, and my best nurse is out with who-the-hell-knows-what.
- The Reveal: Wilson Fisk appears onscreen for the first time in the final scene, after Matt learns his name.
- Title Drop: Mentioned by Vanessa as the punch line of a children's joke in the final scene when explaining the painting to Fisk.
- Tranquil Fury: While strongarming Nelson & Murdock into defending Healy, Wesley asks, "I'm curious about your clientele. Do they all end up working for you after you get them off for murder or just the pretty ones?" Karen doesn't say anything but she gives Wesley a Death Glare and looks like she wants to punch him. Matt's calm voice takes on a much sharper edge after dismissing Karen from the conference room.
- Worst News Judgment Ever: Ben and Ellison know the subway line story is bad even by the standards of a meaningless fluff piece, but it's not a potential risk and it sells papers. At the end of the episode, when Karen visits Ben at his office, the copy on his desk shows the subway story was buried in the back pages, right above a "rescued cat" article.
- Your Head Asplode: When Healy finds himself unable to shoot his target, he uses a bowling ball to smash his head into pieces.