Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week I’m still sobbing over the breakout star of Daredevil season 3: Ray Nadeem.
Who Is Ray Nadeem?
Ray Nadeem is introduced in the third season of Daredevil. He plays a fairly major role in the events that take place as Matt Murdock tries to return to life after the events of The Defenders. Ray starts out as a good man in a tight spot but things go downhill fast.
At first, Ray is introduced as a good family man dealing with some issues. At his son Sami’s birthday party, Ray and his wife Seema discuss their financial troubles. They are essentially broke after spending a lot of money helping Ray’s sister-in-law deal with medical bills from her cancer treatment. Upset at their downtrodden state and determined to impress his young son, Ray takes action.
We next see Ray grabbing a gun and some ammunition — but things are not as they seem. It turns out that Ray is an FBI agent and he is seeking a promotion at work. His boss, though sympathetic to his plight, informs him she’s been holding him back from review because his financial difficulties mean that he won’t be promoted.
Adding insult to injury, Ray is then given the worst grunt work – dealing with Wilson Fisk, who is refusing to give information to the FBI. However, when Ray blows up at Fisk’s uncooperative nature, Fisk cuts a deal. Ray is able to lead a team to take down a dangerous Albanian crime syndicate, impressing the higher-ups and ensuring further cooperation from Fisk.
Ray is then given charge of Fisk’s detail. They work together, with Ray getting information about dangerous criminals from Fisk and Fisk eventually being removed from prison and put on house arrest. Ray is nearly killed in the transfer but is saved by fellow agent Ben “Dex” Poindexter. But this is only the beginning of Ray’s real troubles.
As the agent in charge of the Fisk situation, Ray enjoys prestige, power, and more importantly, the promotion he was after. However, it also causes some trouble at home. Seema is upset about the danger Ray is in and Sami struggles to sleep after the shooting that almost killed Ray. Not wanting to upset his family, Ray tries to hide what’s going on.
He also soon finds himself dealing with meddlesome civilians when Fisk implicates Matt as a former accomplice. Ray can’t find Matt, obviously, but deals with Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, both of whom are antagonistic toward the man who released Fisk. Karen in particular attacks Ray, pointing out that Fisk is manipulating the FBI.
Ray starts to have suspicions, further cemented when he receives a visit from the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Fisk had just framed Daredevil for an attack and Matt tries to convince Ray that wasn’t him but rather an FBI agent. Ray doesn’t want to believe the worst of his colleagues but agrees to investigate.
Their investigation leads to the discovery that Dex is the one killing people under the guise of Daredevil. Ray tries to report this to his boss but it turns out she works for Fisk too. They set-up Ray to be framed, forcing him to work for Fisk or else risk arrest or possibly worse.
Ray is appalled that the FBI is under Fisk’s control and upset that he is now stuck there too. However, not wanting to lose his family, he goes along with the scheme. He sets a trap for Matt, but Matt doesn’t show. Then, Ray is forced to drive Dex to Clinton Church where he tries – unsuccessfully – to murder Karen and actually kills Father Lantom.
After seeing what Dex did, the guilt starts to overwhelm Ray. Karen is trapped in Clinton Church and Dex is desperate to find her and finish the job. But since technically Ray is in charge of the crime scene, this allows him to let Karen go. He saves her life but puts himself and his family at risk.
Fisk tries to punish Ray for turning against him but Ray moves quickly. He makes it home and tells his family to pack. But before they can escape, people show up to kill them. Ray is in tough straits and nearly out of bullets when Daredevil shows up to save the day. Ray is confused; he sold Daredevil out to Fisk. But Matt points out that they need to trust each other and reveals his identity.
Matt helps Ray get Seema and Sami to safety and then they plan how together they can stop Fisk once and for all. Matt reunites with Foggy and tells Ray they will represent him as Nelson and Murdock when he testifies against Fisk – because that is the only way they can stop him for good and reveal the corruption in the FBI. Ray is afraid but willing to do what it takes.
Ray ends up testifying, even though he faces prison time, but Fisk got to the jury so it was all for naught. Matt and Foggy plan to try again but Ray sees that there is no way to win. He knocks out Foggy and returns to his house where Dex eventually finds him and kills him.
However, Ray was smart. Before his murder, he recorded a dying testimony for Seema to show Matt and Foggy. This video ends up being the key to stopping Fisk. Ray was a hero, in the end.
Why Is Ray Nadeem Bae?
Listen, Daredevil is a veritable feast. There are so many attractive people and Charlie Cox, in particular, makes me die. But Jay Ali was a more than welcome addition to the snack pile and Ray Nadeem is definitely a looker.
Federal agents shouldn’t be this attractive, but then again, this is television. Dressed in nice suits and holding his own against numerous criminals, Ray Nadeem is a treat for the eyes all throughout season 3.
One of the best things about Ray Nadeem is that he is a good, solid family man. Daredevil isn’t known for its well-adjusted characters, to be sure. Matt Murdock is all kinds of messed up, Karen Page (sort of) killed her brother, and Foggy Nelson is the closest we come to normal, but even he has family issues when his brother falls under Fisk’s sway.
But Ray Nadeem? Ray Nadeem is all about the family. His family is his primary motivation in life. Everything he does, he does for them. All he wants is to make them happy, to take care of them, love them, and have their respect.
Ray does some bad things in season 3 but his motivations are good. He only ends up under Fisk’s control because he wanted to do right by his family. Fisk targeted Ray for a long time, ending his sister-in-law’s healthcare and putting Ray in financial straits. But Ray didn’t have to give his sister-in-law money. He did it out of the goodness of his heart and his love for his family.
Sami is also the object of Ray’s devotion. Ray lies to Seema to protect Sami from the horrors of his job. In the end, he asks Seema not to show Sami his final video and hopes his son can forgive him for what he’s done.
Ray’s relationship with Seema is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. There is clearly love between the two but they spend a lot of season 3 at odds. In the end, Seema ends up resenting Ray for putting her and Sami in danger. But Ray’s final video talks about how much he loves her and why he is willing to die to keep her safe. It was beautifully tragic.
What made the story of Ray Nadeem so poignant was the classic narrative of redemption. Ray Nadeem is a good man, to be sure. But he also makes a lot of mistakes. While a lot was out of his control, he does end up giving in to Fisk’s demands and is an accessory to murder, as he freely admits.
But unlike any of the other agents who fall to Fisk, Ray doesn’t give in completely. He resents what he has been forced to do and ends up putting himself at risk to do the right thing by letting Karen escape the church. He knows he essentially signed his own death warrant. But he does it anyway.
Because Ray Nadeem is still a good man. So much of what he went through shook him but after witnessing the body of Father Lantom, he can’t stomach it anymore. He won’t let Dex kill Karen in cold blood and stands up to Fisk and Dex to let her free. It’s the beginning of the end for Ray but he continues walking his path.
He ensures his family’s safety and does what is needed to take Fisk down. When the District Attorney states that Ray will face a five-year prison sentence for his crimes, he agrees to testify anyway. He sees it as necessary penance and hopes that it will help people forgive him.
In the end, Ray gives his life to improve the world. He wants to save his family and stop Fisk. He faces death calmly and quietly, knowing that he has done what he can to make things right. When Dex approaches him, Ray doesn’t hesitate. He even tries to redeem Dex. Ray’s story is a tragedy but he is definitely a tragic hero.
What’s Not To Love?
I spent most of season 3 wondering what was going to happen next with Ray Nadeem. At first, I liked him and was worried he was going to turn out to be a bad guy. When he does end up working for Fisk, I sympathized with him because he was such a good man in a difficult situation. And when he ended up doing the right thing, I was afraid for him.
Ray Nadeem dying was an absolute tragedy. I know it made narrative sense and I’m not angry that it’s the direction the show-runners took. But at the same time, I wish they had done anything else. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Ray Nadeem. He deserved better.
In a show with so much focus on moral gray areas, Ray Nadeem fit right in. He was a good man who did bad things, but for good reasons. Ray was a federal agent who wanted to make the world a better place and take care of his family. Yes, he went off the path for a while. But he was so focused on making things right that he gave up his life freely.
It’s a shame that Ray was only present for one season of Daredevil because he was an amazing addition to an already amazing show. Poindexter gets to return but we don’t get any more Ray Nadeem? Criminal. Ray would have made a great ally for Matt moving forward if he’d lived. Imagine if Matt had a federal agent on his side?
As it is, Ray Nadeem died to make the world a better place. It’s a fitting ending to his tragic hero story, even if I’m sad to lose any chance of more Ray.