Netflix’ model of releasing whole seasons at a time is excellent, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Namely the fact that binging on a show will get you hooked quick and leave you desperately needing another fix even quicker. Daredevil is certainly no exception here. And while it’s great to have it back with 13 all new episodes, I find myself now impatiently waiting for season 3. Because this was just too good.
Some spoilers throughout. Read at your own peril.
Let’s just say this up front. It’s not as good as the first season. While there is self discovery on the part of our hero, it’s more a tug-of-war on his moralities than the origin tale of the first season. And it did get old after a time. Also, the lack of a singular threat, as in the case of the first season’s Kingpin, made this feel a little aimless at times.
We rarely see Daredevil actually saving individuals this season. Instead he’s more involved in saving the lives (or souls) of his offbeat friends, Frank Castle, Elektra, and sometimes Stick. Which is fine, but c’mon. Either fight them or work with them. Don’t babysit your friends because they have a different way of getting things done.
I was generally disappointed with Matt Murdock all around this season. Although the guy puts on a good show, he neglects all his real life issues to the point of honest annoyance. Go to work, Matt! Your real friends need you, y’know, the ones who don’t kill people regularly. I understand that is all part of the big issue he’s facing this season, not being capable of managing his personas, but he doesn’t excel at anything beyond the point of fighting. And at the end of the day, I don’t know if I even still like the guy. One of his only redeeming moments as a character comes at the very end of the season, when he has the decency of telling a friend that he is indeed Daredevil – I just wish it happened sooner.
The season has two very good arcs. The first involves the Punisher, and his annihilation of Hell’s Kitchen’s crime gangs. The second involves the reintroduction of Elektra into Matt’s life and how the Hand is starting a secret war.
With the Punisher, actor Jon Bernthal absolutely nailed it. The depression. The anger. The hopelessness. And although he’s a character without redemption, you understand his motives. At the end of the day you understand how he could see himself as a good guy, or at least how his methods could be seen as having some form of moral code, however skewed that may be. That said, I was won over by the character, as he’s generally too dark for my enjoyment.
Elektra neither won me over nor made me dislike her any more. She merely was. I never really felt bad for her character, nor did I care for her. But it’s easy to see how close she is to Matt’s heart – and that is where her character gets interesting. She was the first individual in Matt’s life to really connect with him on a level more than emotional. She understood him, and he fell for her because of it. And now she’s back, and he doesn’t know if he wants her in his life. He’s definitely very tempted by the idea.
Her plot eventually involves the Hand, an organization older than most countries, whose ultimate goal is to unleash the Black Sky – a weapon of supposed mass destruction. A Black Sky, as we saw in season 1, is actually a living human being. We don’t know how they’re chosen, how many there are, or what the heck they actually do, but we know there are others out there – and this season introduces a second one.
Despite how menacing the Hand actually is, being able to hide the sound of their heartbeat from Daredevil, we don’t fully understand their threat. Ever. Stick is always talking about this war that they wish to start, or have already started, but we don’t know the stakes. They’ve dug a hole in the earth, in the middle of the city, but we never investigate why they’ve done that. Will this carry out into Netflix’ other shows? Or will we have to wait until Daredevil season three to get any resolution? Or even the Defenders miniseries. It’s clear that, of any of the shows, Iron Fist will likely have the most crossover with the story Daredevil is ultimately building.
The fights were so spectacularly done this season. It was a dance at times. Other times it’s extremely gut-wrenchingly gruesome. There’s two new hallway scenes of note this time around. The first involves an extended cut of Daredevil fighting in a stairwell, which was stellar. The second involves the Punisher killing a group of people, which was honestly too much.
I’m not really sure where the line is drawn in the making of this show. They don’t curse. They don’t have any nudity. But the gore is sometimes so brutal it’s hard to watch.
Foggy Nelson continues acting like a baby this season, but he redeems himself by stepping out of Matt’s shadows and doing things on his own for once. Which is really refreshing. I’m glad to see a character that doesn’t let Matt’s ruin affect him so negatively, but he could do with some lightening up next season. I have a feeling their fallout will have major consequences to the plot next season.
Karen Page steps into her own in this season as well, taking a personal fascination with the Punisher’s plight. She is a decent reporter, but a terrible writer. We can assume she spent how many weeks working on that case with a blank screen? Anyway, I’m glad she’s given something more to do this season. She was always more of a detective than an assistant in a legal firm, and now she gets to spread her wings a bit. We still don’t have any consequence for her actions in season one, where she killed a man, but I have a feeling that’ll be swept under the rug until the writers finally get around to it.
We really need more nods to the MCU. This is a property owned by Marvel and there were minor nods in the first season, but this time around it’s so engrossed in itself it feels almost too self-contained. I expected a joke from Foggy or Elektra saying “oh why don’t you just go join the Avengers,” or something. But we don’t get any of that. We only get hints of its wider connection to other Netflix shows, like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. But that’s it. And it’s a wasted playground if all you do is hang on the monkey bars.
Overall, this is a solid season, and develops the innards of the Marvel Cinematic Universe very well. It’s a great show, which presents a more mature aspect to Marvel’s overall levity and I’m certainly left on the edge of my seat to get some real answers. Once again, Marvel displays their mastery over the onscreen superhero genre.