Volume 5, Issue 13
“TV Review: Daredevil Season Two”
Daredevil made quite the splash last year as the first of Marvel Studios’ projects with Netflix, and many were surprised that a second season would hit before Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Defenders, the Avengers-esque team up with the Marvel Netflix properties (which also includes Jessica Jones, which premiered back in November). If Daredevil season one was Marvel’s Batman Begins, then this is their Dark Knight or Empire Strikes Back, expanding the scope of the series to include new characters, enemies, and more for Matt Murdock and his supporting cast to do.
Season two of Daredevil finds the Law Offices of Nelson & Murdock being busier than ever before. After successfully taking down Wilson Fisk, Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson have taken every small defense case that comes their way, from elderly people who are up against slumlords to small criminal cases, and while many of their clients can only pay with goods rather than cash, the offices still help them. But like any good Marvel fan knows, any time things are going right for Matt Murdock, the other shoe is going to drop. And that shoe comes in the form of Frank Castle, The Punisher.
Punisher starts off as the primary protagonist of the season, and his actions in the first four episodes are the catalyst for the events that make up this batch of 13 episodes. Played by The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal, this new Marvel Cinematic Universe approved Frank Castle is presented exactly as he should be: as the boogeyman of the organized crime factions of New York City. He’s set up perfectly, and the philosophical and physical blows he trades with Daredevil are some of the greatest moments of the season. Bernthal, more so than any other actor who’s played The Punisher, brings a depth and sadness to Frank Castle. Yes, you’ll get the bad ass moments and stark black and white outlook that you’ve come to expect from the character, but when Frank opens up and talks about coming home from the war and surprising his daughter at his school, you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll feel for him.
While Punisher serves as the opening arc, his trial and incarceration plays out in the rest of the season. While that plot is underway, Elodie Yung’s Elektra enters into Matt’s life. Investigating the Roxxon Corporation’s shady business dealings, Elektra’s introduction plays out exactly as fans imagine it, and Yung and Cox have great chemistry. She’s got the right mix of “sexy and dangerous” needed for Elektra, and you really feel for Murdock, who just can’t say no to his first love, despite knowing how unpredictable she is.
If you guessed that Elektra’s appearance leads into The Hand coming into play, then you are today’s winner. As good as this conflict is, it doesn’t work quite as well as the opening moments of the season with The Punisher. The Hand were a quick two episode background threat last season, and moving them up to the major leagues for season two doesn’t make them any more interesting. After last season’s Wilson Fisk and Jessica Jones’ Kilgrave, The Hand is a bit of a letdown, even though seeing straight up ninjas running around New York City is pretty cool. The Punisher and Hand plot lines come together at the end in a way that doesn’t work quite as well as the show runners want it to (it might’ve been more effective to have the Punisher story be the first 6 episodes and the other 6 being focused on Elektra and the Hand), but it’s still a stronger conclusion than season one.
Despite this, Daredevil’s second season is still phenomenal. As opposed to last season, there’s plenty for Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (a fantastic Deborah Ann Woll) to do here, and watching the three of them work together and get beers at Josie’s is a real treat for old school Daredevil fans. We also get a few episodes showing the team of Nelson and Murdock at work in the courtroom, and if I’m being completely honest, those were my favorite moments of the season. Even though we’ve seen thousands of TV court cases, Frank Castle’s trial is still really gripping stuff.
Charlie Cox once again shines in the role of Matt Murdock and Daredevil. Cox nails Murdock’s sense of justice, but he also gets to tap into the character’s self-destructiveness as well. Matt Murdock is definitely put through the wringer here, and when his life as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen starts to impede on his life as a defense attorney, Cox shows that frustration amazingly. But Cox also does a great job showing that Matt, for as much as he doesn’t want to hurt his friend’s feelings or jeopardize his practice, loves being Daredevil. You’ll see moments where Matt, blood pouring from his mouth, laughs and grins during his fights. Despite all the cuts, bruises, and sleepless nights it brings, Murdock still deep down loves running on rooftops and beating the crap out of people. He’s addicted to being Daredevil, even when it starts to cost him the people he loves most.
In every sense, new show runners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez stepped up their game for the new season of Daredevil. The scope of the show is larger; the topics they handle are bigger, and there are tons of awesome surprises throughout. Hell, they even top the instant-classic single take hallway fight from last season. And while there are moments where it seems like they maybe bit off a little more than they could chew, the Man Without Fear’s second season is still well worth your time, and one of the crown jewels of Marvel Studios’ output.