I only touch on what’s been shown in the trailers, so the following is a spoiler-free review of the entire second season of Daredevil!
It’s back! This is the series that sent shock waves through an audience who thought they knew what to expect from a superhero television show. And this time, it’s bigger and more ambitious than ever. Icons like The Punisher and Elektra join the fray, while classic villainous group The Hand makes their presence known. This season has a lot on its plate.
With big icons and many story lines to juggle, the show could have easily collapsed under its own weight. Thankfully, the writers were able to shoulder it all, and the season stands strong. Unlike what Season 1 did with Wilson Fisk, there isn’t one overarching story — and villain — from beginning to end. There is still a cohesive story line for sure, but this time the show gracefully switches between plot threads. Some of these could even stand on their own, such as the first four episodes of the season, which make for some of the best MCU content we’ve gotten to date.
If you’re worried you should expect are just standalone stories back to back, rest assured that’s not the case. Story elements and characters carry over, but it’s the themes that tighten the season as a whole. What does it mean to be Matt Murdock and Daredevil? Does his way of doing things work? Does the justice system fail to solve the problem?
The strongest part of this season is, without a doubt, The Punisher. I always trust Marvel with their casting choices, but Jon Bernthal is possibly their best yet. My faith was not misplaced, as he completely owns the role of Frank Castle. There is nothing negative I could say about any of his scenes, or any direction that he took the character. He quite simply blew me away, showing how insanely scary and bad-ass he can be, while still providing a particular scene that should make anyone with a working heart tear up.
The core conflict between The Punisher and Daredevil is the difference in their ideologies. They both want to stop the bad guys, but Frank Castle doesn’t settle for anything less than dead, an ideal that Daredevil can’t support. Every scene between the two of them is awesome, and their dynamic couldn’t be more engrossing. Their conversations carry more weight than most of the elaborate fight sequences. And even without Daredevil in the mix, this season serves as the origin story of Frank Castle and The Punisher. It’s amazing that with everything going on, the writers were still able to craft an extremely well-done origin tale for outside of his interactions with Daredevil. The Punisher is treated as his own complex character, not just a foil to Daredevil and Matt Murdock.
The man, Frank Castle.
I haven’t talked too much about the main hero, Daredevil himself, yet. I was very happy to have Charlie Cox back on my screen, and I’m glad to report that he is just as great as he was last year. After Season 1 ended, Matt Murdock had accepted and embraced the role of Daredevil; that was his journey. This season explores what it means to maintain that hero role. What does it mean to be Daredevil, and does his way of doing things work? The show does a fantastic job at giving Matt a deep journey throughout the season, and making it feel completely different than what came before. As for his costume, don’t expect any major additions — but there might be a surprise or two.
One thing that both critics and audiences raved about when the show first premiered was its fantastic fight choreography and stunts. This season, they are back with a vengeance, with even more insane and fantastic sequences for you to feast your eyes upon. There’s even a scene early in the season that rivals — if not bests — the infamous hallway from Season 1. And when The Hand becomes part of the picture, they introduce a clever kink that enhances Daredevil’s encounters with them. The best part is that it’s not just Matt versus the world this season. Elektra’s addition in several key action pieces adds more flavor to everything.
Right, Elektra! Elodie Yunge really embodies the role, and brings an energy and passion to the character not seen in her previous incarnation. Elektra is a seductive, powerful, and manipulative addition (or reemergence) in Matt’s life. She’s a huge complication for Matt Murdock, one that goes hand in hand with the central themes and questions posed by this season. While the show hits a sudden slowdown when she is introduced, that time is spent investing the audience in Elektra and Matt’s complex feelings for each other. I won’t lie: their relationship didn’t immediately grab me. But over a few episodes, I started to better understand them. So if you aren’t a fan right off the bat, give it a few episodes. Elektra could have easily fallen flat, but she does eventually get passion and attention like The Punisher, and becomes a pillar of the season.
A pillar with sai.
As mentioned, Daredevil’s infamous enemies The Hand play a big role this season. They make their presence known in a huge way as the season progresses, and add some interesting twists to Daredevil’s world. Their entire story line is handled well, feels gleefully comic book-y, and yet still fits the tone of the show. The bad part is that by the end of the season, they leave far too many unanswered questions. On top of that, some of the material in the last stretch gets a little convoluted.
There are two big characters I have yet to hit on, and the first is Foggy Nelson. Elden Henson is still a weaker part of the show acting-wise (I’m honestly not sure if it’s him, the writing, or the direction given to him), but he has improved overall from last season. Foggy also gets much stronger material to play with this time around, so it was great to see his character struggle with the big problems. While it’s hard to go into any details, what I can say is that his friendship with Matt Murdock hits a few road bumps, and Foggy comes out on the other side as a more rounded character then when the season started.
And the last character is Karen Page, and she gets a lot of screen time this season. Overall, she has some really good character moments, has a nice journey over the thirteen episodes, and finds where she belongs. But the good material isn’t without its issues. The first half of the season takes Karen through actions eerily similar to what she was doing in Season 1. Thankfully, it does take a turn in the back half: a relationship (not of the romantic variety) that Karen forms is some of my favorite material of hers. And for my last negative note: the show treats her backstory like it’s a huge game-changing secret. It’s not. So it’s hard to not be annoyed when the show hides information that could make a fairly standard character deeper and more interesting.
Maybe you’ll have more in Season 3, blue.
I’m obviously not going to get into the setup for Season 3, but there is a lot of potential there. There could be even more moving parts than this season, and based on how this was handled, I couldn’t be more excited. If for some reason you are still hesitant, I highly recommend you just jump into the deep end and start. With a season that brings some of the best MCU content to date, you certainly won’t regret it.
Russ reviews a ton of Marvel stuff for Laser Time. If you’re a fan, why not follow him on Twitter?