Stream Police: ‘Daredevil’ Season Two Recap

Posted in The Screening Room by - March 29, 2016

The first season of Daredevil was an astounding success because it brought a character who was left for dead in the visual medium, and it brought him back to life for a new generation, post MCU. Not only that, but it kickstarted Marvel working with Netflix to provide shows that probably wouldn’t get greenlit on network TV. With the continued success of Jessica Jones, it looks like we can safely say this trend will continue into the near future, with the newest season of Daredevil being another triumph. Reintroducing the Punisher and Elektra into the new MCU continuity, we’re given more of a comic book vibe, less interested in remaining grounded, while expanding on the Daredevil mythos.

The two most significant changes to this season are the introductions of Elektra (Elodie Yung) and the Punisher (Jon Bernthal). Bernthal brings an incredibly nuanced performance, showing a man so broken that he can only cope by destroying what he perceives as injustice, permanently. While Daredevil doesn’t agree with his methods due to his “no kill” rule, the fact that both vigilantes share the same goal is explored throughout the season. Is Daredevil a “half-measure” as the Punisher proclaims, or is their truly good in all people, no matter how evil their actions? This theme is explored in the first half of the season as Daredevil deals with the Punisher in both his personal life, trying to bring him to “justice” and his professional life as Nelson and Murdock represent the Punisher in court. As if that wasn’t enough for Matt Murdock to deal with, his old college flame (briefly mentioned in season 1), Elektra, is back, and she needs his help to take down a mysterious organization known as The Hand. There are a lot more moving parts than in season 1, which primarily dealt with a one man crusade against the Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio).

The action, especially the combat, remains a highlight of the show, with a scene going down a stairwell being a callback to the epic hallway fight of the first season. However, a consistent issue I had while watching this season that hearkens back to the first season is how dark the show is, and I mean that literally. While Daredevil operates primarily at nighttime, the lighting on many sequences makes it incredibly difficult to see the specifics of what is happening. Daredevil receives a costume upgrade this season, and I’m not sure if I ever got a decent look at it in full light. While I appreciate the nighttime aesthetic, there needs to be a compromise for the viewer to fully enjoy the visuals of what is going on. While this might seem like a nitpick, it hindered my complete enjoyment the narrative. The courtroom drama, while not a massive part of the season, was incredibly entertaining, and I hope that next season brings us more into the professional aspect of Matt Murdock again, as he spends the majority of this season in vigilante mode, rather than the respected lawyer society knows him as.

While The Hand is an incredibly interesting organization (Matt doesn’t even believe they are real even after Stick, an always excellent Scott Glenn, sits him down and gives Matt a history lesson), there is no truly central villain with gravitas like the Kingpin. Sure, the Punisher is an amazing new character with the most exciting and memorable on-screen interpretation of him to date, but he’s less a villain and more a counterpoint for our hero. Season 1’s Nobu returns to represent The Hand, but I was never as invested in any singular villain as I was last year which weakened the core conflict for me slightly. Also, I’m still not sure what The Hand’s true endgame was, although I’m sure this will be further explored in the next season, we’re now two seasons into a show without any clarity on how serious this threat posed by this ancient organization truly is.

Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) also return as major players, but some of their subplots were occasionally problematic for me. While Foggy now knows Matt’s secret as the Daredevil, he’s constantly grating, and much of his humor doesn’t work, coming off as whiny and a hindrance to our hero. Perhaps I wasn’t as annoyed with him as I was in the previous season, but I consistently noticed how much I didn’t enjoy when he was on the screen. Karen remains the emotional core of the show, as she reaches out to the Punisher as the last bastion of humanity, hoping to help bring what little is left of Frank Castle’s soul to the surface. While their interactions were interesting, it’s a bit absurd how often she was in danger, and she manages to be a legal assistant full time, while also turning into an impromptu reporter, actually landing a job at the New York Bulletin, with no prior experience. I know, I know, complaining about realism in a show about what is ostensibly a blind ninja seems a bit hypocritical, but I felt that the writers too often wanted to heighten Karen’s importance, so her character became an investigative deus ex machina. I think the reporter position is a good fit for her, as our new Ben Urich surrogate, but the way it happened was a bit too inorganic for my tastes.

Elodie Yung’s Elektra is another fascinating character, who also embodies the exploration of whether or not good lies in all people. She is introduced as a manipulative and possibly malicious seductress from Matt’s past. She indirectly destroys all his current relationships, including a weak romance with Karen, with her roping him into her conflict with The Hand. Yung is mesmerizing in a way that is almost indescribable. More than just her physical looks, she walks around with an aura of mystery and loss that you, as a viewer, can understand draws Matt to her despite his negative history with her. She is every bit Matt’s equal as a fighter, and the back half of the season is filled with great action sequences with her and Daredevil working in tandem. While not as overt as Frank Castle’s journey, her journey to redemption is an interesting development, especially when more history is shed on her relationship with Matt and his teacher, Stick.

The season itself ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with a multitude of threads spilling over from this season, and I know I’ll be among the first to consume the third season once it releases.

Final Say: Watch It

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He's a native Texan (YEE-HAW) who loves everything Michael Bay has ever touched. When he's not blogging, he's working on his mobile app, BoxHopp, or tinkering with his fantasy football lineups.
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