The following is a review of the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil, a Netflix Original Series. Expect spoilers from the first season, but spoilers for the second season will be kept at a minimum.
Saint Matthew is back! – I loved the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil. It was the perfect show for me, as it outweighed the light nature of other Marvel Studios content. Since then we’ve seen the excellent first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and how Daredevil lost its showrunner Steven S. DeKnight, with the latter leaving me very worried about the future of the show. The second season of Marvel’s Daredevil is the first piece of Marvel produced entertainment brought to you by Netflix in 2016, and I am glad to say that the level of entertainment is as high as it has ever been.
Last year, I reviewed each and every episode of Daredevil, but the process drained me. Therefore I’ve decided to use all my energy on one season review, much like I did with House of Cards: Season Four. I watched the entire second season of Daredevil in one sitting, and I loved what I was seeing. But I have to mention something about other reviewer processes with Netflix-shows.
I am getting sick and tired of reviewers pre-judging the season based on what episodes they got in advance (I believe critics were sent 7 episodes in advance this year). You don’t review a movie after seeing 50% of it, and you definitely don’t release your season review before watching every episode. It is a dishonest way of going about television reviews. But enough about that, let’s talk about the general plot without going into heavy spoilers.
The second season of Marvel’s Daredevil doesn’t continue right after the ‘happy ending’ of the first season. It has been a while since Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox) took on the Daredevil-name, and he is protecting his city as we’ve come to expect. But the city has become a free-for-all after Wilson Fisk (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) was put behind bars last season. The Kitchen Irish think that this is their time in the spotlight, but their meeting is stopped when gunfire takes out the members of the group.
Though one would expect this to be the work of a rival mob or drug cartel, word quickly gets out that this may be the work of a one-man army. It doesn’t take long until we meet the infamous Punisher (played by Jon Bernthal). That’s about as far as I’ll go with the early plot description, but if you’ve seen any of the trailers, then you will have a good idea of what is going on in the first half of the season.
I had a lot of fun bingewatching the entire season on the first day, but if you don’t plan on watching it all in one sitting, then I would suggest that you take breaks after Penny and Dime (episode 4), Semper Fidelis (episode 7), .380 (episode 11), and then take on the final two episodes to finish the season. But there is no one right way to watch a season of television. And, ultimately, I don’t think that will make or break the season for you.
Daredevil has always been a show that you either love or can’t stand to watch. It is a gritty, dark, and dirty show, but if you liked how they handled that tone in season one, then you’ll still be very pleased with the second season. If, however, that part of the show bothered you, then maybe consider dropping the show from your watchlist. It is very much the same show that you saw in season one. It doesn’t reinvent itself at all, which, for its fans, is great news. Daredevil is as good as it ever was, and maybe more violent than ever.
But I do think that the first two seasons are very different when it comes to pacing. The first season was a great origin story for Daredevil, and Wilson Fisk was a great villain. I loved almost everything about the slow-build of the season, even if I now feel that the first season could have finished stronger with one or two episodes less (a problem I also had with Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Season One). This second season is incredibly fast-paced, and I think a lot of people will find it more entertaining as a result. Entertainment, of course, doesn’t always mean quality – but in this case I thought it did.
The first four episodes (Bang; Dogs To A Gunfight; New York’s Finest; Penny and Dime) might be the best run of episodes Marvel has ever produced for Netflix. The trailers had all been teasing the introduction of both Frank Castle and Elektra (played by Élodie Yung), and the season hits the ground running by getting to the former sooner rather than later. Frank Castle functions as an adrenaline shot to a show that already had a lot of hype built around it.
But the season doesn’t lose its steam after the first four episodes. At a steady pace they start to pivot the storythreads into a great direction, and then they pick up the pace again by Seven Minutes In Heaven (episode 9). I absolutely loved it – and I know I write that a lot on this blog, but I was so happy with what I was seeing. It was pretty close to perfect for me.
Now, I won’t go into exactly what happens in the season finale (A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen), which I actually felt was the weakest episode of the entire season, but I’ll give you an idea of what bothered me about the ending of the season. I thought that a lot of it was very cliché, and not in a good way. There was some narration that bothered me, and a couple of reveals that I didn’t react to well. But, overall, the last fifteen or twenty minutes didn’t hurt my feelings on the season too much. There still is a lot of potential in the story of Hell’s Kitchen’s heroes, and this season left the show in a satisfying place – even if a lot of the ending rubbed me the wrong way.
Now, one thing that I really wanted to see from this fast-paced season was for the writers to balance the main charcter properly. This is still only the second season of Daredevil, and Matt Murdock is a lawyer – it is a huge part of his persona. And while I thought there was a fair bit of focus on the Nelson & Murdock-firm, the season did leave me somewhat disappointed with how Matt Murdock didn’t always find time for the events at the firm. But that’s all I can say without getting into spoiler-territory.
One of the more well-known events of season one was the famous hallway-fight from Cut Man, and this season they really tried to top it once or twice. I don’t know that they ever present a more impressive action sequence in season two, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that they really, really gave it their all with a specific sequence in New York’s Finest. Both The Punisher and Elektra have their own signature action sequences this season, and one of them is even more show-stealing than the one from Cut Man was. Look out for an impressive sequence in Seven Minutes In Heaven.
Now, let us move on to the 6 most important performances this season: the ones given by Scott Glenn, Élodie Yung, Jon Bernthal, Elden Henson, Deborah Ann Woll, and Charlie Cox. I want to start with the three leads, and it is to make a point. Elden Henson (who plays Foggy Nelson) does a really fine job this season. Foggy doesn’t steal a lot of scenes, per se, but he grows a lot as a character over the course of the season.
I really like Deborah Ann Woll (who plays Karen Page) a lot, and she might’ve been the casting choice I was most excited about when the show was first announced. But while I enjoyed her performance for most of the season, I must admit that there were times when she might have overplayed Karen’s feelings for Matt. It was a bit too obvious, and I grew tired of seeing the show cut to her reaction to something Matt does or says.
Scott Glenn (who plays Stick) is always great, and though I cannot divulge how big a part he plays into the overall plot of the season, I will say that he did get some great scenes to highlight his character in. Élodie Yung actually kind of impressed me as Elektra – I liked her way more than I thought I would. Ultimately, I’m not sure I loved where her character ended up, but I liked seeing Yung interact with Charlie Cox.
Speaking of the devil. I really like Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock a lot. He gives a great performance in each and every episode of Daredevil. I have no bad things to say about his portrayal this season, but his character can be quite naive and unsure of himself. And this season really pushes the character towards familiar ground for people familiar with superhero shows. Thematically, this season deals with the double-sided coin of vigilanteism. It was about testing the limits that Matt Murdock was willing to go to, and for most of Marvel’s Daredevil: Season Two that test is named Frank Castle.
And Frank Castle – better known as the infamous Punisher – is the best part of Marvel’s Daredevil: Season Two. Somehow Jon Bernthal managed to walk directly into a show in its second season, and steal every single scene he was in. He outshined the protagonist of the show. Jon Bernthal, quite simply, is the best Punisher I have ever seen on screen. Jon Bernthal’s performance is out of this world, and there were times when I felt like Bernthal was born to play Frank Castle.
I’ve loved both seasons of Marvel’s Daredevil, and I will watch every season they release of the show. Now, I will say that I am a bit confused about the future of the show itself. I think Netflix loves doing these Marvel hero-shows, and I feel comfortable stating that I think we will see a third season of Daredevil. But we will see the first season of Marvel’s Luke Cage this September, we have been promised a season of Marvel’s Iron Fist, and another season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Ultimately, it will all result in The Defenders – but they can’t postpone that show forever. Who knows? We might not see Marvel’s Daredevil again until the first season of The Defenders has been released.
– I’m Jeffrey Rex