Review: Daredevil Season Two Part One: Story, Returning Characters, And Villains
Creator: Drew Goddard
Principal Cast: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Jon Bernthal, Elodie Yung, and Rosario Dawson
Summary: A blind lawyer, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a costumed superhero. — via IMDB
Rated: TV-MA: Suggested MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, drug material and language.
Availability: two seasons with thirteen episodes each streaming on Netflix
I was quite pleased by Daredevil season one and even more more so about Jessica Jones (even if I never got around to writing about it, which I regret). I’ve been looking forward to season two of Daredevil since it was announced but I was also a little worried. The second season of a television show is often when the show tends to stumble. It’s so well known that it has a name; the sophomore slump. I had a feeling that Marvel has enough people working on these properties that there was a good chance the series wouldn’t be awful and not be a let down. After Daredevil blew everyone’s minds, Jessica Jones came along and was even better. Those are some big shoes to fill and there was every chance that hype and expectations could kneecap Daredevil season two.
Daredevil season two has more or less the same flaws as its previous season but what it lacks on a cohesive level it makes up with new characters.
I’m going to do my best to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but you might be able to get a few hints about what some of the reveals will be from my criticism. I’d just watch the second season and then read this review. There will be spoilers for Daredevil season one and Jessica Jones season one.
While there were plenty of things to criticize about Daredevil season one the thing that everyone seemed to agree on was that Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk was the best Marvel villain thus far. I’m not sure if people are pitting him again Jessica Jones’ Kilgrave or not, but the villains thus far have been the best part of the Netflix ventures. The different format (in this case a thirteen episode season instead of a two to three hour movie) gives the villains a lot more chances to develop. In season two the series starts out with the introduction of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), aka The Punisher as a villain, but anyone who knows anything about comics knows that Frank is often seen as an anti hero more than an actual villain.
The show wastes almost no time establishing that, and by episode three we know what Frank’s motivations are. The secondary villain comes along but they never take center stage the way Fisk did. They are there but their motivations are murky and their goals are virtually unknown. We knew what Fisk was trying to accomplish and why because the show went through great lengths to show us. Season two explains Frank’s actions and why he is doing what he is doing but The Hand, the mystical ninjas that appear about halfway through the season, are never explored. They are ninjas and they are trying to do something, but when there is quite literally a plot hole that is never mentioned again the flaw became extremely obvious.
The entire season felt very disjointed compared to the relatively tight story of the first season. While there were plenty of other things happening around Fisk and the various mobs that surrounded him, we knew that Fisk was the end game. In this series there seems to be three major plotlines going at once and none of them felt fully developed. The first four episodes focus on the Punisher and then focus shifts to Elektra. Frank’s story hangs around but by the end of the season it felt like it just ended with no real conclusion. Elektra’s plot and the ninjas wait five episodes to show up. The flashback episodes with Fisk were important because they helped us explain why he does what he does. There is no explanation for the Hand and that robs them of so much menace. I don’t expect everything to come together in perfect formation by the end but the various plots don’t even attempt to form a singular whole. It’s just a lot things that happen.
All of that being said I really did enjoy season two and the characters are a big reason why. Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) really amped up his Catholic guilt that was so prominent in the first season. He is a man who is torn in half as he tries to be a lawyer by day and a vigilante at night. This tension comes to a head in this series as his friendship with Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson),and burgeoning relationship with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), also suffer as well. Henson is probably the MVP of the series as Foggy was constantly a welcome person on screen. We really get to see him explore coming out from under Matt’s shadow. Karen, a character who gets way more hate than she deserves, also has great development this season. She fixates on Frank early on and her belief that there has to be some good in him is littered with subtext as she tries to find the good in herself after shooting Wesley last season. That issue never really comes up explicitly but any scene with Frank and Karen are great.