Review: Daredevil Season Two Part Two: New Characters, World Building, And Costumes
The new cast members jump in with both feet. Bernthal takes a character that is often one note and makes him extremely compelling. I would go so far as to say that this is the most compelling version of Frank Castle that I’ve ever seen. His backstory is extremely convoluted, but despite all of that Bernthal makes every scene he’s in work. Much like D’Onofrio did with Fisk there are very subtle things that make the character feel dangerous. While Fisk would speak and it was hard to tell if he was bad around people or if he was so angry he could barely form words. Bernthal takes Frank and gives him little twitches. His trigger finger moving, the way he seems to carry an air of danger around him whenever he’s in a room; it’s really a great performance. There is a scene at the end of episode four that is Emmy worthy.
There are going to be a lot of people wondering, and perhaps asking for, a Punisher solo series and I’m not entirely sure the material is there. I’m absolutely sure that Bernthal could pull it off but Frank Castle, as a character, is not very likable. In this series you can relate to him but he still falls into a very specific camp of character when it comes to his actions. In the television show Brooklyn Nine-Nine (which you should be watching) a character says “cool motive still murder” when talking to a murderer. You might be able to look at Frank and say you understand why he is doing what he is doing but he’s still killing people, and the series, as a whole, doesn’t want you to forget that. The only person you pit Frank against would be someone killing innocent people and even then I’m not sure the juxtaposition would work. Frank, like most anti heroes, works best when he is playing against someone who is the polar opposite of his own moral code, and I’m not sure a solo series could make that work.
Elodie Yung is our other newcomer as Matt’s ex, Elektra. Matt and Elektra have a very complicated relationship in the comics and it is obvious that this is the case here. Yung makes sure that we know that Elektra is dangerous (but also manipulative) and more than a little crazy. We know why Matt was attracted to a woman like that and we also see that they are somehow perfect, and yet horrible, for each other. Yung is a martial artist so she looks and feel dangerous but in a much different way from Frank. Frank might turn around and beat your head in with a baseball bat but Elektra is dangerous in that she’s unpredictable. Her story is one of the huge weak points in the season but to get into it would be a huge spoiler. I didn’t like what they ended up doing with her by the end.
The costumes are also something that I very much enjoyed but that is also a similarity to the previous season. In the first season we didn’t see Daredevil in his costume until the end of the season. In this case we don’t see Frank with a skull on his shirt or Elektra in her signature outfit, either. Frank does get his skull eventually, but Elektra’s outfit is very different and much more practical than her traditional outfit. The one she wears throughout the season looks like something you could buy off of the rack at a store and I sort of loved that. It was practical, looked comfortable, and she even got to wear flats. Daredevil’s outfit also gets a makeover throughout the season and looks pretty great by the end of the season.
The world building in the first season was something that I adored but in Jessica Jones it wasn’t quite as prominent. In this case there are references to other events that have been happening in the Marvel universe, but it also seems like the shows are trying so hard to stay away from the movies that it is getting comical. This is a problem that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter have run into as well but at this point the avoidance is getting obvious. Why isn’t anyone talking about the robot army that destroyed almost an entire country? Or the onslaught of people developing super powers? There are some seeds being planted for Captain America: Civil War but they aren’t obvious unless you’re looking. I understand that Marvel wants to keep these separate but it’s becoming distracting. There is some universe world building as far as the other Netflix series such as Claire (Rosario Dawson) explaining why she got stuck with a terrible shift after helping out Jessica Jones and Luke Cage in Jessica Jones, and they are bringing more mysticism into the universe for Iron Fist.
The violence and sex are the things that brought a lot people to the table and those fans are going to walk away happy. Those fans of the hallway fight scene from season one should be very happy come episode two of this season. The fight scenes are just as brutal as the previous season, and now it looks like they are a little less choreographed. Previously we got to see Matt Murdock at the beginning of his superhero career but now he’s been going at it for awhile. I can also say that this season was more brutal than the previous season. There are two clear moments that my entire watch party was completely losing their minds at while it was happening on screen, and Frank does not pull any punches when comes to the people he’s killing.
Overall it sounds like I’m coming down on this season a lot harder than I actually am. Is it flawless? Not by a long shot. There are some pacing issues after episode four that I couldn’t ignore, and something happens in the final episode that I need to give more thought to before I can articulate it clearly. The same issues that peppered the first season are still there. While there seemed to be more women in the background, this time it still felt like this version of New York being extremely male dominated. The absence of Ben Urich could not be ignored, though Karen did step in to fill the void the best she could. Claire was not around nearly as much as she should have been and that irritated me, but I also understood, from a character standpoint, that she didn’t want to be around Matt. If you didn’t like the first season I’m not sure this will change your mind but there are some great performances here that cannot be ignored. As a Marvel fan I’m very pleased with this latest addition to the universe, flaws and all, and I look forward to watching it again at a much more reasonable pace.