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Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review

March 18, 2016 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
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Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review  

Author’s Note: This spoiler-free review is based on screeners for the first seven episodes. This review does not contain any specific storyline information (other than what’s already been revealed in the trailers) and episodic spoiler information.

In case anyone’s forgotten over the last 10 months, the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil is the best comic book superhero TV show in history. It’s possibly one of the best things that Marvel Studios has ever produced. The show is back for a new season to prove, once again, why Daredevil is the top dog in a TV yard of comic book shows that is getting quite crowded these days.

In the first season, lawyer-by-day and vigilante-by-night, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), managed to take down the ruthless Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk. However, since the events of the first season, Hell’s Kitchen is still far from safe. The imprisonment of Wilson Fisk has created a power vacuum in the city. While Daredevil is cleaning up the streets and raising morale, other players are looking to fill the void in the criminal trades that Fisk left wide open in his exit. However, another player has come to Hell’s Kitchen. His goals are actually similar Daredevil’s, but his methods are far more extreme. After numerous dens of remaining criminal organizations in Hell’s Kitchen are taken out with paramilitary precision, Daredevil believes he’s on the hunt for an entire army that is about to take over Hell’s Kitchen. Instead, it’s an army consisting of only one, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), who’s been nicknamed “The Punisher” by the District Attorney’s office and NYPD.

In Daredevil Season 2, the show explores the paradigm shift caused by the emergence of vigilantes like Daredevil. While Daredevil still believes in the law, due process and the sanctity of human life, his existence empowers, and arguably enables, others who do not. The Punisher has declared war on crime in Hell’s Kitchen, and he becomes at odds with Daredevil, who wants to prevent further bloodshed and others from getting caught in the crossfire.

Of course, a big attraction for this season is Bernthal’s casting as Frank Castle, a classic character of the Marvel Universe, who has three failed cinematic attempts. This is undoubtedly the best and purest form of Frank Castle to date, and Bernthal completely nails the character. Bernthal’s Castle is definitely a highly unyielding apex predator. However, as the season progresses, there are still hints of humanity underneath his hardened visage; yet, one can see traces of a man who used to exist but is now a broken shell. There’s an interesting sort of sincerity to Bernthal’s portrayal. He never makes excuses, and Castle is completely unapologetic. The writers give him good reason to act this way. When it’s suggested that Castle is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he finds the idea disrespectful to soldiers who actually experience it. Daredevil and Bernthal realize that The Punisher is more than just a gun-toting vigilante. He’s a completely different animal, and one who challenges Daredevil’s core beliefs.

Another major player who is new to the season is Matt Murdock’s old flame, Elektra Natchios, played here by Elodie Yung. In the first season, a flashback to Matt Murdock’s college years referenced her character. In the present of the show, there is already a pre-existing history between Elektra and Matt. Elektra is now back in New York, and she has uncomfortably reasserted herself into Murdock’s life. Unfortunately for Murdock, Elektra knows that he is reluctantly compelled to get involved in certain events. So far, Yung has delivered an impressive performance as Elektra. She captures that mysterious, dark, dangerous and exotic allure that Elektra should have. With respect to Jennifer Garner, she never really captured the essence of Elektra in either the 2003 Daredevil movie or the solo Elektra film. Elektra is basically the bad girl who Matt Murdock cannot resist. But in other ways, she understands, or at least recognizes Matt, in ways that Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) do not. Matt’s friends do not understand that Daredevil is part of the fabric of his identity. Murdock’s powers and abilities are a part of him he cannot just put away. It’s a part of his life he can share with Elektra, but not with his close friends. At least Elektra understands that, but she tries to encourage and enable it in ways that cause Matt to neglect other parts of his life. Yung and the producers have created an Elektra here that embodies the character in a way that Garner was simply never able to pull off.

This review would be remiss without mentioning the show’s excellent fight choreography and stunts. If you enjoyed last season’s epic, all-in-one-take hallway fight sequence, let’s just say you are in for another treat this season. Now that Matt Murdock is getting more experienced and seasoned as Daredevil, he’s becoming more creative with his fighting techniques. The action is stepped up this season in terms of overall creativity and style. It definitely showcases Daredevil’s unique set of skills and abilities. This season, Daredevil actually uses his billy clubs as throwing objects that he’s able to ricochet and boomerang off surfaces. The choreographers and stuntmen do an excellent job throwing in some more gymnastics, flips and cartwheels with Daredevil’s fighting techniques. The point is that Daredevil is not an average human vigilante. He has a Radar Sense and enhanced senses. Since last season, Daredevil is refining and polishing his fighting style with his experience. In addition, he has further protection with his lightweight body armor.

While Jessica Jones did an overall fantastic job for its first season, the action and fight choreography was lacking. It’s not that Jones should be a seasoned and knowledgeable fighter, but the cinematography and choreography throughout the first season did a poor job showcasing both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s powers and abilities. The cinematography and editing looked rather awkward and sloppy when it came to the fights. The action here has a much tighter and stronger focus. The fighting abilities of Daredevil and Elektra are showcased very well. When a character pulls off an impressive move, the camera shows off that move at the center, rather than letting it happen at the edge of the frame where it’s more obscured.

The show possibly suffers due to a certain misstep in the first season, regarding the fate of one Ben Urich. Urich would have been exceedingly useful throughout the show, and there are moments in Season 2 where it would have made perfect sense to have Ben Urich around. Instead, while his absence is certainly felt, it reinforces how what happened to Ben Urich was short-sighted for the future of the series.

Elden Henson also deserves props for a somewhat thankless role as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. Henson was probably the most critiqued and least favorite character of the first season, which was not completely fair. Henson definitely brings some much-needed levity throughout the show. He still does that, to some degree, in Season 2. However, Henson suffers greatly after becoming aware of Matt’s big secret. A heavy weight has been put on Foggy this season, and it’s arguably hurting him even more than it does Matt. Henson might be the beta to Murdock’s alpha, but he still has a backbone. He gets to show it throughout Season 2.

Without giving too much away, there are a couple of somewhat confusing plot shifts throughout Season 2 that could be problematic. However, without seeing the rest of the season and how some of these plot shifts will evolve, I’d rather not be too judgmental until I see how some of these elements play out. So far, the season has not reached a point where it runs out of steam in the last several episodes as the story did in Jessica Jones. Once again, Jessica Jones is a very good show, but it made quite a few mistakes in its second half.

Thus far, Daredevil Season 2 is bringing the heat, and it’s bringing it hard. The action has gotten even better, and the relationship dynamics are deepening. There is a sense that, despite Murdock’s victory in the first season, his problems have only grown worse. While Daredevil is a part of Murdock’s identity that he cannot simply ignore, it’s a part of his life that continues to bring him more pain and suffering. That makes Daredevil an even more entertaining show to watch.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Daredevil Season 2 is off to a great start with these seven episodes. The mythology for the world of the show and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are deepening. The action is amped up and becoming even more impressive. Season 2 also features the welcome addition of Jon Bernthal's excellent Punisher and Elodie Yung as Elektra, a crucial part of the Daredevil mythos. I'm highly anticipating the rest of the season and how it will unfold.