*Netflix so kindly allowed us access to the first seven episodes of the second season for their show, Daredevil. As discussed and agreed to, these reviews will NOT feature spoilers of any kind and will give away little detail to the actual plot, both out of respect for Netflix (and their documentation) as well as the readers*
The original intent was to review each episode on their own merit. Go episode by episode, through various details that make that episode what it is and review it for that. Unfortunately, that would break the contract agreed to with Netflix. They were particular in the fact they did not want plot specifics going out. So, on that note, we will review the second season with as much detail as possible, but avoiding possible issues with that disclosure.
Daredevil season two had a lot to live up to. Matt Murdock is finally Daredevil. The Punisher would be joining this season and Elektra would be taking a spot in the series as well. Both of these characters have a rather large mark on the Daredevil mythos, so any mishandling of these characters could be a catastrophic failure for this season. Not to mention, besides some annoyances, and a sluggish third of the season, season one was quite good. Season two had a lot to live up to. Did season two match season one, or perhaps…even top it?
The simple answer: Yes.
The Train That Keeps On Rollin’
Season two starts out with a some what slow episode. In all honesty, that really is just in comparison to the remaining bits of the season, as everything is a freight train, hurling itself towards moments of insane inevitability. The ‘slower’ moments of Daredevil, would be the hit moments of network television shows, not here, not with Daredevil and NOT with season two.
Again, going over some of the bits. Kingpin is gone, sent away in prison after Daredevil and Murdock/Nelson removed him from Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately for them, this created a power vacuum, with gangs desperate for the top dog spot. However, in their attempts to ascend to the top, they are met with the force of a team, a team of soldiers, or so they think. It is not long before in the episode we see that it is in fact that of The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) who is a one man killing machine. He kills without mercy, brutally executing those who, as he puts it, ‘deserves’ it. The Punisher’s reckoning feels like a controlled rage, never tipping out of control but definitely mirroring moments of, “is he a serial killer?”.
Season two hurls itself to unstoppable moments of intense scenes, thrilling action and insane periods. The first seven episodes speed by at a pace the first season couldn’t touch. The stories narrative structure is much cleaner, allowing characters to be more in the moment, and building the plot, rather than characters ‘talking’. Season two never has that, “GET ON WITH IT,” feeling. The pacing feels fair, even for episodes that tip over the hour mark, it never feels bogged down, pretentious or even over stayed.
That is not to say that season two is without its eye rolling moments. Sure, some characters do things in moments that beg the question why they would do it. Even then, Daredevil doesn’t fall apart, but rather shine the moments that really do work. Those who are seeking further connection to the Marvel cinematic universe will quickly find that Daredevil is making great leaps to find that ‘connection’ and does so smoothly.
Jon Bernthal’s The Punisher is the best on screen adaptation we have seen yet. Frank Castle is ruthless, a killing machine that brutally and savagely stalks and kills his prey. Quite a few moments in the show really make you question the intensity of his murders, and if this isn’t just about vengeance but perhaps even enjoyment.
Subtle moments allow for Bernthal to act, sometimes without dialogue and sometimes with extended dialogue that allow for Frank Castle to shine above The Punisher persona. Deep down there is a tortured man here, desperate to be freed and yet struggling to ever find himself in his own personal Hell. You feel as if everyone he kills is aiding to his pain, but a pain that won’t ever be treated.
No, Netflix does not hold back on its action bits with The Punisher. While in the seven episode run, I never saw anything as brutal (or as terrifying) as The Kingpin smashing someone’s skull in with a door, there is quite a few moments of pure, uncensored brutality. Again, this is not a kid’s show (nor was it ever intended to be).
Admittedly, some doubts arose with the casting decision behind Elektra. Elodie Yung, a French actress with Cambodian descent didn’t feel like the ideal choice for Elektra. Thankfully, in her first moments on the show, you quickly realize why she was cast in the role.
Those expecting a performance similar to Jennifer Garner’s are looking in the wrong spot. Not only does Yung fit the role better, both physically and acting wise, but the character she is playing is much different than that of Garner’s. While the same character, they are clearly written different. Yung’s Elektra is crazy, slightly ruthless, incredibly intelligent and deadly. Not only that, but she is, dare I say, electrifying in the role.
That being said, while Elektra is fun to watch, the story moves better, more efficiently with The Punisher being the focus. Majority of the plot is really built around Castle’s battle with Daredevil as well as some other issues The Punisher manages to get himself into. Ultimately, this is far more interesting than some of the elements Elektra brings in, even with the ‘personal’ connection she shares with Matt Murdock.
Action, Action Everywhere
Season one had some of the most creative action sequences on television (dare I say, all?) and season two paces that. Every punch, every move, feels well in tuned, fast pace and exhilarating to watch. Episode Directors treat action sequences with the utmost respect, allowing for characters to fight in their elements without dozens of furious quick cuts that immediately take you out of the action. No, the camera will sit in place, allowing characters to duke it out viciously. Sometimes its brutal, most of the time it leaves you breathless.
The exhilaration really comes in the creativity in these action sequences. Any film/tv show can spot up actors smacking each other with sticks. Daredevil does so many creative things with camera movement, choreography and location that it feels original and so damn fun to watch. Matt is finally up to Daredevil par, and thankfully, doesn’t get his ass kicked in every single episode (drawback to season one, unfortunately). While he does take a few good beatings, he is definitely a more skilled, patient fighter and seeing him use the famous batons is a thing of beauty.
Season two does do its best to replicate the infamous hallway fight sequence from season one. While not quite as good, the camera work, as well as the actual action sequence itself is fantastic.
Everyone tunes in to watch for the title character, Daredevil, but the supporting cast plays a big role in making the plot go along. Unfortunately, in season one, the supporting cast dragged things quite a bit and didn’t always make for enjoyable parts. Karen did some questionable (even stupid) things and Foggy wasn’t a loved character (not like he should be).
Thankfully, in season two, it feels like the writers heard some of that negativity and fine tuned these characters both for the plot sake and to make these characters enjoyable. Foggy has some great, quirky moments that shows his heart and tenacity. His character is growing into a sort of a defined confidence, especially as a lawyer.
Karen has some moments to shine as well. Again, cannot dive too far into what her character does, but they give her role some more importance.
So…Season Two Is Perfect
Face the fact no show will ever be perfect. Daredevil season one was pretty fantastic but it had some pretty decent sized faults. Those who had issues with season one, might find themselves having issues with season two. That being said, season two moves at a tremendous, well timed pace that becomes insanely addicting.
Sure, there are quite a few scenes that deserve to be trimmed or removed entirely. Some conversations are a bit bloated, but come off more as these characters interacting, rather than forcing character progression. That’s fine and all, but sometimes, especially in the heat of the moment, it feels a bit forced.
That, and some character motivations, again, cannot go into specifics, are mind blowing in stupidity. For the record, I will simply state that it is the police doing, and no other specific characters. This can be generalized as a nit pick, but so can many of the faults found in season one.
Is season two better than season one? At this point, seven episodes in? Absolutely. The plot moves faster, characters have better motivations, the action sequences are incredible and there are some truly fantastic dialogue driven moments here.
Sure, some scenes run a bit too long. Some scenes shouldn’t even be in there. Netflix’s slow burn might be at play but that doesn’t hinder the plot and when the plot gets going, it goes, quickly.
Daredevil proves once again that not only is it the best superhero show available but one of the best shows you can watch period.