Fast Review for Short Attention Spans
Season 2 is 70% good, 30% meh, with an awesome Punisher, a lackluster Elektra, more Ninja’s in New York than cabs and several cool cameo appearances. Binge 2-4 episodes at a time.
Daredevil’s sophomore season threw a one-two punch which hit me in the heart and head. Matt Murdock is back with Karen “I-can’t-stop-touching-my-hair-and-turning-my-head” Page and Foggy “I’m-an-adult-who-looks-like-a-giant-infant” Nelson as they meet, fight, then legally defend Frank Castle, The Punisher.
Seemingly out of no where, comic book favorite Elektra comes back into Matt’s life. With the help of a few flashbacks, we learn about Matt/Elektra’s past relationship and falling out. Reunited with his former love naturally follows TV tropes and pulls Matt away from the team of Nelson & Murdock, driving a wedge between not only their collective business but their friendships. In helping Elektra, Matt must contend with the return of The Hand and his old mentor Stick, while Foggy and Karen try to keep the business afloat.
Look, this season was NOT as good as the first, which I expected. After an origin story, it’s hard to create a compelling follow-up. But, most of the season worked. I stress the most part.
I felt everything with Elektra detracted from the A-story of The Punisher and his emotional journey. Yes, The Punisher will shoot you right in the feels. Which is surprising coming from Marvel’s favorite vigilante. No, not Wolverine the one with guns. No, not Deadpool..sigh. OK, Marvel’s 3rd favorite vigilante.
Electra was presented as a snotty, spoiled, rich crazy girl who would take you out, break into a house and wanna dry-hump on a stranger’s couch. Basically Angelina Jolie in the late ‘90’s/early 2000’s. While Elodie Yung did a fine job portraying Elektra, there was no emotional resonance with her, especially compared to the other top-notch drama this season had to offer. The bulk of her story revolved around pulling Matt away from his friends to help her business and fight ninjas. Her late season story arc revolving around her past with Stick and her destiny felt too little, too late.
Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page and Elden Hensen as Foggy Nelson turn in amazing performances. Charlie Cox was actually the least compelling of the trio as Matt. He was adequate, but not the scene stealer he was in Season 1 (was I the only person who was shocked he was the same scrawny English kid from 2007’s Stardust?)
The real star this season was Shane Bernthal as The Punisher. Based off of his performance in The Walking Dead, I assumed he was a meat-head lunk who was going to mumble his way through the show. But, I was dead wrong. He takes the Punisher from a psycho killer to a down to earth man, to a repentant, weeping father, to a back-against-the-wall, hard-core badass anti-hero. His story arc is the reason to watch season 2.
In season 1, fans will remember that awesome single-shot hallway fight to save the child. Season 2 tries to recapture that magic as Daredevil has to protect the Punisher after being kidnapped by him. The fight is similar to The Raid in reverse, as the fight goes down the building, with incredible action, whipping chains and exhaustive violence. You will let out a breath you didn’t realize you were holding.
Based off of this season, ninjas are the new Redshirts and Stormtroopers - background death fodder. While the choreography is top notch, sadly, most of the fights feel like filler. Now, I love a good action scene. But, I like the scene to have purpose. The bulk of this season’s ninja fights have no purpose other than to showcase how awesome (and sometimes vulnerable) Daredevil is, which we already know. And, there are a LOT of ninja battles, to the point where they become white noise and you itch for the remote to skip past them.
Then, there is the romantic angle. The show has Matt and Karen gravitating towards one another, which, I thought was odd since Foggy and Karen had a connection in season 1 and clearly a deeper connection in season 2. But, I guess once again the TV trope gods must be fed , so a love triangle it is with Matt, Karen and Elektra.
Lastly is Matt Murdock himself. I was conflicted as he brings the action and his giant, warm heart in the first third-to-half of the season. But, as the show progresses, I found myself caring less and less for Matt as a person. Which I don’t think is the purpose of a show where he is the center. He is confrontational with his friends, skeptical towards his old mentor, deceptive about his time spent with Elektra and betrays his own convictions. Perhaps this was the point, to make the hero more human. But I felt it was a miss. The final scene of season 2, which I won’t spoil, sets up season three and attempts to mend the fences Matt tore down.
I don’t want my entire review to come off as too negative (too late?). The parts which work, which is 70% of the show, really work. The remaining 30% does weight the overall season down, but does not kill it.
Definitely watch it. Be a little wary of binge watching. By your 43rd ninja rooftop fight, it all starts running together in one big, nighttime, battle royal.
They set up season three very well. But, if all the ninjas and pseudo-mysticism is what Neflix has in mind for the upcoming Iron Fist, then I think you already already saw it in season 2 of Daredevil. Just replace Matt with a rich, sighted CEO and you have the same thing.
Grade - Based off the Sex Scale
Season 2 of Daredevil is like having really good sex, but at one point in the middle, your partner gets into a weird, go-nowhere rhythm which goes on a little too long and it pulls you out of he moment. You briefly consider, maybe doing something else? But, you stick with it as you both finish. The overall experience is good, if just a little tainted. You are looking forward to the next encounter.