“One batch. Two batch. Penny and Dime.”
TV Series – Netflix
Daredevil first splashed onto Netflix last year as one of the most critically acclaimed adaptations of a Marvel property ever. It was a gritty, realistic and unrelenting adaptation of one of comic’s most infamous vigilantes and gave us one of, if not the best comic book villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker. Unfortunately, though it’s sophomore season delivers plenty on engaging character drama and fantastic action scenes (with even a competitor to Season 1’s one shot hallway fight), the plot can’t seem to keep itself focused, especially in the second half and comes off comparatively weak compared to its predecessor. It’s still a strong show, stronger than most other comic book episodic offerings, but growing pains have definitely become present.
*Spoilers for Daredevil Season 1 follow*
Several months have passed since the arrest of Wilson Fisk and Daredevil/Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Foggy Nelson (Eldon Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) are living relatively peacefully compared to fear present under Fisk’s reign of terror. However, their peace is shattered by the arrival of the Punisher (Jon Bernthal), a trained gunman who ruthlessly attempts to massacre the gangs of Hell’s Kitchen. While attempting to take down the gunman before any innocents get hurt and struggling with the idea that just putting criminals behind bars may not be enough, Murdock is visited by Elektra Natchios, a dangerous women from his past and becomes embroiled in the elaborate schemes of the mysterious cult organisation, the Hand.
Let’s get this season’s biggest problem out of the way first. Rather than telling a singular, focused, mostly standalone storyline like the first season, Daredevil‘s second season is split between about 2 and a half unrelated stories that differ greatly in terms of tone. The first 4 episodes put singular focus on the Punisher storyline (with these episodes easily being the season’s most engaging) while the rest of the season pits Murdock and newcomer Elektra against the Hand for control of something called the Black Sky, while sprinkling bits of the Punisher’s ongoing storyline along with them. This lack of singular, direct focus really hurts the season, especially as you get closer and closer to the finale, which itself is quite underwhelming in terms of climactic action, finishing in an uninspiring short little fight that doesn’t quite thrill as much as intended.
Back in season 1, Wilson Fisk was a menacing antagonist whose presence metaphorically lit up the screen every time he appeared and while Frank Castle/The Punisher certainly does his part this time around, easily being compelling enough to deserve his own spinoff series, the remaining half of this season features an antagonist devoid of face and clear motive. Elektra herself just falls flat in most cases, coming off as more of a brat that stands beneath Daredevil then as an equal. Luckily the rest of the main and supporting cast, especially Foggy and Karen really come into their own this time around, showcasing some fantastic character development and performances that see them break away and act much more independently of Matt Murdock.
Something that luckliy hasn’t changed at all since the first season though is the quality of the visuals and intense action scenes. Though no one-on-one duels quite manage to beat the intensity of Matt’s first season bout with Nobu, their is a fast and frenetic fight in this season that gives the infamous 2 minute, single shot ‘hallway scene’ from season 1 a run for its money. For the second year in a row, Daredevil has pushed the limits of what is capable with fight choreography on a television level budget.
To conclude, though Daredevil‘s second season ultimately stumbles with its storytelling and execution in the later episodes, the early episodes are still some of the show’s best, the action is still top-tier and the supporting definitely picks up the slack left by the disappointing mains and the seasons later villains. There is less Father Lantom this time around unfortunately as well, but overall, I’m still absolutely looking forward to more stories in Hell’s Kitchen. Here’s to a season 3, or if Charlie Cox would have it, a movie.