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A Drowning Pool of Violence and Personal Demons: Daredevil Season 2 Review

It’s been just a week over since Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 premiered on Netflix. The first season was the main reason I subscribed to Netflix so my expectations for this upcoming season were quite high especially considering how the first season ended. 

To get straight the point, it’s really difficult to give a rating. As a fan, I was very conflicted. I thoroughly enjoyed the series. There was not a lot to complain about yet also a lot of missed opportunities or aspects to nitpick.

The series still focuses on Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) a.k.a. Daredevil’s personal and physical struggles in protecting his city, Hell’s Kitchen but instead of his foil, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) he’s dealing with the murderous vigilante, Frank Castle (John Bernthal) a.k.a. The Punisher and his former flame, Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung). His relationships with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and “Foggy” Nelson (Elden Henson) also take different turns.

*SPOILER ALERT* in sections below.

Pros

John Bernthal as Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher; via youtube screenshot

John Bernthal as Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher; via youtube screenshot

·         Phenomenal Performances: cannot say enough about the great performances from the cast especially from John Bernthal as Punisher who steals the show more than a few times; Elden Henson as Foggy had his moments; Elodie Yung finally captures the essence of Elektra; Charlie Cox shines as the understated but internally conflicted titular character

·         Character Chemistry: Cox had very good chemistry with Bernthal and Elektra; the scenes between Daredevil and Punisher particularly the rooftop scene and debate not only paid perfect homage to the comics but also the parallel between the two vigilantes. His on-screen flame with Elektra felt very natural almost as if they really did have an extensive history together

The rooftop scene between Daredevil and Punisher; via youtube screenshot

The rooftop scene between Daredevil and Punisher; via youtube screenshot

·         Constant Plot Twists: the midseason twist revealing Fisk was pleasantly surprising especially in this age where spoilers and reveals are near unavoidable. There are also a lot of minor twists and turns towards the final act that really ratchet up the intensity level of the show.

·         Action! Beautifully choreographed fight scenes that were also very inventive and highlighted the characters. There are barely any superpowers in the series so getting creative with the fighting was emphasized. It highlighted Daredevil’s acrobatics and Elektra’s and Punisher’s ultraviolent combat style. The only nitpick are the fights looking a bit too choreographed at times. Would’ve preferred they took out some style and made it grittier and uglier just to match the tone of the Daredevil universe.

·         Punisher’s Greatest Crime: Stealing the Show: already mentioned this above but Bernthal/Punisher deserved his own bullet point. Every second of him in the series was gold but his two greatest scenes: 1) his cemetery monologue; and 2) the epic prison fight sequence culminating all the way to his one-on-one against Fisk. Cannot wait for his own solo series!

Cons

A portion of the Daredevil promotional art; via Variety.com

A portion of the Daredevil promotional art; via Variety.com

·         Drowning in Stories/Themes: too many segmented storylines going on at once! I understand the studio’s need to introduce more characters into the DD universe but as opposed to the first season where the many storylines were a part of an over-arching these ones felt disconnected especially the Punisher and Elektra sagas, which felt like they both came from two different series and mashed together in one.

Cramming them all in feels like there were missed opportunities especially in terms of fleshing out the themes behind each character’s personal struggle with their demons all connecting to the themes of battling personal demons and redemption. The personal relationships between Murdock and Page or him and Elektra and Castle could have all been developed to greater depths.

·         And it all ended just like that: in connection to the previous point, the result of mashing together different stories led to some rather anticlimactic portions of the story. Punisher, in particular, started out strongly like he was the central theme of the series then fizzled out towards the end. The part where Murdock reveals himself to Page also felt forced and unnecessary especially because…

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page; via Marvel.com

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page; via Marvel.com

·         Murdock and Page’s Lack of Chemistry: their love story was kept understated especially as Murdock and Elektra seemed like the series’s initial affair but Page is to Murdock as Gwen Stacy is to Spider-Man: his main (ultimately tragic) love and that just felt absent and their relationship seemed forced and unnecessary.

·         Leaving us all Hanging: with a ton of unanswered questions. What was that giant hole in the ground? What was the deal with those zombie kids? That stone coffin? Who was in it? More questions.

The mysticism was also intensified in this season likely Marvel giving us a heads up to the upcoming Iron Fist Netflix series next year and Dr. Strange coming out this year. This also likely is why the series favoured Elektra and The Hand’s storyline as opposed to The Punisher’s.

Verdict: the series is a must-watch for Daredevil and Marvel fans and those who aren’t too familiar should probably watch the first season first. Daredevil is like a smorgasbord of great things that fans will eat up and love but it feels like some of them got diluted by trying to fit them all in. But the series delivers a satisfying and intense ride that does justice to the central themes that make Daredevil iconic.  ★★★