The day Daredevil dropped it’s second season on Friday March 21, 2016, I managed to watch 6 episodes amid a full day of work, sleep, reading, and getting in some Mass effect time. 6 episodes. The next day I plowed through the final 7. 13 hour long episodes in a span of 36 hours and other responsibilities. It doesn’t seem like a crazy amount, but as I noted after finishing that 6th episode, it’s kind of hard to watch Daredevil in large chunks without breaks. It’s exhausting and dark. Certainly enjoyable, but I just needed a break. While I would definitely recommend this to Daredevil fans, I doubt I would urge people to binge it like I did.
Daredevil Leaves Me Hollow
I’ll address right away why I find it so difficult with the show to binge. It is a dark show. Not just metaphorically, but literally. Large portions of the show are set in dark areas or at night, sometimes both. The subject matter is not light and sometimes the emotional weight that hits you is just too much. There are times when you really need something to linger for a little bit. If you let something mellow for a while the emotional resonance actually has a place to take hold. I can’t even begin to imagine how I would have felt if I had to wait a week after The Punisher first opened up about what happened to his family as he sat in a graveyard defeated with the equally battered Daredevil. It would have been a big moment, something that would have sunk in and really made me feel even more for the character. However, I plowed right into the next episode. When you just keep watching episodes back after back with this show all that it sucks away from you builds until you just have to release. It was a good hollow because it hurt in the right ways, but it’s still really hard to do in big binges.
The big draw of this season was The Punisher. The Marvel antihero that no one wants anyone to do with. Literally in the Civil War comics when The Punisher brought a battered Spider-Man to a near defeated Team Cap, The Punisher offered to help, but Captain America pretty much responded with a “We’re good. We don’t need that crazy.” The Punisher is Judge, Jury, and Executioner. What he deems as wrong he handles it by eliminating the threat completely. He does good, but in a way that is both dangerous and scary. That really carried through into the series. Jon Bernthal really got into the role and was fantastic. He never quite had the presence as Wilson Fisk, but he became that character in a way that was brilliant. I loved watching his scenes. The cogs that ticked in his head. The thought processes he went through. The sacrifices he made and the struggles he went through. While he had regrets, he always owned everything he did. He knew what he needed to do and did it.
It was the conflict that he had with Daredevil that really worked for me. This was a great highlight in episode 3 “New York’s Finest” as The Punisher captured Daredevil. Their conversations and discussion of their ethics and how they saw some things the same and different was so compelling. The Punisher wants the same justice that Daredevil does, but he accomplishes it in a different way. I enjoyed how he called Daredevil on his ethical bullshit. However their relationship progressed when The Punisher was taken aback later in the season. His admission that Daredevil couldn’t become like him even for a moment was a big one for the pair. They each had their role and The Punisher acknowledged that. Thus by the time the show was over and there was a sense of respect between the two it felt like it was an earned transition.
Matt Murdock is a Terrible Person and Foggy Agrees
Early in the season we see Matt and Foggy as proper buddies. Sure, Foggy is concerned and wishes that Matt would stop, but there is a grudging acceptance. Presumably this is because Matt is actually still around to do his job and isn’t just dicking around his friends. This changes pretty drastically early in the season, driving the wedge between Matt and Foggy. One of the worst things that Matt did was forcing his partner at the firm, Foggy, take on a case, Frank Castle, that would undoubtedly tank their careers if mishandled. Not only that, but the DA already didn’t like them. So they were not in a good position. Then in the middle of what should have been a simple plea bargain Matt vanished and suddenly arranging the bargain became a full blown case. Then in terms of the case, Matt blew off multiple times shirking his duties to his job to gallivant with Elektra (dealing with something that wasn’t quite as pressing to their immediate careers). In short, Matt was an asshole. He was a total dick, who left his best friend and partner left on the lurch, out high and dry on something Matt was supposed to do. The more I saw of this the more I grew irritated with Matt. His priorities were out of wack. He was being selfish and was never apologetic. He did what he thought was the right thing and as the season went on I really struggled to find a way to see things that way. I couldn’t. I respect the show like hell for making Matt so clearly a flawed person and running with it. His real life is blowing up in his face because he has no idea how to balance it with his hero life. The fact that Nelson and Murdock as shuttered and their friendship seemingly in pieces was unsurprising though it does hurt. On the plus side we really got to see Foggy come into his own and prove that he is kind of an amazing person.
Elektra is Fascinating
Elektra Natchios was another hyped element of the show, but she didn’t make her appearance until the end of the first major arc with The Punisher finished. I’ll be honest that was a good thing because we really needed to get to know The Punisher and what he stood for without all the complications of Elektra. Honestly its because both characters are so completely different from Daredevil and similar in various ways that it would have been easy to mix up heir morals. While The Punisher is about doing what is right in a way that is generally frowned upon, Elektra was more about the thrill. Elektra liked doing bad things. She didn’t mind helping people, but that certainly wasn’t her main goal. That undercurrent of selfishness and indifference was what made her a great foil for Matt. When the two of them are around each other they can’t get enough, but they are constantly changing each other. She makes him more violent and he makes her less so. However there was a strange sort of gender bias likely further shaded by how head over heels he is for her in regard to killing. The Punisher who killed bad people for real reasons was chided, yelled at, beaten to a pulp for what he did. There was no joy in what The Punisher did. He did it because he believed it had to be done. Yet, Matt seems perfectly fine with Elektra who kills without thought. She kills them for no reason and sometimes even for joy. She enjoys killing and while Matt tries to stop her, he never reacts like he did to punish. It’s a bit of a dick move when one seems to have reason and the other doesn’t. Heck, Matt even gets to the point that he accepts he can’t change her (though this is in part because he’s also accepted that he can’t stop The Punisher either) and is willing to let her kill anyone that gets in their way so they can have a life together. It was interesting to see that much of Elektra’s blood lust is in fact driven by the fact that she is The Black Sky. It is seemingly warping her and making her even more dangerous. So those seemingly sweet moments when she admits that she wants to change may have been genuine moments that were then overridden by something that is inherently inside of her and may not be well-spirited. It made Elektra a fascinating character deal with.
Karen Page: Secretary turned Reporter
Since the very introduction of Karen she was always inquisitive. She wasn’t the kind of woman who would roll over and just accept things as they were told to her. She even teamed up last season with Ben Urich so she could dig even more and get all the connections. She was never going to stop. Yet she masqueraded as the secretary of Nelson and Murdock. She dug up the dirt and did the dirty work. To them it probably was seen as grunt work, but Karen really seemed to relish in it. I wasn’t very surprised when she started looking into more information about Frank Castle. She kept turning stones and eventually she found herself taking up new residence in Ben’s old office. Yet it seemed to fit. That was her role in last season and her role in this season. She is probably the best reporter character on any show I’ve seen and she didn’t even start that way. I was glad that she finally seems to have found what she is actually good at. Though I can probably do without her monologues of what she writes.
How does Daredevil Season 2 Stack Up Against Jessica Jones
This topic alone probably could have had an entire post dedicated to it (if you’d like that, let me know below in the comments). There are certainly some people that are groaning that I’m even comparing the two. However they are under the same umbrella and it’s just inevitable. In short, I still enjoyed Jessica Jones far more than I enjoyed Daredevil season 2. I certainly didn’t run into the issue of not being able to watch the episodes back to back. Despite the show having similarly dark subject matter that it tackled, I was able to keep my spirits up.
Some Other Notes
- I really wish there was more Claire Temple. She does not take Matt’s bull or anyone’s for that matter and I love it.
- I’m really glad Matt didn’t end up with Karen. This season proved she is too good for him.
- Wilson Fisk’s appearance was nice, appropriate. I’m glad they didn’t over-rely on him.
- Apparently this show loves to portray fights in confined spaces. My personal favorite was The Punisher’s in the cell corridor.
- I want Marci and Foggy to get together. Or at least to see more of Marci in general.
- It’s a win no black men near retirement died in this season. (RIP Ben Urich and Oscar Clemmons)
- What is with the rebirth? There was no definitive explanation. I need answers.
There were certainly things that I loved in this new season (The Punisher), but there were also a number of elements I didn’t (unexplained seemingly random appearance of magic). At the end of the day I thought it was a solid season, but I don’t believe it had quite as cohesive a narrative as the first season. There wasn’t that outright dynamic character that plainly stole the attention like Fisk. While I enjoyed the season and the topics it brought up, I wouldn’t say that I love it. It’s solid and interesting, but simply not the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I’ll definitely enjoy more seasons to come.
What did you think of season 2 of Daredevil?