I noticed something about this series. Last year, my wife and I burned through Daredevil in a couple of nights, we couldn’t wait to get to the next episode, but this year, not so much. We watched the first couple, then… we didn’t. We’d go days between watching one. Sometimes a week. Sometimes more. It wasn’t that the show was bad, there just wasn’t the drive to get through it this year. I don’t know what that means, or if it means anything, maybe we’ve just been there, done that, but it is an observation I made.
But that said, let’s get into season two of Daredevil!Keep in mind all of my reviews are completely spoilerific so be forewarned. Now I was expecting great things this season, after all, last year was amazing and they really had no excuse not to keep doing more of the same. But although it had the same visual look as last year, there’s something about the feel that isn’t quite the same and I can’t put my finger on it exactly.
And besides, unlike the first season where there was a single consistent villain for the whole thing, this time you had at least three. Punisher, the Hand and that storyline, and Kingpin. Why do you need so many different storylines going on in a 13 episode season? And even though they come together, to a certain degree, at the end, it’s a long, convoluted ride. They should have focused on a single story and not just thrown everything they could at the wall to see what would stick. There was more than enough material to either do Punisher or the Hand. Neither was necessary to do the other. It really struck me like a superhero movie sequel where they have to throw in two bad guys to up the ante. It wasn’t necessary. And Kingpin, as much as I love Vincent D’Onofrio in the role, and he was every bit as good this year as last, he was completely and totally unnecessary as a part of the story. Maybe a one episode cameo of him in prison, but as someone who orchestrates Castle’s escape from prison… we didn’t need that at all.
So now I’m going to complain about having two half-stories because neither received the justice it deserved. Jon Bernthal was a perfectly serviceable Punisher, although he got played too dumb much of the time. Maybe that was on purpose, but Frank Castle in the comics is extremely bright, he makes complex calculations and is usually several steps ahead of his enemies. He very rarely ever gets blindsided, whereas here, he got caught unaware several times. I’d much rather have seen his character get much better fleshed out, all we really got was “my family got killed, boo hoo, kill kill”. By the end of the season, they clearly didn’t know what to do with him, they had him show up out of the blue to save Daredevil and Elektra, but it wasn’t necessary. But by the same token, the Hand story wasn’t what it should have been either. I think Élodie Yung did a good job as Elektra, although she needed a more comic-accurate origin, but her relationship with Matt didn’t feel particularly real. And the ending was far too telegraphed, it was painfully obvious that she was going to die and although they kept some of the elements from her death in Daredevil #181, I’d much rather have seen her die at the hands of Bullseye. Plus, the Hand ninjas were not at all fleshed out, they’re supposed to be a supernatural-esque threat and they just weren’t. They were just ninjas. They needed to be something more. This should have been two seasons, not one.
There are numerous references back to last season, including “Black Sky”, which is what Daredevil and Stick went to stop in their single mission last year. This time out, we find that it’s Elektra, who was being groomed to be the ultimate weapon by the Hand. But this really makes no sense because in season one, Stick kills a young boy because he is supposedly “Black Sky”, but here, we find that he’s known it was Elektra since she was a young child. Continuity please! And there was a fun cameo by Carrie Anne Moss reprising her role from Jessica Jones, I knew it was her in an instant and that got a thumbs up.
There were also some really fantastic moments, especially toward the end of the season. Matt getting his billy club was amazing, we keep getting Melvin Potter back and he’s great in the role of Matt’s weaponsmith, even though we never get to see him actually be Gladiator. And the scene at the very end when we get to see Frank Castle in his actual Punisher getup, albeit from afar, that was fantastic. But there are parts that I wasn’t so amazed at. I’d have much rather seen Elektra’s origin as portrayed in the original comics, as Matt’s college girlfriend instead of a crazy girl where they went off and had criminal hijinks together. And one more gripe, in the last episode, Matt shows up and tells Karen that he’s Daredevil, but she should have already known that when he rescued her earlier in the episode and he got about 6 inches from her face and said “Karen, are you okay?” Come on, it’s Matt’s voice! And she walks away and keeps looking back, like she knows. Then at the end of the episode, she suddenly has no clue. She isn’t that stupid.
So yeah, it wasn’t as good as the first season. I think I heard this season compared to Iron Man 2 and that’s probably apt. I think they need to have more confidence in their story telling skills and worry less about Hollywood tropes where you just keep throwing more and more and more bad guys at the hero to up the ante. It isn’t necessary. Just tell good stories and your audience will be enthralled. Hopefully, they’ll learn their lesson and next season will be a return to form.