Daredevil Season 2
Released: March 2016.
Showrunner: Doug Petrie & Marco Ramirez
Developer: Drew Goddard
Based on: Daredevil, Created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett
Length: 13 Episodes
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Elden Henson as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson
Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page
Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle/The Punisher
Elodie Young as Elektra Natchios
Peter Shinkoda as Nobu Yoshioka
Set a few months since the take down of Wilson Fisk, Daredevil has begun the argues journey of cleaning up the behind the scenes elements of Hell’s Kitchen. Finding corruption, on one level or another all over Hell’s Kitchen, including the D.A.’s office. He finds himself embroiled in a new level of Hell upon discovering a vigilante has been going around the city executing criminals with military precision. This figure becomes known as “The Punisher” and will not stop on his quest for vengeance. All the while Matt’s ex-girlfriend, Elektra, returns to New York bringing with her as much chaos and trouble as she can muster up. All this shakes the foundation of Matt’s world as each side begins to question whether Matt Murdock is an individual at all or if all he ever was and is, is Daredevil.
The foundation that Daredevil season 2 springs forward is one of the most interesting. Shortly after production wrapped on season 1, former showrunner Steven DeKnight left the series due to prior commitments. Marvel hired Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez simultaneously granting Charlie Cox’s wish to include Elektra and The Punisher. The Series is very much like The Dark Knight, a sequel about escalation. Daredevil exist, and the world knows it. Now other forces exist in the form of Bernthal’s Punisher and Young’s Elektra. While also battling a previously teased threat from season 1, The Hand. The Movie might not have directly taken inspiration from the Chris Nolan powerhouse film, but it certainly feels like it. This season also continuing the crime drama aspect, nearly turned completely on its head in the most interesting fashion.
It’s hard to elaborate how perfect Charlie Cox is as Daredevil. I’ve talked in my previous review that Cox’s voice and mannerisms were all what I had imagined Daredevil to be like to a “T.” The also returning Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson are so much more spectacular in their roles this time, while occupying new areas. Karen Page this season really continued the broken person arc she carried in season 1, and while some aspects of her can be quite demanding, you begin to care for her as do many characters in the show do. I’ve never been more impressed by Henson, this season really brought out the best of him by letting him rely less on Matt and more himself as a character. While early episodes continued the spouse-like arguing, it doesn’t hamper anything down. Phenomenal work from these returning artists.
The clear and present danger, and highlight, of season 2 was Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle. This is a performance I am particularly proud of. I was an early fan of Bernthal and had dreamed of him as The Punisher. When Marvel made it a reality, he didn’t disappoint, he excelled any pre-conceived expectations I had. He gives us shades of humanity, shades of psychopathy, shades of torment. He creates a more human figure of the Garth Ennis written Punisher than I thought could be done. To let audiences, know how critically praised he was, Bernthal has been filming a Marvel’s The Punisher spin off series, since October. No performance gets the praise of its own series unless the acclaim of the performance itself is certainly deserving of it. There is no doubt that if you haven’t watched season 2 of Daredevil, when you do you will love Bernthal’s performance. The lack of an Emmy nomination for Bernthal is a crime against art. This is by far my favorite Marvel-Based Performance, let alone my favorite of the season.
Elodie Young was relatively green with her resume before hitting Daredevil. When she did blast onto Daredevil, her inaugural flashback episode was the season’s most boring in all honesty. It took a bit of time for anyone to feel that Elektra’s tragedy meant something but once Young is given the material and the story to work with her performance reaches unique heights. Her character’s arc was poorly conceived and force the more interesting arc to the backseat. Young isn’t at fault for any of Daredevil’s problems, she excels her performance and redefines Femme Fatal as Elektra. Some of her material is hard to get through but Elodie is wonderfully interesting and really helps any struggling viewer along. Elodie is Elektra, I just hope she gets to dive deeper and make it more Frank Miller-esq the next time she’s seen.
“Daredevil must die.” A line with every bit as much Drama behind it as it has comic book sensibilities. Peter Shinkoda, returning from a bit-part in season 1, is Nobu. A leader of the Hand that operates with precision and dedication to his task. While I preferred his Red Ninja outfit from season 1, his performance in season 2 is fantastic. He perfectly complements the problematic Elektra storyline in a way that helps viewers on the last leg. He gives us another memorable battle against Daredevil, and he does a fantastic job of looking threatening with the Hand. Shinkoda does a wonderful job here, getting to have massive amounts of fun as Nobu. He gets arguably the most dramatic line of the series and delivers it so straight forward and earnestly, you figured he’d have jumped out of a late 80’s issue of Daredevil. His return was certainly welcome.
Returning here are Scott Glenn’s work as the living incarnation of a Frank Miller Character Stick, every bit as effective as he was in Season 1. Royce Johnson’s Brett Mahoney who is properly promoted in show, hopefully promoted to supporting character in season 3. Rob Morgan appears again as Turk Barrett with a fun exchange with Daredevil. My favorite of the returning characters falls to Geoffrey Cantor’s Mitchell Ellison. With humor, drama, and wisdom he was certainly valuable in helping Karen Page’s arc, as well as redeeming himself for his own past mistakes. Wonderful performances all around, making the season feel like going home and seeing all your old friends again.
The story of Daredevil season 2 is, as mentioned earlier, escalation. Men in Devil suits appear in the city, who knows what will show up after. Seeing the effects of a war zoned New York City after the appearance of Frank Castle makes this all grounded and deep. While many didn’t care for the way the Hand story evolved, I think it got better as it went along. Unfortunately, I still don’t know what the hell a Black Sky is, and wonder if it is something to be worshiped why was the Black Sky in Season 1 brought over in chains versus being treated as warmly as Elektra? The story on The Punisher’s end was fantastic, if even a couple of lingering threads felt unnecessary. The first four episodes of the series work as a story arc and the entire season feels like a comic book run, continuing storylines set up earlier, and keeping the comic book fashion warmly alive. If there are major problems with season 2, it’s certainly the story but I can live with it warmly.
John Paesano’s theme returns. Now composing theme’s for The Punisher and Elektra. What is a nice touch is his theme’s for the new characters were strong extensions of Daredevil’s theme. This allowed the thematic element of each of them being a piece of Daredevil internally to play through and really help the story. The music remains a wonderful cue to the audience and does a fantastic job of helping the performers tell a story with their character. Paesano is certainly an effective element to the series production.
The directing this season felt unique and more reliant on visuals. Breaking away from some real-world hard blacks, season 2 uses more movie-esq world. The better episodes of season 2 are better than the better episodes of season 1. “New York’s Finest” replaces “Cut Man” as best hallway fight, upping the ante. I would argue that season 2’s “Penny and Dime” episode carries more heart and tragedy than the entirety of season 1. Anyone lucky enough to helm Daredevil this time around at least got a few good moments, even from the most unique of areas.
In all honesty, I love Daredevil’s second season more than the first. I am unabashedly a massive Punisher fan and feel more prone to forgive the sins this time around. Since its March debut on Netflix, I haven’t re-watched a single episode of the first season. With D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, now Kingpin, involved in this season I have little reason too. The series is fantastic and I feel grateful for everything they got right or improved. Daredevil’s outfit looks better, The Punisher was finally done right. It all comes together to be, what I would consider, the best of the Netflix seasons so far. It’s a living Comic Book, flaws and all and I love it. I am bias here and feel free to call me out on it. For me, Daredevil Season 2 is certainly an 8.7/10.