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Big Ass ‘Daredevil’ Review (Season 2)

30 March 2016

I waited eagerly for 6pm to roll around on Friday night so I could slam through the second season of Daredevil as quickly as possible. Salada biscuits in one hand, cookies in the other and a beard firmly attached to my neck, I knew the risks – I might just not leave my seat for a whole weekend but it is only Week Three and I am doing a lot of breadth subjects so who cares?

From the get-go you can tell this season is trying to up the ante with a growing cast, strong themes and a more fleshed out world. With Wilson Fisk behind bars, there are new crops of bad guys all over Manhattan and vigilantes are popping up everywhere inspired by the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. When one of these would-be heroes brutally executes dozens of mobsters with thousands of rounds of ammunition, Daredevil can’t sit idly by and more people die.

With a solid launching point and a fantastic first string of episodes, I was excited for what laid ahead. As things progressed, I was slowly disappointed with a few off notes and somewhat lazy story lines that leave the audience wanting to skip through. Where the duality of Season One with Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock made for two fantastic story arcs, it was not as evenly executed in Season Two, with Frank Castle and the Punisher greatly overshadowing the introduction of Elektra and a major Daredevil storyline.   

As a huge fan of the skull-donning vigilante, I was very excited about the inclusion of the Punisher in this season and can comfortably say my expectations were surpassed. Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle put on a spectacular performance;he was the absolute highlight of the second season, and should be commended for delivering the most emotionally powerful and riveting version of the Punisher to date. With well executed call backs to comic interactions between Daredevil and the Punisher, the storyline blended enough of the comics and its own coat of paint on things to put Frank Castle in fantastic stead for a spin off. Without utilising a single flashback, we relived the Punisher’s haunting story through Bernthal’s performance in the best non-origin-story origin story I can recall. A sneaky way to pilot the Punisher, I am very excited for the upcoming spin-off series.

Elektra, on the other hand, suffered somewhat from a looser, less impactful story arc that ultimately felt premature and rushed. That being said, all credit to Elodie Young and the crew, particularly the stunt team, for doing a commendable job of introducing Elektra both stylistically and in contrast to the growing cast. Unfortunately Elektra appears to be a strong character with a weak story and their stock has, in some respects, fallen. With a stronger arc and writing in seasons to come, the character will begin to shine in her own right, just not this season.

My biggest gripe is that the team tried to do too much in too few episodes. I would have been happy to see two thirds of the Punisher story stretched out over the whole season and more time dedicated to fleshing out the storyline Elektra was involved in. While it was clear that the Punisher was the focal point of the season, and one executed very well, it was simply not economically viable to make it share 13 episodes with what is the core storyline to the Daredevil franchise. Where the Punisher was given a number of well composed lengthy scenes, the use of poorly constructed flashbacks and wooden performances in the Elektra arc left much to be desired. Where the Punisher arc was compelling, visually stunning and heartbreaking, the Elektra arc was put together in a crude fashion on the writing end of things, even if the character was well executed.   

While the season was somewhat inconsistent, the action and stunt teams behind it deserve a massive round of applause. Where the writing at times was convoluted, some performances stiff and the photography frequently too dark, the action was fantastic. It is very difficult in such a physically involved series with an incredibly hard to impress audience to pull off the action in a way that strikes a balance between the believable and the entertaining. In this respect, every performer pulled their weight and firmly established both Frank Castle and Elektra as stylistically fantastic characters and continued to develop existing characters styles. What was somewhat disappointing is that the damage characters had accumulated was frequently forgotten at times, a step back from last season. While the team did their very best with what they were presented, the endless hordes of bad guys and the lack of any substantive physically threatening baddies left me a little disappointed.

Ultimately the writing for the Matt Murdock and Elektra arcs were disappointing and frustrating. Given it was supposed to be the substantial arc to the entirety of the series, my disappointment was compounded. Fortunately the Punisher was so well executed, featured so many of the mainstay Daredevil characters and was so prominent throughout the series it was still thoroughly enjoyable. I am very, very excited for standalone Punisher series but I worry for the next season of Daredevil.  

Rating: 7 ¾ out of 10

Positives:

+ Punisher is dope

+ Elektra is dope

+ Less Foggy, more Karen

+ Significant character development across the board

+ Great action sequences

Negatives:

– Elektra’s story is booty

– Tries two stories at once, fails

– Hurts Daredevil in the long run