Daredevil Season one redefined what a superhero TV show could, and possibly should, be. It was hard, gritty and offered complex, questionable characters while also having stunningly choreographed fight scenes that left viewers talking about them for days. Officially part of the MCU, and littered with Easter eggs referencing the wider universe, Daredevil didn’t stick to the standard Marvel script. Marvel have built themselves on more light-hearted superheroes, and although taking their characters to dark places, trying not to take themselves too seriously. And it’s worked. In a way Marvel have made superheroes cool for the masses.
Daredevil has offered a different kind of cool. Season one showed how Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind lawyer living in Hell’s Kitchen, decided that the justice system sometimes wasn’t enough. After losing his sight at a young age in a freak accident, Murdock’s other senses developed beyond that of a normal human being, and under the training of the cruel instructor, Stick, was able to take his senses to super human levels that allowed him to become a vigilante. Loved by fans, critics and just about everybody, season two had a hard act to follow. There was also added pressure after the success of Jessica Jones, Marvel and Netflix’s second TV show together, which saw the P.I of the same name do battle just around the corner from Daredevil.
So how do you top a season that’s rated 5 stars on Netflix and 8.8/10 on IMBD? The answer; giving the audience what they liked about the first season but adding, adapting, changing and keeping the viewer on their toes. We all already knew that The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) was going to be a main character within the second season but fans would be mistaken in thinking we’d have to wait a while to see what he’s all about; which is the way with most TV show villains. In an explosive scene of pure carnage, we see the Irish, a gang trying to sieve control of Hell’s Kitchen, blown away by Punisher’s (AKA Frank Castle) military precision. At first glance, quite a brutal shocking display of pure violence but the more we learn about Castle, the more we start to understand and sympathise with what it is he’s doing… even if it’s just a little bit.
But what about our hero? Daredevil is now a fully fledged superhero; he’s got the name, he’s got the suit and he’s keeping his city safe. In his alter-ego life (because let’s face it Daredevil is his real life, Matt Murdock is the disguise) Nelson and Murdock attorney’s at law are doing what they do best; helping the downtrodden within the city and being paid in, well whatever food their clients can make because none of them have any money, but they’re doing good and they’re happy and the relationship between Matt, Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) is as good as ever and offers up funny and powerful moments in equal measure. By day they’re helping the helpless and by night they’re getting drunk at the local dive Josy’s. At the start of season two, they’re carefree. Or as carefree as they can be after taking down the Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio).
This blissful peace of beating up low level criminals in the dead of night doesn’t last long. Whereas season one slowly built up to it’s tension filled boiling point, season two explodes into life and just keeps on going. It isn’t overstuffed however, with action sequences as well done as these it would be easy to throw too many our way but Daredevil’s pacing is perfect. And not just over each episode but also over the full series. Unlike most American TV shows, Daredevil limits itself to a perfect 13 episodes rather than trying to force and stretch it into the usual 22-episode format. Thirteen episodes allows for great character development and really in depth story arcs with every episode moving the storyline forward without having to throw in five or six episodes that just fill the time.
Another exciting addition to this series is the hugely popular Daredevil character Electra played brilliantly by Elodie Yung. For those who don’t know Electra is the love interest of Murdock/Daredevil but it’s a bit more complex than that. A trained assassin who can match Daredevil blow for blow she’s a dangerous ally! Or is she an enemy? It’s hard to tell.
And that right there is the beauty of Daredevil season 2. Whatever blacks and whites existed in season one are now greys, the lines are well and truly blurred and good and evil… well, is there really such a thing? The Punisher massacres groups of very bad people and is labelled a murderer, which he is, but once we find out he’s on a mission of revenge for his murdered wife and children, we start to see things slightly from Frank Castle’s perspective. Similarly so, Electra battles to take down corrupt corporations but seems to be doing it more for personal enjoyment and boredom than any sort of moral compass. Then, speaking of corruption, the police and D.A office have been covering up, faking and altering evidence to get their way and cover their own backs while manipulating people to their way of thinking. But they’re supposed to be the good guys, right? And then there’s Matt Murdock, Daredevil, who’s hell bent on bringing Punisher down but openly starts to help Electra, also a murderer, when she walks back into his life after many years apart. So it seems like even Matt can’t make his mind up on who to team up with. This theme is beautifully captured in a roof top scene between Punisher and Daredevil, which despite some pretty epic fight scenes, is one of my favourite scenes/sequences in the series. They talk of morals, right and wrong, Matt believes the Punisher is a step too far, Castle thinks Daredevil is a half measure but at the end of the day they’re fighting for the same thing, justice! Or are they? Is Frank just out for cold bloodied revenge? Does Murdock enjoy crippling criminals in the dead of night? In one of the best lines of dialogue you’ll hear this year Castle tells Daredevil ‘you’re one bad day from being me’. And the brilliant thing is that it’s true. These battles and debates about morals keep Daredevil interesting and engaging and so much more than a good guy fighting a bad guy.
Throw in flashbacks to Matt and Electra’s past, the Yakuza, a secret society called ‘The Hand’, a brilliant ‘one shot’ stairwell fight scene, a brutal, gut wrenching prison fight and a couple of familiar faces from series one (we won’t spoil these!) and you’re left with a very ‘binge-able’ TV show. With a few episodes to go you’ll be wondering how on earth they’ll tie all the ends together and bring the story lines to a close but it’s masterfully written and directed so you’re left feeling satisfied as well as wanting more, wanting to know what happens next. Finding that balance is a difficult thing.
Bar a couple of slightly under-explained connections and rushed plot points Daredevil season 2 feels pretty perfect; exciting, compelling, leaves you wanting more and keeps you asking questions while thrilling with some of best on screen action you’re going to see, if you haven’t watched it, what the hell have you been doing?