Netflix Marvel Retrospective – Daredevil Season 2

Hey look, I get to talk about Daredevil again. After three successful first seasons of their shows, Marvel was running full steam ahead as they were gearing up for their second run of Daredevil episodes. Despite a few bumps in the road, audiences were generally very receptive of the first seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Around this time, Iron Fist was delayed but they had the chance to give us a second season of Daredevil which introduced the Punisher and Elektra played by Jon Bernthal and Elodie Yung respectfully. As I did with Luke Cage, I’ll wait until I get to the Punisher series before going in-depth about Bernthal. There’s a lot to talk about regarding the rest of this season, however, so let’s get started (as always, there are spoilers).

The show is still great

Despite changing showrunners, the series didn’t miss a beat. The writing, directing, and acting was still top-notch. Matt fully submersing himself into the Daredevil identity was a logical step. Almost all the familiar faces returned along with cameos from Madame Gao and Kingpin. With Elektra coming into the mix, it not only allowed an exploration of Matt’s past but it also allowed the Hand to return, under the leadership of Nobu who came back after seemingly dying last season. Elektra was a great addition and Elodie Yung was perfect for the role which is good since the previous live action version left a bit to be desired. She was snarky, mysterious, and deadly. It was also fitting that the Hand stepped forward as the main villain for this season after being in the background up until this point. With Wilson Fisk out of the way for a while, it made sense.

Now, a lot of people hated the Hand showing up this season due to being supernatural villains and I’m not sure why they were so opposed to the concept. The first season of Daredevil had an episode dealing with the Hand smuggling a child into the US to fulfill the Black Sky prophecy so this plotline had already been foreshadowed with strong implications of the supernatural. Then, of course, there was Madame Gao who was very clearly from the city of K’un L’un and had some mystic abilities. This season just focused on these things a bit more than the previous one. Beyond that, it’s not as if the Hand haven’t been major Daredevil enemies for the past 40 years. Anyway, rant over.

One thing that I really loved about the second season was that it gave us our first Punisher vs Daredevil story in live action. I’ve always wanted to see it and it delivered. The conversation the two had on the rooftop early in the season was wonderfully written as the two of them argue over their own philosophies. It was done in such a way that both brought up good points but it was obvious neither was right and they were closer to one another than they cared to admit without beating you over the head with cliched lines like “We’re not so different”. The conversation in the cemetery was also really great as Frank Castle talked about his kids and Matt finally began to sympathize with him. There’s a reason why Bernthal eventually got his own series. Oh, and of course, the fight scenes between the two were great, as expected.

Let’s talk about those fight scenes

Like I said, the Punisher vs Daredevil fights were really well done. It showed off the strengths and weaknesses of both characters perfectly. What was really nice was that Frank Castle got to have plenty of action sequences to himself such as a very brutal prison fight with shivs or the bloody shoot-out in the diner. Meanwhile, Daredevil and Elektra were going around town, beating up ninjas with swords and martial arts skills so you had just about every type of fight in this season and they were all glorious. And of course, many of them occurred in hallways. Speaking of hallway fights, this season, like the previous one, had a fight that seemed like it was done in one take. It started off as a hallway fight but soon went down a stairwell and into a basement as Matt took out a biker gang. It didn’t quite have the finesse and intensity of the famous hallway fight from season one, and there did seem to be some hidden cuts in the action sequence, but it was still entertaining. I also love the fact that Kingpin only showed up for a couple of episodes but still managed to beat the crap out of both Matt and Frank. With the short amount of screentime he had, he took control of the prison, orchestrated the death of his rival, and gave a few words of warning to our heroes after the aforementioned beatings. There was a lot going on this season and that was one of the best things and the worst things about it, which I guess gave it the opposite of the Netflix Problem and leads me t my next point.

Two Different Shows

This picture symbolizes Daredevil being restrained by too many plots going on at once… or something.

As I said before, this season introduced Punisher and Elektra, which meant both characters were vying for the audience’s attention the entire time. The season started off with Matt tracking down the Punisher after eh took out several gangs in Hell’s Kitchen. A few episodes later, Matt finally captured Frank but soon learned of a conspiracy against him, which led Matt to act as his lawyer for his trial. Around the same time, Elektra popped back Matt’s life and they went off to fight the Hand. Soon after that, Matt realized Kingpin was controlling the prison, which eventually led to Frank Castle escaping to uncover the truth about his family’s death. *deep breath* Then Matt had to detour back to Elektra; they uncovered an organ harvesting plot by the Hand, dealt with Nobu who had come back from the dead, and then Stick showed up to warn them about the Black Sky. This is all probably within the first half of the season, give or take an episode. Needless to say, it felt crowded and downright rushed in a few places.

For instance, at one point, it was revealed that Elektra was a Black Sky. That would be a huge twist but none of the characters knew what a Black Sky was anyway, so Matt was kinda stuck not knowing how to proceed with that news. Then Stick tried to kill Elektra for reasons that weren’t clear. Presumably it was because she was a Black Sky but he was supposed to know that already as it was a part of why he trained her. Plot details like these kept coming as the season drew to a close without the chance to breath. By the way, the Punisher was off on his own quest at this point and had been for several episodes but at least he had Karen Page following him around to keep it somewhat Daredevil-related. Matt did manage to remember Frank in one episode, however, and tried to give him one last pep talk and then go back to fighting ninjas in the sewers. Frank eventually found out that his former S.O. was behind his family’s death, got his revenge, and walked off into the night after finally painting a skull on his chest while Matt and Elektra were trying to uncover the mysteries of the Hand. The two story lines never really intersected in a significant way. Frank did show up in the climatic fight and killed a few ninjas via sniper rifle but at that point, it was too little too late. The end result was that two different shows were happening at once. Both plots were good but it made it hard to keep track of what was happening since there was no connective tissue and the fact that the two plots were already complicated didn’t help. It reminded me a bit of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, which tried to set up multiple future movies for the MCU but forgot to tell its own story. In this case, it was setting up the Defenders.

Set up for the Defenders

Aside from being a back door pilot for a Punisher series, this season also set up The Defenders while also trying to be a Daredevil show. The Defenders was being hyped as Netflix’s answer to the Avengers at this point. The showrunners for Daredevil season 2 were also going to write Defenders, so many mysteries were left unanswered. The Black Sky, the Hand’s organ harvesting, the weird hole in the ground, etc. would all be resolved in that show. Since the season felt rushed and left so much unresolved, it wasn’t as popular as the first season, which is sad as this one had potential.

Final verdict

Despite the story zig-zagging between two plots, it was still entertaining. The fights were still great, Charlie Cox was still a perfect Daredevil, and Elodie Yung was a perfect Elektra. I thought it was a good adaptation of the Elektra saga and it had nice little cliffhangers at the end as Matt finally revealed his identity to Karen, Elektra was killed but seemingly getting resurrected by the Hand, and Kingpin was getting close to discovering Matt’s ID. Anyway, that’s the second season of Daredevil. Join us next time for Iron Fist season 1.

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