There was a lot of expectation for Season 2 of Daredevil, and after it premiered last Friday, it hasn't proven better than its last season. After a binge-watch of it over the weekend, I will have to say that I agree with critics and found Season 2 not as engaging as its first.
CNET reported that Daredevil Season 2 started bumpy and heated up fast, but I believe the opposite and that Season 2 started out very strong. The issue is that there is some missed opportunity taking place, because I felt that events in Jessica Jones could carry over. If you recall from the first season of that show, which takes place in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were a lot of people who had been under the mental control of Kilgrave. Those people sure could use some lawyers, but instead, the small law firm of Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is practically broke.
It begins showing that Matt has the city under control fighting crime, and then it switches to focus on The Punisher (Jon Bernthal). Now, the story with the Punisher at the beginning is quite good. There is a scene where Frank Castle (The Punisher's real name) has Daredevil helpless and doesn't unmask him for the sake of...honor, or something. The two of them have a conversation that discusses the moral ambiguity of their actions. Frank Castle seems to have a good point when it comes to how Daredevil can beat an evil man down, but they will not stay down. However, Daredevil has spent the entire first season not killing criminals and even withheld from killing the main villain from the first season.
I'll get to Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) later, but eventually, the first few episodes focusing on The Punisher come to an end when they finally capture him, and there is a great scene where Frank breaks down and talks about how he saw his family after his combat service, and what his last memory of them are. I have to admit that this is done so well, that Bernthal deserves some award for it. At no point in time is this season is the scene where Frank Castle loses his wife and family during a gang war, and the show could have been stronger that way.
Before this scene, there is a scene where Daredevil takes on a lot of bad men, all with a crowbar and a chain. This is reminiscent of a scene in Season 1, where Daredevil fights many men in a hallway with a long continuous take of action. The hallway fight in Season 2 is a lot longer and has a lot more action, but the problem is there are a lot of times where the editing cut is clearly visible. It is still is great action, and I hope that this doesn't start a tradition where there is a hallway fight in every season of Daredevil, and they try and top it with each one.
Once The Punisher is captured, the show then turns to a story about Elektra (Elodie Yung). She shows up on Matt's couch, and she needs his help. This is the biggest problem of this season is that it is hinging on this fan-favorite character, but Elektra really isn't all that interesting. In fact, she is kind of manipulating Matt to help her, and Matt is going along with it. It's like watching a cheerleader ask some smart kid in high school for help on her homework.
Then there is this flirting that is going on between them, and it feels like the worst parts of the 2003 Daredevil movie where Matt (played then by now Batman Ben Affleck) and Elektra (played by Jennifer Garner) meet for the first time and start to fight, matching each other move for move. There is a scene where this happens with the reboot of Daredevil and Elektra but in a gym. It is just a terrible reminder of that awful movie that this series was supposed to erase my memory of.
To make matters even worse, there is a scene that feels like a retcon. In a flashback, there is a scene where a young Elektra kidnaps the man who killed Matt's father, and wants Matt to kill his father's assassin because...revenge. This scene does not feel necessary as it just establishes a fact that we already know: Matt doesn't kill people.
What is worse, when Elektra appears, the show splits into two separate plotlines. Matt and Foggy become Frank Castle's lawyers and defend The Punisher in a court of law. This could have made for a decent courtroom drama, but Elektra keeps calling Matt away from his case. What is worse is that Elektra is bankrolling Nelson and Murdock, so Matt just can't say no and he can't tell Foggy about it, because...drama. Oh, Foggy seems okay with Matt being absentee in the biggest case of the city.
So with the Elektra plot, there is this ninja group known as the Hand, and the show cannot successfully juggle the Punisher and the Hand plot to save its life. In fact, there is just a downward spiral of quality that is all over this season. The first season was so well-written and tightly structured compared to what Season 2 has given us.
Oh yes, then Stick, Daredevil's old mentor, shows up. There is a good action scene as Stick, Elektra, and Matt make a getaway, but for some reason, Stick has a driver. Where did this driver come from? It's like the only reason he is there is because the show wanted a chase in a getaway car and realized that Stick and Matt can't drive because they are blind, and Elektra was too wounded to get behind the wheel. It's just an example of the poor writing that plagues this season.
And then Stick does that thing in movies where characters won't explain to other characters what is going on, even though there actually is a bunch of time. It's followed by the scene where the character asks for certain chemicals and a drink, and although you think the drink is part of the formula that he is concocting, it turns out that they just want a drink. Yeah, I didn't do a good job of explaining this, but this is just so cliché.
Worse yet, Matt kisses Elektra, even when he is beginning to have feelings for Karen (Deborah Ann Woll). It makes him look like a jerk, and creates more drama than what needs to be there. There is even the scene where Karen comes over and sees Elektra in Matt's bed, and assumes the worst.
Fortunately, the show had an interesting turn when Wilson Fisk appears. His appearance was a complete surprise, and Marvel/Netflix did a good job of keeping his reprising of the Kingpin of crime a secret. Fisk then uses Frank Castle to take care of some business in prison, and then is instrumental in making certain Castle is released, because the Kingpin apparently has this power in prison. Yeah, it doesn't really make a lot of sense, but at least, there is a great scene where Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk meet, and it is pretty powerful. They almost slug it out, too. Too bad we never saw the events where Murdock and Nelson fought to bring Fisk into prison. Again, this is a flashback scene that could have been seen rather than heard about.
Of course, once Castle is out of prison, he is trying to kill criminals again. This time, he's chasing after some guy called Blacksmith, who is apparently the man who really killed Castle's family. It seems like Frank Castle starts to use that deep throaty voice that Christian Bale used in his Batman trilogy.
The good news is that Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) shows up right at the end, which is a definite tie-in to Jessica Jones. Other than a quick name-drop, any events of Jessica Jones tie-in in almost no way to Daredevil Season 2, but I already explained why it is a wasted opportunity for this connected Netflix/Marvel universe.
Well, the ending showed Elektra being killed, which is straight out of the comics and is one of the landmark events in Daredevil, back when comics legend Frank Miller was in charge of the characters. It doesn't feel very sad, even though before that Matt confessed his love to her, but it just felt forced in the light of scenes that already transpired with him and Karen. Worse yet, Elektra isn't killed by Bullseye like she was in the comics and the 2003 movie, but Nobu, a villain who died in the first season and was resurrected for another. He really shouldn't have been the season's big bad villain here, honestly.
One of the issues with Daredevil is that it isn't really speculative fiction, but more film noir/crime fiction. Daredevil is like DC's Batman, where most of his best adventures involve him taking on foes with no super-abilities, as it feels more realistic. Now Daredevil is starting to get into some mystical realm with the Hand, and it's starting to fail. This is going to make it awkward when Daredevil joins up with The Defenders.
Well, the Punisher is revealed to have his skull on his chest, but only in the last episode. It took a while to get there, and I almost thought that it would be forgotten about. It is interesting to see Matt and Frank fight together, and it was a weird thing seeing Matt just straight up kill someone. Or at least, attempt to kill someone with his newfound billy club. The billy club is cool, by the way.
It would appear that Matt has learned to add occasionally killing to his fighting style, or, at least, work along with people who do, such as Elektra and The Punisher, not to mention his mentor Stick. Even thematically, it feels like a step backward for the series that is so far the worst offering of the Netflix/Marvel series.
So as far as Season 3 will happen, there have been worse shows to be renewed. Den of Geek reports that it doesn't have an official confirmation, and considering that the schedule is that Netflix is keeping these Marvel shows about six months apart, the next on the agenda is Luke Cage. In fact, there is a teaser trailer for Luke Cage at the end of Season 2. Considering that Iron Fist probably won't be seen until 2017, and then Jessica Jones Season 2 hasn't been confirmed by its release date.