Season one of Daredevil showed what a mature street crime centric version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is capable of and was good enough for me to give it a nine out of ten. The second season is a slight improvement over the first and would be near perfect, if the last two episodes didn’t slip in quality.
One of the two new major characters to join the second season is Frank Castle or The Punisher played Jon Bernthal. While I didn’t see any of the three Punisher films, with three different actors portraying the character, I can see why people that saw one or all of the previous Punishers would say Bernthal’s version of the character is the best one not seen in a comic. Scenes involving the Punisher tend to make full use the show’s MA rating to show the full brutality of Punisher’s war on criminal organizations. What separates the Punisher from other characters that turn into human terminators after the death of people close to them is the realness of Bernthal’s portrayal. When Punisher talks about his family both the character and viewer feel an emotional connection to a man that killed at least 50 people without remorse.
While his storyline shows the issues with a super hero/vigilante that takes lives, it does so in a way that made more sense or was deeper then killing is bad so real heroes must be above killing. As a viewer watching an action movie or TV show, I usually want the hero to kill the villain and I usually don’t give any though to the political or social issues to come with him or her taking the law into their own hands. While the second season of Daredevil shows both sides of the argument without giving a definite answer to which side is right, by focusing on each character’s personal theosophy, I understood why they did what they did. Daredevil is religious and considers murder to be the one sins people should never commit with no exceptions and the Punisher only cares about elimination criminals and doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions. There are times when Daredevil’s decision not to kill causes issues that could be avoided if he had simply murdered that person earlier, and there are times when Punisher’s consistent killing causes issue that wouldn’t be possible if he wasn’t known as the most effective serial killer in the MCU.
The Punisher storyline also featured good material for Karen Page and Foggy Nelson. The role of superhero love interest can be one of the worst roles an actress can play. Regardless how smart, accomplished, and beautiful the character is, there’s always the possible that they become annoying over time. Either the superhero gets caught in the endless cycle of having to save their damsel-in-distress, or the viewers are forced to watch several scenes of her complaining that the superhero needs to stop doing what made the character popular in the first place for his own safety. Lucky, Karen avoids these issues for the most part. There are times when she needs the hero to save her, but her entire existence isn’t defined by her relationship with Matt, and her relationship with Matt was one of the weaker parts of this season. Building upon the investigation skills Karen learnt while working with Ben Urich last season, Karen spends most of the season trying to find out Frank Castle’s life story and who or what made him become the Punisher. The personal connection she feels to Frank stems from a surprising moment late last season and guilty involving her family. While her storyline ends somewhat disappointingly, it was overall good use of the character.
I hated Foggy Nelson at the beginning of the first season, but he grew on me as time went on and his second season storyline is very good. With the exception of episode 3, season one of Daredevil didn’t have any courtroom drama. When the main character and his best friend are lawyers, it felt like a missed opportunity to not have some big superhero related case for Nelson and Murdock to tackle. Season 2 fixes this issue giving the two lawyers the MCU equivalent of the O.J. Simpson trail, as far as publicity and challenges proving the defendant’s innocent is concerned. Due to Murdock spending more time as Daredevil and mostly neglecting his responsibility to defend his client, Foggy was forced to do his best to win a seemingly un-winnable with only Karen to assist him. This lead to good court room scenes and gave Foggy a useful role in the story. Earlier I mentioned that I was happy Karen didn’t complain to Murdock that he needs to quite being Daredevil, but I didn’t mention that Foggy is given that role. When Foggy was telling Murdock that being Daredevil was too dangerous in the first two episodes, I wanted him to shut up. But when his time as Daredevil was legitimately getting in the way of the most important case of their careers, I understood Foggy’s point and began to sympathize with his character.
The main reason Foggy is forced to work the big trial with little help from Murdock and the character that lead to the weakest storyline of the season Electra Natchios, is both a good and bad character. When she first arrives on episode 5, I thought she was a great character. Electra did whatever she wanted, felt no guilt about killing, and found dangerous situations to be arousing. The issue with Electra, is that later episodes kill everything I liked about the character in a storyline involving an evil ninja organizing called The Hand. As a viewer, I never saw The Hand as a real threat and never understood what their ultimate goal was. While some of my questions involving The Hand could be answers in season 3 or The Defenders, the season finally was the worst episode of the season and all the villains that are part of The Hand is the main reason it was a disappointment. Daredevil and Electra fighting ninjas sounds cool in theory, but wasn’t very good in practice. Some of the fight scenes between Daredevil and The Hand were good, but got old as Daredevil repeatedly fought no name ninjas and beat them easily.
The second season of Daredevil showed why it’s one of my favorite TV shows, one of Netflix’s best original series, and a show I would recommend to everyone.