Hello Readers! With Daredevil Season 2 now live in the wild, we thought it time we leveled our opinions at the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and his friends. Steven Reynolds is our reigning expert in comics and comic media, a self-described Marvel disciple who mans a counter at a local comic shop. Michael Berquam is a lifelong nerd and television enthusiast who has been waiting for years for those labels to be meaningful. Is that day today? Read on to find out! Suffice to say, there be spoilers here. -Editor
How does this season compare to last season?
Steven – Overall, just bigger in every way. The first season was all establishment and building toward the big final boss battle with Fisk, whereas this had multiple arcs following multiple characters running simultaneously. Because of the different structures, the first was definitely a lot tighter and focused, while this season covered more ground, broadened the Netflix-verse, and gave us more ninjas than we knew what to do with. In a nutshell, I would rate it as highly as the first season, but with the condition that it’s spread a bit too thin in some spots, while mostly making up for it with excitement and fascinating new characters.
Michael – Your sentiments here echo my feelings as well. Season 1 is largely steeped in mostly realistic action – mob bosses, drug running, and an (admittedly extraordinary) guy in a mask taking them to task. Season 2 starts to push beyond that boundary, introducing other specials, and beginning to take this to the next level with the addition of the Hand and Stick’s faction (which sadly remains unnamed and under-realized for the season). While Hell’s Kitchen still plays prominently into the action, it becomes more backdrop for thrilling action and espionage that would be at home on the world stage. This escalation of action is done without ever going overboard, and allows for more characters within the show and mythos to develop important roles and places of power (take Brett and Karen as examples this).
What highs/lows bear mentioning?
S – Happy to report way more highs than lows. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. And by ‘bad’ it’s more like “not awesome”. To me, the Hand in general fall firmly into that category. While they made for great-looking fight-fodder, their goals and such were just too nebulous. The giant hole was literally a huge plot hole, the gang of creepy kids had no explanation, and don’t even get me started on this “Black Sky” silliness. Now don’t get me wrong, I was deeply invested and held in suspense by each of these things. But that was because I thought there would be payoff for them. Obviously, some threads are meant to hang until next season, but so much time was devoted to them this season that I feel like we should have learned more.
With that out of the way, highlight time. Foggy Goddamn Nelson, is the hero we need and the hero we deserve.
M – How did I know that you were going to be a Foggy fan? And yes, I agree with you – Foggy Nelson is a highlight of the show, and acts as a fantastic foil. He brings Murdock back from the edge of vigilante extremism, rooting his friend in so called “real life,” and reminding him to find balance even as he continues his pursuit of justice, both behind the mask and free of it entirely.
Another high point for me was Karen’s realization as a key character for flat out getting **** done. It makes me happy to see a strong female character, devoid of powers in an over the top setting, make so many critical moments happen. She is not without fear, but cows not to it; therein lies real courage. Her ability is so strong in this way that she redeems another character for me – Ellisen, the news editor. Their moments shared throughout the season, framed as a search for the truth (and including a healthy amount of reverence for fallen comrade Ben Urich) was surprising to me, but left me feeling quite happy with the results. The human drama and emotion are strong this round, at it works out very well.As to low points, you have mentioned what was really on my mind. The Hand, while doing a fairly admirable job as the Big Bad Evil Organization, felt under-realized. Look, we get it, secret ninja stuff is secret. Its application, however, resembles all the nuance of a boy learning to use cologne at prom – apply liberally to all regions, without need of logic or justification. These hanging plot lines do come across more as holes than anything else – a missed opportunity in my book, particularly when compared against the mysterious-yet-still-tidy (in a gore-spattered fashion) presentation of Frank Castle’s story arc.
S – Karen and her determination was certainly another high-point. She handled just about every situation thrown at her like a champ. Even with Foggy and Matt on the outs, she never lost sight of what the three of them stood for. Between Karen and Claire, Daredevil’s got some of the raddest ladies on sort-of-tv.
M – True facts. I hope to see more of both, and would love to see them make the rounds in Marvel’s Netflix-verse. Claire has been out to visit in other series, and I would be remiss if I thought that Jessica Jones or Iron Fist couldn’t use a little bit of Karen and Claire.
S – Thankfully, Claire’s bringing her first-aid kit to Luke Cage’s series this fall. Now I just really want to see Karen meet Jessica more than anything in the Netflix-verse.
S – I’m sure a lot of folks would say the epic stairwell fight. That scene took last season’s legendary hallway brawl and turned it up to 11. Having said that, I gotta call out the rooftop debate between Frank Castle and Daredevil. Their discussion of philosophies and motivation was more suspenseful than any fight scene in the series. These two vigilantes obviously have the same goal, but their methods are so diametrically opposed, and their adherence to them so strong, that I thought Frank would just murder Daredevil and claim the show as his own. M – Hah! The thought had crossed my mind. On that note, a Hell’s Kitchen variety show could be badass. The rooftop romp by Murdock and Castle is one of the better human moments in the entire series, and is the first step for Frank on a path that leads him back to humanity. That most of the rest of the journey is accomplished by Karen’s interactions with him should not go unnoticed, and their relationship throughout Season 2 actually made me very happy.
Where does the series go from here?
S – It sounds like we’ll be getting the big Defenders crossover before we see another stand-alone season of Daredevil, which has me a little conflicted. On the one hand, I’m obviously quite excited to see all of these great characters interact and kick ass together, and I could see some of these loose threads maybe play into Defenders, but the majority are pretty distinctly Daredevil-flavored. But if the production schedule does allow for a third season, I think we’re in for the big (check that pun) return of Fisk, who very much earned his ‘Kingpin’ status this season. Could he be piecing together the identity of his devil-horned nemesis? That should make for some absolutely bonkers drama. M – Good callout on the Defenders – I personally wonder how much bearing its events will have on future Daredevil stories. Will they be intertwined, or will they simply be “aware” of each other, without significantly changing their trajectories based on the the activities of the other?
Assuming things progress in a decidedly “Daredevil” only manner, I think we should start looking into the rogues’ gallery that I assume Fisk will need to develop and deploy in his war against Red. Bullseye would likely be the easy pick along with staples like Tombstone, but based on how Netflix dealt with Jessica Jones’ Purple Man, I find myself wanting to see their dark and revolting take on something else surprising (Stiltman, Jester, Ani-Men, and the Owl come to mind).
S – Bullseye’s gotta be on his way. Maybe he’ll meet Fisk in his new fortress, err, prison, and then hash out a deal. They hinted really heavily at the Owl throughout the first season, so that would be a good one to bring things around. I’d really like to see this crew’s take on Typhoid Mary. She could be all sorts of fun and could mess with both Matt and Red.
Characters – Who surprised you? Any disappointments?
S – Where do I even start with the characters on this show?! Building off of the bit above on my favorite moment, I could seriously just watch these people talk to each other all day. A huge part of that is certainly the cast and their chemistry, as well as the writers who consistently just kill it. The main trio of Matt, Foggy (the real hero!), and Karen were even better than last season. I knew going in that Jon Bernthal was gonna make for a great Punisher, so I was really only worried about Elektra. I regret that my faith in Marvel’s casting wavered ever-so-slightly, because she did an exquisite job as well. So no surprises or disappointments, just relief.
M – We might differ a bit here. I agree with you on your points regarding Matt, Foggy, Karen, and Castle. I’m less enthused regarding Elektra. I should point out that this has little to nothing to do with the casting of the role, but rather how it was written. Elektra seems to conduct herself largely like a selfish prat, either in service to herself or Stick. While this was a semi-effective plot device for much of the season, she certainly played Eve, tempting Murdock in many of the flashbacks, and showed her willingness to commit Matt (and by association, his team) to risk without much consideration. It was very difficult for me to relate to her as a character, and left me feeling resentful more often than I care to admit. She’s literally the crazy ex that blows into your life once or twice a decade, bringing death and destruction to everything she lays her hands or gaze upon.
S – I think that’s what I enjoyed most about her, though! While most of her time was spent as a plot device, especially towards the end, she provided a great foil to Matt. He’s a creature of routine and order, while Elektra is endlessly impulsive and reckless. But the two of them are best when they work together to balance each other out. Matt pushes her to value life and the living, while she provides the forward momentum that he sometimes loses. It leads nicely into that ending!
How about that ending?
S – Elektra definitely had a more important lesson to learn, and she definitely lived up to her potential. Sacrificing herself to save Matt was the first selfless thing she did, and it cost her her life. Obviously, we the audience know she won’t be gone for long, but Matt doesn’t. So maybe some of Elektra’s dangerous side will have rubbed off on him? Regardless, that ending! Anyone vaguely familiar with Elektra knows that death and resurrection is sorta her thing, but it was still cool to see it handled so well.M – I think it was important for Matt to have that loss. This whole season seemed to be about testing his resolve, about applying pressure to him and his friends, to see if he had the chops to stay the course and be the hero that Hell’s Kitchen needs. In that capacity, the ending was fitting to the overarching theme of the season. Having said that, death in comics isn’t quite the end-all be-all fate that it is in the real world. We have already seen one character thought dead return, so to think that this is the end for Elektra (even forgoing the bulk of her comic mythos) isn’t a strong position supported by the content of the rest of the series. Does that limit the impact of the final moments of Season 2? I think that is up to individual viewers to decide.