*Very slight spoilers ahead friends (nothing you couldn’t guess)*
The first season of Marvel’s Daredevil was an expertly plotted origin story, coupling the rise of Matt Murdock’s Daredevil with that of a sympathetic, yet terrifying villain, Wilson Fisk’s Kingpin. Absent this plot symmetry, I was nervous about how season two would play out. Adding to this feeling of unease, the show runner was changed from Steven DeKnight to Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie, and the writing has definitely suffered. But overall, we’re still looking at an exciting and satisfying window into the mind of our hero, Matt Murdock, the Daredevil.
We open with the firm of Nelson & Murdock being almost comically noble, their offices packed with clients paying them in pastries and fruit “And this is only our first hour.” Between regular character’s sweat, and the background complaints of “How goddamn hot it is” I felt perfectly at home. But the imprisonment of Wilson Fisk at the end of season one has created a power vacuum, one which Cartels, biker gangs and the Irish mob are rushing to fill. Enter the Punisher, a Marvel anti-hero and all round murder savant. The inevitable themes of hero vs anti-hero, seem a little tired (“Oh no don’t kill people Punisher/Elektra” – Daredevil, like, all season long), but at least distinguish Daredevil from the hero vs. all-knowing villain tropes that plague TV currently.
On the technical side, there are a few, really powerful extended action scenes, choreographed with beauty, and in the best traditions of the genre, opting for extended fight sequences with as few cuts as possible. This is in contrast to the majority, which are short and cut frequently, still pleasing, but they don’t quite get the blood pumping. There’s also much more happening in-court work than we’re used to. For a few episodes, Daredevil becomes a courtroom drama, broken up intermittently with some satisfying (and audience question resolving) fight scenes.
The Punisher provides a much-needed contrast, first in ethos and then in execution. Daredevil always fights with lithe grace, incapacitating opponents, but without much blood. The Punisher fights like he’s on the cast of Spartacus, and despite being taken out of the game for a long stretch of time mid-season (felt like a mis-step, but paid off well) he has much more impact than our titular hero. But it’s Daredevil’s friends who suffer the most. Foggy becomes more and more annoying as his relationship with Matt becomes more stressed, alternately defeatist and pathetic. Karen at least, is striking out on her own more often, but the romantic developments between her and Murdock felt a bit thin, even if they do have one of the best kiss scenes I’ve seen (holy shit Charlie Cox).
As a superhero show, the second season of Daredevil is superior to most, definitely better than DC’s latest; Legends of Tomorrow, as well as the current season of Gotham (I watch these feeling mainly shame). But it’s just not up to the standard of its first season, the first season of Jessica Jones, Agent Carter or The Flash. The writing can be a little weak, and the overall plot of the season takes too long to manifest, despite these flaws, the new season of Daredevil is still an exciting way to spend 13 hours, and a look into an (eventually) pretty fascinating story. And maybe it’s binge-watch induced Stockholm syndrome, but I suddenly had a lot of dust in my eye towards the end.
Words by Thomas Rossiter