To read my coverage of the first five episodes of season two, click here.
***SPOILERS FOR SEASON TWO AHEAD***
It’s taken me a little longer to finish season two of Daredevil than its first, but my overall feelings tend to stay on the positive side of things. While there were certainly some false notes, and I’ll get to those rather soon, the aspects of the series’ second season that worked did so remarkably, sometimes improving vastly on season one’s overall quality. The main issue the show had was that the problems from the debut season were still there, just spread out in different ways through different characters and storytelling techniques. Daredevil has a tendency to play rather dark in order to try to sell the gravity of the characters’ lives and the traumas they’ve endured, but in order to justify the overall bleak nature, they need their individual parts to shine. The atmosphere of dread, the performances and cinematic scope of the series still excel, with the latter even greater than the first season – there are shots in the last episode that look even better than the sneak peak of a certain tarmac sequence upcoming in Civil War. Here’s what worked, what didn’t work and what needs some time, but overall season two was an improvement to the first.
Man, oh man, I thought I was going to be proven wrong about this but, as was the case last year, season two continued to push Foggy down a smug, self-righteous and infuriating path. The first two episodes we got of him were promising, a worrisome and supportive friend to Matt’s Daredevil activities, but as the season wore on, he began to grow more and more tedious in his storylines. I believe wholeheartedly that we were supposed to believe that Matt was in the wrong for ditching Foggy and Karen in the case defending Frank Castle, extenuating circumstances and all. I agreed with that point of view, but the complete disregard to Matt’s vigilantism isn’t just a frustrating character beat, but poor writing. Elden Henson may be partly to blame with the “above it all” nature of his performance, but if season three wants to improve on anything, it would be to immediately fix Foggy’s characterization. The purpose of the season finale seems to be that they’re all going their separate ways, juxtaposing the season one finale when they all came together again.
I want to like Foggy Nelson, and as he’s written we’re obviously supposed too. Yet, even when Matt was being a jackass 50% of the time this season, I still found myself more consistently frustrated with the former.
For all the lead up the show dedicated to the big bad, it ended up feeling rather tame. With the Punisher and Elektra both falling more on the antihero, morally complex vigilante side of the scale, it left Nobu (and, arguably, Fisk) as the season’s greatest adversaries to the heroes. There were separate threads here and there such as Karen and Frank Castle finding the man who orchestrated the massacre that killed his family, but even that storyline ended with more a whimper than a bang.
This is a shame, since it was the Hand/Black Sky storyline that fully kicked the series back into gear after stalling out for a few episodes as it grappled with how to handle the fallout of Frank being captured and Foggy, Matt and Karen’s law firm beginning to fall to pieces.
While I don’t count myself as one of the many fans of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, there was no question that he was a viable and present threat to our hero, demonstrating as much in the brief encounter Matt had with the imposing man in prison. Nobu provides fodder for some great fight sequences and sets the stage for what would seem like future storylines, but he isn’t very interesting on his own in the way the series has written him.
Last year, the show’s middle act was its strongest, fast paced and stringing the audience along with it as it escalated the threats and consequences that Matt faced on a day-to-day basis and then it kind of just stopped.
This time around the same thing happens, but it happens at a different stage – the second act. In the time where the show should have picking up pace, it instead hits a bit of a dull string of episodes, in part why it took me longer this year to finish them. While Elektra injected a necessary sense of life into those episodes, she isn’t enough to squash the feeling that the writers didn’t have a direction to point themselves in once the Punisher was taken in by the police.
Continue to page two for what I found needed more development to really stick the landing…