Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Daredevil Season 2

In case any of you are hiding under rocks, Netflix's flagship Marvel series, Daredevil (hereafter DD), released Season 2 a couple weeks ago.

Folks, this show is phenomenal.

DD's first season was groundbreaking stuff. Phenomenal fight scenes that paid homage to some of the greatest cinematic fights of all time. Profound, multi-faceted characters. Social relevance. Great acting. And, of course, one of the greatest MCU villains of all time. DD also opened the gate for three other Netflix superhero programs (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) that would eventually culminate in a Defenders series tying them all together, Avengers-style.

That's all very exciting (and intimidating, and overwhelming, as the MCU is quickly becoming..but that's a rant for another day). And when Jessica Jones came out last fall, it blew me away--even edging out DD's first season, imho (JJ offered all of the incredible things from DD's first season, but Jessica's arc was even more compelling to me than Matt Murdock's).

Unfortunately, I think DD2 falls short of DD1 and JJ.

[This seems like as good a place as any to say SPOILERS FORTHCOMING, PEOPLE! BE YE WARNED!]

Don't get me wrong--DD2 is still really fantastic television, and has some great stuff in its favor:

  • Pretty much everything involving Jon Bernthal as the Punisher was phenomenal. Bernthal somehow expressed the Punisher's over-the-top violence while still making him seem very human (not a comic-book cut-out), and that's no easy task.
  • Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk once again delivers. He's only in a few scenes, but he steals the shit out of those scenes and makes them his own. He's a dominating, compelling, fascinating villain, and I'd venture to say he's the greatest villain the MCU has yet to produce (with Killgrave and Loki coming in at a very close second and third, respectively).
  • The main cast shines once more, and have great chemistry together.

But, of course, I did find some flaws with this season...and they all sort of revolved around Elektra.

I actually really liked Elektra's character, and I totally ship her and "Matthew." Elodie Yung makes Elektra sophisticated, captivating, and edgy. It was pretty much everything involving the Hand that I didn't particularly enjoy. The faceless ninjas. Zzzz. The lack of a solid villain (I was really feeling the gap left by Fisk). The seeming lack of real motivation on the Hand's part. (So you're after a weapon. Fine. That means you want to kill people, I suppose. Fine. BUT WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO THAT?! GIVE ME SOMETHING MORE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.) The storyline involving the Hand wasn't terrible, but compared to the awesomeness that went into the Punisher's plot, and DD1 and JJ, it really fell short for me. Also, that ending? Elektra dying and then showing up in the regeneration coffin thingy? I totally called that. Like, in episode six I called it. That isn't a good thing.

The other aspect of the season, again tangentially bordering Elektra, was Matt's proposal to her at the end of episode eight. He convinces her to drop Stick and start a life of pious vigilanteism with him instead, and Elektra finally agrees, letting Stick go and fully committing to Matt.

Then, basically at the beginning of episode nine, when Elektra kills a kid that was about to kill Matt, Matt's like "Um...about that spending the rest of our lives fighting crime together thing? Yeah, never mind."




That drove me crazy, in case you can't tell.

I get that she killed someone after basically committing to Matt that she wouldn't. But the dude doesn't have at least one ounce of FORGIVENESS in him? Isn't that what he's trying to instill in her--that people--even people who do bad things--deserve second chances?

That whole sequence was a huge miss for me. If it had happened over much more time, with accompanying character arcs (because that bit not only affects Matt and Elektra, but Karen as well), it'd be fine. If they had just shown me a bit of Matt's motivation behind what went on, I'd at least be able to let it go. But, as is, it does none of those things, and that really bothers me. For a show with such phenomenal writing, I'm very disappointed to have seen something so mishandled.

So that's my take on DD2. I'd like to rewatch DD1 and 2 together in the near future, and I might change my mind once I do that. But (a) it doesn't look like I'll have time to do that anytime soon, and (b) even if I do, I highly doubt I'll change my mind about this.

DD2 is great television, and absolutely worth the watch. I'm nitpicking at it because I've seen the writers do such great things in the past. But, for me, it just wasn't as strong as DD1 or JJ.

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