The second season of Daredevil is good. Continuing the story of Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer and his crime-fighting alias of Daredevil, the season is gritty and dark. While not as psychological as Jessica Jones, Daredevil Season Two is equal parts martial arts vigilantism and compelling legal procedural.
The season begins in the wake of the collapse of Wilson Fisk a.k.a. the Kingpin’s empire and his arrest. The fallout from the failure of Fisk and the success of Daredevil is that Hell’s Kitchen is now flooded with gangs who want to take Fisk’s place, pretenders to the throne of Fisk’s criminal empire. There are also copycat vigilantes who would clean up the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, to do what Daredevil does. With regards to the latter, the series introduces Frank Castle, known as The Punisher. The bloodiest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, the Punisher is a killer vigilante who seeks to clean up Hell’s Kitchen like Daredevil does, albeit with a far more permanent methodology. The question of how determined, how lost, and how truly destructive the Punisher is hangs throughout the series.
In giving the viewers this new character the series explores what it means to be a vigilante, to be someone who is emotionally capable of pursuing vigilante justice and what that means for their character’s regular life and what that means for the legal system. The Punisher is a sort of nemesis for Daredevil. The Punisher is deranged in his mission to punish all those whom are criminals, to kill them so that his personal vendetta is fulfilled. Daredevil of course pursues nonlethal methods, yet both seek the same thing: to rid Hell’s Kitchen of the criminals that infest it. They are, in reality, two sides of the same coin, a relationship that is explored throughout the series.
And a complicating factor for Daredevil is the introduction of Elektra, played by Elodie Yung, a former lover and accomplice of Matt Murdock. Whereas the Punisher represents the dangers of a vigilantism for one’s own soul, morality and city’s legal system, Elektra demonstrates to Matt Murdock that being Daredevil can be seductive and liberating for him on a personal level. She represents the temptation of a darker side, not of vigilantism but of Daredevil, as she exposes Matt Murdock’s desire to do good and to be Daredevil, a road that may lead to the destruction of Matt Murdock’s personal life. Daredevil, as the world’s first cinematic long-form superhero, provides a compelling character study of what it means to be a vigilante and a hero.
But the series doesn’t stop there. It also serves as a great legal procedural with the protagonist law firm of Nelson and Murdock facing a district attorney with a political agenda. The legal element of the show is solid, substantial and worthy to carry the bulk of the narrative through the middle of the season. The trial puts great strain on the relationship between Nelson, Murdock and Karen Page and delivers personal drama that is unusual, but no less enticing, for a superhero story.
This season is a departure from the last as the narrative climbs upward from the relatively small-scale borough thugs to the mythical, to something bigger than what Daredevil has faced before. He will need all the help he can get if he is to not only combat it but also to figure out just what is happening in Hell’s Kitchen.
For the most part, the season is well acted, especially by Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and by Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, both of whom shoulder the burden of most of the emotional moments. Rosario Dawson, an excellent actor, also returns to inject some realism and humanism to Murdoch’s moral dilemma about vigilantism.
If you watched the first season of Daredevil then you have to watch the second. It remains a gritty thriller and this time digs deep into the true character of Murdoch/Daredevil and he starts to realize that he can only be Matt Murdock or Daredevil. Daredevil Season Two is a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and explores what it means to be a hero-vigilante-outlaw better than anything else I’ve seen.
Daredevil Season Two is streaming on Netflix now.