Updated: Jul 7, 2020
In many ways this was better than Season 1 (obviously talking about The Punisher) but overall, not as precisely executed. Daredevil is still the best Marvel vehicle on Netflix and the best superhero TV show we’ve got right now though, so a few steps back here could be rectified in upcoming seasons and The Defenders ensemble crossover coming later this year.
Below is a list of some of the things I liked or didn’t like about the show, in no particular order.
If you're worried about spoilers, don't read TV reviews. At least not this one. This will still be here for you to enjoy when you’ve finished watching.
Follow My Musings for much more commentary on TV shows.
1) They fixed the mask!
The new red eyes and all-red horns look MUCH closer to the comic book look.
I get that Daredevil can be a tricky costume to pull off in live-action. The red spandex suit and horns could easily be stupid-looking and that’s why they shied away from the classic look so much with the first season.
But they’ve done a nice job here of capturing it in a realistic sense. I’m glad they brought it more into the red garb and the devilish eyes that we know and love. The visual payoff is immense and it’s truer to the original text.
2) Mo’fucking PUNISHER!
Jon Bernthal is perhaps the best casting choice in this entire show. Absolutely stellar!
His character was extremely well-written too, particularly by placing him as the initial villain of the season, who is the polar opposite of the kind of hero that Matt is.
It’s a great choice too because throughout the first season, we saw Matt deal with his desire to kill and his love of brutalizing the heartless thugs he takes on. But in Season 2 he’s more grounded in his belief that killing is wrong and violence begets violence.
Now, we're seeing him confront that idea not just emotionally but physically in the form of The Punisher.
Then, they become half-comrades during the episode-long soul-bearing when Daredevil turns the tables and holds Punisher hostage. This was actually heartfelt (do largely to Charlie Cox and Bernthal’s acting) and made a poignant remark on PTSD and the soldier mentality.
We’re also starting to see the pieces of the upcoming Defenders series forming and by this point my fanboy-hood is pretty much bursting at the seams.
3) Karen as a reporter
I can’t believe I’m saying this but Karen Paige actually did something right. Having her hanging around the offices of Nelson & Murdoch - somehow knowing how to do all the legal shit that she does - didn’t make any sense and was really just an excuse to show two guys competing over a pretty blonde.
At The New York Bulletin she has an actual purpose and doesn’t seem out of her depth. We’d seen her working with Ben Urich last season so it’s nice to finally have her all-in instead of just flirting with disaster. She is there not only as a reporter but as an avenger of Ben Urich’s death last season, too.
Unlike Foggy, Karen actually steps up in character quality after the law firm goes bust. The result is a female character who has agency in moving the plot along and making real commentary on the things we see on screen. The show writer’s saved a sinking ship with this one.
4) The first signs of ‘Kingpin’
Fisk, now living behind bars amongst the rats that he always considered himself to be above, sees a more dramatic character change than I was expecting.
With all the other shit going on this season, I was almost surprised to see such attention given to Kingpin, but it was a nice surprise. The man we had in Season 1 wasn’t really Kingpin, but the man we see now is getting there.
I like how, even and perhaps especially in prison, he still has to climb his way to the top using whatever means and money is necessary. I look forward to seeing where this goes later.
To be clear, I love the character of Elektra and think that it was played well here and written with some nuance.
She, like The Punisher, is the antithesis to the moral code that Matt has built for himself as a crime fighter. She not only kills to serve justice but actually really loves killing. That’s fucked up. And awesome.
Plus, Elodie Young plays the character really well and (fun fact!) actually did a lot of the stunt work, which is badass.
My problem instead was with how they put her character INTO the show.
With the exception of her first few appearances, every time she shows up, the series’ pacing comes to a standstill or a free-fall. If that came across like a writing choice rather than a distraction then it could have served a useful function in conveying what Elektra does to Matt or the chaos she sows when she shows up.
Instead, it’s like she was written in at the last minute for most of her scenes.
Toward the end of the season she feels thrown in without much thought and trying to make her into a leader of The Hand simply didn’t work.
Where she shines is at the beginning of the season when it’s more about her relationship with Matt and his moral high ground. But then they just tried to do too much with her when they didn’t have a firm reason to.
2) The pacing
Where the first season succeeded in keeping us on our toes and watching "just one more episode," this season lost some steam near the middle.
The Elektra problem mentioned above drove a lot of this, but it’s not exclusive to her character. I feel like this season was more about challenging Matt’s personal relationships rather than his job as a hero. This worked well in exploring depth of character more than the first season, but they didn’t quite land on how to weave that in with the higher stakes created by The Hand and the new players like Punisher in the mix.
So often, I found myself interested in what was going on onscreen but not wanting to see that at the time it was being shown. This was by no means a fatal flaw for this season, but it’s a step down from the structure of Season 1.