Daredevil Season 2 (2016) TV Review

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The “Daredevil” TV series is simply put, one of the best comic book adaptations ever put to the small screen and big screen alike.  The first season was a revelation for superhero TV shows.  From my own personal view I don’t think we’ve never had a super hero TV show quite at the level of this.  The characters are explored in meaningful and interesting ways, it stays well within the limitations of its budget, and focused on a tight 13 episode season.   There are other superhero shows I like (“The Flash” being one of them) but the first season is on a whole other level.

Season two continues that trajectory.  The follow up to what should have been an Emmy nominated first season, is bigger, larger, and tires to top itself in every way imaginable.  There is far more characters in this season, drama, story and copious  amounts of action.  Is it quite as good as the first entry?  Not quite. More doesn’t always equal better and I think the first entry in this show did have a stronger focus in its overall narrative.  But this isn’t that far off the mark and in many ways this is a better season (which might seem like a contradiction).  There is an undeniable amount of effort and it’s visible in every frame.

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The season opens up with Daredevil stopping a group of armed robbers in a very classical type of superhero setup.  In some ways it reminded me a little of the opening to the “Batman: Animated Series” where Batman stops a couple of bank robbers.  It’s that classic archetypal situation that superheroes are suppose to and have thwarted since their inception.

I digress though, it serves more as a reintroduction for the Daredevil character.  He is in the shadows and don’t see him until the last robber is left.  Daredevil seems to have established himself as a hero in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and has a grasp on how to handle everything.  However he couldn’t possibly be ready for what is to come in form of the Punisher.

Jon Bernthal (of another comic book TV series “The Walking Dead”) takes up the mantle of the iconic Marvel anti-hero that was unsuccessfully occupied by previous actors Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson and even Dolph Lundgren.  Not to say any of those were necessarily bad performance (well with the exception of Lundgren) but they never struck a chord with audiences. Bernthal does.  This is the best performance of his career.  He isn’t playing Shane from “The Walking Dead” he inhabits this character.  He is brutal, uncompromising, but you understand his ideology and where he is coming from.  There is a emotional core that Bernthal and the writers bring to that character that was fully formed in previous incarnations.  There is a scene with him that might even move you to tears.

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The opposing ideologies of Daredevil and Punisher makes some of the most compelling scenes in the season.  Both want essentially the same thing (with taking down the bad guys) but they go about it in very different ways.  The war of words between the two characters is every bit if not more interesting than all the stunning fight sequences between the pair.

The second major character is Elektra playing Elodie Yung.  Yung absolutely owns the role of the sleek and sexy assassin.  Elektra comes back into Matt Murdock’s life from deep within his past and their relationship is intoxicating to watch on screen.  While Matt Murdock begins a relationship with Karen Page, Elektra makes it difficult for that to be carried on.  Jennifer Gardner was good for the role that was written for her (in the original 2003 “Daredevil”)  but Young owns the persona of the original comic book creation.  Her storyline though is one of the weaker parts of the season.  It can get a little muddled and doesn’t always circle back around and play into the Punisher storyline (which I felt was more of the main focus).    There is some stuff about the black sky that isn’t fully develop that surrounds her character.  But with her role also brings forth the villainous group known as the Hand (which makes for great foils for Daredevil).

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I think the key to this series is the writing.  It’s clear from above that the writers nail all the characters in the show (and this is after the writing talent of Drew Goddard has left the series).  But it’s the way the story is told that most intrigues me.  They manage to find a way to pack in an incredible amount of story into a really tight 13 episode package.  Not a single moment feels wasted and every minute counts.  There is a strong use of flashbacks to help flesh out some characters but they are selective of when they use it and get straight to the point of it (take some notes “Walking Dead” you don’t need an entire episode for a flashback).  The first four episodes are as close to perfect as you can get (I would have been satisfied with just those four episodes).

There is a lot more action as well in this season.  Between Punisher, Elektra, the Hand, Daredevil, (and the return of) Stick the action has been cranked up to eleven.  I couldn’t believe how much they went for and how well it all look.  Everything is shot as a wide angle where the stunts are very clearly done for the eye to see. Oh, and you remember how amazing the hallway fight scene was in episode 2 of the previous season right?  Well, this season found a way to top it with a mind blowing stairwell fight sequence that might turn out to the be the fight sequence of the year in North American entertainment (TV or film).

I think what I so appreciate about the action scenes is they feel genuine.  They feel like it’s people fighting for their lives.  I recently started watching “Arrow” and the fight sequences in that show sometimes really come across as just stunt men performing a stunt without the added benefit of any grit or feeling of reality to it.  I don’t feel like those characters are in danger whereas I am glued to the screen for the action in this series.  There is a bit of law of diminishing returns by the end of the season (by then we’ve seen the peak of the action); but as a whole it works.

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I’ve gone on long enough for everyone to get the picture that I loved this season.  This isn’t quite as good as the first season but it’s not far off either. The characters are so well defined and the performances are incredible.  Jon Bernthal deserves some Emmy consideration for his role in the season.  Charlie Cox is still amazing in this show (as are all the returning cast members).  Between this and “Deadpool” my 2016 superheroes year has started off great ( and hell even “Batman V Superman” wasn’t that bad it has a lot to love).  Time to bring on the next Netflix show (“Luke Cage”)  it’s also time for “Captain America: Civil War”.

Final Score

9/10

 

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