Monday, March 21, 2016

Daredevil Season 2 Review/Recap (Spoilers!): Amazing Action and a Perfect Punisher

A little more than two thirds of the season was fantastic and then a third was just good.
The second season of the Daredevil was an interesting case study in how Netflix is changing how the way stories are being told. The first four episodes are almost a self-contained story with a complete arch for The Punisher vs Daredevil. I think a show on network or cable television would have waited to introduce us to The Punisher until later in the season. It would have had more villains of the weak, with a mysterious new killer on the scene that Matt would have to look into. Instead Matt finds him in the first episode and they fight for the first time. The action is a strength throughout the entire second season, and it really upped the ante from the first season. The third episode stairwell fight took the hallway scene from the first season and put it on steroids. I loved every second and could watch that scene on repeat. The second fight that stands out above the rest is when The Punisher takes out a cell block full of prisoners with just a shiv. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite out of those two both were great, with Jon Bernthal proving he is an amazing punisher.
Bernthal is a major positive of the season. He was able to convey both the cold hearted ruthlessness of the character, and how damaged he is after losing his family. The first four episodes are a great introduction to the character. Matt doesn’t believe in the way he does things, but he understands wanting to do them. The rooftop discussion between Matt and Frank is fantastic. It was a great dichotomy of both of their beliefs in the right way to do things. By the end of the season you even see Matt start to bend to Frank’s way of thinking instead of the other way around. Matt can see a need to kill in some instances, were Frank never believes in the redemption of people who do wrong. Bernthal also makes you feel for the character. The scene when he is arrested in the graveyard was actually moving. You felt that his pain for the loss of his little girl. I think every Punisher that is cast from now on will be compared to Bernthal’s portrayal as the standard.
The season for me got everything right, until episode ten. The last three episodes were scatter brained and not cohesive. There was too much going on and the show wasn’t as focused as it was in the first nine episodes. It almost seemed like they needed another four episodes to properly wrap up the season, and I’m not sure why they couldn’t have done this. I know budget is probably the main reason why, but if was the case then they either should have focused on Frank finding out who was behind killing his family and having Matt help him, or focus on The Hand and what they were doing in the city. Having both in the last few episodes made the story feel too jam-packed and I don’t think either story was resolved as well as it should have been. Having Frank show up at the end to help Matt felt tacked on and unnecessary. I felt Matt had everything under control after The Hand killed Elektra.
 Elodie Young did a good job with the role of Elektra, but I’m not sure I liked her being the main focus for The Hand. It felt forced into the story and not a natural element. It was another part of the last few episodes that seemed to get jumbled. Other than this though she did a great job with the character and she played a temperamental seductress very well. The chemistry between her and Matt was also well done, and added an interesting element to Matt trying to date Karen Page. Page was another great character of the season, and I found her believable in being someone who wouldn’t quit on Frank and his story. I like that she is going to work for the newspaper, it’s a little far-fetched that she would get a job like that, but character sells us on being able to handle herself.
The other half of the law firm was also strong in the show, though I again felt he got lost in the show’s resolution, simply because he doesn’t go out and punch people. Foggy had some great moments, like standing up to the DA about witness protection and getting pissed at Matt for not being reliable. They did a great job of making it were Foggy had a legitimate reason to be pissed at Matt in the show. Matt should have been at court, and should have given the opening statement in Frank’s trial. We also can side with Matt though because he feels he is doing what he must to protect the city. Foggy’s angry is legitimate but so is Matt’s excuse. The only true resolution to the problem is for the firm to close shop. Matt isn’t going to change, and Foggy has a right to have a partner he can rely on. The buildup to them closing down was well done, I just wish Foggy would have had more to do in the last few episodes because he such a good character and they developed him well.
The season as a whole is excellent and I can see myself watching it again.  It also felt very separate from the overall MCU. The only mention of any other hero or event was with some newspaper headlines, and some references to Jessica Jones. I’m not sure they can to merge the Netflix Marvel world with the overall cinematic universe. Yes they are technically taking place on the same earth, but they have completely different tones that work well for both mediums.  Side note, Clancy Brown has now played a military person in both The Flash and now Daredevil. He might be one of the only actors to portray roles in both universes. I’m now eagerly looking forward to Luke Cage. Netflix and Marvel haven’t disappointed yet. While I felt the last few episodes lost focus, it speaks to how fantastic the first nine episodes are for me to still consider the season overall great.

What did you think of Daredevil Season 2? Did you think it was too jumbled in the last few episodes like me, or did you love it all the way through? What was your favorite action sequence? Do you want a Punisher series now with Bernthal? I know I do. 

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