Daredevil’s second season was released on Netflix late last week, which means many of the diehard Marvel fans and regular Netflix binge-watchers have had ample time to fly through all 13 episodes by now.
If you’ve watched all 13 episodes, allow this article to serve as a rundown of some the best and worst parts of the second season. If you haven’t yet—maybe you caught the season premiere but didn’t have time for the rest yet, or maybe you’re waiting to see what people think before jumping in on the binge—the next 475 words are for you.
Daredevil is amazing, both as a television show and as a character. As a viewer, you feel the pain of everything Matt Murdock goes through—as a struggling and entirely distracted lawyer and as the devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
The show is part of the larger Marvel Universe, but there are only tacit references to anything going on outside Hell’s Kitchen. There are no more than three references to Jessica Jones or Luke Cage, and while the first season of Daredevil did make vague references to the disaster that occurred in New York City in the first Avengers movie, this show is set in a world where all that may have happened, yes, but villains coming out of the sky are hardly as fierce as those on the ground, eating Hell’s Kitchen alive from the inside.
As a protector of his city, Daredevil thrives. As a friend, co-worker and lover, Daredevil is a disaster. Sometimes, that lack of balance makes the show more powerful—the tug-of-war as Murdock loses more and more of himself into the masked character he created to fight back—but at other times it hurts the story, the other characters and the show as a whole.
In the first season of Daredevil, much of the story centered around Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin character was somewhat reinvented for the Netflix show, becoming three dimensional, with feelings and love and anger and fear and pain that mirrored Daredevil’s. Those feelings were a crucial part of the show.
In the second season of Daredevil, Frank Castle shows up in Hell’s Kitchen. The Punisher. And the feelings of love and anger and fear and pain are even more real. More grounded. More…understandable, which makes that underlying theme of this show even better than it was in season one.
Jon Bernthal is so good as Frank Castle that it makes you stop and wish every scene, or at least every episode included some heart to heart conversation between The Punisher and Daredevil. It’s hard to put into words how great he is, at least without spoiling way too much.
And Elodie Yung is wonderful as Elektra Natchios as well, even if at times the storylines may have mixed a little too much, muddling her introduction, and her impact on Daredevil, a little too much.
In all, the second season of Daredevil is much like the first—horrifically violent and strikingly beautiful. It’s probably the best superhero story being told on any size screen today. And yet, it does have some issues. We’ll save those for the next section, after you’ve watched the second season.
If you haven’t watched Daredevil at all, this is a warning that there are moments, both emotionally and without question physically, that are hard to watch. Faces explode, projectiles are thrown into eyes—blindness seems to be a theme on the show—and heads, at times, do roll. Figuratively. And maybe also once or twice literally. But if you can get past that, the show is amazing. So go watch season two, then come back in 13 hours for the rest.
Spoilers abound. Do not read the rest of this if you have not watched season 2. You have been warned.
As good as the show is, there are times in season 2 when it feels like they rushed some stories along. Everyone was so happy with season one, the show runners could ostensibly kick their feet up waiting for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to have their first seasons before Netflix and Marvel were like, “hey, guys, do you want to put out another season next year? We’d like that.”
And that led to what feels like some hasty storytelling decisions. None of them hurt the quality of the show, per se, but on a program this good, some moments could have been tightened up, explained a little deeper or left out entirely. And yet, at times you watch an episode—episode three for example—and think there isn’t one shot you’d change.
With that, here are some of the good and the bad with Season 2.
Thank GOD they fixed the helmet and mask. In the first season, we don’t see Daredevil’s costume until the last episode and the helmet was really, really bad. Clearly the attempt was to make the man in red fit in more with the real world of today and less in the comic book pages of bright colors and spandex, but it didn’t work. Rather than just sneak in a new helmet this season, they added it to the storyline (see image a few paragraphs back), and it totally worked, giving Matt a more traditional Daredevil look (seen just above, with Stick) while using the broken helmet as a plot device.
Also, while it took nearly two full seasons to get there, the introduction of the billyclub was perfect. Even the wait made it better.
It was 100 degrees to start the show and Christmas at the end. Maybe because I binged it felt like the whole thing took place over the course of like six weeks, but it seemed odd to throw the Christmas references in at the end, given, one, the weather wasn’t a part of the show outside of the first episode to show how hot and gross Hell’s Kitchen had become and, two, how religious Matt Murdock is and how that aspect of the day was totally ignored.
The trial of Frank Castle
The entire trial of Frank Castle felt like the writers needed to stretch 10 episodes into 13, give Foggy something to do and somehow connect the dots from The Punisher and Daredevil to Frank Castle and Matt Murdock. It was one of the worst decisions of any great show ever.
Every court room scene was worse than the one before it. Foggy’s opening statement was fine, but the build up to that was a cliché. Matt disappeared for how long during the trial of the century—and for what…recon?— then came in and didn’t ask Castle one question, instead testified to the jury with Frank a “hostile witness” and the district attorney didn’t object one time. Not once.
Then Frank is like “uh, can I say something.” He was testifying! And after all that nonsense, he then undid everything with what he said.
Not to mention the scenes were dragged out for days. They would all go to court, one guy would say something and they’d adjourn for the day. Maybe that’s how they got from the summer to Christmas so fast.
They basically punted on making him anything more than a nagging wife. And, yes, he finally showed how good a lawyer he can be, and that will undoubtedly tie in Jessica Jones in future seasons of one or both shows given where he’s getting hired by the end of the season, but Foggy never got to be the hero’s human sidekick. It was just all arguing and secrets—why would Matt have kept Elektra a secret from him other than as a thin plot device—and it didn’t help the show or his character.
Karen. So much Karen.
The show is called Daredevil, but they might as well have renamed it Karen Page.
• We need a third person to keep Foggy and Matt together, professionally and personally. That’s Karen Page.
• Matt needs a love interest that will get complicated by Elektra’s return, but not too complicated and we’ll probably just kind of drop it halfway through the season. Yep, Karen Page.
• We need someone to figure out that The Punisher is Frank Castle, and that he had a family. Maybe this person can threaten the assistant DA for information and then use that information to break into Castle’s old house. Karen Page!
• We need someone who believes in Castle no matter how many people he murders. Obviously, that’ll be Karen Page.
• We need someone who routinely gets shot at but never dies. Duh. Karen Page.
• Oh, shit, we killed Ben Urich for NO REASON AT ALL last season and now we need someone who can investigate old stories for us. Let’s give that to Karen Page.
• In the comics, Jessica Jones goes from being a private investigator to becoming a journalist, working with Urich. Since we killed him, and thus any connection to those shows in that regard, let’s combine those two characters give that storyline to…Karen Page.
Shall we go on? Karen Page gets hired at the biggest newspaper in New York City without providing a writing sample. Karen Page gets to sit in a hospital room with a mass murderer because he said everyone else had to leave.
Karen Page gets unlimited visitation rights to Frank Castle during his trial without Nelson or Murdock present, and she’s not even a lawyer!
Karen Page and her new editor are allowed to walk into an active murder scene and look around, then two of the cops working that active murder scene leave that active murder scene to take her home because she’s the likely next target.
After she almost gets murdered in her apartment, Karen is eventually taken to a motel where her new protective detail decides to stand guard OUTSIDE THE BUILDING that has multiple exits, instead of just standing outside her door like any real protective detail would do. So of course that allows Karen to sneak out and go to a diner with Castle before she almost gets killed again, if only so she could stick around to witness how much of a monster her new friend Frank really is.
Oh, and let’s not forget that before she gets kidnapped by The Hand with a group of people to lure Daredevil into a fight, she unlocks the entire mystery to this season. While Castle dedicated his life to figuring out who murdered his family, who solved the crime of the century, albeit accidentally? Karen Page.
Castle as a conflicted villain was as good or better than Fisk, or Killgrave on Jessica Jones.
Let’s hope he doesn’t get his own show though, as he would be amazing as a pop in and out character on the Netflix shows and potentially in the movies.
She should have had her own season. The flashbacks were the best part of her story, but it felt like she was used as a “she’s pulling Matt away from his real life” too much, or maybe not enough.
There was only really one interaction with Matt, Elektra and Karen and she was incapacitated at the time, so, again, they either didn’t play up the love triangle enough or it was too much, as it became confusing with all the Punisher stuff going on at the time.
Certainly there will be more with her in the future, but it felt like they could have left Castle rotting in a cell for more of the season to spend a few episodes exclusively on Elektra before starting the trial.
Her death was absolutely telegraphed with that “there are ninjas all around us let’s talk about how ‘if we make it out of here’ we will leave New York and run away together” conversation she and Matt had. Still, up until that point her entire arc was well handled, even if it deserved more time on its own. Bringing back Stick was a surprise and the explanation of her connection to Stick, and to Matt, was strong.
That was a surprise, and it was great. He’s great. That was fun. And yet…
The Prison Problem
At the start of the prison scenes Fisk had just one guard on his payroll and was running out of money. It was convenient, and a little too so, that his one guard was able to get to Castle and convince him to ruin his own trial. Fisk may be a good manipulator, but it was hard to believe that Castle would trust the guard that much at any point.
Fisk also took over the prison with ease and not only did he have the entire prison under his control, by the time Castle did his dirty work, everyone around him “feared” him. The guards were calling him sir or Mr. Fisk. Yes, they were being paid by him and they’re obviously corrupt, but the fear felt forced. Picking nits there.
The Hand, Nobu and Black Sky
Even in the comics, The Hand is a confusing villain and without that background information, people who watch just the show might be really confused.
Were the ninjas able to mask their heartbeats like Matt suggested, or did they not have heartbeats? The one body examined in the hospital had been autopsied, which means he was dead and returned to life. So were Daredevil and Elektra fighting zombie ninjas? It would make sense, given how two fighters were able to defeat dozens of trained warriors.
While it was also a surprise that Stick was back—and awesome how that story connected—didn’t Stick kill a/the Black Sky in season one? Are there multiple Black Skies? Was he wrong the first time, or was he lying to Matt? And were we supposed to remember all of those details enough to process an otherwise incredibly confusing storyline?
Why were the five near corpses draining their blood so willingly? That whole story felt like insane shock value but was never entirely explained. And if the season ended with Elektra going in the regenerative blood bath, who was in it before? Were they draining all that blood as a preventative measure? Was that how Nobu returned to life, and they were using it to reanimate all his soldiers?
If they explained any of this, it was still very confusing, and on a season with Matt and Foggy and Karen and Karen and Karen and Elektra and Stick and Frank and Fisk and Claire the Nurse and Mahoney the Cop and Ellison the Editor and Nobu the bad guy and all the other bad guys and the Colonel who turned out to be a druglord, it felt like whenever they got into trouble with the story, they put Daredevil in a dark room with a bunch of ninjas and had him punch and kick (but not kill people) until we forgot all the plot holes and smiled at just how awesome the show looks.
There is more to love, and more to question, but there is no denying how awesome the show looks, and is. Let’s hope in season three—whenever that comes—that the best characters get more time, they rely less on Karen to move every major plot point along, and a villain like Bullseye comes into Matt’s world so he goes back to fighting one major bad guy, not a few hundred at a time.