The second season of Daredevil came with high expectations considering that its inaugural season was as close to perfect as you could get. Inevitably, Netflix's follow-up to the grounded and gritty take on the Devil of Hell's Kitchen is not only a disappointment, but shifts the show's focus and its characters in a direction that undermines what the first season set up so beautifully.
Season 2 starts off promising, introducing Frank Castle a.k.a The Punisher (Jon Bernthal), a brutal, ex-Marine who kills first and never asks questions later. His brand of vigilante justice is an interesting mirror to Matt Murdock's (Charlie Cox) no-kill policy when it comes to fighting criminals. The two characters have intriguing character interactions, especially on a rooftop in the third episode.
In addition, the state of Matt's law firm with his friends Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), despite winning a victory over Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) in Season One, is under intense pressure to keep afloat and still not taken seriously by the higher-ups in law enforcement. One fault with Season One was the lack of courtroom drama and there is no shortage of that in this season.
Through the first four episodes, Daredevil makes the audience believe that this is what the entire season will be about; Matt struggling with the morality of vigilante justice, the relationship with his friends, and the survival of his law firm – but that all changes with Episode Five with the introduction of Elektra (Elodie Yung).
Elektra and the storyline that surrounds her character is a destructive distraction both to Matt and the show in general. While Elektra's portrayal does the comics justice, the show gradually descends into a poorly-edited and disjointed mess.
The show attempts to bring in a supernatural element involving Elektra and a mysterious group called The Hand, which is a direct counterbalance to the tone of the show in the first season. While Daredevil gets more interesting (the show is very slow going for the first eight episodes), it shifts focus from strong character development to messy world-building.
Apart from Punisher and Karen, the characters in this season of Daredevil either regress or don't develop at all. Foggy went from being the vessel for the audience to experience Daredevil's world through, to a compulsive complainer, no matter the situation.
Matt is firmly entrenched in his beliefs of who he is as a person and there is never any tension in the scenes where his morality is questioned.
It's saying something that supporting characters from Season One own most of this season's high-points.
What Daredevil gets right is its fight choreography and its use of violence. However, it fails to live up to the bar set by the previous season. The violence, which was so well-handled in Season One, comes off as having less meaning even if it is more gratuitous and brutal. The show as a whole is also less filmic than before and turns into more of a procedural, with its tone being all too reminiscent of CW's Arrow – which is not a good thing.
Perhaps the greatest misstep in Season Two is the storytelling, which is rife with cliches and deus ex machina moments. The Punisher and Elektra threads also don't cross paths in any meaningful way, and would have been better served to be split into two seasons. Plot threads are left dangling with little to no explanation – a clear indication Season Two is more of a launchpad for a greater Netflix universe rather than a good Daredevil story.
By it's finale, Season Two takes what made Daredevil so special in the first place and conforms it to generic comic book tropes. While Daredevil is still in the upper echelon of what Marvel has to offer, it's relationship to the overall brand seems to be more of a curse than a blessing.Our Rating: Note