Season two of ‘Daredevil’ amasses strong performances but confuses in multiple storylines

Actors from left to right, Charlie Cox, Elodie Yung and Jon Bernthal of the Netflix show "Marvel's Daredevil" sit for an interview in this screenshot. Lega Nerd via Youtube

On March 18, Netflix released season two of “Marvel’s Daredevil.” The series follows the blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), who fights crime at night, as Daredevil, the morally conflicted vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen. The second season focuses on Murdock’s struggle to balance his two lives and introduces known Marvel characters such as Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), also known as The Punisher, and Elektra Natchios (Élodie Yung).

Despite promising initial episodes, season two of “Daredevil” disappoints in script and plot, falling into a monotonous rhythm that fails to excite. Its laughable discourse, such as the use of “The Punisher” (which bears a resemblance to a WWE stage name) and contrived wordplay of Hell’s Kitchen and “Daredevil” quickly loses its appeal to those not accustomed to the comic books. While “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (2015 – present) utilizes strong elements of investigative and psychological intrigue,Daredevil” relies far too heavily on fight scenes and multiple subplots to keep the season moving forward. It easily loses momentum, often breaking away from one character’s plotline at a critical moment in order to continue the narrative elsewhere. One of the more interesting and thorough storylines, an investigation into the murder of Castle’s family and its subsequent cover-up, is sadly overshadowed by a confusing and poorly-explained plot involving the creation of an army of immortal ninjas. The plot becomes much more disjointed than it was in the first season, sometimes only held together by the common occurrence of violence. Although expertly executed, the many grotesque and brutal fight scenes may repel some viewers while boring others with their frequency.

The performances from all members of the “Daredevil” cast and the characters’ complexities manage to carry the show when the script and plot fall short. Cox manages to charm and engage even when masks and dark sunglasses hide his eyes, an essential tool for actors to express emotion and connect with their audience. Although there are weak links within the cast — Elden Henson tends to make the character of Franklin “Foggy” Percy Nelson intolerable — Bernthal, Yung and Vincent D’Onofrio (Wilson Fisk) all depict their characters with skill and finesse. Frank Castle (The Punisher) acts as an interesting representation for what Murdock fears he will become. While Daredevil refuses to kill, The Punisher’s identity is rooted in his unapologetic murders of those whom he finds to be harmful to society. This pivotal distinction between the two vigilantes raises important developmental issues for the protagonist. The arrival of Elektra Natchios, Murdock’s girlfriend and a skilled assassin, brings danger and vitality back into Daredevil’s life, creating conflict between him, Foggy and Karen . The audience is given important insight into Murdock’s past through his memories with Elektra and shared mentor Stick, answering key questions about the Daredevil’s origin.

The events of “Daredevil” thrive in the night; most of the episodes are shot in very obscure, dark settings. This not only adds to the atmosphere of Matt Murdock’s secret crime-fighting life but also offers insight into his world as a blind man. The show pays more attention to sound — to which Daredevil has an extreme sensitivity and uses to “see” the world — making the audience aware of its importance when sight is inaccessible and providing meaningful comprehension of Murdock’s world. With the limited amount of light that is used, the show uses exaggerated colors of yellow, green and red to invoke the bright, colorful style of comic books. These stylistic choices keep the show interesting and give it a distinctive cinematic personality in comparison to most television series.

“Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” are the first two releases of a five-series deal between Disney and Netflix set to break boundaries in its creation of an entire Netflix/Marvel universe. The project originally aims to produce four shows focusing one of the heroes of Hell’s Kitchen — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist — culminating in a fifth four-to-eight-episode crossover mini-series, “The Defenders.” “Marvel’s Luke Cage” will be the next release of this enterprise, premiering on Sept. 30 on Netflix.

Part of the appeal of “Daredevil” is the knowledge of the simultaneous events happening in “Jessica Jones.” The audience is rewarded for watching the two shows, with the satisfaction of understanding the references made and recognizing characters that appear in both. Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a nurse that helps Daredevil in times of injury, is already a bridge between “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” and will likely serve as a main connection between all four series. The crossovers will surely increase as the other series are produced, giving “The Defenders” the potential to be an exciting and complex culmination for Netflix’s rendition of these four heroes. This will surely provide audiences with the motive to continue watching “Daredevil” even if season two fell short of their expectations.


Summary

In its second season, "Daredevil" disappoints in coherency but is saved by engaging characters and notable performances.

3.5 stars
COPYRIGHT 2019 THE TUFTS DAILY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.