Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thoughts on Daredevil Season 2 (Spoiler Review)

This post will contain my thoughts on Daredevil Season 2 and will contain spoilers. If you found your way here before watching the show and care about spoilers, check out this no spoiler review and come back once you've watched the show. Basically, think of this as both of us have already seen the show and now we're talking about it at the water cooler. What did we think was cool, what didn't work, what was incredible. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below; spoilers welcome.

In Season 1, we had that incredible corridor fight scene, and whether it was intentional or just a result of how and who Daredevil fights, we had multiple great corridor fight scenes. Daredevil v. the Dogs of Hell and Punisher v. all the prisoners both stand out, but we also had Daredevil in sewers against ninja and Daredevil invading the Irish mob to rescue Punisher.

Every time one of these scenes is keying up, I just got giddy waiting for the sheer awesome that was about to follow.

I love how human Daredevil and the Punisher are. They are beat the crap up throughout the show. Daredevil has his helmet of awesomeness, but he gets shot, stabbed, etc. Punisher looks like HELL from Ep 4 on. The torture scenes were suitably visceral and cringe-worthy. Whether it's drill through the foot, or bamboo under the fingernails, that was not something I'd want to sit through.

Daredevil preventing Punisher from killing people on their way out was pretty cool. I thought of him acting like Spidey, pushing/pulling things just enough out of the way so that the Punisher wasn't able to finish any of the mobsters on the way out (although plenty were already killed before the Daredevil got there).

Both Jon Bernthal and Deborah Ann Woll had standout performances this season, and I'll be annoyed if both don't get Emmy nominations. From Bernthal, he was so keyed into the Punisher, that whether he was "punishing" or we were seeing a glimpse of his past through haunted eyes, it was something to watch. Woll was top-notch in every scene she was in. Everything was spot on and her character went through some great arcs: her romance with Murdock, her need to investigate Castle, her work on the Castle legal case with Foggy, her break-up with Murdock, her acceptance of the role at the Bulletin. Everything.

When I realized that Bernthal would be arrested early on, I totally got it. Here's another side of Murdock that we're going to see: the defense lawyer.

My introduction to Daredevil was his presence as a defense lawyer in the animated Spider-Man series of the 90s, and I've always thought of him as being the lawyer of the superheros, so it was incredibly disheartening to see him stumble his way through the trial. It didn't feel like how Murdock should be, even if he's dealing with the Hand alongside Elektra.

Then when you think he's going to come back in at the end and do some good, the Punisher screws the pooch. It would be nice to see Murdock v Foggy defending/suing a character like Luke Cage or Jessica Jones in a future series or season. I think they set that up well at the end for future seasons/series.

Elektra was a fantastic Elektra. To be perfectly honest, I've never been a big fan of the character, but I loved her role in the show. I thought her relationship with Matt was perfectly done and perfectly shown to us, and I found her personal arcs to be just as engaging as the other characters. My one issue was her threatening the medical examiner. That seemed a lot like plot convenience. She would know better than to do that and it's hard for me to look at how she's portrayed throughout the season and think she would think that would get her what she wants in ANY way. You can argue she was being vindictive, but that doesn't fit for me.

I can buy into the Punisher showing up at the end because he was listening to the police scanner and the police scanner was saying there's an army. But Foggy showing up? People had a tendency, especially near the end of the season, to just conveniently show up. The Punisher realizes his old lieutenant is the Blacksmith and crashes truck at exactly right time and place to effect his punishment? Plot convenience is convenient.

The final battle I had severe issues with. First, they show us a shot of dozens of ninja. Then, we see no more than 20 ninja in actual fight, and none breaking through from the building. I get that not every fight needs to be better than the one before it, but this was downright anticlimactic AND they have characters build it up even more like, "One thing is for sure, we will die" and "This could be the end of vigilantism". Seriously? Because Elektra (who no one knows anything about), Daredevil and a bunch of ninja are on top of a roof? Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are still out there. Hell, this is the Marvel universe now, Spider-Man is still out there. You're telling me vigilantism is over because a bunch of ninja no one can see is attacking Daredevil?

Also, why did they not get a helicopter with characters watching the fight and saying things like that? They had a helicopter earlier in the show unnecessarily. You're saying the budget was there for that but not for this? If either the detective or Karen had used her news resources to be in a news helicopter and they were watching Daredevil getting taken down by ninja and THEN they say those things that build up the fight and the struggle, then it's perfectly natural and understandable and adds to the drama. As it was, and especially with Foggy miraculously showing up, it felt forced.

Finally, the Punisher has a freaking arsenal now beyond anything he's had so far. That could have cut down on the ninja a bit more and would have shown us an unwinnable fight becoming plausibly winnable.

Lastly, we should have seen Daredevil come to some sort of acceptance about Nobu's immortality because otherwise his decision to throw him off the roof means he's committed murder now. And I get that we have Stick actually finish him off afterwards to "maintain the innocence of our hero," but that's a cop-out.

Away from the final fight, I loved that Daredevil had a hard time hearing ninja (they're freaking ninja after all), but I didn't get how he can't hear their heartbeats. The ninja are so ninja that their hearts are muffled? But he can hear their breathing no problem. Pretty silly. Maybe there was some explanation that I missed that would have explained it but it seemed implausible. I thought it would have made more sense that they were masking their breath for the most part and he had to rely on hearing their heartbeats. Also, in S1 they gave us this "world on fire" sonar vision but that doesn't apply to ninja? Okayyyy.

That's about all the nitpicky things I have to say. Overall, I was so impressed with the series. It feels like everything in Season 1 but better. Even though Matt hasn't changed much over the season, I would argue he's become more himself. And it was a satisfying arc to see. We saw Punisher and Elektra push and pull at his morality, and he came out stronger at the end (barring the Nobu murder).

I thought it was stupid they showed us that giant urn thing in the trailer if it ended up being more of a tease for next season, but it was fine in-show. Can't complain too much about advertising interfering with the show itself.

If I think of any other thoughts, I'll add them in the comments. What did you think? Are you looking forward to Luke Cage? There's a no spoiler teaser floating around for it somewhere (that I found underwhelming—but I'm still looking forward to seeing the series).

So far, Netflix Marvel is 3 for 3 in my opinion. I can't compare Jessica Jones to Daredevil because they're apples and oranges (fruit, comparison made), but both Jessica Jones S1 and Daredevil S2 were the best of what they are and I can't wait for more from them.

I do wonder how it will feel for Spider-Man to be a part of the cinematic universe and not interacting with the street level characters. Don't get me wrong, Spider-Man is an avenger, but what he does on a daily basis is fight street crime. He flips around the city and stops muggings, etc. It just so happens that he gets in over his head with supervillains every so often and makes a name for himself on the global/intergalactic/interdimensional scale as well. It also helps that he goes all over the city of New York due to his mobility and isn't restrained to just one tiny neighborhood (coff, Hell's Kitchen, coff).


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