So Friday, Netflix launched the second series of the highly acclaimed original, Daredevil, based on the comics of the same name. As a fan of both the series and character of Daredevil, this, of course was something I’ve been looking forward too for a while now. Unfortunately, this series felt like a bit of an anti-climax…
[Read on for explanations of the above statement, but warning, SPOILERS!]
Maybe it was my own fault that I didn’t enjoy this series much. I’ve watched and re-watched series one so many times, I suppose it was a little much to expect series two to live up to my expectations. Even so, it felt a little… over-the-top.
The series began as you might expect, picking straight up where the first ended. With Daredevil cracking down on crime from the rooftops of Hells Kitchen – more specifically intervening in an armed robbery. An effective, though ultimately pointless, way of welcoming us back to the story.
Series two is completely different to series one, different villains – par for a few guest appearances – different plotlines, different pace. So what was the point of linking it to the former series in such a way? All this leads to is disappointment… for me, anyway. Yes, I was disappointed, and actually a little confused by the end. Whereas the former series had one main plot (get Fisk), this series seemed to have many tangents which it kept shooting off on.
The first being the introduction of Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle/Punisher, who, in trying to find the culprits in the shooting and murder of his family has turned to vigilante justice. Only, a lot heavier handed type of justice than our own Mr Murdock is willing to dish out, more permanent too – murder. Actually, I would have been satisfied were this series focussed on this: Daredevil vs. Punisher. Episode three in particular showed a lot of potential for this… friendship? Enemity? Alliance? However, the story fizzled out before it really had a chance to get going and Castle was incarcerated… with Nelson and Murdock representing him of course.
Whilst Castle’s in prison, and barely 5 episodes in, we’re introduced to another plot line, and yet another former girlfriend of Matt Murdock’s, Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung). To anyone who saw the 2003 Ben Affleck film, this name will be familiar as Matt’s love interest. Well, now it turns out they met in college (I’m not much of a Marvel fan, so no idea whether this tallies with the comics or not), and she has apparently come back to New York for business. As it turns out, she, like Matt, is highly trained in martial arts, and was even trained by his sensei/mentor, Stick. Much to Matt’s surprise when he’s told after the pair fight a bunch of ninja-types at the site of the giant, bottomless hole they find in an abandoned warehouse.
But all of this is apparently important and leads both to the reintroduction of Stick (Scott Glenn) and talk of the war we heard so much about in season one. A war which is apparently centred in New York. This is despite the fact that it originates in Ancient East Asia?
And of course, these two completely unrelated stories crash against each other through the man himself: Matt Murdock. Who, torn between his day-work as a lawyer and night-work as Daredevil, seems intent on screwing up his non-vigilante life completely! After, ruining the makings of a romantic relationship with Karen in favour of an imagined fairy-tale life as Daredevil with Elektra, pushing his friendship with Foggy beyond breaking-point and neglecting his legal-case to the point of destruction, he inevitably loses out on both sides of his life. Elektra dies (for the moment at least, it seems that immortality is possible) and Punisher is forced to run from the law (after Fisk pays for his illegal release from prison???).
Somehow this all leads to Matt, rather dramatically, revealing to Karen that he’s Daredevil.
Apart from being completely confused by this point, I was actually, genuinely quite shocked that Karen hadn’t figured it out herself already. We’re lead to believe her character’s quite intelligent, and for-goodness sake, she’s working part-time as an investigative journalist! She’s noticed the injuries Matt keeps turning up with, she know’s how much Daredevil/’the man in black’ helped her and the firm last season, and she knows that Matt and Foggy are hiding a big secret. Come-on honey! Doesn’t take a genius!
Overall, too much happened in this season, and I missed the subtlety of the first. Of course, I understand and anticipated that the popularity of the first would mean that more money would be showered on the franchise, and that the stories would probably become more ambitious. But in this case I think that’s had a derogatory effect. It feels like the programme-makers have chosen ambition over coherence and tried to fit too much story into too short a schedule.