Satisfying action, impressive new villain can’t save ‘Daredevil’ season 2 from feeling underwritten

THE HERO NETFLIX DESERVES – The show’s writers wanted to introduce The Punisher in a post-credit scene in season 1 but couldn’t because of Netflix auto-starting the next episode during the current episode’s credits.

Matt Murdock and crew are back for another brutal, gritty season of Daredevil; the patron saint of Hell’s Kitchen, who, in the first season, successfully took on Wilson Fisk and his crime syndicate, all while tackling demons inside and out. That sounds like generic comic book fodder, but Daredevil tries to subvert the line between comedy and drama that the Marvel Cinematic Universe films treads on. It’s a fairly dark affair, with a little humor here and there but no huge bits devoted to making the audience laugh. Netflix’s original series is concerned really with only a few things: populating the show with likable leads, while creating terrifying villains who have a penchant for doing some truly gruesome things. The show’s second season, released March 18, does exactly that with not one but two new adversaries for Daredevil to encounter.

Season 2 picks up many months after the end of the first season; Daredevil is a household (and respected) name in Hell’s Kitchen, and it seems as if the city’s population is liking that he’s taking care of the rampant crime. However, nothing is ever easy for Matt Murdock, Daredevil’s alter ego, a lawyer as well as a friend to his associates, Foggy Nelson and Karen Page. The lead cast feels more natural than it did at the end of the first season leading to more emotional beats for the characters. It feels like their relationships are tenser even in the first episode, as Page flirts with Murdock, something that I didn’t dream happening, at least this soon. There is tension among the main cast, but the addition of two new characters makes things hectic but not crowded.

One of the obvious problems with comic books films or television shows is the amount of characters to which the writers are given access. It seems both a blessing and curse that they could sprinkles as many random heroes or villains as they want to in the script. Daredevil invites two new and essential comic book characters into its new season, The Punisher and Elektra, but balances them both very well. Frank Castle aka The Punisher is Hell’s Kitchen newest vigilante who encounters Daredevil in the first episode of the season. He fights for good, but it often ends in bloodshed as he prefers to use guns instead of fists to fight. It becomes clear that he and Murdock are trying to contribute to the same cause, albeit under different circumstances. During the third episode, which is also the season and the series’ best, they share a conversation about what it means to them to be a vigilante. It’s a powerful moment that feels earned even though the show’s, and The Punisher’s, legacy is fairly short. Jon Bernthal being cast as Castle is a dream, as he both looks the role and plays him with the same smart toughness that he has in the comics.

The Punisher’s strength also creates an error with the show that was ever-present in the first season, however; it offsets Daredevil and makes him boring by comparison. Wilson Fisk, the villain of the first season, was so interesting and layered that he overshadowed any of Murdock’s character development, and that’s exactly what happens during the second season. Both new characters, although more Punisher than Elektra, are so well-written and focused that the show kind of forgets to make the others noticeable, leading the second season to feel underdeveloped and overall a retread of the first season. Yet when there is action, the show feels as fresh as ever. A few sequences are too good to spoil, but they really leave an impact with their impressive camerawork and well-executed fight choreography. Daredevil still outshines even most comic book films in this aspect, and it’s one of the reasons to keep coming back.

Daredevil is going to stay on Netflix’s docket for years to come, though, and hopefully the writers can learn to make more involving arcs for the main cast while still presenting the same incredible action sequences the show has consistently kept throughout. The fact of the matter is that Daredevil Season 2 feels like more of the same without change, but the strength of what’s new outweighs what is trying to be changed in the old. Even if it’s a disappointment, it’s still a bloody good time.