The nights of New York City are run amok with organized crime that ride or die in the drug business. That’s where the so called “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen,” the vigilante known as Daredevil, comes in. As a now successful attorney by day, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) balances the life of his normal day time occupation as a lawyer at the law firm of Murdock and Nelson with his partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and assistant Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), as he dons the red suit to fight crime in the dark and streets of the city that never sleeps.
Set in the Marvel universe, “Daredevil” brings that universe into a darker and more violent territory, one that’s not really seen in the Marvel cinematic universe. Such a thing happens when Marvel and Netflix team up to introduce more underground vigilantes to its world, with lesser known heroes such as Jessica Jones and Luke Cage getting their own shows. “Daredevil,” however, began this new trend of including more adult subject matter in Marvel productions. Last year’s debut was excellent and made for one of the year’s best shows and now season two perhaps is even better thanks to the addition of more strong and entertaining characters.
After successfully taking down crime kingpin, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), Nelson and Murdock have garnered a favorable reputation among the people of New York which has brought them booming success. Likewise, Murdock as Daredevil has made his own reputation among the gangs of New York. But after a series of massacres hit the streets, the NYPD and Daredevil are on a hunt to find out who’s behind the hits. This leads the way for the debut of the seemingly unstoppable Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), dubbed as “The Punisher” for his way of killing.
Bernthal’s take on the badass mercenary of the night is without a doubt the best addition to season two. His presence on the show is nothing short of phenomenal, and if superhero shows aren’t taken so seriously, they should be, because Bernthal’s performance alone is Emmy award-worthy. Not only is his character intimidating, but he also shows a fragile and sympathetic side. The morals and ways of living that Castle pursues and how it clashes with Daredevil’s code make for deep and intellectual themes that reside through the whole season. It makes the essence of his Punisher character one of the very best anti-heroes that I’ve seen on television.
As great as The Punisher is, the original cast is still captivating. Cox as the titular character carries the show well. It’s a testament to his character and his acting ability that I find both his take on the crime fighter at night and lawyer by day both equally entertaining. Henson and Woll as Murdock’s partner and assistant, respectively, make for great characters yet again. It’s nice to see how the chemistry between these characters has developed from season one and how well they work together. It makes the show have heart whenever they’re bonding and having fun as friends, not as work colleagues. As violent and entertaining as the show is, it’s refreshing to see the show take a breather whenever the three are together.
Alongside the addition of The Punisher comes the femme fatale Elektra (Elodie Yung). Yung does a fine job of being the assassin whether it’s aiding or being a nuisance to the man in the devil suit. Her romance and chemistry with Cox is great and surprisingly heartfelt, even if they’re on different sides of the same coin.
While Elektra is a great addition as a character, her narrative feels a little out of place. Her entrance in the season happens around after the first four episodes which heavily revolve around The Punisher. After this, the season finds itself trying to balance another side of the Punisher’s story with Elektra’s radically different story elsewhere in the same episodes. I found myself entranced by the continuing tale of Castle throughout, but not so much for Elektra’s. In fact, I found it to be quite annoying when Elektra’s storyline interrupted the Punisher’s, as it frequently hindered the pacing in some episodes. In some instances, I felt they could’ve just solely continued The Punisher’s storyline and saved Elektra for later. While Elektra’s storyline definitely picks up the pace in some episodes, I found myself caring way more for the character of Castle and being decidedly neutral to what’s going on with Elektra.
The dozens of fight scenes that happen throughout “Daredevil” also deserve praise. I would be lying if I said some of the scenes don’t have me in awe. As one episode during the first half shows, the showrunners take no restrictions to show how aggressive and exhausting they are. It’s entertaining and with so much violence, it’s surprising they don’t get stale.
Ultimately, if it weren’t for Bernthal’s performance as The Punisher, season two would’nt have been as entertaining. His storyline is the best thing to happen to “Daredevil” and amps the show up a notch to create an amazing superhero drama. Elektra as a character, while great, brings the show down a bit with her not too thrilling storyline.Regardless, “Daredevil” still makes for one of the best shows on television that sets a new standard that superhero shows should aspire too.