I so wanted Daredevil’s sophomore season to blow my mind. Sadly, it did not.
Netflix’s first foray into Marvel television was near perfect with Daredevil and Jessica Jones‘ debut seasons. The main problem with season two however, is the unevenness. While Elektra was positively fantastic (I’ll get to her in a bit), I was completely underwhelmed by The Punisher, and the tedious adventures of Foggy and Karen.
First off, it’s worth noting that Jon Bernthal is perfectly cast as The Punisher. He expertly embodies the character’s menacing streak while harboring a lot of pain and emotion in the process. Sadly, the pacing and writing let him down this season. The character is saddled with cliche speeches about morality, not to mention having to disappear for long stretches at a time for no apparent reason. The show tries to fill the void by having Foggy and Karen handle his case, but I find both characters immensely grating. This is particularly true where Karen is concerned; she’s whiny, and constantly stealing screen-time from characters who would make better use of it.
Then there’s Elektra. Famously played by Jennifer Garner in the 2005 spinoff from the equally terrible Ben Affleck film, Elodie Yung finally gives the iconic character a worthy portrayal. In fact, her performance is the undeniable highlight of the entire season. Every single one of her scenes is a gem to behold, with Yung’s exotic accent and seductive charisma lighting up the screen at every turn. Not only is she phenomenal in the show’s action scenes, skilfully showcasing Elektra’s brutality, she’s endearing in the show’s quieter moments as she struggles with the antiheroine’s duality. Moreover, Elektra’s complicated dynamic with Matt really makes the season, with Yung and Cox’s chemistry proving to be one of the finest pairings I’ve ever seen on television. Here’s hoping Elektra comes back for season three; even better, here’s PRAYING the rumors are true and she gets her own Netflix show. God knows the character and Yung deserve it.
As the blind badass you can’t help but love, Charlie Cox continued to deliver first-rate work this season as Matt Murdock. Instead of letting the show’s newest additions overshadow the Devil from Hell’s Kitchen, the writers wisely maintained focus on our protagonist throughout. While I would have liked to see his dynamic with season one’s baddie Wilson Fisk explored even further, the Elektra component added just the right dose of complexity and emotion to Matt’s journey. It’s not easy to sell a blind buttkicker, but I genuinely believe that Cox delivers the most consistent and underrated work across the entire Marvel/DC spectrum.
In my review of season one, I signalled out a spectacular one-take fight scene that spanned three whole minutes. I’m pleased to report that the show topped itself this year with a similar technical achievement: a stairway set-piece that’s absolutely mindblowing on every level. With various thugs charging from every angle, the fight is ruthless and relentless as Matt struggles to make his out of a building with a gun taped to one hand and a chain in the other. There are no words… watch it.
– Although the season premiere is slow, the ending is perfect with Daredevil getting shot by The Punisher and crashing off the rooftop.
– Haunting moment: Matt losing his hearing, and falling and screaming in his apartment.
– Great character moment: The Punisher almost leaving the pawn shop before realizing the owner is a pedophile and grabbing a bat.
– Nail-biting fight scene between Punisher and Daredevil to end episode two on the roof as bullets fly everywhere. It culminates beautifully with the two crashing through the skylight, and Matt losing his hearing yet again before getting abducted and waking up in chains.
– Luke Cage mention by Claire! How I love Rosario Dawson.
– Epic moment with Daredevil throwing the chains at Frank who blows up the motorcycles at the last second.
– The Punisher’s 10 minute monologue about losing his daughter was too much.
– The backflip that Matt does at the end of the stairway fight scene? Kickass!
– Beautiful scene in the rain between Matt and Karen. We see the raindrop falling in slow motion and they finally kiss. Of course Elektra is waiting for Matt upstairs with her perfect timing.
– The single greatest episode of the season is episode five which is filled with mesmerizing flashbacks to Matt and Elektra’s relationship: their first meeting at the gala as she steals the Ferrari, the gorgeous boxing sparring scene as the two discover each other’s skills (although the slo-mo sex scene is too much), and of course the two breaking into a house where Elektra reveals that she wants Matt to kill Roscow Sweeney (which he doesn’t).
– It’s a small moment, but I love how Elektra slices cheese with a big knife on Matt’s belly.
– The look on Elektra’s face when Matt refuses to kill Sweeney; she’s actually hurt and disappointed. It’s so delightfully twisted.
– One of my favourite endings of the season: Elektra casually taking off her red robe and changing into her outfit as the Yakuza arrive and she gives Matt his mask before putting on her hood with a big grin on her face.
– The double fight scene in Elektra’s penthouse is another standout scene culminating with her asking Matt if he’s “hungry”. Plus, this girl can eat!
– Little Elektra details that are just wonderful: the way she cleans her hands as she eats before touching Matthew’s face (she’s an aristocrat after all), the way she blindly throws him the pickle jar (knowing he’ll catch it), and her intense love for pies, fries, and smashing glasses on the ground.
– Too much fun to see Matt and Elektra infiltrate the Gala together. Even cooler? Her ripping open her dress and getting ready to kick ass.
– Love the visual-staging of our couple kicking ass through the glass in the conference room.
– Powerful subdued moment with Matt stitching Elektra’s wounds and her asking him about his scars. Then he falls asleep while listening to her heartbeat – romantic eh?
– Another brilliant ending: Matt and Elektra discovering the huge hole in the ground and throwing the flashlight (“Tell me when it reaches the bottom”). Now that’s a cliffhanger!
– I hated Elektra getting stabbed as a result of Matt not wanting her to kill. Bad Matthew!
– Rousing scene with Stick saving the couple and that incredible chase sequence as Matt catches arrows and Elektra screams in the back. In fact, Stick saving her with his potion is horrifying, but nicely punctuated with some comedy as he drinks the tea.
– Anyone else think The Chaste is a terrible name for an organization?
– Yet another example of Daredevil‘s creative fight scenes: Matt getting hit with an arrow in his apartment and still fighting off the Hand ninja until Elektra savagely slices his throat.
– One of the most epic fight scenes I’ve ever watched: Frank fighting off the inmates in the prison hallway. It’s so darn animalistic and terrifying in every way.
– My jaw literally dropped when Reyes was killed in her office and Foggy got shot.
– Although I wish he played a bigger role in the season, I’m glad the writers didn’t forget about Fisk. Some awesome moments: meeting with Matt and beating him after Vanessa was threatened, and of course helping Castle escape.
– The sight of Fisk eating steak and drinking wine in his cell with classical music playing was just priceless.
– Outstanding fight in the airport hanger between Elektra and Stick’s assassin (played by Gilles Marini). I particularly loved him revealing Elektra’s iconic weapons, the sais, which she used to brutally murder him with.
– Jawdropping moment: the zombie kids rising in the hospital as the Hand ninjas make their attack. Not only did Claire get to kick ass, but Matt jumped out a window to save her in a thrilling little set-piece.
– Oh Madame Gao how I missed you. Why so little screen time?
– Amazing flashbacks with a young Elektra viciously learning to kick ass under Stick’s tutelage. And intercutting it with her trying to kill Stick in present day before The Hand attacked? Even better.
– Is it wrong that I kind of wanted the Colonel to kill Karen before Frank saved her?
-Hogarth from Jessica Jones is hiring Foggy! Too cool!
– I think the Black Sky storyline was far too rushed. In the span of one episode, we discovered that Elektra was the Hand’s secret weapon, only for her to join them then suddenly save Matt and Stick. It was all just kind of undercooked and senseless.
– One thought running through my head in the finale: why were Elektra and Matt suddenly afraid of a few ninjas after fighting them off all season long. Is it just because a season finale necessitates a sense of urgency? I didn’t buy their nervousness one bit.
– Absolutely loved Matt and Elektra professing their love to one another before the big battle.
– Something about the big final battle was a bit underwhelming for me. Maybe it was just dark and badly lit? I could barely tell what was going on as Elektra and Matt dealt with the ninjas and Nobu. I did however appreciate the powerful moment (as predictable as it was) with Elektra getting stabbed with her own sai and saving Matt. Her death was just gut-wrenching.
– I’m not too sure how I feel about Elektra’s costume in the finale. I love that Melvin designed one for her, but I kind of got used to her casual get-up, much like I did with Matt in season one before he finally unveiled the suit in the finale.
– Hilarious: Nobu waking up and Stick swiftly decapitating him.
– So this is what Frank’s storyline amounted to in the end? Shooting off a few ninjas and blowing up his house? Oh well, at least he got a costume in the finale.
– Did anyone else spot Alias Investigations from Jessica Jones! Can’t wait for Matt and Jessica to meet.
– On the bright side, Karen might finally have something to do next season since Matt revealed his alter-ego to her in the season’s final moments. I really can’t handle her being a journalist with those cringeworthy voiceovers.
– The final shot of the season with Elektra in The Hand’s grave about to be resurrected is notable because our little assassin is wearing her infamous red silk. Even in death, she looks gorgeous.
Zingers from Hell’s Kitchen
Foggy: Pretend you’re abroad on vacation someplace exotic, but no mojitos. Josie just throws mint in the beer.
Foggy: We’re talking about a squad of trained killers loose on the streets. Not the kind of guys you challenge to a fist fight in your underwear.
Matt: Hey it’s not underwear, Foggy. Underwear is comfortable.
Matt: You think this “Punisher” could be a good person?
Karen: No, I’m just saying… he could be any one of us.
Matt: You know what I think? You’re still at war.
Frank: Oh, for crying out loud. So, you charge by the hour doc, or what?
Frank: You know the one thing that you just can’t see? You know you’re one bad day away from being me.
Frank: You hit ’em, and they get back up. I hit ’em, and they stay down.
Priest: Guilt can be a good thing. It’s the soul’s call to action. The indication that something is wrong. The only way to rid your heart of it is to correct your mistakes and keep going until amends are made. I don’t know what you didn’t do or what you should have done but the guilt… the guilt… means your work is not yet finished.
Foggy: Keep going like this, you just might end up happy. And for a Catholic boy, that’s a pretty dangerous thing.
Elektra: You’re the only person I can trust.
Matt: Well, sweetheart, you don’t break into my house and then talk to me about trust.
Matt: You wanna know what I think?
Elektra: Tell me.
Matt: I think the game’s just beginning. Because despite your artisan tequilas and charm-school manners… Despite being richer than God and having the whole world at your fingertips… you’re just bored.
Matt: Bored enough to spend your time studying a stranger’s shoes. See, I think you were dying on the vine of this tight-ass party, because Daddy’s money can’t buy you the one thing you really need. Elektra: And what’s that?
Matt: The unexpected.
Elektra: Maybe you’re not so dumb. (Shaking his hand) Elektra Natchios.
Matt: Matt Murdock.
Elektra: Let’s go, Matthew.
Matt: Is it yours?
Elektra: It is. Until we get caught.
Elektra: You said you were blind.
Matt: No, you said I was blind.
Elektra: So you can see?
Matt: It’s complicated. What about you? (She punches him) You said you took ballet lessons.
Elektra: I did. In the winters, when my capoeira master returned to Angola. (They fight)
Matt: Muay Thai?
Elektra: Every other Thursday.
Matt: Of course.
Matt: Is it good?
Matt: This. All of this, this, uh… life.
Elektra: It’s fantastic. But I would trade it all in for a lifetime of smelling your skin.
Matt: I wear a mask.
Elektra: Well, you can’t mask that ass. I’d know it anywhere. You’ve been working out, by the way. I appreciate that.
Matt: So we thought he’d respond to our strategy of, you know… keeping him alive.
Matt: You must look nice.
Elektra: How would you know?
Matt: Turned a lot of heads. Raising a lot of heart rates.
Matt: Do yourself a favor. Find better business partners.
Elektra: (she kicks him) And kill your decorator.
Elektra: Why are you so good?
Matt: I’m not.
Elektra: Yes. There’s a light inside you. I tried to snuff it out in college. I’m so lucky I failed.
Matt: We need to tell the police.
Elektra: Tell them what? I killed a member of an ancient organization of ninjas that are digging a giant hole in midtown Manhattan? Perhaps we should. Maybe they need a laugh.
Matt: You’re dead.
Nobu: There is no such thing.
Matt: And now you’re thinking you can serve your sentence, hop on a jet, go to her whenever you like. Live somewhere like Monaco, or… I don’t know, wherever the hell you fat cats go to sun yourselves.
Elektra: How do you know my name?
Jaques: I know who you are. I know what you’ve done, and who you have killed. The list is long. The pilot in Buenos Aires, the lawyer in Berlin… and that very messy episode in Morocco. I’m still trying to understand how one woman can fit six bodies in the trunk of a Maserati.
Elektra: Are you gonna try to kill me?
Jaques: Something like that.
Elektra: Well, you ought to know… it’s rude to keep a girl waiting.
Frank: My old lady, she didn’t just break my heart. She… She’d rip it out, she’d tear it apart, she’d step on that sh1t, feed it to a dog. I mean, she was ruthless. She brought the pain.
Stick: Tracking heartbeats is kids’ stuff. Time to go deeper. Track their breath. Sooner or later, they gotta… exhale.
Matt: The Hand’s ninjas can mask their heartbeats… Yours is always loud and clear.
Elektra: (after Matt gets a billy club) Where’s mine?
Matt: What do you say?
Elektra: Uh, I say… let’s go to London. (chuckles)
Elektra: Madrid. Tunisia. There are sexy places to hide.
Matt: Hey, I’ve never been further north than 116th Street, so…
Elektra: Because you love New York.
Matt: And I’d give my life for it, but… there’s one thing in this world that makes me feel more alive. And that’s you.
Elektra: I’m the Black Sky, Matthew.
Matt: Yeah, and I’m the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. The airport’s just a cab fare away. All we gotta do is survive whatever’s waiting for us behind that door.
Elektra: Let’s get out of here.
Matt: Remember they’re trying to kill me, not you.
Elektra: Over my dead body.
An unfortunate step-down from season one, but the inclusion of Elektra still makes Daredevil must-watch television.