Daredevil is generally a good show, but when compared to Jessica Jones the second season was kind of a let down.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Daredevil season 2.
I enjoy Daredevil, but after the diverse cast and engaging plot in Jessica Jones, it’s obvious how much of it is just white dudes punching each other a lot. Or white dudes punching ninjas, as we see in the last few episodes, but that’s not much better when it comes to diversity or a unique story honestly. The first season was incredible, and for the most part everything that I enjoyed last time was what I enjoyed this time too, but there wasn’t much exciting beyond that. The three lead characters have an incredible chemistry, the choreography is amazing, and the camera work is to die for, just like last time. But all the new elements? They just didn’t do much for me.
Before I get into what didn’t do it for me, let me tell you what did. Karen Page is incredible. She started off as a sad victim in a terrible situation in season one, but she evolved into something powerful by the finale. In season two her fierce personality is even stronger, showing that she’s really grown into her roll in Hell’s Kitchen and has become a force to reckon with in her own right. She may not be the physically strongest person or have fighting skills, but she’s smart, sympathetic, and brave. Of the main cast, she’s seen the greatest evolution. Several elements of this season that I really disliked were drastically improved by her presence. So thanks for that, Karen. Please continue to be awesome.
The choreography and accompanying cinematography also continues to be incredible. I don’t think you can beat the long shot hallway fight from season one, but there were may notable compositions that are worth mentioning. The upward shot where Daredevil was climbing down into the sewers was particularly stunning. Netflix has reached HBO levels of artistry, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. For the artistry alone this show is way better than most of what’s on network television.
Despite how much better this show is than most of what’s out there, there was still a lot in this season that was a total let down. I know I’m going to be roasted for this, but I just couldn’t get emotionally invested in the Punisher. Even when he was going through his long exposition in episode 4 or all the information they dug up during his defense trial, it was hard to really feel for the guy. I know plenty of diehard Punisher fans who were thrilled to have him show up, but the elements just didn’t click for me. But, as I mentioned, Karen did manage to bring a side of him out later in the season that improved his story by quite a lot. It just came so late in the game I was already exhausted by the Punisher side story and wanted it to end.
Elektra also failed to hit the right notes for me. I’m typically not even a fan of heterosexual romance narratives to begin with, but when they started to steer towards Matt and Karen being together, I was quite pleased. But then they added in a complicated love triangle and past romance cliches with Elektra and it became hard to enjoy her character. If they hadn’t relied on her being a “complication” in Matt’s new life and relationships, I might have enjoyed her a lot more. Hell, I may have enjoyed their back story with young baby faced Matt Murdock traipsing around town with the wealthy rebellious socialite or the flashbacks of her as a child. But no, that’s not how she was introduced at all. Her backstory is obviously there, but most of the season focuses on her as a complication and bad influence on Matt Murdock.
Perhaps that’s the point of her character. Perhaps I’m just not getting what she’s really about. Which okay that’s fair, but it doesn’t change the fact that she was difficult to enjoy given the circumstances.
Speaking of Matt Murdock, what they did to him as a character was also highly upsetting. Before I started watching Daredevil season 1, I’d never gotten into that franchise. It was too gritty for my taste with not enough emotional connection. The show, however, introduced me to Matt, Foggy, and Karen, real people that I could connect with. These three seemed to really care about each other and made it easy to fall into the story, even if violent fighting narratives aren’t what I’m usually interested in. But this season undid a lot of the positive vibes I felt towards Matt in season one. I suppose his downward spiral is part of what makes him a complex character, but I love all three of the main characters so much it hurt me to see one of them hurt the others so consistently. Whereas last season I was able to enjoy the fight seasons because I loved the character under the mask, this season I found them tedious because I was so angry at Matt for everything he’d done to his friends.
Man, guys, I want my Matt Murdock back. I don’t want to be mad at the protagonist of the show like this.
The series in general also has some awkward racial tones. Besides nurse Claire (bless Rosario Dawson), almost all the other POC characters were gangsters or assassins. There’s the Japanese “Yakuza,” the Mexican cartels, and the countless nameless black prisoners and criminals scattered throughout the episodes. Even Elektra, who is played by half Cambodian actress Elodie Yung, is a morally ambiguous killer. This is most certainly not a progressive show in that regard. But hey, for all of my complaining about race and gender stereotypes, it is pretty awesome to have a blind protagonist right? Despite all of its flaws, this show definitely has that going for it. I particularly enjoyed the use of braille in episode 10. If you’re looking at the show through the lens of representation, there’s a lot to be angry about, but at least it has something.
Overall, despite the flaws in regards to characterization and representation, I did have a good 13 hour viewing experience. I want the story to continue. It’s just hard to view this show after Jessica Jones because that one spoiled me. If I take away that show, my standards are lowered and I might not be so cranky about these flaws. Damn you, Jessica Jones. You raised the bar too damn high.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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