Ah yes, March 18th, the day we’ve all been waiting for! Or at least anyone who’s seen the first season of Marvel’s excellent Netflix series, Daredevil. If you were to ask my friends to describe me, they’d most likely tell you two things: one, I post too many memes, and two, I love Daredevil. So needless to say, my expectations for this season are unreasonably high.
Right off the bat, the first episode of season two begins with a “bang”. Viewers are greeted with Matt (Charlie Cox) in his fully suited costume taking down four armed robbers in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, Batman-style. Soon after, it is revealed that while Matt’s relationship with Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) are generally stable, the harsh realities of their city is indeed catching up to them. Foggy still has his concerns regarding Matt’s vigilante activities and the entire law firm is facing financial problems due to their lack of real monetary payments from their less fortunate clients (cookies and fruit pies don’t exactly pay the bills). Being a hero has its burdens, it would seem. In other parts of Hell’s Kitchen, various criminal elements are seeking to fill in the power vacuum left behind by Wilson Fisk’s arrest. However, a mysterious killer (Frank Castle played by Jon Bernthal) is exterminating gangs one by one with military precision, without any clear motive….
Familiar, but still superb
If this first episode is any indication for the rest of the season, then fans are in for a hell of a ride. Everything that made the first season great is still in effect here. The character interactions between Matt, Foggy, and Karen are still as witty and relatable as ever. The dialogue remains strong and doesn’t dabble in “filler” territory for too long. Rather each scene serves a purpose in either propelling the story forward or developing a relationship. We’re even given a particular noteworthy performance by Deborah Ann Woll when she reaffirms her convictions to stand by the Irish mobster murder witness at the hospital.
Also making a welcome return are the amazing action sequences. Season one’s “Cutman” alone set the bar high for the series, with its riveting choreography and one shot take. While this episode doesn’t quite reach that level of quality, I believe we’ll be getting extreme balls-to-the-wall action sequences in the near future. That being said, the fight scenes in “Bang” are still quite stellar. Aside from Matt’s usual beat downs of hapless street thugs, his brawl with Frank Castle on the roof was appropriately intense and brutal. As with any well done action sequence, the camera goes wide enough to see our characters’ movements and shoots with longer takes. We’re able to witness Daredevil’s usual arsenal of acrobatic Taekwondo and Wushu style flip kicks as well as his close quarters boxing. Castle, a character known for his military training, uses very simple strikes and “dirty” fighting techniques (headbutts and grappling). I appreciated how each character was constantly on the move, whether it be Castle continuously shifting the angle of his body and arms in order to get off a shot with his firearms or Matt uses a varied display of counter strikes. Once again, Daredevil reminds TV shows and films everywhere how an action sequence is done.
More things to come
Speaking of Frank Castle, fans everywhere will be delighted to see a modern adaptation of the famous Punisher character, not seen in live action form since 2008’s horrendous Punisher: War Zone. Despite the character given literally one word of dialogue, the introduction of Castle is built up extremely well. Similar to the manner in which Jessica Jones introduced its main villain, Kilgrave, Daredevil chooses to simply use the impact of the character’s actions tell the story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, great storytelling comes from a writer’s ability to “show” and not “tell”. The gruesome murders of various criminals by Castle displays his remorseless nature, and the overwhelming force in which he executes his attacks conveys just how dangerous this man is. For instance, every cop and criminal in Hell’s Kitchen is convinced the shootings of the gang members in the area were conducted by a well-trained paramilitary group. However, it is later revealed to be the actions of one man with a killer instinct and apparently far too much free time. Right away, we as viewers understand that Frank Castle is a literal one man army. From this small snippet alone, I can trust that the character had been done justice.
My only minor complaint thus far is the scene in which Castle attempts to murder the Grotto, the Irish mobster witness, in the hospital. Karen and Grotto are attempting to flee the building as Frank shoots away with a pistol grip pump action shotgun. The Punisher I know from the comics would never endanger the lives of innocents. Yes, he is primarily known for his extreme ability to kill, but he is also known for his nearly flawless precision in which he carries out his murders. As such, to witness Castle using a completely imprecise firearm in a crowded hospital is a bit baffling. Especially considering how close he came to peppering Karen with 12 gauge pellets. However, I have read fan speculation that this may have been done on purpose in order to draw out Grotto into an open area for a sniper shot. This could very well be the case. At any rate, I will reserve final judgement until the finale.
“Bang” is a solid reintroduction into the series and hits all the right beats. Everything you loved about the first season is still here and this episode does an excellent job in building towards future plot points. The devil is back and I couldn’t be happier.