The cast of Marvel’s “Daredevil” has finally come into its own, entering the second season more comfortable in their roles than they were last season. The complete new season of the hit series began streaming on March 18, and since then, pausing an episode has proven crazy difficult. Before the first appearance of the vigilante Daredevil, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was solely characterized by shiny technology and the crisp suits of the Avengers. But when lawyer-by-day, hero-by-night Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox, “Boardwalk Empire”) finally graced our screens, we were taken to the darker, sexier side of Marvel.
Showrunners Doug Petrie (“American Horror Story”) and Marco Ramirez (“Orange is the New Black”) helm the new season of “Daredevil,” taking the reigns from predecessor Steven DeKnight (“Spartacus”). So far, they’ve been sprinting ahead with the figurative baton. This season sees the addition of the Punisher (Jon Bernthal, “The Walking Dead”) and Elektra (Elodie Yung, “Gods of Egypt”), who, at first appearance, are meant to juxtapose the actions of Daredevil, but ultimately end up encouraging them. Where a stark line once stood between the actions of Murdock and season one antihero Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio, “Jurassic World”), season two explores the morally gray area that comes with vigilantism. It’s obvious that Petrie and Ramirez are taking a different approach to “Daredevil,” putting Murdock’s hero under the same scrutiny that Christian Bale’s Batman underwent in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.”
The season begins strongly as Matt struggles to balance his dual identities despite the urging of partner and longtime friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson, “Mockingjay: Part 2”) to give up the mask. As a break from the secrecy of the first season, it’s refreshing to have Foggy in the loop on Matt’s late-night activities, and this season, he seems to be acting as the voice of reason. Although we may have prematurely pinned Foggy as the sidekick to Murdock’s Daredevil, Nelson is taking over as a solid force in the series, shining in the duality of sarcasm and seriousness. Another driving force in the show, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll, “True Blood”), becomes more comfortable in her skin, falling into the trio smoothly with her strong will and unwavering loyalty to the clients of Nelson & Murdock.
Just as the characters begin to find balance in the mayhem, the unanticipated return of Elektra, a past lover of Murdock’s with a taste for blood, begins to deteriorate Matt’s relationships. In the beginning, the audience is enticed by Elektra, with her suave, ninja-esque moves. Slowly, her sadistic thirst for vengeance breaks her facade, showing something much darker beneath the mysterious exterior. Especially since Karen and Matt have just begun to act on the spark of their relationship, Elektra’s arrival comes at a really a bad time.
As the trial of the century between the DA’s office and Nelson & Murdock over the fate of the Punisher begins, we see Matt choosing to abandon Foggy at the trial’s most crucial point, chipping away at their friendship right at the hinges. As the season goes on, it becomes harder to endorse Daredevil’s actions. Considering the second episode showcases Foggy’s desperate plea that Matt end his days as Daredevil, worried that his actions will ultimately lead to his demise, it’s irritating to see Matt fail to reciprocate Foggy’s loyalty. Petrie and Ramirez are making it increasingly difficult to root for Murdock as the series progresses. Surprisingly, the only common feature of the first and second seasons of “Daredevil” is the cinematography. There’s one stairwell fight scene that is so smoothly choreographed and stylistically pulled off that it could’ve easily appeared in the first season.
Overall, “Daredevil” seems to be balancing on the cliff between one of Marvel’s rare treasures and the cinematic graveyard. Hopefully, the slightly rushed plot lines that characterize the first episodes of the season will be outliers compared to the smoothness that eventually characterizes the following episodes. If “Daredevil” is picked up for another season, it should focus on this smoothness so the series doesn’t burn through plot too fast. As far as the cinematography and character portrayal is concerned, though, “Daredevil” might just be headed towards the same pedestal as “The Dark Knight” if they play their cards right.