After a critically acclaimed first season that brought us to the dark side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Daredevil has returned to Netflix for its second season. Marvel TV and Netflix so far have done what Marvel Studios continues to do in their movies, create characters and a world that are interesting and complex. Netflix allows Daredevil and Jessica Jones to push the envelope in the dark underbelly of New York and the MCU. The first season of Daredevil was dark, bloody, exhilarating, and filled with plenty of drama. If you ever want to have a blueprint on how a Batman TV series should be, Daredevil is it.
With how great season one was, season two would need to really step it up. The bar was raised high, and although overall the season didn’t quite reach that bar, it was a good sophomore season for our blind superhero. In this season we have several things that expand the universe. There is mention of Jessica Jones (as well as a guest appearance from someone from the JJ series), there is the introduction of Frank Castle aka The Punisher (Jon Bernthal), and we have the introduction of Elektra (Elodie Young) and The Hand.
Throughout the thirteen episodes, there is a lot going on that at some points it feels like it was too much. The highlight of the season was Jon Bernthal’s Punisher character, while the low point was a subpar performance by Young for Elektra. I honestly can’t really say subpar performance when it’s more poor use of the character. But I’ll touch on her later. Season two takes us to a place where the actions of Daredevil are both praised and despised. But he gets the job done; the problem is he can’t separate it from his “actual” job of a lawyer. It drives a wedge between himself and his best friend Foggy while also stopping a would be relationship before it even starts. To top it off, he now has to deal with a vigilante who decides that the justice system just isn’t enough and that what Daredevil does isn’t enough. If you want the bad guys off the streets, then kill them. He has his own brand of justice that makes him a popular character in the city.
Jon Bernthal’s Punisher is a very complex but real character. A war hero come home only to be dealt a greater loss than he’s ever seen at war. His character is looking for justice, and the justice system isn’t enough. Daredevil struggles to understand The Punisher as he thinks that Castle is crazy and psychotic. However, the first part of this season is an origin story for The Punisher. As the episodes go on and they peel the layers as to why Frank Castle does what he does, one can’t help but think if he’s justified in his actions. Daredevil even begins to question his own faith in the off chance that what Castle does is maybe God’s plan. Bernthal delivers an amazing performance as Frank Castle that makes the viewer have the same struggles that some of the characters do about his actions. If evil continues to rise from the same place, does a permanent elimination seem justifiable? With prisons overflowing with criminals, should the war on gangs be taken to the next level and instead of prison should they be hunted and eliminated permanently?
Frank Castle has all the convincing arguments, yet Daredevil continues to believe in people. We have to believe that everyone needs a chance to change. How many chances does God give us? If we start to believe that others can’t change at what point will we stop at just the worst? As a society we will lose all moral boundaries and most of all, we will lose the ability to love our neighbors as ourselves. Daredevil reminds us that we have choices. We can’t be defined by what life has dealt us, or by who others decide we should be or we are. In the end Frank comes to grips with his calling. He may not stop being judge, jury, and executioner, but he also won’t just go on a personal war.
The second half of the film really highlights the idea of “we need to make our own choices”. In the midst of all the Punisher drama, an old flame of Daredevil comes to town and with her the realization that Hell’s Kitchen is the battleground of an ancient war and the most dangerous “gang” they never heard of. We get our introduction of “The Hand” an ancient Ninja like organization. Elektra has been on the other side of that war, and now Daredevil is caught in the middle. On top of that, his actions as Daredevil began driving a wedge between his friendships. The Hand ended up being a formidable foe, however Elektra seemed more of an annoyance than anything else. Hopefully if she comes back she is more dynamic (as a villain maybe?). The setup is there to have Daredevil have his hands full with Kingpin and The Hand.
What Elektra did bring is that continual theme of choices. Her presence alone brought in a whirlwind of problems for Matt. But in reality, she just brought to light the inevitable. Can Matt juggle both Daredevil and being Matt Murdock the lawyer? As it so happens, he could not, and his friends couldn’t handle it either. Matt’s decisions led to a big rift between him and his best friend and his girlfriend. But Matt’s choice is what defines him. Daredevil isn’t just something he does, it is who he is. That same realization is the only highlight of Elektra as she has always seen herself one way. Meanwhile, others believe her to be something far more dangerous that she starts to believe as well. Matt reminds her that it is her choice what she wants to be. She can choose to be good and not what she was made to be or what others believe she is.
It’s a choice we all have.
We either choose to be what others think we should be, or we be the best that we were made to be. The reality is God has a perfect plan for our lives, one that isn’t mixed with selfish desires or intentions but rather based in love. Love is such a powerful force, and the creator of Love seeks a relationship with us built around it. The end of this season shows us just how powerful love is, and when it comes to choices, love is the best choice to make.