After almost an entire year of waiting for our favorite masked vigilante to come back to our screens, “Daredevil” finally returned with a literal “bang.” The audience is eased into the season with fairly domestic scenes of Nelson and Murdock, and their growing fame in Hell’s Kitchen as a do-gooder law firm. However, writers Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez quickly bring on the action with the introduction of the much anticipated Punisher, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal).
The Punisher’s actions and motives directly contrast with Matt Murdock’s (Charlie Cox) own, which brings interesting discourse between the two. Petrie and Ramirez don’t cut Castle’s characterization short, either. The Punisher’s history and ambitions are complex and carefully thought out, as opposed to other renditions of the Punisher that caricature him as a trigger-happy gun enthusiast with too much time. The audience will be satisfied with this villain, who could arguably be called a hero in his own right.
Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle is also something to be admired. Instead of seeing the Punisher as a psychopath with a kill list and access to guns, the audience is given the opportunity to see the veteran suffering from serious survivor’s guilt. Bernthal humanizes Castle’s seemingly stoic character by performing his speeches with softly nuanced intonations and fleshed out physicality. It’s obvious that this actor carefully analyzed and studied Frank Castle as a well-rounded character, instead of a flat, two-toned villain.
The emergence of another highly anticipated character, Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), brought another level of moral complexities to the show. Matt Murdock and Elektra’s past relationship heightens the emotions running throughout the plot and causes strain in another blooming relationship that Murdock tries to foster. However, Elektra’s overall character arc shouldn’t be restricted to her influence on Matt’s love life.
Elektra comes to Hell’s Kitchen with a set plan and purpose, and she will accomplish these with or without the help from Daredevil. Elektra’s goals coincide with another familiar character from Daredevil’s past, which causes high anxieties between all the players. Daredevil must decide whether he should help someone whose methods do not coincide with his own, and where to draw the line (if the line can even be drawn). Without detailing any explicit spoilers, I can tell you that the audience will not be disappointed with her story arc. Elektra introduces a villain to Daredevil that has been festering since the downfall of Fisk.
At the same time, the most obvious villains, which don’t receive a proper introduction until episode 8, can be a little disappointing. Their overall presence is not nearly as threatening to New York as Wilson Fisk’s, who had the opportunity to run the entire city through corruption and political gain. This villain’s ambitions are never obviously harming the people of Hell’s Kitchen, so their entire existence is almost invisible to the plain eye, which can create a very ominous atmosphere (if they ever made it clear what their evil intentions were in the first place).
This invisible enemy does create strain in an already tense relationship, however. Foggy Nelson is increasingly less sympathetic to Matt’s plight for justice, and tells him so. As the season gets darker, the two friends face more challenges that do more harm than good. The anxiety between them is tangible, and the season plays off of the two to add another healthy dose of drama to the plot.
Overall, “˜Daredevil’ doesn’t disappoint. The new characters enliven the plot with interesting dynamics and moral critiques that question Daredevil’s “hero” status. In the end, season two lives up to the hype. If you need to feed your superhero-show hunger, definitely consider continuing “Daredevil.”