TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil - Season 2 (Spoilers!)

Continuing the tale of Hell's Kitchen lawyer Matt Murdock and his violent quest to deliver justice to a city left scarred, the second season of the acclaimed Netflix series, Marvel's Daredevil, turns the knob up on both action and character development to deliver an intense and dark story of angels and demons, and how easily one can switch between the two. With investing characters -- from leading man Murdock and his crime-fighting alter ego to the gun-blazing man of action Frank Castle -- and a fantastic array of action sequences and grim cinematography, Marvel's Daredevil manages to dive even further into the comic-book lore, all while keeping things feeling fresh and thrilling with every new episode. 

In the wake of Wilson Fisk's (Vincent D'Onofrio) arrest, the city of New York has become a both a safe haven for the good and a cesspool for the evil, all on the brink of war. Even under the watchful eye of the Devil of Hell's Kitchen -- now known as Daredevil -- the city remains toiled by Fisk's actions, as well as the rising threat of gang violence. Met with a new level of clientele now, the law firm of Nelson and Murdock continue to fight to protect the city through ways of non-violent justice. On the other side of the spectrum, however, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) takes matters into his own hands as Daredevil, with new gang violence in Hell's Kitchen unveiling a whole new beast in Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal). An ex-Marine with his own agenda for delivering justice to those who have wronged him, Castle's deadly mission in New York does not go without its sacrifices. Soon spilling in the affairs of Murdock -- just as an old flame of his, Elektra (Élodie Yung), returns with her own agenda -- a bloody game of cat and mouse, and angel and devil, ignites with unexpected consequences. 

Diving back into the dark side of Marvel Studios as soon as I could, in order to catch up on the increasingly brutal -- and bingeable -- activities of blind lawyer Matt Murdock and his many enemies and allies, I didn't hesitate to pack in as many episodes of this brilliant series as I could in the last few weeks. Finally finishing it, I was left -- as I usually am with a good show or film -- wanting more. Delivering a dynamic continuation of the visceral and quite enjoyable series of blind heroes and shifting morals, the second season of Daredevil may have been some of the best television I've seen in a while. Gripping even in its slowest moments, and packed to the rim with phenomenal characters that receive twice the exploration than the characters in the films do, it was hard to find anything wrong in this beautiful show. Yes, while there may be a few missteps in terms of pacing and focus at some points, this season offered up even more of the extraordinary things Season 1 did.

Just as Season 1 brought us our first favorable cinematic version of The Man Without Fear (Sorry, 2003's Daredevil), Season 2 continues the engrossing tale of the flawed hero, not only maturing his persona, but also kicking him to the dirt more than a few times. With another fantastic performance by leading man Charlie Cox, the character of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil is possibly one of my favorites in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A man toiled by his corrupt actions, as he disobeys both the law and his own religion, Matt Murdock escalates further into his Daredevil persona, conflicted by the plethora of deadly choices he's met with throughout the season. From his temptation to join his former flame Elektra in her crusade against an ancient threat to his moral battle with Frank Castle -- a man with very opposing viewpoints to his own -- Murdock evolves from a simple lone vigilante to an angel with broken wings. A savior who needs saving himself, and a man isolated from his own humanity on a high cross, Murdock's character and his journey are one of the biggest highlights of the series. 

Along with Charlie Cox, who delivers an emotional and thoroughly enjoyable performance, the rest of the cast was just as stellar as they were in Season 1. Beginning with the returning faces, we get much-needed development of both Matt Murdock's enemies and his allies. While Elden Henson's emotionally-conflicted Foggy Nelson offers up another dueling ideology for Murdock to tackle, it's the blind lawyer's other coworker, Deborah Ann Woll's Karen Page, who really shakes things up this season. Unbeknownst of her boss' violent alter ego, Page's relationship with Murdock evolves throughout the season from a loyal secretary to a confidant of many secrets, who ultimately ends up just as blind as Murdock (in a metaphorical sense, of course). Soon going after Frank Castle, diving into his past in order to defend his brutal crimes in the court room, Page's character is tested -- and shot at -- more than a few times, making her a unique female character to follow alongside Cox's Matt Murdock.

While the return of notable faces like Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple and Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk may have offered up some brilliant performances -- especially as we see Fisk take the throne even behind the prison bars -- one returning character worth mentioning is Stick, played by Scott Glenn. Entering Season 1 as both a violent assassin and a blind teacher to a young Matt Murdock, the sardonic and generally charismatic master of swordplay and secrets returns to the show with a whole new agenda. With the fiery Elektra Natchios under his wing now -- and Murdock still skeptical of his old tutor -- Stick embarks on a deadly mission against the ancient threat of the Hand, a violent group of Japanese assassins hiding beneath the streets of Hell's Kitchen. Stick's character offering up a sarcastic persona against Murdock's cynical lawyer, I enjoyed his return as it gave me insight into both who his character is, and how he's involved with the shadowy ally of Murdock's, Elektra.

With Season 2 taking on the origins of not only the sai-wielding assassin Elektra, but also the violent man of action Frank Castle, you could see how things might get a bit hectic. While the storylines surrounding these two and their encounters with Matt Murdock may get a bit muddled at times during the season -- as the show struggles to encompass Castle's dark motivations for his personal war alongside Elektra's hunt for her own past -- nevertheless, these characters escalate the series to a new height of awesome. From Élodie Yung's seductive and fiery performance as the ex-lover of Murdock and highly-trained assassin, Elektra, to Jon Bernthal's visceral debut as the no-holds-barred soldier, Frank Castle aka The Punisher, these two characters were ultimately some of the coolest characters I've ever seen on television. While I might not be entirely familiar with their comic-book personas yet, Season 2 delivered a phenomenal entry for the duo, cementing the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as quite a violent one.

Speaking of violence, I can't go without mentioning just how immensely bloody this season was. One of the biggest contributors to said bloody violence was Bernthal's dynamic entry as Frank Castle. As soon as the man known to Hell's Kitchen as "The Punisher" entered the battlefield, he left no room without crimson stained across the walls. From his ferocious war on the Irish street gangs at the start of the season to his aggressive dealings with D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk by the season's end, Castle's bloody war made for superb -- and often cringe-worthy -- action sequences. While Elektra may slice down just as many ninjas and Murdock may beat the crap out of any scum who messes with his friends, it's the morally-flawed and scarred family man of Frank Castle that really brings the pain this season. You may say that that hallway fight scene with Daredevil in Season 1 was the best, but I think that gory prison scene in Episode 9 might show you otherwise.

One of the most intriguing elements of this season had to be the many dueling ideologies we get from the characters. With Matt Murdock facing off against the deadly moral compasses of both his former lover and his newest threat, as well as the yielding hand of his law-abiding friend, Foggy, morality becomes a much greater theme this time than it was in Season 1. With Murdock struggling to deliver divine justice to his city, all while trying to retain his Catholic beliefs, his ethics are soon tested beyond belief, as it becomes increasingly difficult not to put an knife through his enemies' hearts. While Charlie Cox's Murdock and Élodie Yung's Elektra may have had their own dueling ideologies -- along with the occasional deadly flirtation -- one of the best displays of this theme had to be between Murdock and Frank Castle. With Bernthal's growling persona of violence and redemption battling Murdock's sincere voice of reason and truth, it doesn't take long before you see the justification in both men's ideals. One an agent of law without the law to aid him, the other a family man also out for vengeance against a corrupt law system, once you see the parallels between these characters, the show becomes way more interesting to watch.

Overall, I think Marvel's Daredevil may be one of the best things on the small screen right now. Delivering dark and gripping action, accompanied by a color palette of morally-ambiguous characters all with their own agendas for justice, this visceral and gloomy series set in the generally light-hearted Marvel Cinematic Universe makes for an excellent avenue to explore some of the comics' most mysterious and sinful players. From the further exploration of the morally-conflicted Matt Murdock and his fantastically-dressed crime-fighting alter ego to the plethora of new characters and comic-book plotlines introduced, Netflix's superb continuation of one of Marvel's coolest characters has changed the game once more for how superhero stories should be brought to the screen.

I gave this season an 9 out of 10, because even if it stumbles a bit as it tries to balance the many storylines of Matt Murdock, Elektra, and the Punisher, it delivers breathtaking action sequences, a phenomenal cast, and a brilliant atmosphere where costumed heroes deal with real-life and hard-hitting political and moral issues. Tackling themes from finding one's true identity to retribution of one's sins, Marvel's Daredevil aims a gun to your emotional and ideological heart and doesn't hesitate for even a second to pull the trigger.

What did you think of this season of Daredevil? Give me your thoughts on the season, and your predictions for Season 3 in the comment section below. Stay tuned for more reviews like this coming soon!     

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