I absolutely loved Season 1 of the Netflix/Marvel TV show DAREDEVIL. It was dark, gritty, and had a definite edge to it. The writing was superb, the characters fleshed out, and it had a helluva villain, Wilson Fisk, masterfully played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who for my money was better than any of the villains seen in the Marvel Superhero movies.
But Season 2— well, simply put, Season 2 was a major disappointment.
Yup, Season 2 of DAREDEVIL fell short on so many fronts.
We can start with the absence of Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). Both the character and D’Onofrio’s performance were clearly my favorite parts of Season 1. With Fisk caught at the end of Season 1, it meant there would be a new villain in town. I hoped the writers would be up to the task of filling the void left by the departure of Fisk. They were not.
Fisk was such a dominating force in Season 1, the villain who pretty much set the tone for the entire series, and who made the hero Daredevil stronger because of his presence. In Season 2, there was no such driving force. The main villains this time around, the shadowy Ninja group known as The Hand, and their leader, the nearly supernatural Nobu, mainly remained in the shadows, their motives barely expressed.
But the lack of a strong villain on its own wouldn’t be enough to sink the entire second season of DAREDEVIL. There’s more.
Let’s start with the main character himself, Daredevil/aka Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox). I hate to say it, but simply put, Matt Murdock became a complete bore in Season 2, which is a complete turnaround from the compelling character we met in Season 1. One of the best things about Murdock in Season 1 was his relationship with his friends Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). Nelson is his best friend from law school, and the two practice law together at their own tiny firm. Karen becomes their secretary, and in Season 1 there was a fun sexual tension between the three of them.
All of that disappeared in Season 2. Matt becomes distracted with the return of a former lover, the unpredictable and dangerous Elektra (Elodie Yung), and he ends up spending nearly the entire season in an on again/off again relationship with Elektra, while also using most of his energy to help her combat The Hand. As a result, he blows off Foggy and Karen at nearly every turn, leaving them to spend nearly the entire season reacting to his terrible treatment of them. It gets so bad that eventually Foggy calls it quits and dissolves the firm.
To make matters even worse, Matt finally acts on his feelings towards Karen, but then does an about face and dumps her for Elektra, which was too bad, because Matt and Karen shared some chemistry. Matt and Elektra do not.
As such, two of the more enjoyable characters from Season 1, Foggy and Karen, get reduced to being emotional punching bags for Matt Murdock. Even worse for Karen, once she leaves the firm, she enters a ridiculous storyline where she becomes a reporter and suddenly is a major newspaper writer because she “has a knack for that sort of thing.” I have a knack for cooking too but you don’t see me suddenly hosting my own TV show on the Food Network. Writing is hard work, and any story that implies otherwise is difficult to take seriously.
The dialogue in Season 2 also did not help matters.
The philosophical conversations Daredevil had with the Punisher were trite, cliche, and hopelessly dull. They basically debated over vigilantism, with the Punisher arguing it’s okay to kill while Daredevil would display his halo— is he Daredevil or Dareangel?— and say klling is always wrong. Daredevil’s stance is admirable— heck, Batman lives by the same creed— but the writing here was so bad, the dialogue so basic it was laughable.
Speaking of the Punisher, Jon Bernthal’s performance as the Punisher was one of the highlights of Season 2, and he got to enjoy a few decent episodes. But as the season went on, his storyline got pushed into the background, taking a back seat to the Elecktra plot with the Hand. Anwyay, I’m glad he’s getting his own Punisher TV show soon. I’m looking forward to it.
The other new character, Elektra, I didn’t like as much. I never warmed up to her. A big reason why was I enjoyed Matt’s chemistry with Karen more than his chemistry with Elektra. She was also stuck in a story I didn’t like, the whole plot with the Hand.
What exactly was the Hand up to? Their motives were never made clear, and the show clearly suffered for it. There was so much screen time devoted to Matt and Elektra discussing the Hand, and I just didn’t care about any of it.
Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) does show up for a couple of episodes, where he’s in prison and his path crosses with The Punisher’s, in what clearly were the best episodes of Season 2.
Season 1 of DAREDEVIL had a central villain, Wilson Fisk, who had an agenda, and who’s violent antics gave Daredevil a major challenge and a reason for being. With Fisk gone and without a powerful foe, Daredevil morphed into a far less interesting character in Season 2.
All of these flaws revolve around one central weakness: inferior writing. The writing in Season 2 was far less impressive than the high quality writing from Season 1. The plots were all over the place and hardly ever came together. The strong trio of Matt, Foggy, and Karen were divided and left weaker and far less interesting. Newcomer the Punisher was given little to do, and newcomer Elektra failed to impress.
The villains in Season 2, the Hand, were never fully developed, and for most the season, Daredevil was reduced to a whiny pontificating pacifist with a mask and bad taste in women.
Here’s hoping Season 3 will be an improvement.
Wilson Fisk can’t get out prison fast enough!