Here there might be spoilers for Daredevil season 2. Proceed if you dare.
Remember all those words about savouring Daredevil on Netflix? It’s a bit like giving up chocolate for Lent, a good intention but never fulfilled in the end. I began watching on Friday night, popping one episode after another like the M & Ms on the bowl in front of me. (Those reports about eating more television binge are correct.) I watched up to episode 7 around midnight, went to bed, then got up to watch the rest in between laundry. I finished season 2 around 2 pm. I can describe season 2 in a phrase: flawed yet remains engaging.
In some ways Season 2 felt like a backdoor pilot for The Punisher as stand alone series. Season 1 had one plot thread: Get Wilson Fisk. This season, despite a short look at Wilson Fisk evolving into The Kingpin mirroring Matt growing into his Daredevil role, I didn’t see a big bad. Frank Castle does look set up as the villain until Karen begins digging into a cover involving a drug sting gone wrong. My brain connected a coincidental set of dots as Jon Bernthal shares something with his Pilgrimage co-star Richard Armitage. Frank Castle, like Francis Dolarhyde, had more than one screen incarnation. Unfolding The Punisher episode by episode, like The Red Dragon, gives the character on the page a chance to unfold with more layers rather than cramming everything in a single movie.
Elektra Natchios, another character with a big-screen predecessor, blew into New York and Matt’s life with the force of a hurricane. She illustrated Matt’s guilty Catholic sure does have its kryptonite: sex. Our hero behaves like most good Catholics by drawing the line at killing. In this case, Elektra’s romantic gesture, bringing the mobster who killed Matt’s father for him to kill, spectacularly backfired. As far as casting goes Elodie Yung surpassed Jennifer Garner as Elektra. She not only brings the sophistication needed for a diplomat’s daughter, but she also has an intensity in her eyes either warning of an ass kicking or in the midst of one. I got the sense from the comic the ‘pull’ in push/pull game from undeniable sexual chemistry. I applaud the writers for using Charlie Cox’s torso as a cheese plate. My Jarlsberg cheese looked forlorn on its plate by comparison.
The characters encompass the engaging part as some got introduced while others evolved like Karen Page. The flawed part comes with the overall plotting. As mentioned earlier, some parts of the run felt like a backdoor pilot, a technique to showcase another character without his or her series. The Punisher storyline could give us a continuation of Wilson Fisk’s rise as The Kingpin. Elektra could provide us with a mystical strain with Madame Gao or Nobu. The series tried to do both and nearly lost it in the middle. I almost felt like fear in Inside/Out saying ‘pick a plotline.’ I get it, and it’s hard to follow up a successful debut. Then again I am neither a television writer or a critic. I am an optimist. Bring on season 3!
No observation about a series set in New York comes without sighing over the location. When I watched Daredevil’s first season or Jessica Jones, I remember thinking ‘wow I am going to walk soon among those streets.’ Now that I have walked around, I keep my eye out for buildings I recognize or possible restaurants. In Daredevil’s case, a romantic dinner for two in an Indian restaurant between Karen and Matt made me go where’s this place and I want to go next time I get back.
Found it! It’s called Panna II Indian Garden Restaurant, and it’s BYOB. (Karen and Matt might have nipped at the nearby wine shop.)