So, apparently, I can get through a season of Netflix’s Daredevil much faster than I can their other shows. Sure, it helps that much of my personal-project viewing schedule has slowed down, but it also helps that Daredevil was rather awesome in its first season. The second season? Not so much. But was season three more like one or two?
Season three, for all intents and purposes, acts as something of a direct sequel to season one, and the show is all the better for it. Daredevil, like the first season of Jessica Jones and the first half of the first season of Luke Cage worked best by doing what the big screen MCU couldn’t do, and that was take time to develop a compelling villain in ways that the movies just haven’t for one reason or another with a handful of exceptions.
And was that any more evident than it was with Vincent D’onofrio’s Wilson Fisk? A good answer could be made for David Tennant’s Killgrave, but D’onofrio fills the screen with a visible menace and physical power with a glance, showing a man that is barely holding back the thug underneath a cultured exterior. He may have a taste for the finer things, but underneath it all is a tightly coiled monster waiting to get out. D’onofrio largely sat out season two aside from a quick cameo in an episode or two, but for the most part, the character was sorely lacking. It didn’t help that what promise for an intense, season long adversary in the form of the Punisher was largely replaced halfway through with the mostly faceless and personality-free hordes of the Hand, the sort of bad guys that, though tightly associated with Daredevil in his Marvel Comics existence, seem alien to a more grounded superhero show about a blind lawyer superhero.
And yes, typing that last sentence did make me question how grounded a show about a blind lawyer superhero can be, but bear with me here.
It likewise doesn’t hurt that Charlie Cox plays a great Daredevil and a great Matt Murdock. For all that comic book Daredevil is supposed to be one of the finest hand-to-hand fighters in the Marvel Universe, he’s also the one who seems most likely to end any story beaten, bruised, and bleeding. Cox’s Daredevil is no different, a man who has to be reminded who his friends are and why he needs them, and after season two and The Defenders showed both Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson and Deborah All Woll’s Karen Page distancing themselves from Matt, the two are back here trying to find and help their friend in their own manner.
In point of fact, season three shows strong character work for both Foggy and Karen. The series explores Karen’s past and Foggy’s potential future in appropriate ways, casting them as good foils and grounding agents for Matt.
Essentially, the plot here is a simple one as the series adapts on of the best known Daredevil storylines in the character’s long history: Born Again. Fisk, knowing who Daredevil is, gets out of prison and begins to once again corrupt the city and everyone around him. His latest recruit, an FBI agent who will be very familiar to longtime Daredevil fans, shows a sharp talent for hitting his targets with any object he can get his hands on. Yeah, it’s Bullseye, though the character is never really referred to by that name. As with Fisk and some of the other better villain characters in the Netflix branch of the MCU, the character’s full backstory is explored effectively, letting the audience know everything they need to know about Daredevil’s newest nemesis.
And yeah, Daredevil is known for its fantastic fight scenes, and this season is no exception. Working to perhaps outdo the hallway fight from season one, this season features at least three memorable brawls, two of which are one-on-one battles between Daredevil and Bullseye.
If the season has a weakness, it may be the final episode which goes a bit over the top compared to the more grounded and careful work that had gone before in an effort to tie up everything in a single neat package. Still, season three erases any issues the audience might have had with season two and sets up for a promising season four provided the series can keep its mojo going from here. 9 out of 10 support nuns.