The Man Without Fear is back with a bang.
Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) is still donning his red duds during his off-hours and beating up the criminal element in Hell’s Kitchen with his bare fists. Being blind doesn’t hold Matt back from fulfilling his role as the protector of his city. In fact, his other senses are so enhanced that he can hear a heartbeat from blocks away and has mastered martial arts. Matt’s still rocking the tortured Catholic routine this season, but it’s not long before a new antagonist shakes up the status quo in New York City.
A man dubbed “The Punisher” is taking out gangs in New York with military precision, which doesn’t sit well with Daredevil’s “no killing” policy. Sure, Punisher is killing the bad guys, but Matt knows it’s not long before an innocent civilian gets caught in the crossfire. There’s a lot of back and forth between Daredevil and Punisher in the first few episodes, debating the moral quandaries of vigilantism. Punisher thinks Daredevil is a “half-measure” against crime, whereas Daredevil argues that the criminals Punisher kills aren’t being given a chance to turn their lives around.
The season evolves from this initial matchup of Daredevil and Punisher, taking some unexpected turns and finally delving into the world of the supernatural that is associated with Daredevil lore.
The first major character that is introduced in season two is the Punisher. Jon Bernthal gives an electrifying performance as Punisher’s Frank Castle. This antagonist is truly a force to be reckoned with, as shown by some of the brutal aftermath of his “punishments.” What works so well about this iteration of Punisher is that he’s not the main character here, he merely serves as a foil for Matt’s unblinking moral code. Punisher’s motivations are revealed later on in the season, but for the most part, Frank is a wild card and more than a match for Daredevil.
If Punisher is a foil to Matt’s ideology, Elektra is the yin to Matt’s yang. Even Punisher appears to have a set of moral guidelines, but Elektra is the answer to the question: “What if Daredevil wasn’t tied to an ideology?”
Elektra is equally motivated and skilled at fighting as Matt, but she’s a sociopath with manipulative tendencies, which also makes her a lot more fun to watch than Daredevil and a welcome addition to the show. Her only goal in life is to avoid boredom. She doesn’t go out of her way to kill people, but she’s not entirely opposed to the idea, either. Daredevil and Elektra are two characters who constantly influence each other; if Elektra is the devil on Matt’s shoulder, he’s the angel on hers. As a result, they are both inevitably drawn to one another.
Foggy and Karen
The characters of Foggy and Karen also make strides this season. It’s not often that shows give side characters their due, and Daredevil constantly allows these two to shine and gives the audience a reason to care what happens to them. Foggy and Karen are the heart of Daredevil, rays of light in an otherwise gloomy show.
After learning of Matt’s secret identity in season one, Foggy constantly worries about his best friend, but also comes to terms with his dependency and attachment to Matt this season. Matt predictably continues to constantly let his friends down, and as a result, Foggy learns to come into his own as the season progresses.
Karen slips comfortably into Ben Urich’s old role as an investigative reporter and is also Matt’s new romantic interest. She also has a unique relationship with the Punisher that evolves throughout the course of the episodes, and it’s fascinating to watch two polar opposites like Frank and Karen interact. Karen’s mysterious past is alluded to again, more overtly this season. Hopefully this comes to light in season three.
Still brooding, still brutal, and still gorgeous to look at, season two of Daredevil raises the stakes and juggles new plotlines with ease. Whereas season one was a slow burn, slowly building up to a final confrontation, season two has numerous antagonists and not-so-clearly distinguished lines between good and evil. Just because Matt might be in the moral right as far as killing people goes doesn’t mean he’s always a standup guy…he lies, breaks a lot of bones, and pushes away all the people closest to him.
This season digs deeper into moral ideologies: Matt’s, the Punisher’s, Elektra’s. It also introduces grand-scale Daredevil mythology that was in the shadows in season one. The Hand, a mysterious religious order with supernatural elements, looks to be in the running for Big Bad of season three.
Season two of Daredevil hits the ground running and never lets up. With some great new (and familiar) characters, higher stakes, and the promise of season three, Daredevil still manages to redefine what the Marvel universe can offer to fans.