“No ‘they’. Him. It’s one man.”
Whereas Season One of ‘Daredevil’ was as strong a freshman campaign as any series in recent memory, it would be a Herculean task of sorts to maintain the pace, action, and storytelling over another thirteen episodes, wouldn’t it? To that, Season Two would say ‘hold my beer’.
It starts off promising enough, with Nelson & Murdock (and Karen) fighting the good fight for those in need. It’s honorable work but, as a firm, they are broke. Bananas and apple pies don’t pay the bills. Moreover, there’s a muted but unmistakable tension between Foggy and Matt as Foggy knows the truth about his best friend’s vigilante night gig. Matt still remains determined to do good on both sides of the fence and he finds himself, similar to Season One, on a precipice, attempting to do right by those in need, keeping those he cares about somewhat at arm’s length and also reigning in his own darkness. It’s enough to make a make insane.
Though juggling a lot of plot points, including Matt’s past with Elektra, the continued threat of the Hand, and the falling out of Nelson & Murdock, ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 could easily be touted as the year of The Punisher. Frank Castle’s introduction is a masterwork of tension, brutality and the promise of something special. The first four episodes focus entirely on Matt’s attempts to track down the highly trained vigilante who shows no mercy towards the criminal element. Castle has taken what Matt began and upped the ante. Similar to Fisk and Murdock, they are traveling along a similar path that diverges wildly when it comes to the execution of their plan.
“I think that the people I kill need killing…I do the one thing that you can’t. You hit ‘em and they get back
up. I hit ‘em and they stay down.”
Two men, one who clings onto the faith that those he takes down deserve a chance at redemption whereas the other believes the scum he kills has not a shred of decency required for that opportunity. Both men are thoroughly set in their convictions and theirs is a war not just of bullets, fists, and feet but of ideas: of the right and wrong, of how far should you go out in the streets, dispensing justice. It’s always been Matt’s fear that he would lose himself in the violence within him…bypassing his crusade for justice and firmly into the arms of vengeance. As the line he toed in Season One, Matt is dangerously close to falling onto the side of the latter and, in a single line, Castle reminds him just how close they are…
“You know you’re one bad day away from being me.”
The second half of the season continues that theme when Elektra Natchios, a mysterious and dangerous beauty from Matt’s past comes to town. Former lovers, Elektra’s free spirit and hidden darkness captured Matt’s attention. But it was her thirst for violence that pushed him away and that thirst still remains.
Though she wants Matt to embrace his inner devil and discard his convictions not to kill, she also needs his help as the Yakuza are planning something big. The Chaste vs Hand war Stick alluded to in Season One is at the forefront and Matt can no longer deny the truth of it. Not only is the Hand still in pursuit of the Black Sky but Nobu, the Yakuza and Hand representative Matt thought died back in Season One, has returned. They are taking teens, drawing their blood to power an ancient device that holds the key to the Hand’s realization of the Black Sky. But Matt’s unable to focus on one thing and that division of his focus cause a schism between Matt and his only friends; Karen and Foggy. The two blame Matt for losing Frank Castle’s court case and things only go downhill from there. Thanks to Wilson Fisk, Castle is back on the streets in search of the architect behind his family’s murder. Though he’s demolished most of the gangs that were a part of his family’s death (even the DA that signed the orders and covered it up), Castle still wants the mastermind behind it all; the Blacksmith.
While Castle gets his man, Matt must defend Elektra from the Hand’s quest to use her as the Black Sky, something Stick warns him about. Matt’s frayed, torn between trying to save Elektra, his own darkness, and the chance to be happy with someone who’s probably not the best for his already unsettling urges towards violence. Matt is saved from the choice when Elektra gives her life to save him from Nobu and Hand assassins. In the end, Matt realizes that cutting off emotional ties, as Stick has taught, is a flawed proposition. In this, he goes to Karen Page in an attempt to mend broken and battered fences. The burgeoning romance they seemed destined to have early on was derailed by Elektra’s return and Matt getting caught up in the Hand business while keeping her in the dark. His last words, ones that mirror Tony Stark’s proclamation in 2008’s ‘Iron Man’, hints that he understands that those closest to him deserve the truth.