THE NEW YORK NARRATIVE BINGE: “DAREDEVIL” Season Two

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Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, AKA, Daredevil

If anyone is familiar with The New York Narrative, you’ve noticed that Marvel is one of our unofficial sponsors (lies, but like, we wish….). Netflix too is an investor (not really) and the duo has brought us yet another fantastic installment in their street level Superhero television series that’s leading up to “The Defenders” multi-hero installment: “Daredevil” Season 2. We’ve been graced with a phenomenal first offering of Daredevil as well as gritty taste of wisecracking P.I.“Jessica Jones,” and our second helping of the Man Without Fear is nothing short of home run.

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Jon Bernthal as The Punisher, Charlie Cox as Daredevil, and Elodie Yung as Elektra

Season 2 is a very different take on the blind lawyer by day, horned vigilante by night, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and his complicated world. While Season 1filled with origin flashbacks, character introduction, and gorgeous cinematographywas a balanced lead-in to the underbelly of Hell’s Kitchen and Daredevil’s vendetta to save it, much more is at stake. We quickly learn that Matts past is catching up to him in the form of a billionaire femme fatale (Elektra Natchios, the wonderfully snarky Elodie Yung) and his present is rocked by a troubled fallen soldier (Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher, an out of this world Jon Bernthal). Not to mention he’s also up against the deadly ancient Ninja association The Hand who decide to invade New York City. It’s safe to say that Matt really deserves a vacation.

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Take me to Church: Matt, Karen (Deborah Ann Woll), and Foggy (Elden Henson)

With so much newness, old friends like Matts law partner, best friend, and confidant Foggy (Elden Henson) and super executive assistant Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) don’t get left behind, instead, become more fleshed out well rounded characters this time around. “Night Nurse” Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) gloriously returns making her third appearance in a Marvel Netflix collaboration (appearing in Season 1 of both”Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones;” up next in “Luke Cage”). Themes from last season are still thereNelson and Murdock going broke (accepting fruit baskets and cured meats as payments from their less fortunate clients), Matt dealing with the lies he tells to those he lovesreminding us that Matt Murdock is human and makes mistakes just like the rest of us. Something that Frank’s no nonsense “kill first, ask questions later” attitude challenges Matts internal battle of morality and justice.

With several horrific tries on said badass, The Punisher has had a rough go at it in his adaption from page to screen. Mr.Bernthal’s tough as nails yet still human version is not only award worthy (ahem, Golden Globe and Emmy academies I hope you’re listening) but also true to the source material in all the right ways. Jon Berthal is, easily, some of Marvel’s best casting on par with the likes of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America. When someone says “The Punisher,” you will now think “Jon Berthal.”

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Matt and Frank having a casual conversation

The Punisher and Daredevil have a pretty torrid past that fans have been itching to see on screen, and it’s safe to say Season 2 exceeds expectations. Mr.Cox and Mr.Bernthal have the right kind of chemistry and you’re not sure if they are about to rip each others heads off or fight side by side; it’s gritty, scary, and addictive to watch. On the humane side, Frank also shares some unexpectedly wonderful scenes with Karen that explain how he got to be the damaged, emotionless man he is today. They also give him a really adorable pitbull mix dog, and while he’s a fighter, he’s also totally a lover when it comes to a pup.

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Frank, you got a little something on your face…

Everything from his war induced tick to the subtle nod to The Punisher’s signature costume Mr.Bernthal’s take on Frank is excellently executed. Pardon the pun. Here’s to hoping Netflix and Marvel announce a Punisher stand-alone season post “Defenders.” It’s a well deserved project for the talented actor.

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Elektra (Elodie Yung) being snarky, as per usual

Not to be outdone by the other new kid on the block, Elektra makes her raven haired return to Matt Murdock, quite honestly, just to screw with him. Gorgeous and lethal, Elodie Yung balances super charming and bratty with instability that is Elektra with such ease you’re enthralled. To say the casting is perfect, much like Mr.Bernthal, would be an understatement. A film that we can call an “attempt” at Daredevil had Jennifer Garner wielding Elektra’s signature sai’s and while the casting of Ms.Garner, especially for the time—think the height of “Alias” where she was legit a piece of muscle, was a good choice, unfortunately, that whole film was a disaster. Thankfully Elektra get’s another go at it.

Ms.Yung proves in every way that she is the perfect Elektra. From her physicality, impressive martial art skills, all the way to her regal accent, she is Elektra. There’s such a vitality in her presence you weren’t even aware you missed it in Season 1. Scenes between Mr.Cox and Ms.Yung shoot sparks from every which way truly capturing the complicated nature that is Daredevil and Elektra.

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Be my guest, mess with her, see what happens… 

Visually they did a particularly good job with Elektra, a character who has been so sexed up in the comics one forgets she is a warrior. Her street-wear is filled with body-con leather pants, high neck sleeveless turtlenecks, killer and somewhat impractical strappy heels, and delicate jewelry while her battle gear pays subtly appropriate nods to her comic roots. She oozes sophistication and cash, it’s great. Entertainment Weekly has more on Elektra’s costume transformation.

It’s honestly a toss up between Elektra and The Punisher as to whom is a better addition to the “Daredevil” universe. Let’s call it a draw because either one of them could knock you out with one swift kick.

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An updated Daredevil suit, and a cow carcass. Makes sense. 

While there have been a few creative changes with (wildly talented) Season 1 Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Alias”) moving on and Season 1 producers Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez sharing Showrunner duties, the overall tone still feels very true to what Marvel and Netflix set out to do when Season 1 premiered this time last year. This could possibly be due to the fact that series creator Drew Goddard has stayed on as a creative consultant, or, that Petrie and Marirez just “get” the Man Without Fear and who Matt really is. There’s a significantly different feel this season, mostly due to the vibrancy Elektra and The Punisher bring, but it still feels part of it’s original inception and, really, is there anything wrong with a little change?

There are quite a few surprises throughout the season, things that should be left a secret, so watch out if you haven’t already devoured. Avoid spoilers at all costs and fully immerse yourself. Episode 8 in particular brings the biggest shock and is one secret that should be kept. There are also a lot of fun easter eggs and comic references with the The Hand, introduced last season, and the return of a particularly crotchety old man who’s excellent with a stick.

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Secrets, secrets are no fun…

This season was given some unfair scrutiny when reviews first when out saying it “didn’t hold up” without the terrifying quiet calm of Wilson Fisk as the main protagonist. That honestly is not a fair outlook as this is a great second installment, and a great new chapter for Matt Murdock. These characters have been defined since Season 1 allowing us to jump right into action and new storylines. If you weren’t already excited to see what is going to happen leading up to “The Defenders,” you will now.

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Claire (Rosario Dawson) and Foggy clearly getting Brunch. 

New additions were not the only standouts among the cast. Ms.Dawson, yet again, gives a performance full of heart and authenticity acting as Matts moral compass and the reality check he usually needs. It’s amazing how much she brings to every scene she is in. So effortless. Thankfully Karen becomes more dimensional this season, and with such great material given to work with, Ms.Woll exceeded expectations. She is one of the most enjoyable actors to watch this season. A particularly funny bit where everyone keeps calling Karen “lady” is hysterical (not like she’s 50) and injects humor in all the darkness. Other standouts include the wildly horrific D.A. Samantha Reyes (Michelle Hurd), who made her debut in “Jessica Jones” and has kept up her bad attitude, and Sgt. Brett Mahoney (Royce Johnson) who delivery a wonderfully conflicted performance.

Unfortunately, Foggy does not fair as well. Mr.Henson’s acting is strongest when he’s sharing scenes with Mr.Cox and, somehow, with anyone else he comes off like an over eager fanboy. This is rather disappointing because when with Mr.Cox he’s dynamic showing how extremely authentic their relationship is; you can feel years and years of friendship there. Yet again Mr.Cox demands the screen every time he is on it. He’s so dynamic it’s baffling how more studio’s haven’t taken noticed of Mr.Cox. Anyone he shares a scene with he becomes completely magnetic.

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Pretty big gun you got there, Frank. 

The nominated stunt work also does not disappoint this season. While particularly more gruesome this time around, the cinematography and stunt work may be some of the best on television. Daredevil’s suit gets an update making him more mobile and agile enhancing a great nod to Season 1’s now famous hallway fight sequence that’s a worthy adversary. Elektra also get’s a memorable fight sequence as well in an airplane hanger with the sexiest assassin, possibly ever (Gilles Marini, AKA Dante from the “Sex and The City” movie). Oddly enough there is also a scene featuring rain and how it effects Matts abilities that pays homage to that 2003 train wreck of a movie you should keep your eyes peeled for.

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I’m sure fraternization between colleagues is encouraged, especially at a law firm.

The season pays much love to our fair New York City, shooting in new locations making it a fun guessing game of “What street is that?” Matt and Karen even make a pit stop at my favorite Indian Restaurant that happens to be in my neighborhood, Milon. One of the only complaints of last season was the cinematography was a bit on the darker side making it actually difficult to see certain scenes and thankfully there’s a bit more light this time around.

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Elektra: not impressed and probably hungry. 

While mostly everything is pretty fantastic this season, Season 2 is not without it’s faults. Over thirteen episodes there is a subplot featuring Irish mobsters and for whatever reason, each and every one of them has a worse Irish accent than the next. Like, did they let an amateur casting director take that on as a project? It was beyond distracting. Definitely dropped the ball.

Courtroom scenes were more dynamic then last year but were missing Season 1’s unique blurry cinematography that represented Matt’s abilities. On a positive note, flashback scenes didn’t feel as dragged out as Season 1.

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Matts found himself all tied up…find out why! 

If you enjoyed Season 1 of “Daredevil” then you’re going to love where Marvel and Netflix have taken you next. Superheroes, crime, sexy femme fatales, unstable soldiers, courtroom drama, and the heart of New York City beating throughout. That’s “Daredevil.”

Season 2 of “Daredevil” is now available in it’s glorious entirety to stream on Netflix.

All images courtesy of Netflix  and Marvel

© Copyright 2016 The New York Narrative. All rights reserved.

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