People are already calling 2016 the year of second chances.
has already smashed that message through the 4th wall by redeeming both its titular character’s prior incarnation and Ryan Reynolds problematic outing as Green Lantern. Then within 40 seconds, the final
Batman v Superman
trailer took any remaining doubters over Affleck’s ability to kill it as Batman and drove them face first through the floor. Yet for many, the superhero second chances began last April when the first season of
dropped on to Netflix. Not only did it’s quality completely change the dynamic of power within the Marvel/DC TV show battles but it gave some much needed justice to its lead character: one of the biggest casualties of the pre-MCU Marvel films. Now almost a year later, the Avocadoes at law are back in business. Not only that, but they’re bringing with them some new clients seeking justice against their awful '00's film incarnations: the sociopathic vigilante killer, The Punisher, and the Sai blade wielding Greek assassin, Elektra. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please be seated and get your asses comfy while these characters present their appeals because we have 13 hours of awesomeness ahead of us!
– By day, the blind Matt Murdock (
) is a lawyer with his partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson -
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
) but by night, he uses his powers of highly enhanced senses to become the masked crime fighting vigilante, Daredevil. A series of brutal mass murders of criminals and gangs signals the arrival of a new player in Hells Kitchen, New York. Someone that threatens to turn it into a war zone.
Now first and foremost, this is still a season opener and a big part of that is pulling out a friendly chair for the newcomers by re-establishing many of the characters and locations. It can be a chore but with good writing, it puts a firm smile back on returning fans as they're reminded just how much they've missed these people. That is exactly what happens here in the opening act. From the moment Matt and Foggy are walking down the street together, their chemistry sparks like they've never left each other's side and reuniting to their practice yields Karen as the cherry on the cake. Yet these scenes also set up some themes for the season in their stride. Foggy's jesting about needing Matt to be his lady charming wingman is funny but it also pledges the sacrifices Matt is making in his personal life to suit up as Daredevil ("If I take a night off, people get hurt"). Similarly, the Nelson & Murdock clientele shows us that their moral crusade to help the helpless is booming but financially leading them towards ruin and an inevitable choice between the lawyers they want to be and the lawyers they have to be to survive. We also see the interesting new dynamic between the trio of Matt, Foggy and Karen and though Foggy discovered Matt's alter ego late last season, Karen is in the dark. Although it makes some things easier, it will likely lead to tension and division between them as Karen starts feeling excluded.
The main body of the of episode centers around introducing the idea of The Punisher before unveiling everyone's favourite Marvel sociopath at the climax. What's great to see here is how steady and even this transpires. Nothing is rushed, and one particular Irish gang meeting has a real Tarantino dialogue heavy slow cooker feel to it. Then character perceptions superbly help to build him up as formidable, in the way police and different gangsters believe it's the work of an army only to find that it's just one man. There's no dramatic overstatement, only good subtle implications of infamy before the climatic reveal of Jon Bernthal (
The Walking Dead's
Shane) in action..... and oh... my... God! Saying that they nailed it is like saying a Bugatti is a nice car or that Hendrix was a good guitar player. This is without a doubt the greatest entrance made in any Marvel or DC TV show. From the low shots of his feet as the badass music blasts out like audio triggered awesomeness to dispatching an armed security guy without even breaking stride, and everything that follows in the final 5 minutes of the episode this is utter perfection! The show does not waste any time living up to it's Daredevil vs. Punisher premise as our hero & anti-hero lock up for a firm reminder of the kick ass action this show is capable of producing. Matt lets rip with the moves and shows no shortage of skill but Punisher is on another level of toughness, able to take one hell of a beating without compromising his offence. In what must be considered merely a warm up for these characters butting heads and fists, we even get some good comic loyal framed shots to their literary conflicts. If this is what the show was aiming for then it's nothing but a bull's-eye!
In the smaller notes, there's suggestions that there will still be romantic arcs between the main characters if not as straight forward as they'd like. Foggy still has sights set on Karen but a rather close and personal pool tutorial implies that Karen might be turning a blind eye instead. A few recurring faces from last season return, including Josie, the just about co-operative cop Brett Mahoney and back ally weapons dealer Turk Barrett. Although the most welcoming feature of this returning episode is what we don't get. That is a single MCU reference outside the show itself (correct me if I missed one). While such drop-ins and references are great fun, Daredevil is making a bold and confident statement by omitting them here. It's a show building the mass critical and viewing success of it's debut season by realizing that leaning on other properties for attention is a crutch it no longer requires.
This is nothing but a strong and confident return form an outstanding show. There's no over-emphasis on the action or other spectacular factors in the hope of hooking in more viewers but prioritizes telling its story, and that is exactly what we want the show to be. With Elektra and The Hand still to come, this already looks like being one hell of a season!