Nelson and Murdock look to save Hell’s Kitchen from its new hero… The Punisher.
This is an advance review of the first episode of Daredevil: Season 2, before Netflix debuts the entire season on March 18th. There will be some basic plot points discussed, but no major twists/spoilers revealed.
Sure, there’s a somewhat wince-worthy moment in Daredevil’s Season 2 premiere where a character says the egregiously trailer-ready line, “Hell’s Kitchen’s about to explode.” But he’s not wrong.
Things heat up very quickly in the show’s highly-anticipated first episode back, as not only is there a heat wave sucking the figurative life out of New Yorkers, but there’s a one-man army in town. Taking the very literal lives of criminals.
Yes, The Punisher’s officially arrived and the premiere episode gets right into it. A very strong start to what looks to be an action-packed, drama-filled season of excitement. In the wake of Wilson Fisk’s arrested, several gangs have tried to muscle in and fill the void. The Cartel. Bikers. The Irish mob. Nature abhors a vacuum. There’s territory to claim. And that idea alone makes for a good starting point. The trouble is that Matt Murdock and friends aren’t dealing with the new villains in town. They’re dealing with the new “hero.” A singularly-focused, shadowy vigilante who’s bent on exterminating anyone trying to move in on Fisk’s turf.
This is an advance review, naturally, as the new season doesn’t land until March 18th, but I did want to mention that this character, The Punisher, is basically the kickoff story. I don’t know what the full season will hold, but this is the gateway. I bring this up because of the sort of slow burn reveal that was involved with Fisk back in Season 1. Punisher does not get that treatment, though there are still some excellent elements here in the premiere that work to really, and quickly, portray him as a formidable boogeyman. There’s sort of a mini-mystery element involved, in fact. Sparked by a low-level hood character named Grotto (from Daredevil’s comic universe, here played by McCaleb Burnett).
I’m guessing a lot of Daredevil: Season 2 reviews will say it’s “Punisher done right.” Not that the movies weren’t somehow able to capture the nature of a “distraught vigilante who wants to revenge-kill” (though they were not good movies), but TV allows the proper time to be taken for character building. It allows for one or more episodes to go by with someone like Frank Castle having little-to-no dialogue. It allows him to play in the shadows for longer. Bernthal’s killer vigilante is great, and he’s a huge part of the show right away, but the format still allows for things to be held back. Which is awesome.
Over on the Matt/Foggy/Karen front, the triple dynamic still really works well. Daredevil’s first season seemed to get retroactively dismissed for a few months when Jessica Jones became all the rage last fall. Though as great as Jessica Jones was as a series, I consider Daredevil to be the stronger of the two. Not that it’s a competition, but I’m invested in the world of Daredevil outside of Matt Murdock. In Foggy. In Karen. In Ben Urich, when he was around. And, particularly, in Fisk. Who was almost the show’s second lead. I can’t say the same about Jessica Jones, which felt lacking whenever we weren’t watching Jessica Jones.
And so yes, it’s still a joy to see the day-to-day legal life of Nelson and Murdock. We start off with Foggy worrying about Matt’s violent, blood-drawing nighttime activities, but then settle into the struggling local law firm we’ve come to love. Now more recognized by citizens as “good guys who help little people.” Usually, for no money. True altruists. To a financial fault. So are there seeds for a rift? Some in-fighting or drama? Sure, though the biggest moment regarding that happens right at the end of the episode, and I’m not giving it away. Though I will say, without revealing too much, that Karen now seems more drawn to Matt now. Which is either due to his usual “broken man” magnetism or a new added element to the situation…