This is a spoiler-filled recap of Episode 1 of Daredevil Season 2, so if you haven’t watched yet, come back after you have! New episode recaps will continue Monday, and you can keep up with all of them here.
Daredevil fans, the “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” returns! Ol Horn Head is back with a brand new season on Netflix, promising new characters, new threats, and the same old Catholic guilt from Matt Murdock’s first foray. To sum up the first season, the Murdock and Nelson Law Firm set up shop in Hell’s Kitchen, combating the self styled “Kingpin” of New York City, Wilson Fisk. Along the way, in defending one of Fisk’s victims caught in his wake, Matt and Foggy encounter Karen Page, who has a brief fling with Foggy, and becomes the team’s new secretary/office admin. The first season was a character study on not only Daredevil himself, but also Wilson Fisk, examining the differences and positions of the two hated foes within the borders of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. Season 2 has promised to not only examine the ramifications of the Kingpin’s fall, but also will introduce Jon Bernthal’s Punisher and Elodie Yung’s Elektra. With all that being said, pick up your billy clubs and let’s get to it!
“Bang” begins with a group of masked robbers running from the scene of the crime with the police hot on their heels. It’s through this pursuit that we’re given our re-introduction to Daredevil, as he pulls a pitch-perfect impersonation of Batman. It’s only until the final robber snags a teenage hostage that Murdock reveals himself in all his glory in the shadows of a nearby church. This opening, and the episode as a whole, feels more Marvel than before (if that makes sense) most likely because Murdock has finally slapped on the full red suit versus the black ninja outfit he wore for 95% of the first season. In terms of the suit, it got something of a mixed reaction both in terms of its premiere at the tail end of the last season, and the revised version that Matt wears throughout the second. Honestly, I think the suit holds up and, when silhouetted especially, delivers a striking image not seen much when it comes to live action superheroics.
The introduction of Matt as Daredevil in this first episode goes a long way to show us just how confident he’s become in the role, whereas in the first season, they made sure to have the audience believe that Murdock may not win any of the fights he’s involved in. Here, Daredevil is bouncing off the walls and ricocheting his billy club across the environment to fantastic effect. For those who wanted a bit more of the old superhero business, the showrunners heard your call, and it’s in full effect.
From here, we’re dropped back into the world of Nelson and Murdock as they continue to take cases that, in lieu of actual currency, offer payment in the forms of cakes, fruit baskets, and other assorted foods. While struggling with the fact that they’re dead broke, Nelson is trying to physically hold Matt together, as his nightly Daredevil adventures take their toll. Both sides of the argument — Foggy’s desire for self-preservation and Murdock’s desire for self-destruction at the cost of others’ safety — hold strong and are well presented, with Matt believing that their work as attorneys during the day is merely a “half measure.” This is ironic, of course, in that this is a big argument with the Punisher coming up with the sides reversed. The victory against Fisk in this new season isn’t dwelled upon, but is mentioned just the right amount to cast away the prior vulnerabilities, focusing on their new strengths from the “W.” It’s a leaner and meaner set of characters this time around, with the initial world building out of the way, which is why I suppose most superhero outings have better sequels than originals.
Our introduction to the Punisher here is strong and luckily, doesn’t take as long as the Kingpin’s. An Irish mob meets in the confines of a dive bar, attempting to figure out the best way to take control of New York’s underbelly thanks to the power vacuum left by Fisk. Before any headway can be made though, shots cascade through the walls with bodies and bullets falling in gruesome detail. With only one gangster surviving, his need for protection and representation leads him to the doorstep of none other than Nelson and Murdock. It’s an ingenious way to place Daredevil into the Punisher’s sites, as the two attorneys’ work in putting Fisk away has made them something of a household name in Hell’s Kitchen.
Let’s dig into the meat of the matter with Jon Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle. If you were to look at the Kingpin as Dracula in the first season, acting as a vampire in both strength and his desire to feed off the city, the Punisher is Frankenstein’s Monster. Castle is an unflinching monstrosity, leaving a trail of corpses and shotgun shells in his wake. In fact, in this first episode, he only speaks one word but oh, what a word it is. I’m a big fan of the Punisher from the Marvel comics, especially the Punisher Max storylines from writer Garth Ennis, and you can definitely pick up on some of the influences (especially since direct scenes are lifted from their pages). The first fight between Murdock and Castle is fantastic, showing off the strengths and differences of both characters. Whereas Daredevil is a bouncing bean of agility and speed, the Punisher is a brick wall, lurching in direct, heavy movements during all of his scraps. It’s the choreography from the first season times ten, and man does it ever work. Their first encounter ends with the Punisher shooting Matt point blank in the face, with Murdock falling off the building. Quite the cliffhanger!
Daredevil’s second season has kicked off with a bang, and promises to ramp up the action and superheroics to new heights. While this opening salvo is a strong one, there are a few minor hiccups along the way such as the Foggy/Dogs of Hell bar scene that keep it from being excellent. Still, if you want more Daredevil and have been waiting for a pitch-perfect interpretation of the Punisher, you can’t go wrong here.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
The Collider Offices of Nelson and Murdock
– The Irish gangsters are cut straight from the Punisher Max storyarc entitled, “Kitchen Irish.” This storyline was chock full of “out there” villains such as McGinty and Finn, so it’ll be interesting if any of them come into forefront of this series.
– I was a bit taken aback at the fact that as Frank chased Karen and the gangster through the hospital, that he was coming really close to hitting the innocent victims there, running around like headless chickens. In the books, the Punisher, while certainly a murderer of those he deems guilty, really tries to make sure he doesn’t kill any innocent people in the crosshairs. Mistakes will happen though I suppose!
– No skull on the chest for Frank yet, but hopefully sooner rather than later (waiting an entire season for it like the DD suit would be the pits)
-The chemistry between Karen and Matt works really well here, maybe because the two are so much more damaged than the original pairing of Nelson and Page.
-Foggy: “Do I look capable of making healthy life choices?” “That’s the tragedy of you being blind, you’ve never seen me dance”
– Turk: “Come on D, how about letting me go?”
– Officer: “Everytime I think we’ve seen it all, Hell’s Kitchen manages to sneak off and kick me in the balls.”
– Murdock: “You can trust us.”
Foggy: “We’re lawyers!”
– Murdock: “It’s not underwear Foggy, underwear is comfortable.”
– Dogs of Hell Biker: “You got guts, Harvard.”
– Punisher: “Bang”