No preamble, I’ve done this enough times to give you guys the short version. Some spoilers, some of them are bigger than others. TL;DR? I liked it. Let’s get into the meat of the review, shall we?
In The Dead Corner, Our Reigning Champion… The Daredevil
Reborn in the style of every dead Marvel character ever, escaping by the skin of his proverbial teeth, crawling to relative safety, and being nursed to health by one of those factions who see him for his virtues and are willing to sacrifice that he might live. Matt Murdock is a truly broken man, and he’s willing to shed his name to embrace his symbol, to renounce his humanity in the name of a purpose he sees as bigger than any notion of maintaining a normal life.
Well he has just lost the one woman he has ever loved whole heartedly, and he’s also lost his mentor, the closest thing left in the world he had to a parent. This is a story of love and loss from all perspectives, and how love can both make and/or break a person – but more on that later.
There is… very little more to say on this one. We know that Charlie Cox does Matt Murdock well, it’s nice to see him play a different angle of the character, and watching him rediscover humanity, sometimes predictably, sometimes in ways that surprise us. It is mostly his villains that help show him the way back to himself and – predictably – we end the series on Matt Murdock being nice and happy with the friends he drove away. Still, it’s about the journey.
And Our Challenger… The Kingpin
This is how you do a returning villain! Give him a season to build a plan, never let us forget his looming presence, and make him so much more terrifying. Oh, and here be Mega Spoilers
1. Rat out a former allied criminal gang who had done an excellent job of filling the void left by Fisk’s crime empire and pocketing the corrupt police in the process, collapsing a major rival and leaving a niche to be filled.
2. Arrange to have himself stabbed by someone on payroll once the FBI consider you a valuable asset in order to have himself placed somewhere safe, outside of prison, and into a hotel that he already owns courtesy of some inside knowledge on FBI processes and a few already crooked feds shuffling the paperwork.
3. Once in a pre-owned hotel, keep working the FBI to have them unintentionally rebuild a crime empire. Slip out of the hotel on a regular basis in order to broker deals with local crime bosses in order to bring them into the fold, while consolidating numbers of “owned” police officials, federal agents, politicians.
4. Buy art.
6. Also Vanessa.
That’s only the broad strokes! Playing the part of a reformed man, he is playing every possible angle, right down to the personal situation of every individual in play, ensuring that they have no options, even if they believe that they’re making their own decisions. This he exemplifies in the special agent in charge of his case, Ray Nadeem, who is made sickeningly aware of how many threads have been pulling at him when the whole plan comes together at the beginning of the series’ third act.
Vincent D’onofrio once again delivers a performance that masters both aspects, the mastermind, puppeteer, the spider at the centre of his web, and the rampaging idiot child, seething with unspent rage, and yet all of it at the mercy of a powerful woman, be it the woman who holds his heart in her hand, or the woman whose wealth of hardships dwarfs his own. Once again we witness how destructive his love can be, all consuming, and driving him to incredible heights of criminality in order to be reunited.
Bullseye Done Well
I guess you could say he was spot-on? No? Really hit the mark? Nailed it? Ahh never mind, moving on.
A far more complex character than Colin Farrell’s film version but… well that’s not difficult. Gone is the cocky attitude and early 2000’s black coat, and maybe I miss the forehead scarring a little but… I mean without a good explanation that’s just more flashiness. Agent Ben Poindexter has crippling OCD and homicidal psychopathy, having suffered a great deal from an early age he goes full-on killer very early on, claiming a human life as a preteen, and already demonstrating an alarming level of precision. A few superb moments demonstrate his skills, most notably the chandelier crystals turned into a deadly projectile, but it’s his journey into Kingpin’s fold that makes him truly compelling.
He fits into the space of “goon to a far smarter criminal” very well, depending on the authority provided by the FBI until that rug is pulled from under him, and when he’s offered the chance to let his killer side free and serve a purpose he practically leaps on the opportunity. Putting him in the Daredevil suit was inspired, being so well matched in skills (check out the Rock vs. Rock section in this article) he was the perfect man to step into the role, and we get to see Daredevil overcome himself in a very transparent metaphor, but still rather well executed.
Season 1 Remade
How do you make a good third season? Make the first one again and upgrade it!
Seriously, we’ve brought back the villain, we’ve brought back the network of corrupt police, we’ve brought back Melvin Potter and the workshop fight, we’ve brought back black-suit daredevil, and we’ve brought back the legal firm of Nelson and Murdock, the legal elements that made for a superb contrast to the vigilante lifestyle. Even the fight against Bullseye more closely resembled the fight with Nobu than any of the fights in the 2003 film. But y’know what? They did it all really well, and upscaled it all so that the stakes felt higher, and everything felt far more intimidating, lower, grittier, and more intense.
This also seamlessly blends the crime-drama mixed with action heroism mixed with noir setting version of Daredevil from season 1 with the far more action-intensive street-level hero from season 3.
I already made the joke connecting the cancellation of Iron Fist and Luke Cage to the events of Infinity Wars, and I’m a little annoyed by the decision to cancel the two just as they’re getting interesting (once day I’ll have my soap-box moment about Reaper) but there is another season of The Punisher racked up for next year, and no sign of cancellation for Jessica Jones as yet. With that said, I won’t be sad to see Daredevil fold at this point. It’s had an excellent run, ended on a high point, and another season might just leave a sour taste.
Also, I may have mentioned, I’m a little fatigued with heroes at this point, it’s been a decade long trend… actually a little more than that, and while it’s nice to watch it bleed and blend into other genres, I kind of want to relish watching Disney build it’s little empire, only to see it topple like Rome at the height of its decadence.
Wouldn’t it be weird if Universal’s Dark Universe actually got good?