Deadshirters Max Robinson and Dylan Roth attended the New York premiere of Netflix’s new season of Daredevil. Here’s what they thought of the first two episodes.
After sticking the landing under showrunner Steven DeKnight, I didn’t really know what to expect from the “season premiere” of Daredevil under new showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez (who were writers on season one). Maybe it’s because of those expectations or because Marvel Studios/Netflix is just really good at first episodes but “Bang” is– pardon the pun — one helluva ride.
The thing that really distinguishes Daredevil from other superhero programs is just how pretty it looks. Or rather, how artfully unpretty it can be. The New York City of Netflix’s Marvel Universe is a big cartoon (this season, we meet a criminal biker gang that might as well be called The Hell’s Satans) and Daredevil as a show is really at its best when it embraces that fact. “Bang” sends Matt Murdock’s costumed alter ego skulking into a neon soaked church, the homey dive bar familiarity of Josie’s and, in one particularly gruesome scene, a meat locker with some unusual occupants. Locations like these are a breath of fresh air compared to Marvel’s other TV fare — even ABC’s stellar Agent Carter feels largely resigned to dull office sets and fairly generic laboratories or warehouses — and it’s a thrill just watching Charlie Cox’s Daredevil interact with his environment in these scenes.
“Bang” really hits all the right buttons of *feeling* like an issue of Daredevil you’d pull out of a longbox — from Foggy’s exclamation that “HELL’S KITCHEN IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE!” to Daredevil harassing exasperated low level crook Turk while looking for information to a concealed Daredevil *listening* to the sounds of Manhattan. My only real criticism with these scenes is that Cox doesn’t feel totally natural in his new more superhero-y Daredevil togs, although that has the added effect of making his scenes in costume feel intriguingly alien. Daredevil Season 1 was about the creation of Murdock’s crime fighting alter ego; Season 2 dives head first into the elements that make the comic such an enduring hit.
What really makes “Bang” such a gripping premiere is the deep black vein of tension that runs beneath everything. Matt, Karen and Foggy take unknowing baby steps into what appears to be a deadly mob war and they’re doing so all while sweating from a record breaking summer heat wave. It’s not a coincidence that the moment this tension finally breaks is when we come face to face with The Punisher. Thanks to a slow, spooky build up, Jon Bernthal’s almost mute Frank Castle is terrifying in the way that Michael Myers or The Terminator is terrifying. When Daredevil and The Punisher finally meet, the end result is a down and dirty fight that’s legitimately shocking. -Max
The first hour of season two is mostly table-setting, establishing the status quo for Nelson & Murdock (& Page) and teasing the reveal of one-man army Frank Castle. Episode Two is the main course, allowing each character to show off their stuff. Charlie Cox gets to play self-destructive and vulnerable Matt Murdock as he recovers from a very serious injury that, hard as he may try, he can’t just ignore. Later, as Daredevil, he gets into a visually impressive costumed scrap that’s up there with the DD/Nobu fight from Season One. Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page is still struggling with her own hidden past, and remains a quietly badass non-combatant. Jon Bernthal’s quiet, imposing Punisher steals every scene he’s in.
But the surprise star of Season Two so far is Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson, the heart and soul of Daredevil. Foggy’s life was hard enough when his best friend was secretly getting into ninja fights behind his back, but it’s much harder now that he knows about Matt’s night life and can’t do anything about it. Foggy’s playing the role usually reserved for put-upon love interests, and Henson works wonders with it. Foggy and Karen’s legal adventures are (while a lot less bloody) as entertaining as Matt’s brawls, and arguably more rewarding to watch—Foggy’s refusal to be bullied by a hot-shot D.A. is a feel-good moment that few brutal fistfights can match.
Matt continues to be a total mess, and the love of his friends is the only thing keeping him from completely disregarding his own wellbeing. But, of course, we haven’t yet been introduced to the Veronica to their Betty: Elektra. How Ms. Natchios spars with Foggy may end up being more interesting than her bad romance with Matt. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to see how that all plays out. -Dylan
Daredevil‘s second season premieres on Netflix on March 18.