Daredevil Season Three Review: Hello Darkness My Old Friend…November 15, 2018
*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*
It has not been a good time for Marvel’s Netflix TV shows as of late. Both Iron Fist and Luke Cage have been canceled, leaving only Jessica Jones and Daredevil still standing. The Defenders fate has yet to be sealed but it’s hard to imagine it will be coming back. It is rather shocking to see the Marvel TV shows on Netflix crashing and burning so fast. Or is it? It is possible people were in far too much of a rush to embrace this bold move by Marvel/Netflix that more than a few blind eyes were turned when they should have been paying closer attention. Maybe this is a response to the new streaming war that is going to hit television sets everywhere next year, who knows? What I do know is for whatever reasons, Daredevil has always outclassed the other shows and by a wide margin. Season three was no different, starting slow and finishing strong, with some incredible bits and pieces in the middle, all of which added up to a great season.
With Matt recovering, he did have a building fall on his head after all, the show came out of the gate at a little less than break-neck speed. I mean, we’re talking crawling through molasses here, folks. The recovery, combined with the soul-searching, darkness versus light, Satan against God moral wrangling’s made me a bit impatient. Looking back on it now, a lot of it makes sense, as do many scenes that had me scratching my head, wondering why I was watching them. Still, there was a bit too much padding for my liking, especially right out of the gate, and that gave me a legitimate reason to be concerned.
However, I am happy to say season three picked up steam, at times feeling like you were holding on for dear life, as the action and actions of characters built like a tidal wave. The Matt/Foggy/Karen trio is still very strong, with three different characters that are forever joined at the hip. For all the brave crime fighting and wonderful legal lawyering that Matt does, Karen and Foggy are just as brave, and sometimes just as insane, as he is. They all have their weaknesses, Matt likes to push people away, Karen and Foggy are vulnerable for different reasons but none of them ever quit and it’s their combined courage that carries a lot of the show.
Of course, then there is a full season of Wilson Fisk, which adds a bit more menace to the season from start to finish. It is amazing to watch Vincent D’Onofrio melt away and totally become Fisk, in all his intimidating glory. His rage, always bubbling near the surface and ready to blow, combined with his meticulous planning and scheming, make him a clear and present danger in every scene he’s in. Somehow, the show does make him feel human at times as well, especially when Vanessa is involved, and that is no small feat. Vanessa herself ends up playing a very important role in the show, impacting many things right up to the end.
Two new and important characters in season three are introduced as well, Agent Ray Nadeem (Jay Ali) and Agent Ben “Dex” Poindexter/pre Bullseye (Wilson Bethel) Both of these men are also flawed, making one wonder if Hell’s Kitchen is a magnet for such personas. Nadeem was hard to warm up to initially, especially when he became entrapped in the gigantic web Fisk had spun to catch so many before him. However, he also had many layers and courage to boot, making him an interesting character to follow. Poindexter however well, we all knew where this was going. Deeply troubled and fragmented to the point that it was a miracle he was keeping it together, Poindexter was the poster child for pity. Trying so hard only to throw in the towel once he entered Fisk’s radar it was tragic watching him unravel before our eyes.
Ok, so let’s talk about the action. The first two seasons of Daredevil gave us some incredible fight scenes, not just the brutality of them but how the meticulous planning and filming made them stand out. Fast forward to this season and nothing has changed. In fact, it might actually outshine seasons one and two as they now have these action sequences down to a fine art. In episode four, “Blindsided”, we witness one of those one-take fight sequences during a prison riot that is almost ten minutes long and it’s marvelous. With Dex/Bullseye added to the mix, we also have some great fight scenes in a church, at Karen’s workplace and a wonderful and surprising three-person dance of destruction in the final episode. I don’t know how long they work on these fight scenes but whatever they’re doing it’s working.
Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley) is also an important character this season, adding some emotional depth and yet another kick to the gut for Matt to absorb. In a season full of damaged characters, it is interesting to see how Sister Maggie joins the mix, even if some of the religious banter is a bit heavy-handed for my taste. Speaking of damaged characters, Karen gets a whole episode dedicated to her sketchy and ugly past. I have a love/hate relationship with Karen’s character who I sometimes find to be too shrill and annoying but she shines her, as she does in numerous other episodes this season.
This season was about characters revealing their flaws and troubled pasts and learning to deal with them, while at the same time Fisk took every opportunity to exploit these flaws to his advantage, something he does very well. Facing the darkness to walk the road (hopefully) to redemption, season three of Daredevil was emotionally powerful with great fight scenes and action sequences, all wrapped around some great characters that we really care about, good and bad. In the end, does it get any better than that?
Four stars out of five