Warning: Some Spoilers ahead!
Daredevil debuted to rapturous applause last year due in no small part to its dark tone and exceptional cinematography. The series did away with the traditionally more lighthearted feel of the Marvel cinematic universe and carved its own path on the small screen. In doing this it became the single best superhero show on a very bloated list of such programmes. The question, then, was whether the second season could possibly live up to its predecessor or if it was doomed to pale in comparison. Episode one of season two appears to have given fans that answer.
This episode, Entitled ‘Bang’, begins shortly after the climatic events of the last season and you get to see the aftermath of Kingpin’s dominance and subsequent fall from grace. It is nice to see that the showrunners went down the most logical route for a crime drama set in Hell’s Kitchen. There are no supervillains moving in on Fisk’s old turf as of yet, which there would be if this were Spider-man or something similar, but instead there are real gangs each trying to snatch up their piece of the pie. The Irish are back in force and they have competition from a few rivals such as a biker gang, though the real threats, namely the Yakuza, are greatly diminished due to their dealings with Daredevil last season.
The power vacuum left by Fisk does mean one potentially negative thing, at least for this episode, and that is that there’re no real challenges for DD to face as the field has been levelled and all that is left for him at this time is a selection of low level thugs. In fact, this episode doesn’t really give an awful lot of development to the titular hero as it chooses instead to serve as an introduction to another, much more ruthless vigilante, The Punisher.
A big concern amongst fans in the run up to season two has been that Frank Castle would be toned down in order to fit in with a TV environment. People are used to seeing him as an unrepentant killer with unmatched skills and no remorse, to have him be anything less than that would be taken as an insult to the character and to the fans themselves. It’s lucky then that he is portrayed perfectly in this opener. The level of bullet-ridden brutality he delivers is on a par with what was seen in Deadpool, only it is presented in a more visceral and far less comic bookish way. There is no softening of scenes here and the action really drives the point home that Punisher is not a man you want to come the wrong side of. From the first moment you see his handiwork this is clear as he cuts down an entire room full of armed Irish gangsters without once revealing himself, in fact the police and other criminals even believe that it was the work of a small army rather than one man.
It would be fair to say that Daredevil takes a back seat for an hour here as, whilst he enjoys more screen time both in costume and as Matt Murdoch, he does not do nearly as much to drive the story forward as his blood thirsty counterpart. From a writing standpoint that makes total sense as he has already been fully fleshed out in season one and with such a short in show gap between seasons there is really no need to delve too much deeper into him whilst there is a great need to establish the main antagonist of the piece early on. Still though, it is hard not to feel like the main story has yet to be set up as fans will know that Elektra and the Yakuza are to factor heavily into this season as is the continuing war for control of Hell’s Kitchen. None of that is really touched upon to a massive degree but it is very likely that it will be in the next two episodes or so as Punisher vs. Daredevil will have to take a backseat at some point.
You do still get to see plenty of Murdoch, Foggy, and Karen as they attempt to climb out of near bankruptcy and still work to help those in desperate need through their small law practice. Not much has changed with any of them in the time they’ve been away and it does feel like you are still seeing their life progress in front of your eyes without missing a beat. The potential romance between Matt and Karen is an interesting avenue to explore and there should be no doubt that it will continue to grow and run into problems throughout this season. Really though you’ll have to wait for future episodes to see much in the way of progression for any of these three as all you’ll get here is a better look at the new Daredevil costume in all its menacing glory.
The end of the episode is an explosive one and it should have you moving straight on to the next one immediately (Netflix streaming is the best). Overall, episode one is a strong showing and, although it doesn’t set up much of what is to come in this season, it does a wonderful job of introducing The Punisher to the audience and making him a very credible threat. Just as was the case last year the cinematography is again flawless as the action is slick and hard hitting and the environment looks like a living, breathing piece of New York. If you are at all on the fence about sitting back and watching Daredevil then you should absolutely go and check it out, you will not be disappointed.
Episode Score: 8 out of 10.
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