by Josie Kafka
After an awe-inspiring first season, Marvel’s Daredevil has a lot to live up to: Stupendous balletic fight scenes. Fascinating meditations on religion, morality, and correct action. A “wounded-bird” hero and his complicated sidekicks. Not to mention the Big Bad, Wilson Fisk. Can the second season premiere keep up the momentum?
More or less. The opening scene, in which an unseen vigilante—or more than one—attacks and kills a bunch of Mid-Sized Bads in black masks, was a great way of introducing at least one of this season’s themes: what’s the difference between a vigilante and a sociopath? And what’s up with the “paramilitary organization” that apparently has a grudge against the Irish?
Savvy viewers know part of the answer: Matt Murdock’s Daredevil is…well, see above re: “wounded puppy.” His foe, or at least his foil, is the solitary man who can do the damage of twenty men: Jon Bernthal’s as-yet unnamed Punisher, who shoots to kill and aims to misbehave.
The parallels between the two are fascinating: I’m still not sure who was attacking the masked baddies. My best guess is that the Punisher was taking most of them down, with Daredevil struggling to catch up. After all, the Punisher does like to go for the kill. The execution of the Irish mobsters was insanely violent, and he killed people in a hospital! He hung people from meat hooks!
But even the cinematography showed us how the two echo each other: we don’t see the Punisher at all in the opening scenes; he is always just out of frame or in an ablative-absolute state of having-disappeared. In the final fight, Daredevil—shot by the Punisher—falls off a building and out of frame. He’s unseen, now, too, but in a more vulnerable way.
But this episode isn’t just setting up the rivalries of this season. As Foggy said to Matt, “This isn’t just about you anymore.” Foggy remains concerned about Matt’s nocturnal activities, vacillating between dabbing the blood on the back of his neck (aww!) and trying to convince him to stop.
Karen, on the other hand, seems to have developed quite a crush on Matt. The pool-shooting scene was erotic, but she’s clearly struggling with trust issues (and her own baggage, about which we’ve only gotten hints). When she said to Matt that she wasn’t sure “who was hustling who,” I couldn’t help but think how much both of them are “hustling” each other by not talking about their secrets.
Not that there’s much time for that. Nelson & Murdock is both broke and busy: getting paid in bananas (Matt) and pie (Foggy) does not bode well for the firm’s ability to stay solvent and intact. Both Foggy and Karen get a fair share of screen time, too: Foggy with the bikers (more funny than scary) and Karen with Grotto (very tense). I like those characters, so I hope they get some interesting arcs of their own. That’s my way of saying I want more info on Karen’s backstory.
So, does “Bang” live up to the high standards of Season One? Pretty much, although it felt more like a “Here’s where we are, here’s where we’re going” episode than a jaw-dropping 45 minutes. That’s okay, though—if we’re watching this, we’re probably watching more than one episode at once. Having seen the first three episodes as of writing this review, I can promise you this season is good.
• Foggy: “That’s the tragedy of you being blind. You’ve never seen me dance.”
Matt: “Oh, but I can cite the legends I heard in law school.”
• Matt: “Brett, you can trust us.”
Foggy: “We’re lawyers.”
• Did Charlie Cox’s American accent seem a bit…um…trans-Atlantic?
• If Matt could hear Grotto’s heartbeat and sense his gun, why couldn’t he tell he was bleeding?
Three out of four Irish mobsters wearing body armor to a private meeting in his own club. Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day!
Programming Note: JRS, JD, Logan and I will post our Daredevil reviews every other day. Please keep spoilers for future episodes out of the comments if you’re binging it more quickly!
Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)