The Great Daredevil Season 2 Binge Is Here, and I’m Reviewing Every Episode. Head Here to Keep Up.
Which One Is “Guilty As Sin”?: The one where Stick comes back and shares a story about
The League of Assasins The Hand and their Lazarus Pit mythical ability to bring people back from the dead. Also, Matt is somehow allowed to turn a cross-examination of Frank Castle in court into a grandstanding speech to the jury about the need for heroes. Then Frank threatens to kill everyone in the court room. Epic fail there, Matty. Foggy storms away angry, and Karen breaks up with him for a variety of solid reasons.
Oh well. Matt can at least go home to a nice evening alone with Elektra, who has chosen to be with him after secretly working for Stick this entire time. Then they’re attacked, and she kills a young assassin in front of him. Just a typical day in the life of Matt Murdock. Plus, we finally see the return of Wilson Fisk at the very end. More on him in the next review though.
1. Bringing People Back from the Dead? Tread Very Carefully Here, Daredevil
Daredevil is comic book show set within the world of the extraordinary. The Avengers fought Loki and the Chautari just across town. Matt has chemical accident-enhanced hearing which enables him to form images in his mind based on soundwaves. Somewhere else in the neighborhood there’s a girl who can leap tall buildings, and there used to be a British guy who could exert his will on others based merely on the sound of his voice. This is clearly an elastic reality we’re dealing with here.
However, Daredevil doesn’t like to acknowledge that. It eschews any kind of special Daredevil sonar vision ala the Ben Affleck movie. Instead, they communicate Matt’s ability to us through ingenious sound design and stylized close-ups of body parts and moving objects. This season, it’s been increasingly easy to forget that he’s even blind. The villains all have guns, not superpowers, and the primary antagonist of season 2 thus far has been an unhinged guy with extreme military training. Last season, the big bad was ultimately maneuvering a crooked real estate deal as his big end game. He was corrupt, sure, but he was also recognizably human.
The knowledge that Stick just dropped on Matt in “Guilty As Sin” is incredibly tricky new territory though. Just because he tells a story about an international group of mystical assassins who might already have or are currently searching for the secret formula to immortality doesn’t mean the rest of the season is going to take a turn toward the supernatural. Even if it does, comic book readers would hardly be surprised considering the long history of The Hand, a Frank Miller creation which dates back to 1981. However, it also risks losing the grounded-in-reality aspect that made the first season so appealing. Daredevil isn’t about to slide into Arrow seasons 2-4, but it is on the precipice of becoming far more of a comic book show than it used to be. Where it ultimately goes with this new storyline could make or break this season, or it could all just be fodder for setting up Iron Fist. I’ll have to keep watching to find out.
2. Stick’s Back. Yay?
In the AV Club’s review of the first season episode “Stick,” they argued:
Stick teaches Matt how to harness the gift of his overwhelming senses and molds him into the acrobatic martial artist he is today, but by teaching the boy how to fight, Stick inadvertently steps into a fatherly role he never wanted. Jack Murdock was a boxer that refused to teach his son how to fight, but Stick’s training allows Matt to channel his father’s spirit, which creates an emotional bond between his dead dad and his blind sensei.
Stick is Matt’s de factor father figure, although he’ll never let on how much he cares about him. His return in “Guilty As Sin,” though, is entirely expository. Scott Glenn fires off a couple of great lines, particularly “Nice to meet you” to a departing and frazzled Karen, but he’s mostly there to tell us about the new big bad and spoil Elektra’s secret. Perhaps, though, that is the role best suited for Stick. After his battle with Matt last season, what more is there to say other than an explanation about what was really going on with that little kid they killed last season?
3. The Real Elektra Finally Steps Up
I’ve gone from disliking Elodie Young’s Elektra to enjoying the looser energy she brings to the show to questioning what exactly she was hiding. Young made her an enjoyable character, sure, but not a particularly well-rounded one, more snark and mystery than anything else.
“Guilty As Sin” finally shows us the real Elektra – She’s Sara Lance from Arrow circa season 2, a trained assassin who is certain she’s a monster and terrified that the man she loves will reject her when he finds that out.
Obviously, the scenarios aren’t exactly the same. Unlike Sara and Oliver, Elektra’s relationship with Matt has been arranged from the start, a mission assigned to her which went south when she fell in love. Also, Arrow could only ever pay lip service to what Daredevil can actually depict, which is Elektra coldly murdering someone and having their blood splurt out onto her clothes. However, it’s an ultimately familiar dynamic, and not necessarily to its detriment. After all, if you’ve never seen Arrow the comparison means nothing to you.
There are certainly deeper analyses to be offered here than “Huh, it’s kind of like that thing Arrow did.” For instance, in the wake of the strong female characters on Jessica Jones you can debate what to make of Elektra being a character whose identity has been entirely dictated by men. Stick trained her and assigned her to Matt, but then she fell in love with him. A decade later, she only seeks salvation because Matt says she could be a good person if she tries.
To be fair, I am unfamiliar with the details Daredevil and Elektra’s comic book history. What’s playing out here could be a case of sticking to the source material. Either way, now that Elektra’s true self has been revealed she might finally become interesting as opposed to simply entertaining.
4. Poor Foggy
Ala Clerks, his mantra during this portion of the season should be, “I didn’t even want to take this case!”
5. Mean Old Clancy Brown
Remember him as General Wade Wiling on The Flash?
On to the next episode: “Seven Minutes in Heaven”