The Great Daredevil Season 2 Binge Is Here, and I’m Reviewing Every Episode. Head Here to Keep Up.
Which One Is “Seven Minutes In Heaven”?: Fisk and Punisher become BFFs in prison. Matt breaks up with both Foggy and Elektra. He’s tired of apologizing to Foggy for who he is, and done with believing Elektra can be something she’s not. Even though the Frank Castle case is over, Karen continues following her gut, and scores a big enough scoop in the case that she’s given Ben Ulrich’s old office to use as the base of her new research operation. Also, Daredevil has a rematch with Nobu, i.e., that guy he burned alive last season. Nobu’s cryptic response to Matt’s comment about how it is that he’s not dead: “There is no such thing.” Huh. Stick might have been right about The Hand’s ability to bring back the dead.
1. Why does everyone love Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance as Wilson Fisk so much?
When the level of praise for Wilson Fisk last year rose to “He’s the MCU best all-time villain, even better than Loki!” and fans unsuccessfully petitioned for him to be added to Civil War I inevitability fell victim to the classic trap of thinking, “He’s not that great.”
I found him to be an equally captivating and mockable character, complex and tortured but also prone to hammy line deliveries. Additionally, his increasing pre-occupation with Vanessa was often amusing for the ways it irked his associates who wanted him to keep his eye on the prize.
He’s back now, taking up his own 10 minute long cold open explaining what he’s been up to in prison in-between seasons. In anticipation of another sea of hyperbole thrown D’Onofrio’s way I went searching for an answer to the question of why exactly Kingpin was so astonishingly adored last season. I found this essay on Polygon:
The idea of the civilized crime boss, the one who is refined and soft spoken as a contrast to his brutality in business, is an old one. Vincent D’Onofrio is amazing in the role because he takes it a step further. It’s not just a matter of a monster who also knows how to make an amazing omelette in a well-appointed apartment. The Kingpin is a deeply troubled individual, and he doesn’t do a very good job of hiding it when he’s forced to deal with people directly […] He often sounds like he’s about to cry, or scream, and that aspect of his vocal performance mixed with his imposing physical presence gives the viewer a sense that he’s drowning within himself.
Perhaps my surface level reaction to his stilted line deliveries failed to recognize the larger meaning behind the oddness of his vocal patterns.
Erudite villains are often depicted as having nominal respect for women — as non-combatants in their mob war, for example — that is eventually revealed to be rooted in casual sexism. Sexism is bad, but to twin it with “evil” characters too often allows a viewer to distance themselves from the idea that they might sometimes be casually sexist — and that the story’s hero might be casually sexist — as much as the viewer distances themselves from the idea that they might be “evil.”
Fisk’s attitude and reverence towards Vanessa and Madame Gao is one thing, his clear, intense desire to be respected and trusted in return is another. In moments when he realizes he might lose that respect, his anger is not directed towards them (as his father’s often was), but toward the people who have actually put him in that situation. Daredevil clearly, refreshingly establishes that Fisk doesn’t simply value women, but also their opinion.
Maybe all those “Yoko!” jokes thrown Vanessa’s way missed the fascinating gender politics at play.
The best villains are the ones who could sit down with you over a glass of good wine and make a halfway decent argument about why they’re the good guys. Fisk could do that very well, and the fact the doesn’t try to puff himself up is just another small detail that helps keep the character feel fresh.
That just about nails it.
He couldn’t truly make a legitimate argument that he’s not the bad guy this season, though. Currently, he’s making the best of a bad situation, and quickly rising to power in the prison, eating a steak dinner while liquid fills his victim’s lungs. He’s still a man of refined tastes, and he still wields his influence with surgical precision. You have been missed this season, Kingpin.
2. Why Can’t Those Two Crazy Kids Just Hug It Out?
For those of us binge-watching this season, it was literally only yesterday that Foggy and Matt were walking down the street laughing together and generally being best buds as long as they agreed to never bring up Daredevil. However, that ship sailed after Matt turned his cross-examination of the Punisher into a speech indirectly justifying his own position as Daredevil, which ultimately cost them the case and possibly their law firm.
Last season, it was Foggy who briefly rejected Matt and went his separate way. This season it’s Matt who cuts things off before Foggy even has a chance to. However, I long for the time when they aren’t torn apart by their differing views on vigilantism, and can simply be the best buds getting drinks together at the bar. That day may never come. Daredevil might always stand in the way of those two getting back to what they used to be, which is a shame. Matt and Foggy’s friendship remains the anchor relationship of this show (again, I say this knowing that some people really, really hate Foggy).
3. I Spoke Too Soon About Elektra
As was pointed out to me in the comments section, my comparison in the prior review of Elektra to Sara Lance on Arrow was faulty. With all of her self-hatred, Sara genuinely wanted to stop killing, to be saved; Elektra does not. I didn’t completely get that because, just like Matt, I fell for Elektra’s line about truly wanting to change. As “Seven Minutes in Heaven” quickly detailed, she’s too addicted to the adrenaline to actually want to stop murdering people. So Matt breaks up with her, ending their romantic reunion before it ever truly started.
4. What Did I Tell You About Being Very Careful With this Supernatural Stuff, Daredevil!
While Kingpin engineers his eventual return to organized crime and Karen discovers Frank Castle’s family was caught in the crossfire of a botched sting operation, Daredevil hunts down Yakuza who are siphoning blood away from caged humans into some kind of chamber protected by a resurrected former foe. Two of those storylines feel like they’re happening in the same universe. The other one is still waiting to hook up with everything else.
5. The Fight Scenes Are Starting to Blend Together
I’ve binge-watched entire TV shows like this before, but I’ve never forced myself to stop after each episode and write about it. Plus, this is not actually how I watched the first season of Daredevil or Jessica Jones. I consumed those in two-three episode bunches with several days in-between. As such, when I say the following I assume it is less a reflection of Daredevil season two and more a side effect of the way I’ve chosen to watch these episodes: I am getting sick of the fight scenes.
I know, I know. Crazy, right? The fight scenes make this show! But enough with the punching and the kicking and the extreme close-ups of broken body parts and blood spurts.
In “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” we see Punisher’s version of a hallway fight scene. Spoiler: It’s just like a patented Daredevil hallway fight scene but with more blood and dead bodies. It’s an important moment in the story because it is through witnessing this glorious display of violence that Wilson Fisk hatches a Plan B. Instead of killing Punisher, he can engineer his escape and let him knock off all of his competition in New York’s criminal underworld thus making the city prime for the taking once he gets out.
I recognize all of that, yet the moment I saw the fight scene coming I wanted to fast-forward through it. With the season’s various storylines still struggling to connect, I am now more interested in plot advancements than displays of brutal violence.
To be fair, the Kingpin-Punisher fight which took place later in the episode felt compelling because it was the meeting of two iconic figures, inspiring thoughts like, “Have these two ever fought before in the comics?” Plus, it recalled Kingpin’s fight with Daredevil last season. However, even though fight scenes are this show’s calling card I am growing weary of them during this binge-watch. I mostly want season 2 to finally get to wherever it is heading.
On to the next episode: “Man in the Box”