With the final two episodes of Daredevil’s second season, Marvel leaves the characters in a very different way than where they were last season. Perhaps their toughest battles have been fought, and so we ask how does it end?
I wish to add to that question the belief I have that neither Daredevil season 1 or Jessica Jones had particularly strong endings. They weren’t bad, and they were logical, but their executions felt flat to me. This brings up another question, is it the beginnings or endings that really matter? I feel that a weak beginning can be forgiven, because the rest of the story lies ahead and can redeem it. Endings though, have finality. In that, the story lives or dies on their final notes. Season 2 of Daredevil does neither, and perhaps fittingly has to be resurrected at a future date.
Daredevil and Elektra face off against the Hand after rescuing their mentor Stick, while Karen deals with her discovery of Blacksmith’s identity, Commander Ray Schoonover. Both situations play out like you would expect, with a few surprises thrown in on the A plot.
Berthal’s Punisher seems to have less to work with in these two episodes than the others, as his “arc” of becoming the Punisher is completed and his path solidified. The reveal of Ray Schoonover as Blacksmith plays out as anticlimactic considering all the criminals that Frank has killed and that the person you would least suspect is actually the only one that was teased as the true culprit. Forgetting Clancy Brown on The Flash fulfilling essentially the same role, Frank’s reaction is nonexistent that he has to kill his former commanding officer. It fits in with his usual confidence that killing is the solution, but all the drama and surprise seems to fall on Karen’s reactions and not Frank’s like it should.
The Punisher was one of the more compelling aspects of this season and seeing it just get a quiet ending feels like a letdown.
That’s almost rectified by Elektra’s arc over this season played by Elodie Yung. I’ll freely admit, I’m not a huge Elektra fan. I can’t say why, other than I haven’t found much that is interesting about the character. Yung’s portrayal rectifies that 110%, showing her as adventurous, reckless, lonely, amorous and at times emotionally vulnerable. It’s a complete 180 from Jennifer Garner’s take on the character and the show squanders it by the end of the final episode. While the show may have taken a compressed approach to her arc, by the final episode Elektra was becoming more heroic and interesting as a character than I’ve ever seen her. Although the Black Cloud thing is something I found dumb as a concept, since it takes away any skill she may have earned from hard work and training as just a mystical power-up. Killing her off at this point in her evolution just reminds me too much of the maligned Daredevil movie and despite her impending revival I can’t help thinking this part of the story could’ve used more exploration.
One thing that really stood out to me about this season is the lack of a clear antagonist. In fairness, it’s going to be hard to top Wilson Fisk from Season 1 and so putting that task off makes sense. Instead of a story about Good vs Evil, maybe Season 2 could’ve been about Man vs (Human) Nature or Himself. One could argue that the Punisher, Elektra, and the Hand all occupy the Antagonist role at certain points in the Season, and it would be a fair argument. However, both Punisher and Elektra are ultimately “good guys” and the Hand’s role feels somewhat removed from the events of the show. I had hoped that the writers would somehow find a way to connect Frank Castle’s story with the Yakuza/Hand plot but the two remained pretty separate. Frank coming in at the last minute to help Matt against Nobu felt obligatory in an action movie sense, but I had hoped that Matt/Elektra/Punisher would’ve all teamed up against the Hand to pull off a spectacular win.
The final two episodes of Season 2 push each character past their breaking points and ultimately end in a less uplifting place than Season 1. Elektra and the Hand are sure to return again next season, possibly even in The Defenders. It’s a season full of surprises and purposefully shakes up the staus quo for the next go around.
In this respect, Season 2’s ending proves to be the most effective one thus far and sure to brings fans back for more again and again. Nuff Said.