Daredevil Season 3
Final Score: 4.5 / 5
So far this year Netflix has dropped a new season for each of its original Marvel shows with the exception of one: Daredevil. Well the wait is over as the new season was recently released bringing the show’s latest season after a year and a half hiatus. Season 1 was hands down the best season of any of the Marvel Netflix shows. Season 2 saw a little bit more difficulty finding itself but did give us the spin-off show The Punisher. The big question looming was whether or not Season 3 would continue this decline or if it would find its footing once more. It is my great pleasure to say that not only did Season 3 do a proper course correction, in my opinion it surpasses Season 1 of the show.
This season picks up several weeks after the events of The Defenders. Matt (Charlie Cox) is presumed dead by Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) who are both dealing with the loss in their own way; acceptance and moving on for Foggy and denial for Karen. Meanwhile, Matt is being nursed back to health by Father Lantom (Peter McRobbie) and Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley) at the Clinton Church, the same church that he was brought to after the death of his father. During his stay, Matt’s faith is put to the test as he questions his purpose, and whether to continue as Daredevil or Matt Murdock
We are also introduced in the first episode to FBI Special Agent Nadeem (Jay Ali) who takes on the task of speaking with an imprisoned Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), in an attempt to gain intel on the criminal underworld. After learning that Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer), Fisk’s love, is in hiding abroad and is not safe to return to New York, Fisk begins to aid the FBI by giving them information on the Albanian mob in exchange for Vanessa's freedom. After a failed assassination attempt on Fisk in prison, he is moved from the facility and placed on house arrest in a hotel penthouse in the city. During his transfer, the FBI caravan is attacked by the Albanians and the agents are pinned down. Fisk is trapped in a car as the Albanians start moving in. The hit squad begins to be picked off by some mystery gunman, who is revealed to be FBI Special Agent Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter (Wilson Bethel) aka Bullseye (although he’s never called that during the course of the season).
As the season progresses, Matt is revealed to be alive to Foggy and Karen and turns to them for help in locking Fisk back up in prison. Fisk, being the criminal mastermind that he is, slowly begins to corrupt and control everything and everyone around him, stretching his influence further and further until he has the FBI itself under his control. In an attempt to take down Matt/Daredevil, Fisk has Dex appropriate the Daredevil costume and starts committing public crimes to mark Daredevil as a villain. The remainder of the season sees Matt, Foggy, and Karen trying to take down Fisk, dismantling his new empire, and clearing Daredevil’s name.
If there is one word that can describe this entire season, it’s “tense.” From episode one the tension with any scene involving the FBI and Kingpin is palpable. And this tension only begins to rise over the course of the season, slowly at first, and then ramping up exponentially after Karen and Fisk’s conversation. The sense of dread that every character feels upon finding out that Fisk’s reach keeps growing and is much more widespread than they initially thought is so well conveyed that the viewer can’t help but feel that heavy tension as well. This speaks to not only the writing, which is absolutely top notch this season (barring a few eye-roll worthy lines now and again), but to the acting as well (except for Foggys’s girlfriend who sticks out like a sore thumb). From Karen and Foggy’s sense of desperation to Fisk’s triumphant feeling of absolute control and power to Dex’s shear instability, every actor this season did a phenomenal job.
The biggest issue that this season had, and probably the reason why this season only earns and 4.5 instead of a perfect 5, is the pacing. This season had a large focus on the past, be it Dex’s past that lead to him being the unhinged high-functioning psychopath that he is today or Karen’s past that she ran from in Vermont, taking, in some cases, entire episodes to delve into these events. While these were necessary for the overall story (mostly) and for character development, they caused the overall flow of the season to come to a screeching halt, especially in the case of Karen. At this point in the season, events had been speeding up in the previous episode with Fisk sending a hit squad after her only for the entire thing to be sidelined for half an episode to show Karen’s life prior to leaving for college. After the flashback ended, we went back to Karen being hunted by the hit squad like nothing had happened. The whole thing was a bit jarring given the surrounding events and it didn’t seem like it really added much to anything.
As has come to be expected from Daredevil, the cinematography this season was absolutely amazing. There was one episode in particular that blew me away. Episode 4, “Blindsided,” sees Matt going to a prison to gain information about the Albanian mob and the man who had assaulted Fisk causing his transfer into FBI custody. During the course of the episode, a Fisk hit squad comes after Matt followed by a literal prison riot, causing Matt to fight his way out of the facility. The entirety of this about 20 minute or so scene was a single tracking shot showing the absolute chaos surrounding Matt as he’s defending himself from his attackers. The entire thing was so well shot and so well done, that it was undoubtedly the highlight of the season, and given the overall spectacularness of the season that’s saying something.The scene was reminiscent of the hallway fight scene from Season 1 and this style has come to be a staple of the show.
Overall this season was phenomenal. From the acting to the action sequences to the cinematography, this season was a joy to watch from start to finish. Despite some slight pacing issues, the show was able to again find that spark that made the show so brilliant in the first place and managed to keep that spark burning the entire season through. Given that Netflix has been a little cancellation happy as of late, cancelling both Iron Fist and Luke Cage among some of its other original programming, I’m a little worried that Daredevil might not get another season. While this season ended on a mostly closed note, having this show return to its glory days makes me desperately want a Season 4.