The devil of Hell’s Kitchen is back in black on Season 3 of Marvel and Netflix’s hit show Daredevil. While it has been a while since Season 2 aired, Netflix’s The Defenders features a team up between Daredevil and other Marvel heroes who held their own Netflix shows. Despite the hype surrounding The Defenders, and the excellent cast of characters, it was painfully mediocre. Thankfully, Netflix and Daredevil are taking this hit in stride and coming right back with another awesome season of fist-fighting, detective work, and great acting.
Daredevil picks up right where The Defenders left Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), recovering from wounds he suffered in a building collapse. Murdock spends the first few episodes of the season attempting to revitalize both his mind and body. In the aftermath of the finale of The Defenders, Murdock’s hearing is severely impaired, and for the first time since the accident that took his sight as a child, he actually feels disabled. While he does regain his hearing, he is still not quite what he used to be, and without his bulletproof suit of armor that was destroyed in the events of The Defenders, he is more vulnerable than ever. It was very refreshing to see Daredevil have a hard time taking on plain old street thugs, as opposed to in previous seasons, where he takes on bullets to the chest and still beats up a dozen armed men.
Murdock is struggling to heal not only his body, but also his mind. Cox’s acting here is the standout performance of the season so far. The events of the previous two seasons as well as The Defenders have left our hero searching for a new identity. In previous seasons, Murdock’s Catholic faith has kept him morally grounded, but in Season 2, he has a different relationship with God. He used to believe he was a servant of God, but now he likens himself more to the biblical figure Job, who was punished despite his service to God. His crisis of faith causes him to throw away hislawyer life of Matt Murdock and commit fully to his vigilante justice, with less of a moral compass. He neglects his friends Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) despite their continued care for his well-being. This grizzled, beaten-down, Matt Murdock is both original and compelling. His mental conflict, broken down in moving dialogue between him and the nun who raised him (Joanne Whalley), is easily the most interesting character development the show has has in its three-season run.
On top of the moral and physical changes Murdock is going through, the show also revamps its cast of villains. While The Defenders and Season 2 of Daredevil had Murdock face down a crime syndicate of self-resurrecting ninjas known as The Hand, Season 3 goes back to the show’s more grounded roots. Vincent D’Onofrio returns for his third season as Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, crime lord of Hell’s Kitchen. Fisk took a back seat in Season 2 after Murdock put him in prison in Season 1, but now he is back, and D’Onofrio is delivering a truly moving take on the Kingpin’s motivations. Unlike the comic book iteration of Kingpin, who is obsessed with power and money, D’Onofrio’s Fisk is only concerned with the protection of the love of his life, Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer,) who Murdock forced out of the country back in Season 1. Now that he is out of jail, Fisk’s only concern is getting revenge on Murdock for taking the love of his life away from him. The contrast between Daredevil’s new lack of a moral direction and Kingpin’s clear newfound goal makes for a fresh feel in their seasons-long rivalry.
Season 3 also brings along a new villain, Benjamin Poindexter (Wilson Bethel). Fans of the Daredevil comic books (or that god awful Ben Affleck movie) will recognize this to be the secret identity of the iconic Daredevil villain Bullseye. At the start of the season, “Dex” is a skilled and deadly FBI agent with a troubled past who is assigned to guard Fisk. As he and Fisk begin to converse, Dex’s mental instability begins to come into the light, and Fisk begins to twist him into the sharpshooting menace that comic book fans are all too familiar with.
With other Marvel Netflix shows such as Luke Cage and Iron Fist being canceled in the last few weeks, many were rightfully concerned with the future of Daredevil, but after having watched only the first five episodes of the show’s new season, you can tell that fans have nothing to worry about. Great writing, Cox’s excellent acting, and some of the coolest action sequences without guns since The Dark Knight have Daredevil sitting pretty among Netflix’s best original series.
Featured Image by Netflix